1. Save 40-80% on great soccer jerseys. Shop today at BigSoccer Shop!

News: Forbes article on MLS Playoff Format

Discussion in 'MLS: General' started by Jossed, Oct 15, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Moderators: edwardgr, Ismitje, KCbus
  1. Jossed

    Jossed Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Club:
    Ft Lauderdale Strikers
    Unfortunate that it included these statements about MLS being too damn American.

    At least this notion was challenged by a commenter on his blog. Eurosnobs will always find some excuse to ignore their own domestic league.

    As for the article, it was interesting, and I look forward to see how he would improve the playoff format. But I felt the overall tone was MLS should stop trying to be a North American sports league and should be a "proper football" league like in England Europe, and these "problems" would go away. Super clubs winning every year with a single table will make every one happy. But that crazy MLS still insists on Americanizing the world's game with parity, playoffs, and being like the NFL.
     


  2. OleGunnar20

    OleGunnar20 Member+

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    i am pretty sure there is a happy medium between a league that punitively punishes good teams via drafts, two-legged playoffs, and salary cap restrictions not flexible or related to off field prowess or revenue and that rewards freeloaders who get the full salary cap no matter how pathetic their revenue/fan base and MLS becoming the next SPL.

    it is actually possible to be against some of rules and regulations and restrictions of MLS as they are now enforced with no flexibility or reward for off-field success and still be in favour of SE and some of the leveling systems in place to assure parity (contingent on investment, competence and off-field success) and avoid one or two totally dominate teams.

    the statistical analysis showing that while general wisdom says that two-legged playoffs are better for the "better" team because they help avoid "one off" fluke results against better opponents the actuality is that two-legged ties often punish the "better" team because that team has played more games and because that team has had to use more roster rotation to play these extra games (often in prestige tournaments like CCL/USOC).

    if this data and analysis is sound MLS should adopt a playoff system that is single game thru all rounds (held at the higher seeds home). that itself would be a big improvement.
     
    Unak78 repped this.
  3. Etienne_72772

    Etienne_72772 Member+

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 1999
    Perhaps - I happen to like the 2-game home and home format, but because I like one game being linked to another the way it is. And I also happen to think that a three-game championship run is way too short. As it is now, the winning team has to play 5 games to be crowned champion (and 6 if they are teams 4 or 5), which I think is fair.

    (And as an aside, I am VERY much in favor of playoffs, which continuously builds interest in the league until the very last game, as opposed to potentially crowning a champion weeks from the end (Yes, I know, sometimes it goes down the last game, but that is the exception, not the rule).

    I also think, however, in the interest of rewarding better teams, that the "fluke" factor of winning a one-off game is probably offset if you gave the game to the higher seed.

    No doubt, compared to one-off games the two-game series is tougher. I would probably be inclined to at least keep the two-game series for teams 4-5 (which is only one-off right now). Then keep all other games one-offs? Dunno.

    Is there a way to make the two-game series a bit more rewarding for the higher team? I do think the possibility of extra time and pks at home at the end of game 2 favors the higher seed, but I am not sure it is enough (and I think a heck of a lot of people around here do not think it is). Perhaps in the event of a tie, the higher seed advances? That would be significant, but I am unsure how that would effect the games themselves, where you pretty much have to win at least one game right now to advance.

    I've puzzled this 'til my puzzler was sore, and I guess I have no easy answer.
     
  4. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2000
    Location:
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Country:
    United States
    Probably, but the quotes Jossed provided weren't about a happy medium, they were suggesting that playoffs were an Americanization of the sport. Unless the original author is using Americanization to mean all of the Americas, he's badly mistaken with that claim.
     
    bunge repped this.


  5. Totoro

    Totoro Member+

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    That's the way the Mexican Primera league has done it (not sure if LigaMX is continuing with the practice). I don't have stats on how often the higher seed advances, that would be interesting. FWIW I think Clausura 2012 was the first time in a while that the "superlider" (team with best regular-season record) won the liguilla.
     
  6. Mucky

    Mucky Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester England
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Well you're right to be sarcastic of course but there is that nagging statistic that single table soccer leagues are more popular in America than playoff soccer leagues - of course that likely has a lot more to do with quality than format.

    The playoffs are necessity anyway though and here to stay so as the author sort of admits thatargument is redundant.

    Personally I have often said that if there is an ideal for MLS it is not celebrating and therefore maintaining s system that will likely have a different winner every year and no dominant franchises but rather a league that is happy to give up a little parity so there is better opportunity to build and keep successful teams together.
    That doesn't have to mean super clubs, there is plenty of scope for adjustments in the various parity rules, but it does mean the chance of seeing teams emerge that are stand out and a storyline in their own right.
    Ultimately a champion should represent the pinnacle of the sport rather than a random also ran.
     
    Unak78 and wsmaugham repped this.
  7. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2000
    Location:
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Country:
    United States
    Isn't the most popular league in America Liga MX, and doesn't it have playoffs?
     
    Paul Calixte, EdTheRed, fuzzx and 7 others repped this.
  8. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 1999
    Location:
    Silver Spring, MD
    I agree that such a middle ground exists. Lemme throw out some ideas:

    * You can have some exceptions to the salary cap. Let's say 3. This way, if you really want it that way, teams from LA and NY could outspend the rest of the league 3 or 4 to 1.

    * You could keep a draft, but allow teams to route around it if they develop their own players.

    * You could reward the better teams in the playoffs by making the weaker ones have to play more rounds.

    I mean, I don't know, these ideas may be off the wall, who knows if any league will ever try them. . .

    There isn't any such statistic that I've seen. Because it's not really true. The most popular league amongst Americans has a playoff.
     
    chapka, asoc, Jasonma and 1 other person repped this.
  9. TimoTye

    TimoTye Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    And, isn't the most popular soccer tournament of all, the World Cup, basically a playoff. (hmm.. how long would a round-robin, home-and-away take with all FIFA countries in one table...) This idea that tournament format has anything to do with the sport on the field is complete nonsense.
     
  10. carnifex2005

    carnifex2005 Member+

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Club:
    Vancouver Whitecaps
    The most popular league in the world, the UEFA Champions League, also has playoffs. It's a silly argument.
     
  11. Ironkick14

    Ironkick14 Member+

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Country:
    United States
    True, and don't get me wrong, I agree it's a silly argument. But the Champions League is really more of a tournament than a league in the traditional sense.
     
  12. Black Tide

    Black Tide Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Location:
    the 8th Dimension
    I was thinking about the DP rule the other day. And from that I had this thought and keep in mind this is just spit balling here. Lets say you could replace the cost of one DP of up to say 750k to spreed that money over several players. The outcome would be a team would still have to pay the 250k penalty on a 3rd DP but that money would be used to alleviate cap space and allow teams to keep players that would other wise have to trade or sell because of cap space regulations. There would have to be restrictions of course. The players this money would be used on would have to have been on roster for 1 full year. And the money could not be spread over more than 5 players. It also could not be used to cover say more that 20-30% of a given players' salary. It would kind of function like allocation money but it cannot be traded and would be the teams responsibility.

    The other option I guess would to just let teams decided how much they want a DP to count against the cap. So a teams like NY, LA, TOR, SEA, et al could say they want to pay their DPs completely out of pocket. So that would free up about 700k to be used for the no DP players.

    Also can we please stop saying Home and Home? It is utterly stupid for so many reasons. Let alone the fact that is a poor description of what is actually occurring. And every time I hear it I just want to kick puppies.
     
  13. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 1999
    Location:
    Silver Spring, MD
    We've reached the magical 10-post threshold where it starts to work better as its own thread.

    So, in that spirit, can someone give me the executive summary: would I find anything worthwhile in this article if I waded through the first couple paragraphs of preachy obnoxiousness? Because I've followed this game for 20 years, and maybe I was weak or tired or something, but I just wasn't quite up to being treated like an 8-year-old, so I couldn't stick it out to whatever it was he was really trying to say if it went beyond 'silly Yanks and your playoffs.'
     
    FlashMan repped this.
  14. Andy Zilis

    Andy Zilis Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Location:
    Rochelle, IL
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Country:
    United States

    I still want to see the 3-game series return, because I agree that the run to the championship is too short. I hate the 2-leg format, though, precisely because the games are linked together, which has always seemed wrong to me (both here and abroad). If you win a game, you should get credit for the win, rather than just have a lead at "halftime" of the series.

    Having grown up as a fan of American sports (though the only sports I care about these days are soccer and hockey), I just can't see the benefit to of the home-and-home series in a regular league season. It's a great way to level the playing field when a team should not gain a serious advantage (the knockout rounds of the UEFA CL for example). It's a horrible way to reward teams that have done well over 30+ games.

    I also like that the underperforming teams are rewarded next season with the draft picks and allocation order. As for the current season, though, the teams that performed well should be rewarded. Right now, the higher seed plays their home-and-home series game midweek, while the lower seed gets the first game, which is on a weekend. That's just plain wrong.

    Ideally for me, make it a 3-game series where the higher seed gets the 1st and 3rd games. Whichever team finishes with more wins advances. The only game that goes to overtime is the 3rd game if the series is tied after regulation. Find a way to shorten the regular season to 30 games and get rid of the wild card play-in spots, and you're only adding 2 games per playoff team (at most) to the schedule compared to the current schedule. This gives a serious advantage to the higher seed (making the regular season standings quite relevant) and means that the only way you get to the final with only a 4-game run is if you win 4 in a row (if you can do that against playoff-quality opposition, you deserve to be in the final).

    Let's say they used this format this year. Schedule the games:

    Conference Semifinals:
    Game 1 - Saturday/Sunday, November 3-4
    Game 2: Saturday/Sunday, November 10-11
    Game 3: Wednesday/Thursday, November 14-15

    Conference Finals:

    Game 1 - Saturday/Sunday, November 17-18
    Game 2: Saturday/Sunday, November 24-25
    Game 3: Wednesday/Thursday, November 28-29


    MLS Cup:
    Saturday, December 8

    Keep in mind, the regular season would ideally be shortened to 30 games, so the above dates would be a bit earlier, but even as it is, my format only pushes MLS Cup back by 1 week. If teams win their series in 2 games, they get the midweek off between the 1st and 2nd rounds and MLS Cup finalists have a week and a half or 2 weeks rest before the final.
     
    Unak78 repped this.
  15. Mucky

    Mucky Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester England
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Okay US.
    Over here it is standard to use America when refering to the US and sepperate central/South America and Canada.
    I guess the Mexican league could be more popular than the European leagues overall but hasn't that league been single table in the past and doesn't it change format every other year?
    By the way do you refer to Mexicans as Mexicans or Americans and Canadians as Canadians or Americans? :sneaky:
     
  16. Mucky

    Mucky Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester England
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    I assume are you referring to the Mexican league as well?
    Not that it matters since that was just a tongue in cheek aside.
    Not sure why there are so many post discussing it while at the same time pointing out it is a silly argument (which it is and was meant to be)
     
  17. troutseth

    troutseth Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2006
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Actually, I think they were saying the Mexican league is the most popular in the US; which I believe is correct based on viewership.
     
  18. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2000
    Location:
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Country:
    United States
    I was referring to the U.S. Based on TV ratings, Liga MX is the most popular soccer league in the U.S. They do change format fairly often, but they've had some form of playoffs since the 70s. So that

    doesn't really nag anyone, because it doesn't exist.
     
  19. Jewelz510

    Jewelz510 Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Location:
    Bay Area
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Country:
    United States
    A best-of-3 series shouldn't be decided in overtime of the 3rd match. The overtime period is a mini "Game 4" to decide the series, but in reality is just an extension of Game 3. It doesn't seem right to do that.

    If a series is tied after three games, then aggregate score should be the first tiebreaker. If aggregate score is tied, then give the series to the higher seeded team. No overtime or PKs necessary.

    Also, travelling twice in a 3-game series seems a bit much. I'd propose having Games 1 and 2 played at the home of the higher seeded team. If the lower seed is able to force a Game 3, then give it to them. The higher seed didn't use their home-field advantage. It guarantees 2 home games for the higher seed, and you'd only have to travel if Game 3 is necessary.
     
    Unak78 repped this.
  20. yellowbismark

    yellowbismark Member+

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2000
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Club:
    Club Tijuana
    Country:
    United States
    Since most American EPL snobs pick a perennial champion to be their team, they don't see the need for playoffs. If they had to watch the Premier League through the lens of a supporter of a team that never had a chance, like Sunderland, they might respond differently. Even for Champions League hopeful teams like Spurs and Everton, winning the Premier League is not a realistic goal for their fans.

    The EPL not having playoffs is not why it is so popular here. If the EPL had playoffs, it would be about 10 times as popular of a league. Sports followers in this country are drawn to the drama of tournaments, ratings would spike immensely for playoffs. It's hard for most Americans and sports media types to watch a league on a weekly basis, but asking them to tune into for a short tournament that lasts about a month and it is very easy. The story lines and talking points would write themselves for the lazy US sports media. It would also create opportunities for middle tier English clubs to build their brand and following in the US, because for Americans it would suddenly become feasible to choose to follow to one of those teams.
     
  21. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck in the Middle
    Here's where competition values and economic values clash. For the regular season to have meaning, it seems appropriate to reward teams that performed well by easing their path somewhat through the playoffs. Yet, from a financial standpoint, teams like having home playoff games which provide them with an opportunity to sell more tickets. Hosting playoff games, even wild card games, is a boost to their bottom line, even though I'm sure the coaching staff would much rather have a first round bye.

    That's even more important in MLS, because MLS depends heavily on gate receipts.

    The NFL comparison also challenging for the simple reason that the two leagues get their money from very different places. I was surprised to see that less than 17% of NFL revenue comes from regular season ticket sales -- historically other major professional leagues are much higher, from the NBA that hovers around 30% to the NHL which is just under 40%, with MLB between them.

    See figure 5:

    http://www.wrhambrecht.com/pdf/2011_Sports_Market_Report_UPDATE.pdf

    The NFL playoffs, like the regular season, are a made for TV production. The number of games is secondary to making sure stars are available to put on prime time display, and given the physical punishment the players take the NFL has essentially chosen fewer games, but games which are orchestrated to maximize the revenue the league obtains from TV. Sure, the loss of a home playoff game may cost the Packers about $1.5m in game day revenue (I believe that's the number they noted in a recent financial presentation), but TV more than makes up for that because the price to televise the games has skyrocketed.

    Given its dependence on gate receipts, I think MLS, like the NHL, benefits from more playoff games, not fewer. And so MLS has curiously adopted a playoff structure with some two game home and away "ties" -- a device adopted in the Champions League to negate the benefit of any advantage to a higher seeded team. If the weather weren't an issue, I think the playoffs themselves would be longer too.

    None of that has much to do with crowning a "worthy" champion, but they are trying to strike a balance between competition values and financial needs IMO.
     
    Unak78, henryo and jvilla07 repped this.
  22. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 1999
    Location:
    Silver Spring, MD
    Good comments. You're right, the gate is bread-and-butter for the league. And certainly, looking at things from the perspective of DC United, hosting a playoff game after 5 years is a big moment for the club, and even bigger if it's on a weekend after a bye.

    Of course, it was indeed once best 2 of 3. Back then, they couldn't sell it because there just wasn't enough demand to sell on a couple days' notice. Part of me would be curious to see if that's changed, but you're right, now that we also have a 34 game regular season and more international breaks, it would drag on into the cold weather.

    And I think fans' desire is a complicated issue, but I don't think, at gut level, the statement that the fans want the most empirically provable champion is fully true--if forced to choose, I suspect the fans lean towards entertainment.

    You look at the excitement over last year's Premier League title race. Manchester City's hairs-breadth difference over Manchester United is not statistically significant (which in that context would mean expected to be repeatable if you could play infinite games). It doesn't really 'prove they were the better team' except in the definitional sense that you win the games they schedule by as much as you can win them. But they were both 28-5-5, and you can't tell me the season proved City 'worthier' in a more abstract sense.

    And did that take away from their title? No, it seems to me that added to it. It drew more excitement than if they'd won the thing by 10 points. (But I submit, not as much as if there'd been a game between the two to decide the thing.)

    You can take that too far. I think an anyone-can-win(-and-has-about-an-equal-chance) playoff system is exciting in the short run, but if it creates champions that seem random, fans don't feel good about it after the fact and don't feel as good about coming back for more year after year. After a while of that, upsets cease to become that.

    But most of the time, if you have to choose and other considerations are pretty equal, choose the most elegant and the most climactic system for the most people over the one that produces the more 'empirically sound' or 'empirically confident' champion.
     
    Unak78 repped this.
  23. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 1999
    Location:
    Silver Spring, MD
    For what it's worth, I have come up with a format change (but it is, if anything, even 'more American' than the current format) that would probably produce a more empirically confident champion without doing anything to the time frame or the participation. Currently, the two-leg series is decided this way:

    1 Total Goals after 180 minutes
    2 Total Goals after 180+30-minute OT
    3 Penalties

    You could change that to:
    1 Total Points after 2 games
    2 Total Points after 2 games+30-minute OT
    3 Total Goals after 180+30-minute OT

    This change would make the series OT fairly common, and scored basically like a third game. It would occur not just when the goals are level, but any time the two teams split victories (meaning they'd stand 3pts-to-3pts after 180 minutes) regardless of the margin.

    The advantage to higher seeds would be they can more easily survive one bad outing. If they crap the bed on the road leg, they can make it up by winning both the home leg and then the overtime.
     
    henryo and Unak78 repped this.
  24. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    We've been through this discussion before ... but since redundancy is clearer for the second time :

    most soccer play-off/Cup systems are designed with neutrality in mind. UEFA's "goals away" is based precisely on that principle.

    Most postseason systems ought to avoid that trap.

    Personally speaking, I prefer the Mexican version, with the higher point getter getting the total goal tie in a home&away setup. It's simple to understand and provides a marginal but not an insignificant advantage to a higher seed.

    Total points is more suited toward the Best-of-Three, an approach that also has some merit.

    Group Stage makes no sense to a league's postseason.

    Global soccer leagues, as a rule, have two separate competitions - one a round-robin, another a knock-out type.

    The former are championships, the latter are (usually very prestigious) Cups.

    As far as I know, Mexico doesn't have a "Cup" type event. The US does but it's not held in high regard, more of a League Cup rather than the FA.

    Traditional postseason is a combination of both but MLS seems to have chosen the dumbest scheme imaginable.

    PS. I believe the Packers' home game is about $6M-$7M in revenues (and I don't think the guest team gets the cut)
     
  25. The Artist

    The Artist Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 1999
    Location:
    Illinois
    Club:
    DC United
    Country:
    United States
    Yes, yes we have.

    Every year, despite DC's recent suckitude, I get all excited the last week of the season thinking about the playoff matchups and the jockeying for position during the last week and I think that this is truly the best time in the MLS season and then someone tells me it's not that great and if MLS had crowned a "true champion" with three weeks left in the season the league's popularity would explode.

    So here's all the stuff I say every year:
    1)Playoffs are great. They are exciting. In its short history MLS has had so many great playoff games.
    2)Without playoffs the season would end with a whimper most years.
    3)If the EPL had playoffs it would be one of the most watched sporting events in the world (which doesn't mean they should have playoffs; their system is fine the way it is, but a four team playoff between Man U, Man C, Chelsea, and Arsenal would be epic)
    4)I like two-legged playoffs. One game is too short, three games is too long. I know it's not that fair, but so what. If you are a championship team then prove it by beating the teams that are worse than you.
    5)The only change I would make would be to adopt the Mexican tiebreaker. This eliminates PKs and means that one team is always in need of a goal. I understand it might not sit well with some traditional American sports fans, but I think they'd get used to it.
    6)There are so many challenges when designing a playoff system. Rewarding the best teams is not the only factor, though yes it should be a consideration (and it is)
    7)If teams play the 30 minutes of overtime then the higher seed will have played 4/7 of the total series at home, same as baseball, basketball, and hockey.

    And here's a new one for 2012 - There seem to be tangible rewards at each tier of the seeding so that several teams will have something to play for this final week. It's awesome.

    As far as the parity stuff and draft picks - I wish more soccer leagues would become Americanized
     
    Ismitje repped this.
Moderators: edwardgr, Ismitje, KCbus
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page