In the last post, FRB neglected to mention yet another change for M.L.S. next season: tweaks to the post-season playoffs.
FRB would get a bad headache if he had to re-explain 2011's goofy format. Take a look at his post last year for details.
Here are the changes for 2012:
First, the Western and Eastern Conferences will have separate five-team playoffs. There will be no wild cards that cross over to the other conference's bracket, as in recent years. It's good that geographical absurdities like New York being the Western champion are no more. But as he wrote last year, FRB would still rather they chuck the conferences entirely and have a true national league.
The 4-5 play-in game and the conference semifinals are unchanged. But each conference final will now be a two-game total-goals series rather than a single game. This is a good thing, as it gives quality teams a chance to rally after a bad game.
Lastly, the single-game Cup final itself will now be at the home site of the finalist with the best record, rather than at a predetermined neutral site. Again, FRB approves: it's a good way to increase the importance of the regular league season and reward the team that played better all year.
The M.L.S. playoffs remain somewhat misbegotten, but at least these alterations move things in the right direction.