The MLS playoff system is pretty much nuts, and just one indication has come over the last two season, when New York went into the MLS Cup final as the Western Conference champion and again last season when Real Salt Lake went in as champion of the West.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid identified another flaw today, when he was asked if there is any benefit in the Sounders finishing in sixth, seventh or eighth place once these final two games of the regular season play out ... and his answer was that there would be at least theoretical benefit in falling one spot to seventh.
"The advantage is if you’re seventh and you win your series and No. 8 wins their series, you could be at home in the conference final – whichever conference that might be," he explained. "… So there’s a certain advantage to seventh. But I try not to look at it because I learned a long time ago that I don’t wish for this team or that team. But for sure there’s an advantage to seven. If you finish sixth of you finish eighth then even if you win you’re series you’re going to be on the road for the conference final."
After identifying a pretty clear problem, Schmid also identified a solution.
"I’ve long been a proponent of what they do in the NBA, where if you win your division, you get an automatic, but when they actually seed the playoffs – get to the matchups – it’s one against eight, two against seven," he said. "I think that’s the appropriate way to do it. When I was in Columbus we finished No. 1 and had the Supporters Shield, but yet we didn’t get the eighth-place team, we ended up playing the team that was like sixth best in record. And if you look at last year, if that would have been done last year I think we would have ended played Chivas in Round One instead of who we did in Houston. … My opinion; but I think that’s something the league will look at. But they don’t want to change the system every year, either."