Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
MLS conks head against goalpost on tiebreaker
by Ridge Mahoney, August 13th, 2012 6:24PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

To its credit, MLS has taken strides to adhere, eventually, to generally accepted soccer canons.

After slogging through all manner of playoff formats -- here we set aside the subject of playoffs, per se, they are here to stay so just go with the flow -- it has adopted the two-games, total-goals system. It experimented with a 10-minute overtime, then dropped it when FIFA grumbled its displeasure at such heresy. The 35-yardline shootout, thankfully, hasn't been seen in more than a decade and love 'em or hate 'em, we got ties.

But there's a time to abandon custom and resort to logic instead, yet sadly, in revamping its tiebreaker procedures to determine standing places between teams tied on points, MLS has conked its head against the goalpost.

In previous seasons, tied teams were un-tied by a series of criteria, starting with head-to-head records and descending into a morass of other comparisons. By adopting an unbalanced schedule, MLS has rendered that system impractical; though it juggled all manner of formulas in search of a fair system to compare teams that had played three times, since one of them would have the edge of playing twice at home, it found no solution.

Its decision to use goals scored as the first tiebreaker, though laudable in the sense of rewarding teams for scoring, has been roundly ridiculed. But seldom if ever has been mentioned the most sensible criteria, that good old standby, victories. Yes, Ws, plain and simple.

For some reason, the sport has shied away from rewarding teams that win more games, preferring to use obtuse methods such as goal average (goals scored divided by goals allowed, once used in England -- look it up) to separate tied teams.

This makes no sense to me. And at the risk of mentioning another sport rife with ties, the first tiebreaker used by the National Hockey League is victories.

Imagine that! After wins is used head-to-head results, and then goal differential (goals scored minus goals allowed).

As to objection No. 1, that teams tied on points would probably also have identical records, the truth is otherwise. The last two playoff spots in the 2010 season were claimed by Colorado and San Jose, which both accumulated 46 points. But the Quakes lost the head-to-head tiebreaker and thus were seeded sixth in the conference and eighth overall despite winning more games.

Their 13-10-7 record would have trumped Colorado's 12-8-10, and how different the world might be, etc. That same season, both Columbus (14-8-8) and FC Dallas (12-4-14) finished with 50 points but different records.

Manchester United and Manchester City finished tied atop the Premier League standings last May with records of 28-5-5. It happens. Fair enough. City won the title on goal difference. Fine. My solution would be a playoff hosted by the superior team determined head-to-head, then goal difference. (FYI, Serie A uses a playoff game in such a scenario.)

Now, one could argue the other side, that a team that lost fewer games deserved the higher placing, but in my mind a team that wins more games has earned the reward. In any case, MLS forgot about the forest while combing through the trees on this one, and fluffed a great chance to stake out new ground.



2 comments
  1. bgix
    commented on: August 14, 2012 at 5:15 p.m.
    While I would have no terrible objection to using wins as one of the early tie breakers, I think you bashed yourself on the head, Mr Mahoney, when you suggest head-to-head as the 2nd. You of course know that this is an unbalanced schedule. What happens when you need to break the tie of two teams that have met only once? It makes for a significant home field advantage. <conk> Instead of being so quick to point out whatever outrageous flaws you imagine are being inflicted upon MLS, take a breath and consider the wisdom of your own suggestions.
  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: August 15, 2012 at 3 p.m.
    Mr Mahoney you are part right. To not start with most wins is just dumb. Then go to goal difference. Then goals. The "Supporters Shield" is almost meaningless now -- they just made it more so.

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Chicago Fire's Paunovic is counting on new youngsters    
A major makeover of the Fire under head coach Veljko Paunovic and general manager Nelson Rodriguez ...
For once, USA starts off a year just as it's supposed to    
Defensive miscues. Sloppy touches. Blown assignments. Confusion. These negative facets of play have been part and ...
Jozy shows he's still the man up front    
U.S. soccer fans have a love-hate relationship with most of their big stars. For every fan ...
Lee Nguyen on how he parlayed longer offseason into national team success    
Revs attacker Lee Nguyen got his first U.S. start against Iceland last Sunday and turned in ...
Revs' Heaps relishes competition and preaches consistency    
Aside from the apparent departure of Jermaine Jones, not a lot has changed on the New ...
USA-Canada match underscores Olympic issues for Klinsmann    
A games against Canada Friday may be the last opportunity for USA coaches Jurgen Klinsmann and ...
Christian Pulisic, 'the American Jewel,' must be protected    
I can think of 10 reasons we should be excited about Christian Pulisic. Those are each ...
Paths of Miazga and Cropper cross with both at crucial points    
An FA Cup match this weekend between MK Dons and Chelsea is a tussle between a ...
Return of Movsisyan reconnects Real Salt Lake with its rise to success    
After five years in Europe, striker Yura Movsisyan has come back to Real Salt Lake on ...
Coaches-in-training ready to whip LA Galaxy locker room into shape    
With three MLS titles in five seasons with the LA Galaxy and a scoring rate that ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives