MLS Playoff Format: Improved for 2012, Still Not Perfect

It's been a while since Major League Soccer announced their new playoff format, but I wanted to take my time and think about it before I passed my personal judgement on it

To be perfectly honest, MLS has been looking for a better playoff format for a long time. It seems like they change the format every year. This one is better, but not perfect.

For comparison purposes, let's look at the 2011 playoff format. The top three teams in each conference qualified for the playoffs, then the next four teams based on points, regardless of conference. The Wild Cards, seeded based on regular season points, would play a single elimination play-in game. The lowest remaining seed would play the Supporters Shield winner. The higher seed would play the other conference champion. The conference semifinals would be two-leg affairs, winner decided on aggregate score, with the winners advancing to single-game conference finals. Those conference winners would then move on to a neutral ...

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