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If the Playoffs Started Today.....

I was excited earlier this year when MLS presented its playoff format for this season. Instead of the usual conference pairings -- and for D.C., an inevitable matchup with New York and then New England -- there was the possibility of, say, Chicago vs. Chivas USA or D.C. vs. Dallas in the first round. But alas, MLS clarified the playoff structure a few weeks ago and, with the exception of one minor wrinkle, we're back on a predictable course of true conference pairings.

The one change is with the number of teams from each conference based on overall points. In theory, a fifth-place club (or even a sixth-place team) in the East could earn a berth ahead of a third- or fourth-place team in the West. In that case, the extra Eastern team(s) would join the Western playoff bracket.

The way things have unfolded, the West will get a maximum of four teams in the playoffs this year, possibly just three. Here's how it looks at the moment. I am basing the seeds not on overall points (because teams have played an uneven number of matches), but on points per game.

EAST
1. D.C. 42 points in 22 games = 1.909
2. N.E. 42/23 = 1.826
3. N.Y. 36/23 = 1.565
4. K.C. 33/24 = 1.375
5. Columbus 28/23 = 1.217
6. Chicago 26/22 = 1.181
7. Toronto 20/22 = 0.909

WEST
1. Chivas 36/20 = 1.800
2. Dallas 36/22 = 1.636
3. Houston 39/24 = 1.625
4. Colorado 28/23 = 1.217
5. RSL 18/21 = 0.857
6. L.A. 14/19 = 0.736

Colorado and Columbus are tied for the final berth. In head to head, the teams have played a pair of ties, including yesterday, but the Rapids' goal differential is -2 compared to the Crew's -3. So Colorado gets it.

Your first-round matchups would be:
D.C.-K.C.
N.E.-N.Y.

Chivas-Colorado
Dallas-Houston

What do you think of the playoff format? Acceptable? Should they have thrown all teams together to get inter-conference matchups? Or, dare I say, is one table the way to go in the future for regular season play? (I don't think it will ever happen, but certainly worth discussing.)

By Steve Goff  |  September 3, 2007; 9:16 AM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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