Oct 29, 2012, 10:05 AM EDT
Major League Soccer’s 17th playoff season begins Wednesday with the Eastern Conference, one-game knockout contest. The West version falls on Thursday. Here’s how things work:
- The first round, the “knockout round” is a one-game elimination between the 4th- and 5th-place finishers. Part of the concept behind adding the additional post-season slot two seasons ago (taking the playoff field from 8 to 10) was providing incentive to avoid this very match. It’s not just the extra chance to fall out contention; it’s the compressed schedule this midweek match creates. It really does supply a disadvantage to the team that has to play twice this week.
- The conference semifinals are a home-and-away, two-leg set beginning Saturday. The series winner is determined by total score; think of each match as “halves” of one game.
- The lower seeds host opening legs; the higher seeds get the second contest, the “return” match in our game’s vernacular.
- If the teams are tied after two legs, two 15-minute extra time periods will determine the winner, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. That means “advantage higher seed” in the event the teams are level after 180 minutes.
- There is no “away goals” rule. That means away goals do not count double as they do in some international competition.
- The home-and-away format applies for the conference semifinal and conference finals.
- When it’s down to two teams, the higher seed hosts MLS Cup 2012. This is the new wrinkle – and a wonderful one.
Here is the schedule:
- Two last points on the Robbie Rogers trade news 0
- Champions League final preview: A bitter rivalry with much higher stakes 0
- With MLS expansion done for now, where the league priorities should land 11
- Which US cities are next for MLS expansion? 25
- Champions League Final infographic: Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich 1
- It’s official: Manchester City and the Yankees will own and operate Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team. (35)
- Which US cities are next for MLS expansion? (25)
- Why MLS was so focused on New York as the 20th market (18)
- Notes from today’s big announcement on MLS, NYCFC the Yankees and the rest (14)
- USA Today reports LA Galaxy trade Mike Magee for rights to Robbie Rogers (12)
- Follow LIVE: Champions League final
- Live box score: UEFA Champions League final
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- Hundreds run Boston Marathon's final mile
- MST Monaco GP predictions: Mercedes' time?
- PHT: Brassard says Marchand shows no respect
- PST: Neymar reportedly set to join Barcelona