I put together this chart to determine what a single table, no playoff MLS would have looked like each season since 1996. I re-figured the rankings for the 1999-1999 period without shootouts and for 2000 without overtime victories, so the rankings I have do not correspond directly with the official final standings. This is still far from an exact science because teams have always played a skewed schedule towards their division or conference, unlike major European leagues where each team faces each other twice. So for example in the expansion year of 2005, Western Conference teams had more points largely because of the futility of both expansion franchises that were in the West. Nonetheless, we get so many complaints about MLS Cup and the Regular Season being “meaningless” I thought it would be fascinating to take a look at how the league’s champions would have changed.
In the single table format the Champions of MLS would have been as follows:
1996: Tampa Bay Mutiny
1997: DC United
1998: LA Galaxy
1999: DC United
2000: Kansas City Wizards
2001: Miami Fusion
2002: LA Galaxy
2003: Chicago Fire
2004: Columbus Crew
2005: New England Revolution
2006: DC United
Under the single table both defunct franchises (Miami and Tampa Bay) would have won titles as would New England, and Columbus. San Jose nor its successor franchise Houston would have won a title so they can be almost termed as “cup specialist” eurofootball language.
The only teams to win the single table that in fact also won MLS Cup are 1997 DC United, 2000 Kansas City Wizards and 2002 LA Galaxy.
While many observers of the game bash MLS for having a playoff system this study once again reinforced how wide open and unpredictable those playoffs in fact are.
The table is linked below:
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