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MLS Releases 2011 Playoff Format, Possible Meaning For FC Dallas

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The 2011 Playoff Structure sure isn't perfect. Just how will it affect FC Dallas though? (Photo from
The 2011 Playoff Structure sure isn't perfect. Just how will it affect FC Dallas though? (Photo from

Major League Soccer released it's playoff format for the new season. Ten teams will get into the playoffs and while that may seem like a lot now, down the road it may prove to be an alright thing. Conference structure won't change a bit either as the top three clubs from each conference get automatic births into the playoffs.

The fun begins after that though as four wild card teams will then compete to see who makes that final eight.

(Read on for more information)

Here is how the league broke it out earlier today in their release:

  • The top three finishers in each conference, based on regular season points (six automatic berths)
  • The next best four clubs based on regular season points, irrespective of conference (four wild cards)
    • The four wild cards will play single elimination games against each other, with higher seeds hosting (1 vs. 4; 2 vs. 3). These play-in games are part of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
    • After the two play-in games conclude, the lowest remaining seed will face the Supporters’ Shield winner in the Conference Semifinals; the other will face the No. 1 seed in the opposite conference from the Supporters’ Shield winner.

The four Conference Semifinals will be decided by two-game aggregate series, with each club hosting one game. The two Conference Championships will be single games hosted by the higher seed. MLS Cup will again be a single championship match hosted at a predetermined site to be announced at a later date.

The 2011 MLS regular season concludes Oct. 23. The dates for the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup will be announced at a later date.


Now if we took this to last year's playoffs Dallas still would have had to play Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinals. So no real change there if you're club falls in the top three in their conference.

But this wild-card play-in round is a bit odd to me. It takes a little bit away from the regular season and could cause some clubs to go into airplane mode and just mail it in for the last couple months of the year. You don't want to see that.

Also, this whole two-legged semifinal round makes no sense as well considering all the other rounds are single elimination. Should FC Dallas win the Supporter's Shield they'd get the lowest seed out there, which could possible be someone like the New England Revolution or Toronto FC for instance. It seems odd that a Shield winner would have to make a long travel for the opening game of the semifinals when it would make more sense to just make that lowest seed come to town for a single elimination game. Just my two cents on that.

In the end the change to the playoffs isn't going to solve anything over night. Once the league gets to 20 clubs it may be worth having 10 clubs in the playoffs. As long as Dallas does their job this season and finishes in the top three in the west there won't be too many issues from this guy or most folks in town.

What do you all make of this new playoff format?