MLS Cup Playoffs

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MLS Cup Playoffs
Founded 1995
Region United States
Canada
Number of teams 10
Current champions Sporting Kansas City (2 titles)
Most successful club(s) D.C. United
Los Angeles Galaxy (4 titles)
2013 MLS Cup Playoffs

The MLS Cup Playoffs is the postseason elimination tournament of Major League Soccer held at the end of the regular season en route to the MLS Cup, the league's championship game. 10 teams in total from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference qualify for the tournament based on regular-season records, and a tiebreaking procedure exists in the case of equal records. Awarding the league championship through a postseason tournament differs from most other soccer leagues around the world. In these cases, the team with the most points at the end of the season is deemed champion. However, MLS awards the regular season winners with the Supporters' Shield and a direct berth in the CONCACAF Champions League, the continental tournament. The regular season champion must be a U.S.-based club in order to receive direct entry to Champions League.

Playoff system

Since 2012, the top five teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs, in which the two brackets are entirely separate. The First Round of each conference is a one-off match between the 4th- and 5th-place teams, with the 4th-place team hosting. The First Round winner advances to play the conference's top seed in the Conference Semifinals.

The Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals are conducted in a home-and-away, aggregate-goal format. The team that scores the most goals in the home-and-away series advances to the two-game, total-goals Conference Finals. The away goals rule was adopted for the 2014 season.12 In both rounds the lower-seeded team hosts Game One and the higher-seeded team Game Two. If the teams are tied after two games (180 minutes) in the Conference Semifinals or Finals, the team which scored more goals away from home advances. If there is still a tie after the away goals rule is applied, a 30-minute overtime period (divided into two 15-minute periods) will be played followed by a penalty kick shootout, if necessary. The away goals rule does not apply to goals scored in the overtime period.

In the case of ties after 90 minutes of regulation in the First Round and MLS Cup final, 30 minutes of overtime (divided into two 15-minute periods) would be played followed by penalty kicks, if necessary, to determine the winners.

Qualification

10 teams will qualify for the playoffs – the top 5 teams in each conference, that have the most points in the standings upon the completion of the 34-game regular season.

The seeding is as follows:3

  • The top 5 teams in each conference qualify and are seeded 1–5 in their respective 5-team playoff conference brackets. The top 3 teams receive a bye.
  • The 4th and 5th place teams in each conference play in the First Round.

Team standings tie-breaking procedures

In the event that two teams finish the regular season with an equal number of points, the following system will be used to break the tie:4

  1. If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position shall be awarded to the team with the most number of wins. (most wins)
  2. If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position shall be awarded to the team with the greater goal difference against all other teams during the regular season. (goal differential)
  3. If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position shall be awarded to the team scoring the greatest number of total goals against all other teams during the regular season. (goals for)
  4. If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position shall be awarded to the team with the fewest team disciplinary points in the League Fair Play table during the regular season. (fewest disciplinary points)
  5. If the teams are still equal in the standings, the first two procedures described in this section shall be applied only to games played on the road by each team against all other teams during the regular season. (road goals)
  6. If the teams are still equal in the standings, the procedures described in this section shall be applied only to games played on the road by each team against all other teams during the regular season. (road goal differential)
  7. If the teams are still equal in the standings, the first two procedures described in this section shall be applied only to games played at home by each team against all other teams during the regular season. (home goals)
  8. If the teams are still equal in the standings, the procedures described in this section shall be applied only to games played at home by each team against all other teams during the regular season. (home goal differential)
  9. If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position in the standings shall be determined by the toss of a coin (two teams) or drawing of lots (at least three teams). (coin toss/draw of lots)

Note:

  • Unlike previous seasons, head-to-head competition results will not be used as a tie-breaker, starting with the 2012 season.5
  • If two clubs remain tied after another club with the same number of points advances during any step, the tie breaker reverts to step 1 of the two-club format.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Major League Soccer to introduce away-goals rule for first time in 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs". MLS. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "MLS adopts away goals rule". ESPN. 8 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  3. ^ 2012 Competition Rules and Regulations, MLS, retrieved June 28, 2012 
  4. ^ http://pressbox.mlssoccer.com/content/competition-rules-and-regulations
  5. ^ "New tiebreakers designed to encourage attacking play". MLS Communications. MLSSoccer.com. Retrieved October 1, 2012. 

External links