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MLS considering giving higher seeds choice of playing first playoff legs at home

Jan 21, 2014, 9:33 PM EDT


Two postseasons ago, the Major League Soccer community began debating whether playing the first leg of a playoff series at home was an advantage, giving the team with the worse regular season record an edge over the team that’d accomplished more before the playoffs. Given Bruce Arena and Dominic Kinnear’s success steering the Galaxy and Dynamo through that postseason, it was unclear whether lower seeds’ success was due to venues or savvy coaches, but the debate still gave birth to an interesting idea: Let the team with the better record choose whether they get the first leg at home.

Major League Soccer appears to be moving closer to adopting the idea, something Sports Illustrated originally reported yesterday. Today, the league’s official website confirmed the New York office is considering the rule, with MLS potentially deciding some time before March whether the change would take effect for in 2014.

For some, this is a needed change, with leg one at the lower seed’s stadium giving the worse regular finisher a chance to set the tone for the series. Others see the choice as an interesting wrinkle, while others have argued the team with the better  record simply deserves the advantage of choosing when to play at home.

As for detractors, it’s hard to find anybody too outspoken, but you don’t have to look far to find people apathetic about the move. For some, it doesn’t matter when you play your home game. You get one game at your place, one at theirs. No matter what, you have to win over 180 minutes.

They’re views that underscore the two quotes in Sports Illustrated’s original piece. Those who see the current format (higher seed plays the first game at home) as a problem support this change, but there’s no real “consensus.” Others take a ‘why not’ approach, while others don’t think it matters. While there’s no mounting protest to the move, there also isn’t an overwhelming push for a change, even if the tweak looks likely to take effect.

  1. hildezero - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:20 AM

    I’m one of those that is for it, because they’re isn’t an away goal rule in MLS.

    • overtherepermanently - Jan 22, 2014 at 6:38 AM

      For a league with some of the world’s toughest traveling conditions, an away goals rule would make way too much sense.

      I’m for anything that helps the higher seed.

  2. geojock - Jan 22, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    I like it. The biggest thing that this can impact is scheduling. Although changed somewhat this year, before the higher seed had to play a game on wed/Thursday night. Also with crowded schedule and venues it helps to have a choice between two dates. It gives teams a chance to potentially avoid being forced into bad days and avoid conflicted with other events in the city (NFL, etc.)

    All that said, I just wish MLS would THINK THROUGH the whole process and get and right and quit tweaking it EVERY year. A little critical thinking and foresight beforehand could give us a little consistency.

  3. mlsconvert88888 - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    To quote the dude, “that’s f**king interesting, man.”

    Put me in the “Why not” camp concerning this rule. I also would like to see the Away Goal rule instituted.

  4. moose6619 - Jan 26, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    The Away Goal Rule would eliminate this problem.

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