Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by jmeissen0, Nov 5, 2003.
i concur that the second round should be home and away... otherwise the current system is great
and the notion of letting the higher seed choose when they play at home is interesting
I agree with Wheelock that MLS is inching closer to the perfect playoffs.
However, I think that the final step will come when MLS gets rid of the first game in the two-legged first round.
Make it single-elimination from the first round to the final.
if you make the second round home and home, you make the playoffs a complete crapshoot, unless you plan on instituting a system where the low seed must win to advance.
And Dustin is right, it should be single game. However, the current system is interesting and workable. It would be a lot better and probably as peasing to the most people as possible by instituting a higher-seed rule in the first round.
I could accept it. It would given the higher seed a real and tangible advantage.
The "but higher seeds would just bunker for two games" arguments against it amuse me. First of all, I don't think it's going to happen to the extent that some people seem to think. Second, I don't think that anyone has ever invented any sort of playoff or cup system where you can't make a legitimate argument that teams will bunker. Third, it's not as if the current system is immune to bunkering. On Saturday night in San Jose, EVERYBODY will be in LA's bunker -- Carlos Ruiz, Cobi Jones, Eva Braun, everybody.
Yeah, well, they earned that right by kicking SJ's ass at home. (But I hope they do start bunkering up on Saturday because the game's on Sunday, maybe they'll get tired and let a few in.)
Yeah, but even if they let a few in on Saturday it won't effect the standings of the series.
I personally favor home & away, with the higher seed advancing if aggregate score is even (a la MFL.)
I think this is the way to go.
I'd also like to see just six teams advance to the playoffs, with the two highest seeds earning a bye to the second round while seeds 3-6 play in sort of a 'wild card' game in the first round. It would make the playoffs more exciting, give true advantage to teams that did well in the regular season, and make the regular season more meaningful, too.
I don't mind the current home/away 1st round, but I still like a best of 3 series. I know it's difficult to schedule, and that is a legit concern.
Weelock needs to get off his point about the higher seed choosing to play at home in the 1st or 2nd game. He spends 1/2 the time on MLS Wrap complaining about that. Having the 2nd leg at home is the better option, you get the potential tie breaker at home. If you want MORE advantage to go to the higher seed, then play a "best of" series and give the higher seed more home games. Everyone know that moving to an agg. goal series would lessen the advantage for the higher seed. Can't have it both ways.
One other thing: Club that wins the Cup gets right of first refusal to host cup the following year.
The main drawback to single-elimination, in my opinion, is that the League Champion shouldn't be determined by a potentially fluky one-game performance (EDIT: Especially in the early rounds, by a lower seed. The Cup Final is less objectionable, since both teams had to survive to get there, and it's almost impossible to jettison, from the marketing perspective). That could potentially render the regular season even more meaningless than the current system. The higher seeds deserve the chance to overcome one bad game, and the lower seeds should have to work longer than 90 minutes to prove that they are worthy to advance past the higher seed.
I like the system that the instiute for professional rugby in England:
the #1 Team automatically qualifies for the championship game.
Team #2 plays #5, #3 plays #4, home field advantage to the higher seed, the winners play in the semi-finals, the winner of which advances to play #1 in the Championship match.
This way, the regular season champ is rewarded for an entire season of excellence.
That would be pretty interesting, but wouldn't it mean that MLS would have to realign (eliminate) the conferences yet again?
The playoffs from a viewer and attendance point of view has been a disappointment year after year. I'd still like to see it shortened to a few teams. Maybe doing as suggesting and a spot in the playoffs to the top team. 2 and 3 can then battle for the other.
Along with that I'd also like to see is a big fat purse going to the winners in the form of a 100% bonus to the champs, and a 50% to the 2nd place team. I've always wondered if the cost to cover this could come from eliminating a round of playoffs that haven't paid for themselves anyway.
I'd also look forward to the day where the championship isn't played at a neutral place.
I've found some good comments in my e-mail today.
First, even though the two-leg system is more common worldwide than the "first to five," it's hard to call this a traditional way of settling a league championship. Now, if this were a "League Cup," then maybe we could talk about it being a recognizable tournament.
Another suggested a novel solution to the need to spread around home games -- borrow the brackets tthat I believe are used in various rugby leagues and the America's Cup:
First round (single game):
- #2 at #1 in each conference. Winner gets a bye; loser plays in second round.
- #4 at #3 in each conference. Winner plays in second round; (cue Cantona) the loser goes home.
Second round (single game):
- 3-4 winners at 1-2 losers.
Conference finals (single game):
- Second-round winners at first-round winners.
This accomplishes the following:
- Reward for #1 is greater than reward for #2, which is greater than reward for #3 and so on.
- Six teams get home games. #1 and #3 host the first round. #2 hosts the conference final if it wins the first round, or it hosts the second-round game.
I'd be a little antsy about single games throughout because someone might lose through the penalty-kick lottery, but the top teams would have to lose twice in three games to be knocked out. If you lose twice on penalties, it's just not your year.
Now that's interesting.
I hesitate to do this, because it may be construed as spamming, but I have the perfect playoff system, described here:
The short version, is two groups of four, seeded, with the top seed in each group playing all three games at home, and the bottom seed in each playing all three on the road.
That takes too long and it doesn't address The Lamar Hunt Mandate(tm) that every club have a playoff home game.
Then again, neither does the first system, unless you made the 3-4 playoff two legs.
How long does it take to play the first round of the World Cup? One week, right?
The Lamar WHAT?! Anyway, the bottom two don't deserve home playoff games, especially in a 10-team league. The top 60% of the league get at least one home game. That mandate would be easily overcome, I would think, in this system. Of course, that's without having the slightest idea about Hunt's temperament or anything....
I agree with this statement.A team that finishes third and fourth in a five team conference does not deserve a home playoff game.
You know, this is crazy. So crazy it just might work. Cue the Mission Impossible theme.
There is no one right way to do the playoffs but some are more right than others. This one feels righteous.
I like this a lot. It is unique and legitimate. It rewards the regular season. I'm trying to think of a reason not to like this...and I can't do it.
Well, unfortunately, Uncle Lamar feels differently. Apparently, he's still annoyed that the Chefs didn't get a home playoff game during the '70s and '80s because of the NFL's single-elimination playoff.
Mind you, for many of those years, the Chefs stunk out loud and didn't make the playoffs. As for MLS, I can't imagine that something like that would happen, mostly because MLS' parity. Let's look at who were the teams that would've gotten the home game in the first round in previous seasons if the MLS playoffs were single-elimination:
1996: LA, Dallas, Tampa Bay, DC United
1997: Kansas City, LA, DC United, Tampa Bay
1998: LA, Chicago, DC United, Columbus
1999: LA, Dallas, DC United, Columbus
2000: Kansas City, Chicago, Metros, Tampa Bay
2001: Miami, Chicago, LA, Columbus
2002: LA, New England, San Jose, Dallas
2003: San Jose, Kansas City, Chicago, New England
OK, everybody but Colorado would've gotten a home game. That's what you get for never having finished in the top two in your conference (1996-1999, 2003) or in the top four in the league (2000-2002), I suppose.
First To 5 is the winner, by far
WHEELOCK couldn't be more wrong.
Perfection isn't one-offs for playoffs. The fans get screwed. Leave that to the NFL and USOC. Perfection is, was, and will be First-to-5. It's the only system that rewards both team and fan base, allows teams to find their own separation on the field under normal rules while incorporating ties in a sport that must.
Numerous other playoff configuations have been dusted off for examination. Here's yet another one totally unsuited for soccer. Here's what the 16-team Aussie-rulles FB League (AFL) does. They call it "Double Chance Playoffs":
Top 8 of 16 go, everyone plays in R1 like this:
Week 1: 4 at 1, 3 at 2, 8 at 5, 7 at 6.
Week 2: The winners of the top seeded 2 games rest in Week 2 and host Week 3 Preliminary-Finals, the losers of the higher-seed games host the winners of the lower seeded games in week 2. The losers of the lower seeded games are OUT.
Week 3: Winners of week 2 games at winners of Week 1 games, reseeded to avoid possible rematches.
Week 4: Grand final for the Flag and Premiership
Here's another, just flip a coin for home field after a blind draw of the qualifying 8 teams. One-offs each Saturday. OT is play 'til you drop Sudden death like NHL. Oh, and it takes a minimum of 2 goals to win. That way we can kill geographic rivalry and the peak-and-valley theater of drama you only get with a series, get people hurt, have nothing televised, and maybe watch live bad soccer in the cold until 1 am.
Here's the perfect plan: Division Champs, Full on Best-of-5, Play 'til you drop OT.
No wait: Group Double round robin pool play of the Top 8 teams. Lower seeds play more road games. Corner kicks are the first tie-breaker. Winner of each pool plays a one-off Super Duper Stupendous Final!!!! Yeah, that's it!
First to 5 people. Everyone understands it well enough to rip it. Everyone doth protest too much.
Re: First To 5 is the winner, by far
Just what we need. More Tuesday night soccer.