Oct 29, 2012, 10:05 AM EST
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:
- 2014 World Cup Draw: Recapping the event (43)
- 2014 World Cup Draw: USA in Group of Death with Germany, Portugal, Ghana – Schedule, times, venues (34)
- What US Soccer wants from the World Cup draw (23)
- Now that we know the U.S. opponents, which 23 players should Jurgen Klinsmann bring to Brazil? (21)
- Sporting Kansas City crowned 2013 MLS champions after 10 rounds of penalty kicks (15)
- Brazil 2014: A Look At South America
- Arena de Amazonia: Host of USA vs CR7
- USA Will Advance in Brazil
- Group B: No Walk In The Park
- Analyzing The Draw From An Azzurri Viewpoint
- Q&A With Alvaro Saborio
- Ronaldo: "I Didn't See the Draw, I Was Asleep"
- Messi: "There Are no Easy Opponents"
- England Are up in The Amazon Without a Paddle
- Mexico's World Cup Kit