MLS Conference Finals

As we reach the conference finals the question is raised yet again: Is this the best format to decide the champion ?

Yes, the best team over the course of the season wins the Supporters Shield – but even that is flawed. Each team plays a different selection of games depending on which conference they are in, and then an odd number of home and away games against teams in their own conference. Therefore one team could have a much harder schedule than another. That affects where they finish overall in the standings for the Supporters Shield, and also where they finish in their conference and hence their ranking in the playoffs (or if they make the playoffs at all).

Looking at this years conference finalists, we have only one team who got a first round bye – the Rapids who finished 2nd in the west. The finishing positions in their conference are:
2 – Rapids
3 – Toronto
4 – Sounders
5 – Impact

Whilst this opens up the end of season excitement to more teams, it doesn’t seem to favor those who have been the best and most consistent throughout the season.

With 20 teams in MLS this season, and expansion moving towards 22, which compares with most other major leagues, maybe it is time to adopt the worldwide convention of playing each other team twice – once at home and once away – so everyone has an equal schedule and over the course of the season the best team will usually come out on top. Yes, I hear the travelling argument but to have a fair and equal competition it is the only way to go forward, and it is only a 5 hour trip from east to west (or vice versa) with plenty of rest time in between since you aren’t asking teams to play each day.

As for playoffs – then take the top teams, seed them and playoff from there without the conferences getting in the way. One huge advantage, we can get an MLS final with the best two teams, whoever they are and no matter if they are in the same conference. Wouldn’t rivalry be intensified if the cup was on the line ?

I could then add an incentive for the bottom teams to play hard right to the end by suggesting relegation to the USL with the top team(s) at that level coming up, but I’m sure American owners, and supporters for that matter, would have heart-failure if something like that were introduced.

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Posted on November 23, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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