2014 MLS Cup Playoffs: Away Goals Rule Adds New Wrinkle to Action


The first week of the 2014 MLS Playoffs action is over. There has been much talked about including the somewhat disappointing attendance numbers. Another talking point is the new away goals rule implemented for the 2014 MLS Playoffs.

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This new rule didn’t apply for the one-game Knockout Round matches and won’t for the MLS Cup Final either. However, it does apply for the two-legged Conference Semifinals and Finals matches. Basically, the away goals rule is used in case of a tie after both legs using aggregate scoring. While games are played home-and-away in two separate 90 minute games, the score total is based on both instances.

For example, if team A and B are tied after 180 minutes of play (two regulation games), then the away goals rule is used to break the tie. The team with the most away goals moves on to the next playoff round. However, if both teams have scored the same amount of away goals, then extra time and if needed penalty kicks are used. This is different then other soccer leagues and competition that count away goals as two goals.

This new rule has its supporters and opponents. One pro of the new rule is that it encourages attacking soccer. Away teams instead of sitting back playing for a tie are looking for that crucial goal.

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  • The New England Revolution scored an impressive four goals on the road against the Columbus Crew. They also hold a two goal lead as well. For the Crew to advance past New England, they will need to score three more goals than the Revolution in the second leg when the score less than five goals. If they only score two more goals than New England, then there would be a tie on aggregate, but the Revolution would advance based on the new away goals rule.

    Adam Jardy laid out some score possibilities and the result on Twitter on Tuesday. A 4-1 win would also see the Crew advance to the Conference Final round.

    Another example of how this new rule throws a new wrinkle. to the action is the Seattle Sounders-FC Dallas matchup. The first leg ended in a 1-1 tie with the Sounders scoring a key road goal. They head back to CenturyLink Field with the clear advantage. Yes, the game is tied, but the Sounders have a 1-0 away goals advantage right now.

    FC Dallas could score an away goal in Seattle, but Seattle has a plus 15 home goal differential, while FC Dallas has a -1 road goal differential. Seattle has only allowed 16 home goals during the regular season. CenturyLink Stadium is arguably the toughest stadium to play in as an opponent. The expected attendance for this weekend’s game is around 40 thousand fans. Most of those will be Sounders fans.

    The away goals rule may or may not be good for the MLS Cup Playoffs. However, it makes teams more motivated to attack on the road instead of just playing for a tie. It also adds another dimension to an already competitive MLS Cup Playoffs. The away goals rule is another factor to keep in mind when preparing for an opponent.

    Do you like or dislike the new away goals rule?

    Next: MLS Playoffs: Which Team Impressed During The First Leg? (Poll)