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How would you like the MLS playoffs to be set up?

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As the Major League Soccer postseason nears, much is still being made about the playoff set-up.

Why should the Supporters' Shield winner be forced to play a team like Seattle when two other teams finished with fewer points? Why does Real Salt Lake, who finished in second, have to play the team with the fifth-most points in the league?

Now's your chance to have a say. Cast your vote here:

How did you vote? What, if anything, do you think should be changed?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Inter-conference games only matter in leagues with weighted schedules (like the NFL where 6 of a team’s 16 games are against division foes.) As it stands now DC v. Chivas games means almost as much as a DC v. NY games. So what’s the point of having conferences if they aren’t manufacturing rivalries?

    Since the league went to this format I can’t remember a game where the inter-conference nature really mattered, other than those ad trumped-up “conference supremacy” games. Even then, games involving the Supporters Shield contenders matter more (and the general MLS fan still doesn’t care.)

  2. Expand the league, and have split single tables by conference. East and West champs, crowned on points, play in a home-away for the MLS Cup.

  3. -Supporters Shield winner automatic entry into MLS Cup.
    -Other participant decided in a 6 team playoff where 2 conference leader (non-Sheild winner) get home field adv. All rounds are 2-leg played within one week (Wed-Sat/Thur-Sun)

    One disadvantage would be that SS winners would idle for a couple of weeks. Though the playoff winner enters with no rest. (Maybe play a friendly with continental club, or D2 side to keep sharp?)

    Like the idea of having the cup be on the weekend following Thanksgiving. (I believe it’s been the week before these past couple years.)

  4. Wondering how playoffs would work if inter-conference matches during regular season mattered more. Isn’t that the point of having conferences anyway? How would this work: more points for these matches? Inter-conference record determines seeding/playoff position?

  5. What I want is this:

    — 20 teams, single table, no conferences, double round robin schedule. This amounts to a 38 game schedule, beginning in February (allowing soccer to grab some of the spotlight in the slowest month of the American sports year, and giving Champions League Quarterfinals teams time to get fit for competition), ending in October.
    — Regular season champ is the Major League champ, top 2 receive Champions League Group Stage berth (be they US-based or Canadian MLS teams)
    — Seeds 3 through 8 (or 10, can’t decide since that team might be under .500; remaining top half of the table) playoff in two-legged ties for a Champions League Preliminary Stage berth (be they US-based or Canadian MLS team)
    — Independent of the Major League would be the US Open Cup (probably renamed something), which would still be our national cup, only it would be placed on a pedestal. Allow for staggered entry for MLS clubs according to last year’s League standings (so that lower table clubs would still have SOME incentive for playing despite relegation not being a part of the game yet, but with the four clubs in continental competition entering the latest. Homefield for the single-legged ties would be decided by coin flip, and the Final would be true neutral site. Semifinals and Final would take place in November, AFTER the MLS regular season and Champions League Qualifying playoffs. Final should be Thanksgiving night, or that weekend, and it should be called the Soccer Bowl, not just as an homage to our soccer heritage, but so as to best stress to the American sports world (and media) that it’s our annual national showcase event. Winner of this gets Champions League Preliminary Stage berth. (US-based teams only, obviously)
    — Canadian Championship format determined by CSA based on the number of teams that merit invitation, winner gets Champions League Preliminary Stage berth (Canadian-based teams only, obviously).
    — Begin building a solid second division that can eventually reach profitability, at which point promotion and relegation can be considered.

  6. Go over to this is American soccer and check out their suggestion for a world cup/champions league style group stage. Sounds awesome

  7. As the league expands to 20 teams it should unquestionably be a single table, and with that we need to abolish the word “playoffs.”

    With a single table the ultimate goal is the Supporters Shield – have the most points of every other team in the league.

    The top 8 teams would qualify for the post-season tournament, the MLS Cup. 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5. Home and home (with away goal advantage) for every series but the Final – if MLS insists on neutral site finals. Otherwise, home and home for the finals as well.

  8. sorry, somehow didn’t see yours until after I posted mine–glad that someone is thinking the same thing…I’m not crazy, at least…

  9. Here’s what I’d do. Single-table, top 8 go to playoffs. In the first round, it’s 1v8, 2v7, 3v5 and 4v5 in a one-game elimination match at the higher seed’s pitch. In the second round, for the four teams that advance, you go to aggregate home-away matches. The final two teams meet in a neutral venue just as they do now.

    With this setup, higher seeds are rewarded for their finish in the first round, but after that you have to prove your dominance in a more neutral setting. The current setup does not provide enough of an incentive to higher seeds, as they don’t get home advantage in the first round (where upsets happen) and in fact have to start their playoffs away from home.

  10. Too many teams. No league should have more than half its teams make the playoffs, because then what’s the point of the regular season? (NBA and NHL: 16 of 30; CFL 6 of 8; compare to 8 of 30 MLB and 12 of 32 NFL…much more compelling numbers).

  11. 6 teams, top 2 teams get byes (top 2 determined by conference if unbalanced schedule, or top two overall if the schedule is balanced)


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