What If the Premier League Adopted A MLS Playoff System?

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 6:  American businessmen George Gillett (L) and Tom Hicks talk to the media after their takeover of Liverpool Football Club on 6 February, 2007, Liverpool, England. Gillett and Hicks have reached an agreement to buy the football club in a deal thought to be worth GBP470m.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

There’s been so much uproar during the past few weeks about whether the playoff system for Major League Soccer is a joke or not. First, the Eastern Conference Final featured two teams, San Jose Earthquakes versus Colorado Rapids, who were decidedly western teams. And second, the playoff system resulted in a final featuring the team that ended in fifth place in the final standings against the seventh place team.

So, it’s no surprise that a lot of soccer fans and pundits have questioned the way that the MLS playoffs are structured and whether it’s time to change it to a more traditional soccer format. But instead of going down that road, I thought I would flip the conversation and consider what if the Premier League adopted the MLS playoff system. They never would, of course. But based on how the teams finished in the 2009-10 Premier League season, here’s how it would have ended up American style.

Key: Since the finalists of the 2010 MLS Cup, Colorado and FC Dallas, finished 7th and 5th respectively, I took the 2009-2010 Premier League table and picked the winners based on those final positions. And then worked backwards to reveal the Western Conference Champions as well as the Eastern Conference Champions, etc.

So drumroll please, here are the winners:

  • Supporters Shield: Chelsea (but very few people really care about winning that trophy; even my local team, Miami Fusion, won it one year and look what happened to them)
  • Western Conference Champions: Manchester City (after defeating Chelsea in the Western Conference Final)
  • Eastern Conference Champions: Liverpool (I know, it doesn’t make much sense either, would have defeated Everton in the Eastern Conference Final)
  • Premier League Cup Final: Manchester City (fifth placed team) against Liverpool (seventh placed team)
  • 2010 Premier League Cup Champions: Liverpool

The above is a perfect example of how zany the MLS playoff systems are. Chelsea, who stormed ahead to win the regular season, would receive a meaningless trophy. The second place team, Manchester United, who almost pipped Chelsea at the end would have ended up with nothing. Third place Arsenal would have come up empty handed again. Fourth placed Tottenham and sixth placed Aston Villa would have got knocked out in the early rounds. And Liverpool, despite having a poor season under Rafael Benitez, would have ended up as the 2010 Premier League Cup winner. What a comedy that would have been!

It goes to show how meaningless the regular Major League Soccer season is. Yes, the playoffs are exciting and it would have been wonderful to see a Merseyside derby in a Conference Final. But would it have been fair to clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal who worked so hard during the season to then come up empty-handed after a club saved its best for last over a few games? I’m sure Liverpool supporters wouldn’t have minded.

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