MLS Needs to Stop Expanding Playoffs


MLS you are doing it wrong. It also appears that you will keep doing it wrong no matter what your fans want. I know I don’t speak for all fans, but I know a few of them feel the same way I do. Stop expanding the playoffs! MLS slyly announce the change when they made the schedule announcement this past Wednesday.

Live Feed

Winning Mentality: Orlando City Overcomes Challenges and Shines in Victory
Winning Mentality: Orlando City Overcomes Challenges and Shines in Victory /

MLS Multiplex

  • Sporting Kansas City: Determination and Maturity on the Path to the PlayoffsMLS Multiplex
  • Agustín Rossi Without Playing for Flamengo: A Good Goalkeeper for MLS?MLS Multiplex
  • Messi at the 2024 Olympics: A Golden Opportunity for ArgentinaMLS Multiplex
  • Geovane Jesus' Injury Shakes Up FC Dallas: What Are the Team's Options?MLS Multiplex
  • Jean Pyerre: Challenges and Lessons in MLSMLS Multiplex
  • The rumors regarding MLS playoff expansion surfaced at the end of November. Brian Straus of reported the league would move from ten teams in the playoffs to 12. The previous four years saw a total of ten teams make the playoffs, five from each conference. Seeds four and five in each conference would square off on a Wednesday or Thursday to play in a “knock out round”. The winner of the knock out game would move on to face the number one seed in their respective conference.

    At the conclusion of the 2009 and 2010 MLS seasons, the top two teams of each conference made the playoffs. The clubs with the next four highest point totals, regardless of conference, were added to the playoffs. I personally did not like this setup. It was a horrible way to run the playoffs because you could have a team that played in the Western Conference all year be the Eastern Conference champion in MLS Cup, prime example being the Colorado Rapids winning MLS Cup in 2010.

    By adding 12 teams to the playoffs in a 20 team league, you water down the importance of the playoffs. That means that 60% of the teams playing the 2015 season will make the postseason. I guess the good thing about it is that it will keep some teams in the hunt a little bit longer than normal. If you look at last year’s results, which I did, the two extra teams that would made it would have been the Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union.

    Would these two teams have made an impact? It’s possible, but remember it just waters down the importance of making the playoffs. I know the playoffs are about whom gets hot at the right time and once you are in, anything can happen.

    Per this is how the playoffs will be next year:

    "In the postseason, the Knockout Round matches will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 28 and Thursday, Oct. 29. The Conference Semifinals will take place over two consecutive weekends, Oct. 31-Nov. 1 and Nov. 7-8. Following a FIFA break from Nov. 9 – 17, the Conference Championship matches will begin on Nov. 21-22 and close out Nov. 28-29. The Conference Semifinals and Conference Championship matches will again be 2-game aggregate goal series. Of the two clubs that reach MLS Cup, the team with the better regular season record will host the championship game, on Dec. 5-6 or Dec. 12-13."

    Even if they would have kept it at ten teams in a 20 team league, it would have been a better format. Other leagues in America have done the same. In the NBA, 16 of their 32 teams make the playoffs. Prior to 2013 season, MLS had eight of their 30 teams make it. Now it is ten of 30, which is still better than 12 of 20. The NFL probably has it set up the best as of right now. They have 32 teams and 12 teams make it. There are rumors of the NFL making it a 14 team field, but for now they are doing it the best in any other sports league in America.

    If MLS ever finally gets to Don Garbers dream of 24 teams by 2020, it makes you wonder if they will keep expanding the playoff format. If it was to stay the same as it is today, that would make for 50% of the league playing the postseason. I, at one point or another, would like to see MLS go back down to ten teams making the playoffs and make it actually mean something for the teams that make it. 

    What are your thoughts? Do you like so many teams being in the playoffs? Do you want more? Do you want to do away with playoffs? Let us know in the comments.

    Next: USMNT: January Roster Announced

    More from Playing for 90