MLS announces playoff format changes

Nov. 20, 2011 at 6:50 PM
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CARSON, Calif., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The Major League Soccer finalist with the best regular-season record will host the MLS Cup starting next year under new rules announced by the league Sunday.

Officials also revealed prior to the 2011 MLS Cup in Los Angeles 10 teams will automatically qualify for the post-season. Under the current format, six automatically qualify, with four others competing in one-game play-ins.

The MLS Cup has been staged at a neutral site chosen before the season.

This year, the Los Angeles Galaxy is playing the Houston Dynamo at the Galaxy's home field in Carson, Calif. -- even though the Galaxy had the best regular-season record, the venue was picked beforehand.

Meanwhile, the MLS conference semifinals and conference finals will now both be two-game, aggregate-goal series. The conference finals had been single games.

The new setup will also end the practice of teams from the Western and Eastern conferences being put in the other conference's playoff bracket.

"Because of the wide geographic distribution of MLS clubs, this structure should improve the quality of play, while continuing to give every club an equal chance of qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs," MLS Executive Vice President Nelson Rodriguez said.

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