- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On September 14, 2011
- 3 Comments
- 2011 MLS Playoffs, 2011 MLS Season, Features, What If
I’ve been sitting on this thought for some time now. We all know the new MLS playoff system is a ten-team deal with wild card games and the whole shebang. We know the advantages right now of some teams in the wild card zone playing in the Eastern Conference bracket instead of the Western Conference bracket. We got it.
MLS tried to re-do things this year to make sure they wouldn’t have a team from the West winning the East. They tried but let’s be fair, its likely to happen again with the way things are shaping up here. With the top five clubs in the league being in the Western Conference, the likelihood of a team from the West winning the East is pretty good again this season.
It makes me think “what if” though. What if MLS had this ten-team playoff system but with no conference alignments. What if the playoff system was a 1 v. 7/10 and so on and so forth? What if?
Take a look at the standings right now. Under the current system we’ll likely have a matchup of either the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas or Seattle and Real Salt Lake in the semifinal round of the playoffs. No other league in the world would have that kind of a match up in the first non-wild card round of a playoff. A #2 v. # 3 should never happen that early in the playoffs unless it is just a four team playoff.
In a more logical world the playoffs would look a little more like this:
(Note: using the current standings…this is not a forecast of how the final 10 will end up being!)
Wild card round:
No. 7 Columbus Crew vs. No. 10 DC United (winner plays Supporter’s Shield winner)
No. 8 Philadelphia Union vs. No. 9 Houston Dynamo (winner plays Supporter’s Shield runner-up)
No. 1 Los Angeles Galaxy vs. No.7 Columbus Crew/No. 10 DC United
No. 2 Seattle Sounders vs. No. 8 Philadelphia Union/No. 9 Houston Dynamo
No. 3 FC Dallas vs. No. 6 Sporting Kansas City
No. 4 Real Salt Lake vs. No. 5 Colorado Rapids
No. 1 / No 7/10 winner vs. No. 4/5 winner
No. 2 /No 8/9 winner vs. No. 3/6 winner
Two semifinal winners
Now you could even go the NHL route and have the seeds re-ordered after the wild card round should the number nine seed beat the eight seed and the seven seed beat the 10 seed. That way the Supporter’s Shield winner gets the lowest seeded team left. You know a little reward for their regular season title.
Obviously this is all hypothetical. MLS constantly tinkers with their playoff system and will eventually “get there”. It is just s shame each season we see a low seeded team go all the way or that we get a early round match up of two of the top three teams in the league.
I’ve seen plenty of solid ideas out there for a better playoff system and I’m not saying this one is would be perfect for the league. I still believe 10 teams in a potential 20-team league is a couple too many but at least we can say the wild card race this season is making it worth paying attention to since more clubs are involved.
What kind of playoff system makes sense to you? We know MLS is sticking with playoffs here to crown their champion each season so what type of system works for you?