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MLS Releases New Playoff Schedule

So MLS has released their new playoff schedule this afternoon and it is interesting to say the least.

Wild Card Games – hosted by higher seed; single elimination
(Currently Chivas USA at Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City at Real Salt Lake)

  • Wed., Oct. 26

  • Thurs., Oct. 27

Conference Semifinals, First Leg – hosted by lower seed
(Currently LA Galaxy at lowest remaining wild card; Columbus Crew at other remaining wild card; FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders; and Philadelphia Union at New York Red Bulls)

  • Sat., Oct. 29

  • Sun., Oct. 30

Conference Semifinals, Second Leg –hosted by higher seed; winner by aggregate goals
(Currently lowest wild card at LA Galaxy; other remaining wild card team at Columbus Crew; Seattle Sounders at FC Dallas; and New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union)

  • Wed., Nov. 2     

  • Thurs., Nov. 3

Conference Championships – hosted by higher seed; single elimination

  • Sat., Nov. 5

  • Sun., Nov. 6

NOTE: A break occurs here due to FIFA fixtures on Nov. 11 &15.

MLS Cup 2011 – at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.; single-game final

  • Sun., Nov. 20 

I've got a few problems with this setup, jump to see them. 

First off, there is an overwhelming advantage to whoever gets the #1 seed of each conference. The idea of just 3 days between the conference semi-final second leg and the conference championship is just absurd. To think that a team will have to give everything they've got in a second leg and then turn around literally the next day and potentially fly more than 1,000 miles away is just ridiculous. This setup may work in smaller countries, but it provides an overwhelming advantage to whoever the #1 seed is...which brings up the next point

Playing in the Western Conference is an enormous disadvantage Playing a balanced schedule is a good start, but how is it possibly fair that under the current setup, Colorado with 37 points would need to win 4 games in 11 days, while New York with 30 points sits at home waiting for their opponent. Also, Columbus with 34 points would need to potentially win just two home games against inferior teams to make MLS Cup while Dallas at 42 points would have to go through Seattle and Los Angeles to get there. 

Weekday second legs? While this doesn't really affect teams that don't struggle with attendance, I wonder how potential second legs on weekdays in November will look in Dallas, Columbus and New York will look. Some reward for the second placed team in the Western Conference(and league) to play the third placed team in the Western Conference(and league) on a Wednesday or Thursday. 

Quality of play diminished We saw in LA on Saturday how the quality of games can be killed by having to play 3 games in 7 days. Dallas hung with LA in the first half producing a game that was among the highest quality we've seen in MLS this season, however they simply didn't have the legs in the second half. While this is just one regular season game, it is unfair to make teams play a 34 game marathon season only to speed things up further once we get to the playoffs. Potential injuries will make this thing a total crapshoot and we won't see the highest quality play at the end of the season. 

How do you feel about this schedule?