Well, well, well, what just happened within a three day period? The only two sides that qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs in the Eastern Conference were knocked out after their home leg. While the Earthquakes put three past the Red Bulls and won 3-2 on aggregate, the Columbus Crew — who were also down by a goal — put two past the Colorado Rapids and were forced into extra time by a Conor Casey goal.
It took penalties to find a winner after Brian Carroll of the Crew sailed his penalty over the crossbar. So now Colorado Rapids will be hosting the Eastern Conference Final against the San Jose Earthquakes. If you’re scratching your head and wondering how these two sides reach the Eastern Conference Final and why one of them is hosting it, this is how the front office of MLS is doing their playoffs. Those special wild card spots when most of the west coast sides earned more points than the rest of the east.
Who remembers that Fed-Ex Office commercial where airport security is checking out this woman’s sales figures folder and calls in their so-called expert. As they are turning the pages, he says “I’m Yawning, I’m yawning some more, and (then he starts to snore).” Well in fact when it comes to the current set up of the MLS Cup Playoffs for the last three seasons I see it like this. “I’m laughing, I’m laughing some more, and now I’m laughing on the floor uncontrollably.”
As much as many would say we need single table and promotion/relegation, I can tell you that the first answer is more realistic than both combined. When MLS Commissioner Don Garber came on at halftime during the first leg at Pizza Hut Park on Fox Soccer Channel and discussed changing the playoffs and never removing the two conference tables, I found it interesting and frustrated.
It’s very clear that the conference tables for the playoffs are not working anymore. If we are going to clearly reward sides for truly making a strong run into the playoffs, the east and west monikers must be removed. I understand that Don Garber wants to make sure there are at least two sides on both coasts to make the post season, but now it’s time to make the league a bit more credible by allowing the top eight positions on a single league table to make the playoffs regardless of where their locations are in both Canada and the USA.
If the playoffs had a different look it would have been:
- #1 Los Angeles vs. #8 San Jose,
- #2 Real Salt Lake vs. #7 Colorado,
- #3 New York vs #6 Seattle
- And finally #4 FC Dallas vs. #5 Columbus.
Of course top of the table would automatically advance into the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League of next year but the next round would have the LA/SJ winner face against the NY/SEA winner and the next round would have another goal aggregate series, with the final as a single match.
I’m glad Don Garber and their competition committee realizes that something is broken. This current set up has failed all of us who follow our league. I want to see competitive soccer just as much as you do, but right now it’s a joke and the conferences must be thrown out completely for the regular season and the playoffs. One single table is the way to go for the future. The conferences are useless in the regular season and the playoffs. It’s time to use common sense with this problem and for MLS to grow up.