Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Unbalanced schedule, revised playoffs on tap
by Ridge Mahoney, November 20th, 2011 5:08PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS 2012]Months of discussions and meetings have, as expected, yielded a new look for MLS next season.

No longer will teams play each league rival at least twice in a balanced format. Rather than expand the schedule from 34 to 36 games, a necessity for a balanced schedule with 19 teams, MLS is beefing up intra-conference matches. It has also tweaked the playoff format yet again, though the elements of 10 qualifiers and wild-card games has been retained.

Citing travel distances and the taxing schedules some teams endure while playing in outside competitions such as the Concacaf Champions League, MLS Commissioner Don Garberconfirmed months ago a balanced schedule is no longer feasible. The schedule itself will be released early next year.

No longer will MLS stage its championship game at a pre-selected venue. Instead, the MLS Cup finalists with the greater number of points will host the match. Those teams will be determined by winners of the conference finals, which are being expanded from a single game to the same two-leg system used in the conference semis. One-game playoffs for wild-card teams have been retained.

REGULAR SEASON.The addition of Montreal as the 19th team next season will unbalance the conferences as well as the schedule, but the league has retained the concept that each team will play each league rival at least once.

Montreal goes into the Eastern Conference as the 10th team and will play seven of its conference foes three times (21 games) and two foes twice (four). Added to one game each against the nine Western Conference teams produces 34 games for the Eastern teams. An interesting question will be which teams play each other only twice and how those games will be rotated.

In the West, each of the nine teams will play its eight conference opponents three times (24 games) and the 10 Eastern teams once apiece for a total of 34 games. Teams will play four intra-conference teams twice at home and once away, and the other four once at home and twice away.

In the cases of teams playing each other an odd number of games, the home-and-away specifics will be reversed in 2013. As was the case this year, the season will start in mid-March and conclude in October

PLAYOFFS.The discrepancy between schedules played by teams in different conferences has prompted the league to once again tweak its methods of determining playoff teams. MLS has also expanded the playoffs to incorporate a two-game conference finals rather than the one-game final currently utilized.

In 2011, the top three teams in each conference and next four on overall points qualified for the playoffs. In 2012, the top five in each conference will qualify, since teams within the same conference play the same schedule.

In both conferences, the regular-season champion plays the winner of a wild-card game between the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, and the second- and third-place finishers meet in the two-game conference semifinals. Those winners square off in two-leg conference finals for a shot at MLS Cup, which for the first time will be hosted by the higher-seeded finalist rather than at a pre-selected venue.



3 comments
  1. Simon Provan
    commented on: November 21, 2011 at 9:45 a.m.
    "As was the case this year, the season will start in mid-March and conclude in October." Unless I missed something, I believe MLS Cup was held last night, NOVEMBER 20. While I'm a fan of the balanced schedule, if the schedule is going to be unbalanced, then conferences make sense. I'm also glad to see the playoffs will also truly follow a conference format. No more silly cross-over, even with wild-card teams.
  1. Mark Johnston
    commented on: November 21, 2011 at 1:15 p.m.
    WHY can't we keep things simple ? Why the wacky playoffs ? Garber is still in an NFL state of mind. If you have to have a playoff, then the best top 8 with a simple 3 round playoff at highest seed. Cutting a week out of the playoffs gives you time for the 2 extra regular season games. And for that matter, cut down on the mid-season friendlies to 1 per team (spread them out)
  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: November 21, 2011 at 1:32 p.m.
    I like the new schedule but think expanding the number of games to allow all to play each other twice, would have been better. The teams and coaches might object, but that is what subs are for.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Video Pick: A forward flips out to beat keeper    
In Colorado high school ball, Columbine junior Dylan Prichett-Ettner won a one-on-one with ThunderRidge's goalkeeper thanks ...
What They're Saying: Jurgen Klinsmann    
"They need to get the job done in St. Vincent, and then see how we can ...
Klinsmann keeps faith in recent callups    
U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann called in 26 players Sunday to a camp in ...
U.S. Abroad: Americans battle for top spot in Mexico    
Michael Orozco started and Paul Arriola was a late sub as Tijuana beat UNAM, 1-0, to ...
NWSL: Hope Solo granted 'personal leave'    
The Hope Solo saga took another turn on Saturday as her NWSL team, Seattle Reign FC, ...
MLS Week 25: Results & Standings    
Montreal ended Toronto FC's seven-game unbeaten streak (six wins and a tie) when Ignacio Piatti's goal ...
Video Pick: Wood strikes in Bundesliga debut    
It took 23-year-old American Bobby Wood, who scored 17 second division goals for Union Berlin last ...
U.S. Abroad: Johansson returns in crushing Bremen defeat    
Aron Johannsson returned to action in the Bundesliga for the first time in 11 months, starting ...
USA names roster for U-17 Women's World Cup    
Coach B.J. Snow has named the USA's 21-player roster for the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup ...
MLS Countdown: Vanney gives TFC reminder    
Toronto FC waited through many seasons and head coaches before finally reaching the playoffs last year. ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives