MLS considering significant overhaul of playoff format: Sources

Major League Soccer is considering a major change in its playoff format for 2013, club and league sources said Athletic on Tuesday The sources spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the ongoing discussions.

Sources said the league, which will expand to 29 teams next season with the development club St. Louis City SC, may increase the number of football playoffs from the current 13 to next year’s 30. The idea of ​​moving the NCAA to 30 post-season games was also drafted by MLS in a document distributed to clubs over the summer. Athletic on Tuesday

Sources said the league is planning to expand its playoff division to match its overall postseason inventory to increase the first year of a new media rights agreement with Apple. The league and Apple announced a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal in June that will see the tech giant show every MLS regular-season and playoff match on Apple TV streaming services from 2023.

MLS’ current playoff format includes seven teams from each conference. All playoff matches are single elimination, giving the league a total of 13 postseason matches, including the MLS Cup.

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That format will have to be changed to accommodate the 30 matches. According to sources, one possible outcome would be a change to a World Cup-style tournament. The specifics of what this potential tournament would look like were not clearly known from the sources, but one hypothesized that the format could look something like this;

  • The top eight teams from the conference would each qualify for the postseason
  • Those parts would be divided into four parts
  • Groups will be separated from the conference; Western Conference teams Western Conference teams and Eastern Conference teams Western teams are not only associated with fellow Eastern Conference teams
  • As in the World Cup, each team would play three group stage matches, one against the other three teams in the group.
  • The top two seeds in each group would contain two playoff games; the bottom two seeds to host one group-stage game
  • The top two teams from each group advance to the eight-team, single-elimination knockout stage
  • Like the group scene, the scene would also be divided by a tap from the conversation
  • The higher seeds will host the playoffs, with the Western Conference champion advancing to the MLS Cup against the Eastern Conference champion.
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The same source that outlined this potential new formation also noted that MLS could construct such a tournament that multiple group stage matches every night for about two weeks. The current MLS playoffs form a difficult league to generate narratives; a blow and the whole field was called. Expanding the playoffs and having consecutive night games for several weeks could theoretically allow the league to play more football. Conversely, turning to a playoff format that would be unique to both soccer and the North American sports landscape could confuse casual fans or newcomers to the league.

Again, the changes are not final yet. Sources said top-level MLS owners and officials discussed the World Cup-style format this summer and the proposed change was viewed favorably. Approval of such a change would have to be granted by the full MLS board of directors, which will meet next November in Brooklyn.

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The league could also potentially consider other formats that would bring it closer to its goal of 30 postseason games – just by revising the current format to a bipartisan system followed by one championship game, resulting in a 25-game postseason schedule.

The league’s playoff format has changed multiple times over its 27-year history. In its early days, the eight-team league used 10 teams to play the most appropriate season, and the league used a best-of-three format for the conference semifinals and finals. They changed that system in 2000 when they divided the league into three divisions, with the league’s top eight teams, regardless of division, advancing to the playoffs. The league stuck with this format for a while, but eventually the number of teams from the conference qualified for each other and did away with the best-of-three system, moving to two-legged matchups. In 2019, the league introduced its current, low-scoring, single-elimination format.

(Top photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)



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