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MLS Expands Playoffs, Considers More Changes

The MLS is becoming more and more popular each and every year and the 2011 season will be the first campaign in which 10 different teams will make the playoffs. MLS commissioner Don Garber announced the news of the postseason expansion over the weekend and the MLS boss also suggested that the league may consider moving to a traditional European football schedule in order to align itself with all the biggest leagues in the world.

Garber claims that the league’s officials are beginning to research some of these areas and will decide some of these new policies as soon as a month from now: 

The bottom line is we’re telling the world we’re going to begin taking a very serious look at this whole issue and what kinds of things we need to do to determine if it makes sense for us.

Aligning the MLS schedule with Europe makes perfect sense considering player’s like Donovan desire loans, but also need rest. Although the time off away from MLS play in spring does give the transfer option players a chance to play when their season is not active, it also forces loaned players to play year round and makes for overworked footballers. If the MLS were to perfectly be aligned with the EPL, La Liga, and Serie A then maybe some of these teams would be more prone to deal with the lesser known league.

I agree with Gerber that this is an area that needs to continue to be considered, but on the other hand I completely disagree with extending the playoffs to two more teams. Next season there will be 18 teams in the MLS and 10 will make the postseason. That means over 50% of the teams in the league will continue playing on after the season. I feel like the few sports that do have over 50% of the teams in the postseason (NBA, NHL) are rarily watched in the early rounds of the postseason and the whole honor of making the playoffs seems to be overlooked compared to sports with few playoff sports (like the NFL and MLB).

Gerber’s 10 team plan means 6 teams will receive first round byes and four teams will play for the final two spots in the second round. 6 teams receiving byes seems to take away from the whole point of being one of the two conference champs in my opinion, but perhaps the more teams in the postseason will turn out to be a good thing for the league.

This season two of the league’s worst playoff seeds played against one another in the final, so perhaps the ninth and tenth best teams in the league deserve the shot to hoist the MLS Cup too.

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