Major League Soccer is expanding its playoffs to include the top nine teams from each of its two conferences, 62% of the league’s teams.
An opening wild-card round will feature matches between the eighth and ninth ranked teams in the East and West conferences in the highest seed’s home stadium.
The first round will be a best-of-three series, with the top seed in each conference facing the winner of the wild card match. The second seed will play seventh, #3 will play #6, and #4 will play #5. The highest seed will host first, with the series moving to the lowest seed for the second game and then back to the upper seed house if necessary.
If the first round matches are tied at the end of regulation, the game will go straight to a penalty shootout.
The Conference Semi-Finals, Finals and MLS Cup Championship will all be single games, organized by the highest seed. In the last three rounds, tied games will go to extra time before penalties.
Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said Tuesday that he hasn’t looked closely at the playoff changes, so he couldn’t comment in detail, but understood that Apple TV+, the league’s new broadcaster, wanted more postseason games. .
However, Schmetzer was clear about wanting the playoff games to be single-elimination: “I like one-and-done. I’m an over-and-out kind of guy.”
LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said that with the new playoff format, as well as the expanded League Cup competition, which included all MLS and Liga MX teams for the first time, clubs will have a greater burden on this season. season.
“In any of the tournaments, whether it’s Open Cup or Leagues Cup or you go relatively far in the playoffs, you’re certainly going to have 50+ games and that kind of scenario,” Vanney said. “And that’s significantly more than teams, I think, generally suffered. You’ve seen more teams that are in the Champions League – and we also have teams in the Champions League – so it’s a heavyweight.”
Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin was asked about the possibility of an expanded playoff earlier this month when reports emerged that more teams would be eliminated. Philadelphia played in the MLS Cup Final last season, losing to LAFC on penalties after a 3-3 tie.
“I can say that the last two years, I think have been two of the most exciting playoff series we’ve had as a league, and that’s the only thing that’s hard to walk away from right now,” Curtin said. “But this is professional sport and it’s certainly bigger than any team or any silly coaching idea, so whatever happens, we’ll be prepared.”
In the previous format, only the top seven teams from each conference made the playoffs. The top seeds got a first-round bye to the conference semifinals.
Decision Day, the final day of the regular season, is scheduled for October 21, with the wild card round scheduled for October 25-26. The MLS Cup final will be played on December 9.
Associated Press report.
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