MLS Playoff Format

Discussion in 'MLS: General' started by GreatZar, Sep 14, 2003.

  1. GreatZar

    GreatZar Member

    Colorado Rapids
    United States
    Mar 29, 1999
    Denver, CO, USA
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    In the mini-program at the Rapids match last night there were a couple of pages about the MLS Playoff format for 2003. It outlines:
    It also goes on to say in the article
    Am I the only one who's been sleeping and didn't realise this was the playoff format? I *REALLY* like it.
     
  2. The Truth Commission

    Mar 29, 2000
    Parts Unknown
    It's excellent, considering all games will be able to be played on weekends...and it sure beats "first-to-five."
     
  3. MasterShake29

    MasterShake29 Member+

    Oct 28, 2001
    Jersey City, NJ
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I would have preferred only 3 per division making the playoffs, with #2 hosting #3 in the first round, winner of that game plays at #1 for the berth in MLS Cup. Makes the division title mean a lot more than it will now.
     
  4. Dennishz

    Dennishz Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    NYC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Your Absolutley right! The top three teams of each conference should make the postseason, with #2 hosting #3 in single game elimination match, with the winner playing against the #1 seed in a home and home series.
     
  5. TWR

    TWR New Member

    Jan 18, 2000
    New York
    I would like it if MLS had kept last year's format where the top 8 teams, regardless of conference, made the MLS Cup Playoffs. This way the Galaxy and Wizards would be feeling some heat and we'd have better games across the board.
     
  6. bunge

    bunge BigSoccer Supporter

    Oct 24, 2000
    I say this every year when the end of the season starts to come around but...

    I want a third place game. If we get a third place game at the same time and place as the final, we supporters will have more time to prepare to go. This was more important in previous years when the playoffs were a best of three, but even still, as soon as the first round is over there are four teams left. All four would be guaranteed of their team playing at the HDC this year and fans of all four teams could make preparations to go.
     
  7. 352gialloblu

    352gialloblu New Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    England
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    I agree, but I'd have to see a breakdown of inter-conference game results to see. Is the east winning the majority of these? If LA and Dallas are down because they loose against Eastern teams, then they shouldn't make the playoffs if they finish worse than the Revs or Crew...
     
  8. kevbrunton

    kevbrunton New Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Edwardsburg, MI
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    To date, there have been 60 games between the East and the West -- 30 hosted by each.

    When the East hosts, they are 16-4-10 (W-L-T). When the West hosts, the East is 9-14-7. Overall, the East is 25-18-17.

    Sounds to me like the bottom East team would have a gripe if they finish with more points than the 4th place West team.
     
  9. kevbrunton

    kevbrunton New Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Edwardsburg, MI
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    First off, I like this playoff format MUCH better than past formats. But I'd like to see 2 changes.

    1) Top 8 teams overall make it -- not top 4 in each conference. Kansas City and Los Angeles should be battling it out with New England, Columbus and DC United.

    2) I'd like to see home and home in the Conference Final as well. It would extend the playoff 1 week. I realize that it MIGHT mean less importance to winning the conference in the regular season, but I'd rather see home and home playoffs rather than single games.
     
  10. dred

    dred Member+

    Nov 7, 2000
    Land of Champions
    I think that would be a very good solution. Appropriate rewards for regular season performance, good schedule balancing, etc.

    Given that Dallas fans are not thinking playoffs this year regardless, and all eastern teams have a shot at third, this system looks especially good in hindsight.

    On the other hand, the current system means that eight different teams will host exactly one game, with good advance notice, in the first round. This maximizes the gate and gets more fans involved.

    Eight teams in the playoffs is excessive this year but it will look better when the league expands to 12 and then 14.
     
  11. HalaMadrid

    HalaMadrid Member

    Apr 9, 1999
    Now THAT's a good idea.
     
  12. Sykotyk

    Sykotyk Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    Ohio
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    bunge, that is a good idea.

    Here's my ideal format:

    Keep the top four of each conference. First round is cross-divisional. Two leg, aggregate goals, with away goals as first tie-breaker. The format would be E1 vs. W4, E2 vs. W3, W1 vs. E4, W2 vs. E3. The top team from each division hosts the second round single-elimination game. If one division is swept, the first and second place teams host the single-elimination round.

    There is no overtime in either round. If aggregate and away goals are tied in the first round, there's a thirty minute golden goal period followed by penalties. If tied for the semifinal after fulltime, there's a thirty minute golden goal period followed by penalties (regardless of away goals).

    And to throw in bunge's new idea:

    All four semifinal teams advance to the MLS Cup, with the winners playing for the championship and the runner-ups playing for third place. That way, when you advance to past the quarterfinal, you know you'll be playing in the MLS Cup Final's city.

    Good idea, bunge.

    Sykotyk
     
  13. Guinho

    Guinho Member+

    May 27, 2001
    San Francisco, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm kind of surprised that no one has pointed out that this format almost completely divorces the championship from the regular season. In essence, it's a 5 month long relegation battle to avoid finishing dead last. After that, the slate is essentially wiped clean with almost no discernable advantage to finishing on 65 points rather than 35. This format really is essentially like a league cup, with the real champion determined by the supporter's shield from an unbalanced schedule. Ick.

    Personally, I think
    1) finishing higher in the rankings should carry a significant advantage.

    2) the Best of Three games format is a well established traditional format, and I think it worked very well. (Note this is the same as the first to five, but the marketing geniuses at MLS couldn't figure out the proper name for it). It perhaps lead to too many playoff games, but from a sporting standpoint it's greatly superior to the home away scheme.

    3) a first round bye format with 6 teams could work as well.

    4) The notion of having the top 8 (or 6) teams in the league advance was prefereable to the top 4 in each division. It was, as you may have noticed, a single table last year.


    G.
     
  14. Greddy

    Greddy Member

    Jun 24, 2003
    Chicago
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I feel this is definitely the way to go, at least til the league considerably expands. The teams that won their respective divisions worked long and hard throughout the season to do so. They deserve this post season advantage.
     
  15. bright

    bright Member

    Dec 28, 2000
    Central District
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Byes look good and fair on paper, but they can't be too long. Realistically I don't think it is good for a team to have a 2-week rest between the end of the regular season and their first playoff game.

    You could make the first-round games be held in mid-week as one-offs, and then the winner plays the team with the bye on the weekend. But in this scenario, it would suck to play a two-legged series, because the winner of the first round one-off would host the first game at home again 3-4 days after their first round victory, with little time to promote the game.

    So, the whole idea of byes is really difficult to pull off in MLS. You either have too much rest (which I think is a bad thing), or you try to compress too many games in a short window and make it hard to promote them.

    I think if competition and making the regular season mean something are important to you, then at most less than half the teams should make the playoffs. But that would only be 4 teams. That isn't the kind of spectacle that MLS wants, is it?

    Of course, others want as many teams as possible to be able to share in the glory and spectacle, but this is antithetical to making the regular season meaningful.

    We are just going to have to face the fact that playoffs for a ten-team league are going to look stupid and pointless no matter what.

    - Paul
     
  16. Fanaddict

    Fanaddict Member+

    Mar 9, 2000
    streamwood IL USA
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I don't care if you have 3 from each conference make it 4 but I hate this stupid home-home series playoff. You fight all season to get a better record and the only advantage is hosting the second game, not enough I my opinion. Also with this format the visting team will play defensively for a tie in the first game. One game playoffs. If you finish fourth in your conference you don't deserve a playoff home game.
     
  17. The Truth Commission

    Mar 29, 2000
    Parts Unknown
    I've said it before and I'll say it again...the McIntyre final six system from Australia is the best and fairest way to go. Rewards the best teams with a double chance and home field advantage...
     
  18. bunge

    bunge BigSoccer Supporter

    Oct 24, 2000
    Sorry...had this in the wrong thread.

    OK, MLS obviously needs more teams for a good playoff system. But as long as we're at 10-12 teams, how about the winner of the Supporter's Shield gets the only bye, and the 6 next best teams go.

    That means the SS has some meaning, a true advantage in the playoffs. It also means we can cut one more team out of the playoffs so it doesn't feel like everyone goes. It's an awkard situation, but so is MLS. And if we're adding one team next year an odd number in the playoffs isn't a big deal anyway. It'll mean an even number stay home. At least for one year.

    Remember, MLS is quirky anyway.

    And of course, a third place game on the same day as the final so we supporters can plan on going to the final a few weeks early because we'll know as soon as our respective teams make the quarter finals that they'll be playing at the location of the final, on the day of the final, even if they're not in the final.
     
  19. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Club:
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I would love to see a round-robin group phase for the first round. Two groups are seeded according to overall record (i.e., not along conference lines, although that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world), with each game being hosted by the higher seed.

    The groups could be seeded so that every higher place in the regular-season standings would have a significant-enough advantage to make games down the wire actually mean something to the teams involved, the only exceptions being those who have been eliminated from the playoffs. The seedings would be: 1,4,6,8 in one group, and 2,3,5,7 in the other (again, assuming overall league record).

    The winner of each group would host the semifinal against the second-place team of the other group, and the winners still go to the Final at the pre-determined site. That way, every team is going to play at least three playoff games, with four teams playing more. The semifinals are there as a concession to financial considerations, as I think that just having the two group winners play the Final would be the best way to go from a purely on-field standpoint.

    Every playoff team would want to move up in the standings, as every higher place has a significant advantage over every lower one, either an extra home playoff game, or avoiding having the top team in the league in your group. And, the Supporter's Shield would have a real, practical payoff, as the winner gets no higher than the fourth overall seed (and the bottom playoff team) in its group.

    I also love the idea of the third-place game, for the reasons given.
     
  20. 352gialloblu

    352gialloblu New Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    England
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    Isn't this what we already have with the almost meaningless league? ;)

    Seriously, I've never liked the playoffs at all--it's not football. But, if we have to have them, I'm glad it's gone to home-and-home and single games rather than "first to 5" or whatever it was. I think being home in the second game is a great advantage, too (just look at examples from the European Cup). But I would like to see the top 8 overall go. Or top 6 is good, too.

    I also think we should make a much bigger deal out of the Supporter's Shield so that you can feel good about winning it, and not feel like a bunch of suckers when you're knocked out in the first round by the 8th placed team. Not that that'll happen this year, but...anyway. How many team's have done the "double" of the SS and MLS Cup? I bet it's not very many... In fact, it's DC in '97 and '99, KC in '00 depending how the tie-breaker went and LA last year. So that's more than half, actually, but it would make a few teams (like the Fushion!) feel better about themselves if we honored the SS winner a bit more...
     
  21. ignatz

    ignatz New Member

    Jun 3, 2001
    Washington, DC
    I'd like to see "away goals" inserted as the first tie breaker if the teams are even after two on aggregate goals. Away goals gives the visiting team an incentive to play offense, not just go on the road and bunker.
     
  22. Jimbob

    Jimbob New Member

    Jul 17, 1999
    Washington DC
    Yea, but it just makes the home team bunker instead. The one change that I'd want to these playoffs is give the higher seed in the conference semis a true advantage. This is used in the Mexican League and I think it's worth considering having the higher seed advance in case of an aggregate tie. No away goals, no overtime, and definatly no PKs.

    And I really like the idea of a one-game Conference Final. I don't know why, maybe it's because I grew up on the Niner-Cowboys Annual NFC Championship game for three years, but this really sounds like it's going to be awesome. It could really help grow Conference rivalries.

    And the MLS Cup has got to be an event. MLS teams, historically cannot sell playoff tickets on short notice. I think putting the playoff games on the weekends and reducing their number is a brilliant move to increase playoff attendence.

    And the Third Place Game is a great idea. If I had known before the Quakes-Fusion series that San Jose was going to Columbus, there definately would not have been any problems in going. Instead, I only know about 72 hours before the championship game was to be played, and I missed out.
     
  23. Guinho

    Guinho Member+

    May 27, 2001
    San Francisco, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Oh, do tell! I have never heard of this, but it sounds like we math nerds might just like it.

    G.
     
  24. BenC1357

    BenC1357 Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    KC
    Ummmmm....I've pointed this very fact out in every single playoff discussion since the format was announced over the winter.

    While we have 10 teams in MLS there should be four, thats right four, teams in the playoffs. #1 and #2 from each conference play a home and home to advance to the Cup. Tell me that even though the Eastern race is tight now, that every single minute of the remaining games in the East wouldnt be gut wrenching. Even in the West KC and LA would be scrammbling to catch Colorado.

    When we go to 12-16 teams in MLS then we can expand the playoffs. But something MUST be done to make the regular season count more. Fighting to not be last is retarded. You should first have fights to finish first. For there to be any fight, there has to be a reward for finishing first. Curently that reward does no exist.
     
  25. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Club:
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Well, yes. But, since we can't have a true round-robin regular league season, playoffs are a necessary evil. My scenario is, I think, the best and fairest way to determine the league champion, barring a truly balanced round-robin schedule.

    And I also believe that it would acheive what BenC1357 wants, for every game down the stretch to mean something. Fighting for the significant reward of a more advantageous playoff seeding is about the best we can hope for. Having fewer teams in the playoffs just means that there will be a better likelihood of more meaningless games toward the end of the season.
     

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