Oct 21, 2013, 10:10 PM EDT
We know for certain that teams can and have advanced out of the those yucky fourth- or fifth-place playoff spots, all the way to MLS Cup. Houston and Los Angeles did it last year, after all. So, case closed.
But that doesn’t make it the easier path, of course. And that certainly doesn’t mean any team wants to try it. Here is exactly why MLS players and managers are desperate to dodge fourth- and fifth-place, willing to lay a lot on the line to finish third, at worst, in the East or in the West:
Clearly, the most obvious answer is that an extra chance to lose is, well, just that … one extra chance to lose. Purely statistically speaking, a club with sights set on reaching the MLS Cup final sees its success percentages tumble with that additional round, that added opportunity to fail.
Past that, it’s all about the scheduling, which gets seriously jammed up for teams pushed into that early elimination contest.
Here is the playoff schedule:
- Single-elimination games (4th vs. 5th place): Oct. 30-31 (Wed.-Thurs.)
- Conference Semifinals, Leg 1: Nov. 2-3 (Sat.-Sun.)
- Conference Semifinals, Leg 2: Nov. 6-7 (Wed.-Thurs.)
- Conference Finals, Leg 1: Nov. 9-10 (Sat.-Sun.)
- Conference Finals, Leg 2: Nov. 23-24 (Sat.-Sun.)
- MLS Cup: Dec. 7 (Sat.)
So here’s what a potential bugger of a playoff schedule might look like for some club. We’ll use Seattle as an example, since the Sounders and their implausible tumble are topical:
Let’s say the SigiSounders cannot get a sufficient result this Sunday against Los Angeles. That’s a Sunday night match. Late Sunday, no less.
Sigi Schmid’s team (one without much playoff success as it is) might then have one day before traveling to Colorado (most likely, although it could be Los Angeles) for a mid-week match on Wednesday or Thursday.
If they survive, they would travel back home before a conference semifinal first leg contest on Saturday or Sunday, against a better-rested club. The conference semifinal second leg (more travel) then happens a few nights later, again on a Wednesday or Thursday. Add it up, counting that regular season finale, that’s now four matches in 12 days, with potentially significant travel between each stop.
By the way, that’s four matches in 12 days and counting. Because the conference final first legs are scheduled for Nov. 9 and 10. That could mean five matches in 15 days plus travel before a big (and quite quirky) break before the conference finals second leg.
One more thing, that additional match is one more chance to lose a player for the final to yellow card accumulation. And who wants to get all the way to MLS Cup – only to play without your top midfielder or your best center back or whatever?
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Aug 2, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Take a bow, Benteke. Take a bow.
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Aug 2, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
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Aug 2, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT
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Aug 2, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT
Arsenal takes claim to the Community Shield as Arsene Wenger has finally defeated Jose Mourinho.
Aug 2, 2015, 10:49 AM EDT
The Gunners took a 1-0 first half lead over Chelsea in the FA Community Shield thanks to a classy finish from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Aug 2, 2015, 10:04 AM EDT
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Aug 2, 2015, 9:07 AM EDT
There’s a legitimate chance that Roy Keane has never taken a picture with his cell phone.
Aug 2, 2015, 8:12 AM EDT
Manchester United’s Di Maria experiment is all but over, and it’s going to cost them $20 million.
Aug 2, 2015, 12:02 AM EDT
That’s 7 losses in 8 games for the Sounders. Meanwhile, the ‘Caps go top of the West.
Aug 1, 2015, 10:47 PM EDT
Another Royal Rumble between old rivals. While the rest of MLS went goal-crazy, these two did what they always do.
Aug 1, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT
The goals floweth over in MLS tonight. Cyle Larin scored his second straight brace for Orlando City.
Aug 1, 2015, 9:11 PM EDT
D.C. United and RSL combined for 10 goals at RFK Stadium Saturday night. Let the video do the talking.
Aug 1, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT
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Aug 1, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT
The new seasons in Germany and France are underway following an afternoon full of Super Cup action.
Aug 1, 2015, 4:29 PM EDT
It’s not been the greatest week of Miguel Herrera’s life. He’s in legal trouble yet again.
Aug 1, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
Another wild afternoon at Yankee Stadium ends in defeat for NYCFC. Pirlo made his first MLS start and Lampard made his MLS debut.
Aug 1, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT
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