The Los Angeles Galaxy beat Real Salt Lake to win the Western Conference Championship, and the Houston Dynamo beat the Kansas City Wizards to win the Eastern Conference Championship. The teams advancing in the playoffs, the Galaxy and the Dynamo, have a long break before they play for the championship title: the next scheduled game is Nov. 20.
Playoffs in Major League Soccer are similar to playoffs in other major sports. Let us break it down for you.
First of all, ten teams from both the Western and Eastern conference qualify for the tournament based on regular-season records. If there is a tie, the teams with equal records go through a series of tie-breaking procedures which begin with the highest position being awarded to the team with a better win-loss record in current regular-season games against all other teams with equal points. From there, if the teams are still tied in standings, seven other procedures exist to break the tie.
A new system was developed this year in the MLS which allows for wild card playoff games for each conference. The league’s 7th seed plays the 10th seed, and the 8th plays the 9th, with the winners playing whatever team is top-seeded in the Conference Semifinals. The team with the best regular-season record is given the Supporters’ Shield. The lowest-seeded survivor plays the team that is awarded the Supporters’ Shield.
In the Conference Semifinals, the lower-seeded team hosts the first game. It switches from home to away after that. The winners advance to a single-game Conference Championship that determines the MLS Cup finalists.
This year’s MLS Cup Final will take place at the Home Depot Center, the home of the LA Galaxy.