Group Stage in MLS Cup?

Discussion in 'MLS: General' started by jfranz, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. BocaFan

    BocaFan Member+

    Aug 18, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Well, actually it does. NBA and NHL put all playoff teams back to 0-0. But I think the NBA and NHL regular seasons are a bit absurd, don't you? Just because other leagues are doing something stupid, doesn't make it okay to imitate them.

    NFL does not put all playoff teams back to 0-0-0 (giving some teams a bye is essentially starting them at 1-0-0 for the playoffs) and generally regarded as the best format among American based sports leagues.

    I agree that your plan is better than the current system used by MLS. But your format would not make the MLS regular season any more important than the NHL and NBA regular seasons (which many people ridicule).

    umm... but the Fire would have 3 points and DC would have 0. That's a bigger (or at least comparable) advantage than getting 2 more home games. IOW, it would wipe-away 7 months of work by DC since home advantage is not nearly as significant as you seem to be implying.

    But that's not the biggest problem. Some playoff teams not playing a single home match is the biggest problem.

    With my system, even DC's last regular season match would've meant something! In fact, you could clinch first place overall with 5 matches to go, and your last 5 matches would still mean something. That's the beauty of it!
     
  2. jfranz

    jfranz New Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Portland, OR
    umm... wait. So, if DC, at home, fails to beat the Fire on Matchday1, they loose their hard-earned advantage; despite the fact they still have two more games, also at home, to atone for this single mistake. And yet, you prefer the NFL system where, if DC, at home, fails to beat the Fire, DC is done - season over; dead.

    Now, you tell me which system better protects or establishes a reward for DC's season. I'm sorry, this argument is ridiculous. I respect you Boca, but this argument is so insane, it's actually making me :mad:
     
  3. Fanaddict

    Fanaddict Member+

    Mar 9, 2000
    streamwood IL USA
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    The difference is that in the current system DC, the supporter shield winner, will be eliminated if it ties at home not loses. (By the way loose,means not tight)
    I think a higher seed team should have to be beaten at home to be eliminated.
     
  4. BocaFan

    BocaFan Member+

    Aug 18, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY

    I see the confusion. I guess we should leave other sports out of it as they don’t translate well.
    But just to explain…
    The NFL playoffs reward regular season performance more because they hand-out playoff byes. That’s pretty much the biggest reward you can give. Also, because of the nature of the game, a road upset in the NFL is far less likely than a road upset in MLS. A lot of NFL teams win 7 or 8 home games. Meanwhile, with hockey a one-game knockout or even a 3-game series/group-stage would be ridiculous.

    Soccer is somewhere in between, but I still think having everything ride on 3 games Is still too much of a crap shoot.

    Earlier in this thread I proposed having only 6 playoff teams in MLS. That would create a format more like the NFL (with byes – the biggest reward possible). But on further reflection, I guess shrinking the playoffs is not the way to make the league grow. So I think my more recent idea is better (carry regular season points over to the playoffs).
     
  5. jfranz

    jfranz New Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Portland, OR
    Thanks. But neither Boca nor I are talking about the current system. I'm not sure what you posted has anything to do with what we're discussing.

    But, I do agree with you about a top seed needing to lose at home to be eliminated. A Group Stage almost guarantees that a 1-seed can not be eliminated without a loss at home (they could still be eliminated - and rightly so - if they only manage three straight draws).
     
  6. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
    i'm not so sure about the math. but i would think there are just as many possibilities that leave 4 teams still with something to play for, as opposed to less than 4 teams with something to play for.
    either way, there are methods for adding importance to the overall group standings that would not "eliminate" any team early, or limit their "desire" to preform well on matchday 3.

    and anyway, i'm not so sure the WC group tendencies would match the MLS playoff group tendencies. i tend to think there is much more "parity" among the top 4 clubs in an MLS conference than we tend to see in a typical WC group.

    maybe international football (and the WC group tendencies for point distribution) would be a good indicator to how MLS playoff groups could unfold, but I don't see it being a perfect (or even necessarily useful) comparison.

    right, we do see it regularly in the WC. sometimes we don't see it. and when we don't see it, the group stage is often incredibly and completely compelling across all 6 games of the group. and when we do see it (eliminated teams with one game remaining to play), the WC still goes on and it can still be a great tournament.

    and they still hold the tournament again in 4 years time. people accept it, move past it and tend to get excited about the next tournament (even if the last one had some "unique/bad" circumstances that popped up on the third matchday of the group phase. life goes on).

    i thought the WC was something everybody tended to like and get excited about. people can accept the "shortcomings/troubles" of the format, because these troubles aren't guaranteed, and any team can do enough on matchdays 1 and 2 to avoid possible "complaints about things being out of their hands" on matchday 3.

    even with its shortcomings and possible "unmotivated" teams playing on the third matchday, the overall system of a group stage in the first round of the MLS playoffs could (and likely would, imo) still be a very good (excellent, and if not the best) system MLS could use for its playoffs.
     
  7. BocaFan

    BocaFan Member+

    Aug 18, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Actually they could also be eliminated even with 2 wins and a draw (and finishing second in the group), followed by losing the semifinal on the road.
     
  8. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
    right. although, jfranz did write "almost guarantees" in the line you quoted.

    if the 1 seed doesn't play well in the group, it could/would finish second (or lower, should they only get 1 win and 2 draws), and could at best have to travel for a semifinal match.

    this is of course is true of any seed, but the higher seeds (with more "expected" of them), at least have the benefit of more first round games at home.

    i think it is a really good system.
     
  9. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
    yes, a significant (or somewhat significant but interesting) carrot must be dangled out there to (help) ensure that teams would fight for 3rd place (or as high a finish in the group as possible).

    but, and i wrote this earlier:
    i'm not so sure the WC group tendencies would match the MLS playoff group tendencies. i tend to think there is much more "parity" among the top 4 clubs in an MLS conference than we tend to see in a typical WC group.

    maybe international football (and the WC group tendencies for point distribution) would be a good indicator to how MLS playoff groups could unfold during the first 2 matchdays, but I don't see it being a perfect (or even necessarily useful) comparison.

    but it is one of the only available data samples of the single round-robin 4 team group stage format. has anyone looked back at SuperLiga 2007 and how those groups looked after 2 matchdays? (I seem to remember DC being helped out by a strong performance from an already-eliminated Club America, although those matchday 3 matches were not held concurrently, as i would hope they would be in and MLS Playoff on matchday 3 of the group phase.)

    yes, group play could lead to "complications" (mostly involiving unmotivated teams) on the third match day, but i think the structure of MLS actually does a lot to keep the "teams" even in talent/ability, and that many (the majority) of the groups in an MLS playoff will see a complete set of vital games on matchday three. this is just a hunch, and I could be wrong, but i do think people are making a lot more than is necessary (but some concern and critique is needed) with regards to how much of a problem (or how often this problem will arise in practice) when "eliminated (or already group winner)" teams are an unmotivated participant on matchday 3. i'm sure something could be found to answer this question: "Group Third Place: Something significant - but what? That's the question."
     
  10. jfranz

    jfranz New Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Portland, OR
    Please see the following attachment for a well summarized and more clearly presented plan for an MLS Cup Group Stage and/or the various other contents of this thread:
     
  11. Sakatei

    Sakatei Member

    Jun 24, 2007
    What problem?:)



    Would it not be cool if someone designed a system where a team that finishes higher in the standings gained some sort of postseason benefit? I think that could really make someone some money. Something outlandish like having the higher seeds play the lower seeds. That would be cool.

    Come on all you smart people think of something.
     
  12. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    There are lots of data samples besides the World Cup. Look at pretty much any international tournament, and they use the 4 team groups. Go to Euro Championships, African Nations Cup, Asian Cup, Confederations Cup, Copa America, various women's and youth tournaments. Some of them do include the possibility of the 3rd-place team advancing, but the math for the possible point distributions is exactly the same.

    If I haven't made an error, there are 81 possible sets of results and 13 possible combinations of point totals possible after two matchdays. Some are more likely than others.

    6-6-0-0
    6-4-1-0
    6-3-3-0
    6-3-1-1
    6-2-1-1
    4-4-3-0
    4-4-2-0
    4-4-1-1
    4-3-3-1
    4-3-2-1
    4-2-2-1
    3-3-3-3
    2-2-2-2
     
  13. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
    please start a "Single Elimination Bracket in MLS Cup?" thread, and let us know how much (positive) discussion that generates.

    did you miss the part where everyone has pointed out a lot of the problems (too short, too flukey, not enough chances for revenue) that would confront MLS if they adopted that system? a big bracket with 12 or 16 teams making the playoffs (in a league with 20 or 24 teams -- or 32 teams like the NFL) might work, but for this discussion of MLS (a league with likely 14, 16 or perhaps 18 teams in the near future), the group stage idea, as outlined by jfranz and others, is a much more useful and better idea, imo.

    but do let us know how that "Single Elimination Bracket in MLS Cup?" thread works out for you.
     
  14. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
  15. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
    looks good. thanks for that work.

    and within those 13 possibilities, there is also obviously some variability (within those standings after matchday 2) of who plays whom on matchday 3.

    but, if just looking at the 13 possible combinations of standings after 2 matchdays, 6 of the 13 have all teams within 3 points of eachother.

    and there are only 4 of 13 possibilities in which the 4th place team couldn't draw even on points with at least the 2nd place team.

    and there is just one instance of a combination in which a team can have 1st place in the group wrapped up after 2 matchdays.

    i'd say that looks pretty good.

    but since "Some (combinations) are more likely than others," it is difficult to assign a probably percentage to these potential combinations. (although it would be interesting to see the frequencies of each of these 13 possible combinations of standings given the 81 different possible sets of results after 2 matchdays).

    yes, there are also some problematic combinations, but no system is perfect. i'm willing to accept (as many international, and some club, tournaments are) the deficiencies of the Group Stage format, as it also has a regular potential for excitement and relevance across all six games of the group.
     
  16. jfranz

    jfranz New Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Portland, OR
    Thanks Apples.

    6-6-0-0 = one team already eliminated
    6-4-1-0 = one team already eliminated
    6-3-3-0 = one team possibly eliminated (depending on schedule)
    6-3-1-1
    6-2-1-1
    4-4-3-0 = one team already eliminated
    4-4-2-0 = one team already eliminated
    4-4-1-1
    4-3-3-1
    4-3-2-1
    4-2-2-1
    3-3-3-3
    2-2-2-2

    So, that means 4 (or possibly five) of 13 possible scenarios eliminate a team before the final matchday. Assuming all scenarios have an equal chance of occurring (which the don't, but lets assume it anyway) that's about a 30% chance that one team will already be eliminated before the final matchday. That's not bad. It's not great, but it's not bad. And, in exactly 0 of the 13 possible scenarios, a team has already been eliminated from a third place finish. Once again highlighting the need for some kind of 3rd Place incentive.
     
  17. Sakatei

    Sakatei Member

    Jun 24, 2007
    I apologize for offending you with my comments.

    I shall leave the five of you in peace.

    EDIT - To show my good nature I have kicked this thread. It pleases me to be the first.
     
  18. BocaFan

    BocaFan Member+

    Aug 18, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    But the 8 MLS playoff teams are more balanced than any World cup group. I would use the European championships and re-calculate those statistics.
     
  19. OGDCfan

    OGDCfan New Member

    Nov 1, 2007
    The MLS system has to go. If you are going to have a playoff format, you have to give a REWARD to the top seeded teams. Why else have seeds? MLS tries to sound serious with this seed stuff. Do it like a real league- NFL- which rewards top seeds with a week off AKA automatic advancment into the next round. Or get rid of the playoffs and have a separate and more emphasized MLS only cup. DC got robbed because they played hard in the season and were to banged up to finish hard.
    Why watch the stupid regular season games if it is all about the playoffs.
    MLS... change this format or I will NOT watch!
     
  20. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
    if people actually stop watching MLS because of their format of the post-season, i would be surprised.

    overall, there is some "soccer worth watching" a lot of the time in MLS.

    yes, things can be changed and there are options the competition committee should explore and potential changes/modifications they could make for future seasons. but i don't really tend to believe those who say they won't be a fan of the league if MLS continues to use the same H/A first round playoff system.
     
  21. pooh

    pooh Member

    Mar 6, 2003
    Nice diagram. But it still seems better to have 1v8 on the last day instead of 1v5.
     
  22. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
    i like the 1v8 on matchday 1, as i think that favors giving seed one the best opportunity to get group play off to a good start.

    either system could work fine, and there are also advantages to having 1v8 on Matchday 3.
     
  23. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
    agreed.

    that would be great if you, or someone else, had the time and inclanation to run those numbers and provide them here. (although i'm not all that convinced that any international football would be a "perfect" projection for how an MLS group stage could unfold. but certainly, something like the EuroChampionships might be a better model than the often "uneven" WC groups).
     
  24. jfranz

    jfranz New Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Portland, OR
    Actually, I see your point, and I think you're probably right.

    If you look at the 13 possible point scenarios after Matchday 2, the worst possible scenarios are clearly those in which one of the teams has 0 points going into the final match. So, if you want to minimize that potential, you probably want the team with the most difficult overall schedule (8 in Group A; 7 in Group B; or, in shorthand, the 4-seeds) to play their most difficult (in theory) game on the final matchday. So, yeah, I think you're right. The 1v8 and 2v7 match-ups should probably occur on the final matchday to improve the chance that 7 & 8 have at least one point - and are thus still able to advance - going into that final match.
     
  25. tab5g

    tab5g Member+

    May 17, 2002
    these are very good points.

    i still like the idea of 1v8 on matchday 1, as i think that favors giving seed #1 the best opportunity to get group play off to a good start. but maybe that is too much of an advantage for the 1-seed, considering they already have earned three games at home in the group.

    perhaps (and i guess we're discussing some details here that may never come into play if MLS doesn't adopt the format being discussed in this thread) the "order of play" in the group could be randomized. although, that could affect some seeds (the 2 and 3 seeds specifically) and their ability to "pre-sell" some playoff tickets.

    there could be an MLS playoff draw (just to set the order of play). or they could even give that decision to the #1 seed in each group. as an added bonus for the strongest performances in the regular season, the #1 seed Front Offices get to set the order of play in the group.

    although i think a "random draw" would be a fine idea for setting the order of group play. but if MLS was worried about ticket sales concerns, the 1v2 and 3v4 matchup can always be on matchday 2, and the "draw" would just determine who played whom on matchdays 1 and 3.

    the "MLS Playoff Draw" could also be an easy excuse to (hopefully) get some free publicity for the upcoming playoffs. they'd hold the draw and then announce the dates and times of the games (and certainly this will all be much easier to do once all the teams have primary control of their venue and home availability).
     

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