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
MLS conks head against goalpost on tiebreaker
by Ridge Mahoney, August 13th, 2012 6:24PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

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
Dynamo can't afford to stumble again in wake of Coyle departure    
Both former head coaches of the Houston Dynamo are natives of Scotland, and were born in ...
Il caso Giovinco: Italy's loss is MLS's gain    
Sebastian Giovinco isn't going to the Euros. Italy's loss is MLS's gain. More particularly, Toronto FC ...
Philadelphia Union embarks on its toughest stretch of games to date    
The Philadelphia Union, the Eastern Conference leader, plays in Orlando Wednesday, flies halfway across the country ...
Perry Kitchen finds a new niche in Scotland    
Perry Kitchen left MLS after five seasons though the destination turned out to be somewhat of ...
Howard leaves Everton for a much different MLS and USA    
Is the time right for Brad Guzan to take over as the U.S. No. 1? Both ...
Kamara deal shakes up stagnant Revs    
Nobody can match the production of Kei Kamara since he joined Columbus prior to the 2015 ...
Busy midweek schedules add to unique travel woes in MLS    
No MLS head coach or executive has ever praised the league's schedule-makers. Conflicts with other competitions ...
It's time for Klinsmann to go young    
At first blush, there is nothing startling about the 40-player list from which Jurgen Klinsmann will ...
NYCFC's Pirlo problem won't go away    
Jason Kreis, New York City FC's head coach for its expansion season, never came out and ...
Recent incidents sharpen focus on how video replay can improve the game    
MLS and other North American soccer leagues are awaiting specific guidelines to be issued by FIFA ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives