MLS: 2001 playoff format revealed

Major League Soccer's Competition Committee announced today that the MLS Cup Playoffs will retain the "first team to five points" format for the 2001 MLS Postseason. In addition, the Substitution Rule will remain as 3 + 1. The Competition Committee has also approved adding "Fewest Disciplinary Points" awarded to a team during the regular season as an additional mechanism for breaking ties. It shall be the sixth tiebreaking procedure with the final mechanism remaining as a coin toss. A detailed description of the MLS playoff format follows: All MLS Cup Playoff matches will consist of 90 minutes of regulation. Should any match remain tied after regulation, the standard golden-goal overtime of 10 minutes (two five-minute periods) that is currently used during the regular season will be conducted in an attempt to decide the match. Thus, the three-game series is similar to having a three-game mini-season. Should the points in the series be tied at the conclusion of game three (whether game three is completed in regulation or overtime), the two clubs will move directly to a 20-minute golden-goal series tiebreaker (two 10-minute periods). If neither team scores during the 20-minute period, the series will be decided on penalty kicks similar to the World Cup Finals. Standard tiebreaking procedures (aggregate goals, etc.) used during the regular season will not be utilized during the MLS Cup Playoffs. Each of the league's three Division champions will advance to the MLS Cup Playoffs and are seeded 1, 2 or 3 by virtue of greater regular season point total. In order to fill out the eight overall playoff berths, the remaining five "wild card" teams are determined by the total number of regular season points, regardless of division. Standings ties will be broken by the current league tie-breaking procedures. The MLS Cup Playoffs consist of three playoff rounds: Semifinals, Finals and the MLS Cup. Semifinals and Finals are a best-of-three format. MLS Cup 2000 will feature the league's two top teams vying for the league championship in a one-game showdown on October 21 in Columbus, Ohio. Any playoff series that remains tied following standard overtime procedures at the end of Game Three will again be decided by a 20-minute golden-goal series tiebreaker. The points system used for the playoffs will remain the same as during the regular season (win = 3pts., loss = 1pt.).
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