Monday, April 02, 2007

MLS drops playoff spots, rewards good play

In a 'major announcement' Major League Soccer has decided to make performance on the pitch more important in 2007 then in past years.

Starting with this season, the two conference champions along with four 'wild card' teams will make the playoffs. These four teams are selected by point total and regardless of conference. This is fantastic. First, they have reduced the number of teams making the post season from 8 to 6, thus insuring that, for the first time, less then half the league will make it out of the regular season. And second, by making the playoffs an open system, teams will need to focus on everyone, not just those in the conference.

By the way, even though it is not mentioned anywhere, the six team playoff schedule would seem to suggest that conference champions will get a bye for the first round. If so, this is another excellent decision as it rewards a team who worked hard all season with two-weeks off ahead of their first playoff match. I wonder were I have read something like this before (so modest).

Edit: My bubble has been bursted. Sometimes I read what I want to read, not what is actually there. Turns out that, as the always wonderful manly ferry pointed out, there will still be 8 teams in the playoffs as the top two teams in each conference and four wild card teams will advance. Add those up and you still have the same magic number of 8. Sorry about my poor reading skills.

But it is not just MLS playoffs that will see the best of the league perform as next year's four participants will be go to the top four point earners during the 2007 season. This year's teams for the initial SuperLiga were selected more for location and fan draw then points, but do to the timing of the announcement and other such factors, the choice was understandable. However, there was fear that this choice would not be a one-time thing.

I am pleased that MLS has made the correct choice and let the play on the field and not the votes in the office, decide the teams that get to compete for the $1 million SuperLiga prize.

Some other bits of news from the announcement (all of which are much needed):

• MLS has hired a full-time consultant based in South America to assist MLS teams in scouting and acquiring players from that talent-laden region.

• MLS is working with TV broadcasters to provide more camera angles of the action with better and timelier replays.

• U.S. Soccer has hired full-time referees for the first time. Jair Marrufo, Ricardo Salazar, Baldomero Toledo and Terry Vaughn will become full-time referees, enabling them to focus their professional abilities on preparation and training.

• MLS is actively exploring new, meaningful international competitions.

• In-stadium commercial PA announcements during play will be significantly reduced.

Many of us have complained about all the items mentioned in this post. It is wonderful to see that MLS has been listening and has acted. I've been looking forward to this season since, well November, but I must admit, this announcement has even increased my desire for the season to get underway.

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Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

I'm happy with most of the changes as you are, Mike. But I've got to deflate you a bit on one crucial detail:

"Playoffs: At the end of the regular season, the top two teams in each conference earn playoff spots along with four "wild cards" which have highest point-totals in the standings, regardless of conference."

So, we're still looking at eight teams in the post season, instead of six.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, maybe you misunderstood. 2 conference champs plus 4 wild cards equals 6 total teams.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous J. Michael said...

good news!

4:37 PM  
Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

No, I don't think I misunderstood. It reads the TOP TWO TEAMS IN EACH CONFERENCE: two conferences times two teams equals four. Add the four wild-card spots to that and you're looking at eight teams. And I copy/pasted that quote directly from the press release, so any typo that exists comes from MLS, but I don't think that's a typo.

There's more on this in the "About MLS" section of Scroll down to the section titled, "MLS Cup Playoff Format." I thought perhaps I was reading old stuff, but it clearly mentions a 30-game regular season on the same page and that didn't pertain last year. So, I'm thinking it's eight teams in the post-season.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous mlsfan said...

He's right, it is still 8 teams. Top 2 in from the west, top 2 from the east and then the 4 wildcards.

It would be much better to take top team from each side, give them a bye and then have the next overall 4.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Mike H said...

I am so deflated. Must learn to read better.

Thanks for pointing my error out.

8:33 AM  

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