BLOG: What's with the Playoff Format?

TheCrew.com's Ashleigh Ignelzi breaks down the MLS Playoff format

MLS Cup

Photo Credit: 
Victor Decolongon (Getty Images)

For many sports around the World when the regular season ends, the team who clinches the playoff berth first get's to say those three beautiful words, home field advantage, right away.  Well, in the MLS universe this isn't the case.  Let me explain.

A total of eight teams from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference will have secured a spot in the postseason.  Here is where it gets bizarre, the lower seeded team in the conference semifinal will host the first of a two game series. 

Are you still with me?  OK, good.  The series is conducted in a  aggregate goal format.  This means the total goal count from teams that play each other twice, home & away is used in the knock-out stage of the competition.

If the teams are tied after 180 minutes in the Conference Semifinal series, a 30-minute extra time period which is divided into two 15-minute periods is played, if the game is still tied,  penalty kicks are used to decide the winner.  The team with the higher seed between the conference semifinalists will host the single game elimination Conference Championship.

The playoff format should be welcomed by the Crew faithful. The current format slates the top two teams from both conferences and the teams with the overall next best four records entering into the playoff picture.

This year unlike those previous, the Western conference has been considerably stronger than the East. Not only will the West have Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake occupy the two automatic positions but they will also provide the next best four records, Dallas, Seattle, San Jose and Colorado.

So, why should Crew fans be excited? The Crew has a combined record of 1-4-3 against the top four teams in the West, but will not have to face any until the MLS final. With the two teams in the East playing the last two placed teams in the West, the Crew will be pitted against either Colorado or San Jose, in which they post a combined 2-1-1, and even a star-studded New York in which they would not face until the Conference final, they are 2-0 this season.

Neither did the Crew in 2008 when they were rewarded with home field advantage in the conference final against Chicago after beating the Kansas City Wizards over a two game series. I think we all know what came after that and if you don't well, here is a refresher, 2008 MLS CHAMPIONS BABYYY!!!!!!!

That's right, the Crew went all the way in 2008 and they have the opportunity to do it again this year.  So, get gussied up in your Crew gear and help paint the town black and gold!  You smell that?  Playoffs are in the air!

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