New playoff format proposal

Discussion in 'MLS: Commissioner - You be The Don' started by MLS Detroit, Nov 6, 2004.

  1. MLS Detroit

    MLS Detroit Member

    Jan 20, 2001
    Melvindale, MI, USA
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Even though I still have goosebumps thinking about tonight's DC-NE classico, I am still opposed to the present MLS playoff format. I understand that MLS needs to have a Cup Final to showcase the league internationally in one marquee event, but the bottom line is that the present format negates the validity of the regular season. If you think about it, what is the incentive to win games in April, May, June, July, or August? All you really have to do is peak in September and October ala the New England Revolution. Steve Nicol should be commended for preparing his team each year to play well at the right time. MLS, if they continue to follow the present format, will one day crown the eighth-best team in the league as champion. The economics don't make sense either, as most of the teams (except DC) are drawing smaller crowds in the playoffs than they did in the regular season and losing money at the same time. I agree with one of the comments in eejit's post that it is detrimental to the fan base to constantly change the playoff format. That is why I propose the following system which should be adhered to now and forever:

    1. Keep the two conferences. As expansion franchises evolve, they can fit in nicely in one of the two conferences. Realistically, I see MLS maxing out at 16 teams; eight in the west and eight in the east. A single table would be detrimental to the few existing geographic rivalries. Galaxy-Chivas four times a year is better for the fans and league economics than Galaxy-Chivas twice, Galaxy-Revolution twice, etc.

    2. The teams finishing in first place in their respective conferences during the regular season receive an automatic berth in the MLS Cup Final. No semifinals, no quarterfinals, just a one-game-winner-take-all championship game. With this system, the league still gets their marquee event to generate publicity and recruit sponsorship and the regular season, for the first time ever, becomes meaningful.

    Critics of this format will claim that most of the teams will be out of the title chase early and will have no incentive to play. Two responses: there can't be a model where every team can still win the championship through the entire season nor can there be a model where there is no regular season, only a playoff. With the model that I am proposing, the "playoff-type" games will occur all the time and the game, the game itself, will be the prize. This is why 80,000 fans show up to see Schalke FC play Werder Bremen in the middle of the Bundesliga campaign. You don't get 10 or 20,000 at regular season matches "waiting" around for the big playoff game. An example closer to home is American college football, where 107,000 people show up to see a sub-.500 Penn State team play Purdue with little or no chance of the Nittany Lions making it to a bowl game. It is the game itself that draws them. This is the tradition that MLS should adopt. This way, we can have DC-NE classicos in April, May, June, July, August, and September instead of just in October and November. I am so convinced of this that I intend to write the MLS competition committee about it. Hopefully, they will read the letter. Your support will help.


    Regards,


    Mike


    Melvindale, Michigan
     
  2. Chowda

    Chowda Member

    Sep 13, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    I like your proposal, but I doubt MLS would go for it. Other sports in the US have very successful playoffs and that's probably what MLS wants. I dislike the current format, but for different reasons: its too long and the timing stinks.

    A month-long playoff that starts during the baseball playoffs is just plain wrong.

    It is very hard for a longtime fan of baseball who also likes soccer to stay interested during the three week period from the end of the MLS season to the conference finals.

    My recommendation: Dump the first round and only the top two teams in each conference play a one game conference final. Also, play MLS Cup just before the baseball playoffs start. This would accomplish the following:

    A one game conference final where the top seed gets home field should be a big draw. If the top teams clinch early, they could have a few weeks to promote the game and sell tickets. I believe KC only had five days to sell tickets to their game on Friday. Plus, hosting the conference final is a real reason to play hard during the regular season.

    Playing the game in mid to late September would lay claim to this time of the year on the sports calendar. It would take moving up the start of the season by a few weeks, but that is possible.

    My solution is probably only neccesary until the league grows in both popularity and number of teams. I like the home and home format, but it has the obvious flaw of no real advantage for the home team. Also, 80% of the teams getting in (66% next year) doesn't make since when the first round is drowned out by baseball as seen by a DROP in attendance from games played just weeks earlier at the same venues.


    BTW, I have to respectfully disagree with a few points of yours:

    I don't believe the purpose of MLS Cup is to showcase the league internationally. It's tradition here to have a final. Also, I believe it's to get the US fan to tune in. They can identify with the excitement of a league championship game. Also, Penn State still draws even when they are in a slump due their rich tradition and their absolutely enormous alumni roll. Plus, they only have a handful of home games a year. MLS has a few generations to go until their tradition even comes close.
     
  3. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Club:
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The main flaw in your plan is that in it, only two teams end up getting rewarded with the results from games in the regular season. In your Bundesliga example, there are many more.

    The champion, of course, is one. The Champions League qualifiers are three (four?) more. The UEFA Cup qualifiers are some others, although admittedly, the big clubs often aren't all that jazzed about it, but the Schalkes and Bremens of your example would be. And, most importantly for this discussion, the relegation-fight survivors.

    If MLS were to adopt this proposal, it would have the effect of making more games meaningless, not less, especially from about the middle of the season onwards, when it becomes clear which teams are no longer in the hunt for the division title.
     
  4. Chowda

    Chowda Member

    Sep 13, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    The debate about parity is a good one. We have enjoyed payody in MLS for virtually every season. A three game win streak(did that even happen this year?) normally means catapulting a team into or near first place no matter where they started from. We talk about the last place team like they are the Clippers and the first place team like they are the Lakers when they may be just eight points apart.

    If we adopted the above proposal, some teams may play some meaningless games at the end of the season. This would have some obvious drawbacks. There may be, however, some positives.

    Some teams, who may be out of it early, may trade some stars to a contender fighting for the top spot in return for some prospects or draft picks in order to rebuild or lighten their payroll. This could conceivably add some trade talk drama and shakeup the title hunt.

    That could be good. However, with single entity, parity will go on. Why trade an expensive player when all the teams are helping to absorb your losses?

    Good competition is probably the best way to grow a young league. It also helps build rivalries. Maybe there will be some Crew-Rev heat next year for example. This goes a long way in building tradition. Which leads us back to the current playoff structure and why it probably won't change in the near future.
     
  5. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Club:
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm convinced that the best playoff format is:

    Two groups of four teams, seeded by regular-season finish, either overall or within divisions (I prefer overall, but divisions would work).

    Group A: Seeds 1,4,6,8.
    Group B: Seeds 2,3,5,7.

    The higher seed hosts each game, and the only tiebreaker within the group is higher seed.

    The two group winners play in the MLS Cup Final. Or, if it becomes advantageous to add a layer of playoffs (i.e., they start to generate more interest and make money), you could even have a semifinal round, single games between the winner of one group and the runners-up of the other, hosted by the group winners.

    So, the top team in each group gets all of their playoff games at home, second seed gets all but one, third seed gets one home game, and the last seed plays all of their playoff games away (something that I have no problem with, since the seventh- and eighth-best teams are just happy to be in the playoffs at all).

    There are many advantages to this system, but the main one, IMHO, is that every regular-season game means something, since playoff seeding is everything. Every higher seed has a distinct advantage over every lower one, so that even after a team clinches a playoff spot, it will want to win more games, to get more home playoff games.

    In the playoffs themselves, the result of each game is huge, but there is less of a chance of one fluky result bouncing out a better team. But, if a lower-seeded team gets hot, they have a chance to advance, but they have to earn it, since they didn't win enough in the regular season.

    The overall champion (Supporter's Shield winner) gets a big advantage by having to play no higher than the fourth-best finisher.

    Three playoff games can be played in a week, and venues can be scheduled in advance.

    Round-robin play is something that even casual soccer fans can understand, since it's the same format as the World Cup.

    If you have to have playoffs, and it's pretty obvious that, for a variety of reasons at this point in the league's history, you do, this is by far the best way of doing it.
     
  6. sokol

    sokol Member

    Aug 4, 2004
    My ideal league format would be to have a system with several small divisions. Each team would play a regular schedule against every other team, but also have games against divisional opponents that count more in the standings, such as giving four points for a win or having teams play home and away series' against their division with the winners recieving extra points. Or any other good way to add to the value of winning against your division.

    Then, the playoffs would be a tournament of division winners. What a system like this does is essentially put the playoffs right in the regular season, without detracting from the regular season itself. It gives every team games with sort of a playoff atmosphere, while not discrediting the importance of non-division games, since they still make up the bulk of your season and the bulk of possible points. But instead of being able to just take 4th in a conference, you have to win your division. The problem is that while MLS is expanding, it would probably have to change a lot from year to year to deal with different numbers of teams. A twelve team league could do this perfectly but it would be hard to do it with 14. Other plusses would be strong rivalries, and the at the end of the year there wouldn't be that feeling that someone doesn't belong in the playoffs. Overall it would increase the intensity of MLS.
     
  7. jmeissen0

    jmeissen0 New Member

    Mar 31, 2001
    page 1078
    just quit this f-ing crap

    the playoffs are fine... sure, not everyone will ever be happy

    but guess what... everyone won't always be happy no matter what is done


    and guess what... we have had great games in the playoffs, it's exciting... so i'd have to assume that it's working pretty well

    who cares what some moron thinks is fair or not fair

    it's mls' post-season tournament... they can do whatever they want with it and it's fair because it follows their guidelines... anything else is bitching to bitch

    so shut the ******** up and watch the ********ing soccer





    remember, there are three titles that every mls team can compete for every year... this isn't the only one... all three competitions are done differently... that's damn cool

    just start putting as much credence into the other two as you do with the mls cup
     
  8. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Post of the year.
     
  9. The Artist

    The Artist Member+

    Mar 22, 1999
    Illinois
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    A few points:

    If an eighth place team ever wins MLS cup I will congratulate them and consider them the true and legitimate champions of the league.

    There is no perfect playoff system. Each system has strengths and weaknesses. The current one has produced several excellent games in only two years which suggests it probably has more strengths than weaknesses.

    If they had playoffs in Germany they would still get the same crowds for early season games. The games in Europe aren't intense because of the competition format. They are intense because of decades of tradition, pride, and rivalries, because millions of dollars are at stake every season, because each move a player makes is analyzed the next day in the media, and, not least of all, because the weather makes it possible to run hard each week for ninety minutes.

    In a home and home format the higher seed has the exact same home-field advantage as the higher seed in the NBA, NHL, and MLB. If the series goes to the limit four-sevenths of the time will be played at the home of the higher seed and three-sevenths will be played at the home of the lower seed. In the conference final the higher seed gets far more advantage than in those other leagues.

    In nine years of following the league the only time I've ever felt a regular season United game was meaningless was the few games after the team had either clinched the Supporter's Shield or clinched missing the playoffs. Even at their best and at their worst there have been very few such games.

    The fact that higher-seeded teams win an overwhelming number of playoff series suggests that there is something worth playing for. The coach who seems most to agree that seeding doesn't matter is Bradley, who routinely lets the Metros tank the last few weeks once they clinch a playoff spot. His teams have been embarrassing the last two years in the playoffs.

    This will be the last year that a team with a record as bad as the Revs even makes the playoffs. Expansion will make sure of that.

    I would like to see the league award a CCC spot to the Shield winner, just to legitimize that award.

    I'm not saying don't change the playoffs. I'm saying changing the playoffs is the least of the league's concerns. Whatever the playoff system it will have little effect on what we see on the field.
     
  10. Eric B

    Eric B Member

    Feb 21, 2000
    the LBC
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Indeed, what the Revs did this year, and what the Rapids did in 1997 is called a "playoff run" kids, and they happen often in AMERICAN SPORTS. That's what MLS is, boys and girls, a sports league in America. Those same teams that make playoff runs usually don't end up winning it all either, like the 2003 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, or the 1992 Minnesota North Stars.

    No, it's because there's no playoffs! Haven't you been paying attention? That's why all the soccer fans in this country form other nations aren't following MLS, because of the playoffs.

    Except for Mexicans, of course, who have as many as twleve teams make the playoffs out of 18. And they make a huge portion of the US's ex-pat potential fan base, but other than them, it's got to be about the playoffs!

    But your actually a fan of your team, you're not a soccer snob who will come up with any other excuse to not follow the league.
     
  11. Eric B

    Eric B Member

    Feb 21, 2000
    the LBC
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I forgot to quote the earlier but this sentence should pretty much end the argument that MLS playoffs, as they stand now, make the regular season meaningless.
     
  12. subbuteo

    subbuteo New Member

    Dec 17, 2002
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Ask Chicago and Dallas if the regular season's importance was negated. I would think it wasn't negated for them, since they missed the playoffs. One ore two more wins in April, May, June, July or August would have been a huge incentive for both clubs.
     
  13. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Club:
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    What, posting opinions on a message board? Yeah, let's just stop offering suggestions to make the sport better, for no other reason than YOU don't want to read them.

    You must be a Republican, with that disdain for freedom of expression thing you got going there.

    So, if something can't be perfect, it should never be improved? We will never eliminate people being killed in car wrecks, so let's not bother trying to make cars safer. Nice reasoning.


    Pretty well, sure. But, there's not one single reason to believe that changing the format wouldn't increase the number of great playoff games, and make the playoffs work better than "pretty well".

    Or, what some moron thinks we shouldn't talk about on BigSoccer....?

    The only "bitching" that's gone on in this thread so far has come from you. Do you really not know the difference between suggesting alternatives that could improve the playoffs and "bitching"?

    Seig heil! Tell me again how tiresome "bitching just to bitch" is.

    Well, here's something that we can agree on. I'd love it if the USOC and the Supporter's Shield got more attention. Especially since the current MLS Cup Playoffs aren't perfect. Yet. :)

    Yeah, it's that easy. Just do that. Simple. :rolleyes:
     
  14. budalabutt

    budalabutt Red Card

    Nov 4, 2004
    Chi-town

    Brilliant post!!! All these no playoff single table I want to suck Euro trash ******** so bad goof balls on here want to always change.

    Its fine it works dont ******** with it.

    At least someone on here has a brain
     
  15. Eric B

    Eric B Member

    Feb 21, 2000
    the LBC
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Considering that his avatar is an upside down American flag, I imagine he's an open minded leftist like you. :rolleyes:
     
  16. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Club:
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I assumed that, too. In a fit of pique, it was the worst thing I could think of to call him. :)
     
  17. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    An upside-down flag is not left-wing or right-wing symbol.

    It's a distress signal. :rolleyes:
     
  18. Eric B

    Eric B Member

    Feb 21, 2000
    the LBC
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I know that, Moo Boy, but of which political bent do think someone who says "my nation is in distress", especially after last week's election, would lean?
     
  19. Jewelz510

    Jewelz510 Member+

    Feb 19, 2011
    Bay Area
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    How did you know this?

    How did you know this?!!

    HOW'D IT GET BURNED?! HOW'DAGEBURN?!!

    7 years later, MLS still can't figure out a decent playoff format that isn't stupid retarded. I needed two adjectives because one doesn't express the ubsurdity enough.
     
  20. MLS Detroit

    MLS Detroit Member

    Jan 20, 2001
    Melvindale, MI, USA
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Thanks for digging this one up; I am not psychic; just made an educated guess. In the past seven years, the league has improved by leaps and bounds but this playoff issue will be a point of contention for years to come.
     
  21. DavidP

    DavidP Member

    Mar 21, 1999
    Powder Springs, GA
    Here's my proposal (which can be adjusted as more teams come in):

    For 18-19 teams:

    Three divisions (6 teams each, or 2 w/6 teams, 1 w/7 (if 19 teams))

    Division winners plus wild card make the playoffs. Teams are seeded according to final season standings

    1 v. 4 (wild card); 2 v. 3

    Winners play for the championship.

    For 20 teams:

    Four 5-team divisions

    Teams are seeded according to final season standings

    Division winners make the playoffs

    1 v. 4; 2 v.3

    Winners play for the championship

    For 24 teams:

    Two conferences, with three 4-team divisions.

    Division winners plus wild card from each conference make the playoffs

    Teams are seeded according to final season standings

    1 v. 4 (wild card); 2 v. 3

    Winners play for the conference championship

    Conference champs play for the league championship.

    For 30 teams:

    Use the 24-team format, but with three 5-team divisions in each conference. You know the rest.

    My pleasure. ;)
     
  22. CoconutMonkey

    CoconutMonkey Member

    Aug 3, 2010
    Japan
    Club:
    Chicago
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    [​IMG]

    I disagree... but I defend your right do so :cool:.

    Don't get me wrong, the playoffs have produced some great matches. Dallas v RSL last year were two of the best MLS matches I can remember, but that's what happens when two top 4 teams are forced to duke it out in the first round.
     
  23. CoconutMonkey

    CoconutMonkey Member

    Aug 3, 2010
    Japan
    Club:
    Chicago
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I like it. Not just because it resembles competitions we already know and love, but how flexible it can be.

    If the league plays a balanced schedule, we can do it similar to how you outlined above. In fact you could even throw in a preliminary round. That way, 10 teams still technically enter the post season AND the top 8 teams still get at least 1 home match.

    Or if/when the league moves to an unbalanced schedule (think 2 conferences of 2 divisions in a 20 team league), the group stage could be done intra-conference only.

    However, I think I'd prefer the semi-final go to a two game aggregate. It's not a deal breaker for me, just fan preference, but I think home field advantage should be diminished the further you go into a tournament.

    Top seeds already have a massive advantage in the group stage, if a team manages to make it out of the group after playing 3 road matches, I think they (and their fans) deserve a chance to play at home.
     
  24. Orange Sounder

    Aug 8, 2009
    Redmond, WA
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    Netherlands
  25. Achowat

    Achowat Member+

    Mar 21, 2011
    Revere, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This would be the absolute worst playoff format ever. After each team plays their 34 games, you take the Top 10 and play another single-table round robin for the title. How are you going to fit these 18 new game days into the schedule? /sarcasm

    This thread is about proposed new playoff structures. If you want to talk about the benefits of playoffs v single table, start a thread like that. Or better yet, just bump one of the 10,000 sitting in the archives waiting for someone like you to

    Oh, and usuing hashtags doesn't make you cool. #ThisIsntIRCorTwitter
     

Share This Page