How group stage style playoffs might work

In Episode 77 of Nos Audietis, Jeremiah mentioned someone's proposal for a playoff system based on group stages. (I apologize, I can't remember the original source of the idea). As he explained briefly, the teams would play in groups, and the seeding would determine how home and away would work out. I wanted to take a look at how that would have looked like with this year's playoffs.

This is how the Western Conference would have looked:

Place Team Home Games Away Games
1 Earthquakes 3 0
2 RSL 2 1
3 Sounders 1 2
4 Galaxy Play-in spots. Winner of one-off qualifier match
would have no home games and three away games.
5 Whitecaps
Each team plays away matches with the teams above them in the table, and home matches with the teams below them. The same tiebreakers apply in this competition as you would have in the regular season. At the end of the matches, the top team advances to the MLS Cup.

This seems like it would have a lot of advantages. It really rewards the regular season. Sure, just squeaking into the playoffs via the play-in spots is better than not making it, but it's a much harder road, and each spot up the table from there is progressively better. I can imagine the playoff positioning fights getting even more heated because the difference between the seeds would be pretty significant. Because of that, I think it's also probably more likely to send the top teams through. I also think it would really encourage attacking soccer, because no one has any reason to play conservative tactics. There's no "hold them away then get them at home" strategy. You get one crack at each team, and you have to try to get maximum points out of each game. Finally, logistically, it's the exact same number of games, one play-in game, and six regular playoff games.

There's a lot of dissatisfaction around the playoffs in MLS now. I think this system or a system like it could do a lot to alleviate that, and generate a lot more excitement as well.

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of Sounder at Heart.

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