The road to the playoffs changed just a bit today as Major League Soccer confirmed something that most had been speculating for several weeks. MLS confirmed that multiple clubs, including FC Dallas, will finish the season without playing the full 23 scheduled matches due to disruptions from Covid-19. As a result, qualification for the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs will be determined by points earned on a per match basis, or points per game.
Prior to resuming the season following the MLS is Back Tournament, MLS stated in early August the league would use points per game as opposed to total points to determine playoff qualifiers in the case clubs played an uneven number of games. Points per game will also be used to determine the overall MLS standings, with the top U.S.-based team earning a berth in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
MLS also confirmed that the regular season would conclude on Decision Day on November 8 and that matches will not be scheduled during the FIFA international window.
The league broke down the new tiebreaker formulas here:
- Total number of wins per match
- Goal Differential (GD) per match (Goals For per match minus Goals Against per match)
- Goals For (GF) per match
- Fewest Disciplinary Points* per match
- Away Goals Differential per Away match (Away Goals For per Away match minus Away Goals Against per Away match)
- Away Goals For per Away match
- Home Goals Differential per Home match (Home Goals For per Home match minus Home Goals Against per Home match)
- Home Goals For per Home match
- Coin Toss (tie of two clubs) or Drawing of Lots (tie of three or more clubs)
As the MLS is Back Tournament matches in Florida — including the three rescheduled matches between Dallas and Nashville — are considered played at a neutral site, they are not factored in determining tiebreakers 5-8 that feature away and home goals.
Yes, you read that correctly, those three make up games with Nashville, including next Wednesday’s are all considered to be played on neutral grounds. So that also means FC Dallas’ loss to Nashville at home back in August means that in the standings, they’re now the only Western team with no losses at home. Weird.
Before this change FC Dallas was sitting firmly in 6th place in the Western Conference after their 2-1 win last night over Inter Miami. This change doesn’t do a ton for their current spot but it does make things a bit more intriguing for the final three games of the regular season. FC Dallas will likely punch their ticket to the post season with a win or draw on Saturday against Houston.
What do you make of the league making this change for this year’s playoffs? Think FC Dallas can sneak up into the top four some how?