OK, can any of you explain within the next 30 minutes who will be in the playoffs? I didn't think so. If Chicago loses to CUSA on Thursday, and FCD, DCU, and TFC win on Saturday, and the Revs win on Sunday, there will be 5 teams on 42 points. What's the problem? MLS chooses to use the head-to-head method as the first tiebreaker. Here are the gory details (see rule 8 below, and then add two more teams). But before you do that, figure out who finishes 2nd in the east, and THEN run the results for the remaining 4 teams. I'll wait: ================== TEAM-STANDINGS TIE-BREAKING PROCEDURES The team awarded the highest position in the MLS standings will be the team with the greatest number of points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, 0 points for a loss). In the event that two teams finish the regular season with an equal number of points, the following system will be used to break the tie: 1.The highest position shall be awarded to the team with the better win/loss record in current regular season games against all other teams equal in points. (head-to-head competition) 2.If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position shall be awarded to the team with the greater goal difference against all other teams during the regular season. (goal differential) 3.If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position shall be awarded to the team scoring the greatest number of total goals against all other teams during the regular season. (total goals) 4.If the teams are still equal in the standings, the procedures described in this section shall be applied only to games played on the road by each team against all other teams during the regular season. (road 1-3) 5.If the teams are still equal in the standings, the procedures described in this section shall be applied only to games played at home by each team against all other teams during the regular season. (home 1-3) 6.If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position shall be awarded to the team with the fewest team disciplinary points in the League Fair Play table during the regular season. 7.If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position in the standings shall be determined by the toss of a coin. 8.The first tiebreaker in a three-way tie is also head-to-head, but it is determined via points-per-game versus the other two teams. If two teams are tied in points-per-game head-to-head, the next tie breaker is goal difference. NOTE: If two clubs remain tied after another club with the same number of points advances during any step, the tie breaker reverts to step 1 of the two-club format. ======================= What's wrong with this picture? Try explaining this to someone whom you're trying to recruit as an MLS fan, or to a statistician, or a lawyer. There are three compelling arguments for an alternative method: Total Goal Difference and Total Goals Scored, the method used in all FIFA competitions, the Bundesliga and several other leagues. Philosophical. What are you trying to measure? Just two (or more) teams on the same number of points vs each other, or how all of the tied teams are doing vs the entire league. What's the point of having a league table then if you don't measure how the tied teams have done against the whole league? The playoff teams should be about who is the better team AGAINST THE ENTIRE LEAGUE FOR THE WHOLE SEASON because that's what Goal Difference and Goals Scored actually measure. By measuring the two (or more) teams against each other, you don't know on those few dates if players were injured, on international duty, etc. By measuring total performance for the entire season, you've got a better sense of which is actually the better team and deserves to be in the league playoffs. Just because other US sports use head-to-head as a tiebreaker, doesn't mean MLS has to. MLS used to have a countdown clock and (crap)shootouts too but then wisely adopted practices used for soccer in other countries. Simplicity. Just look at the standings, it's as plain as day and you don't need a legal document to figure it out. If you are trying to get fans to understand who's in and who's out, it takes 2 seconds to see who's got the better goal diff and goals scored. Why laboriously consult the "MLS Monks" to figure out how many head-to-head matchups can dance on the head of a pin? Fairness. Many of these teams tied on points have played 3 games vs each other. Clearly the team with 2 home games has a much greater chance of coming out ahead on points if you measure those three games. Doing against the entire league solves that problem. Until we get a balanced schedule next year (but apparently ONLY for next year because with 18 teams in 2011 we will be unbalanced again, unless there is a 34 game season) there will ALWAYS be instances when teams will have played each other an odd number of times. With more teams it's likely that you will be only measuring one head-to-head game which is truly unfair. * note. El Jefe to enter stage right to disagree in 5...4...3...2...1.... since we had a "preview" of this debate on the Week 31 multiple results thread.