Moments after posting about my frustrations with the MLS Playoffs, I checked the scores of this week’s fixtures and saw that the Seattle Sounders – the league’s in-form team just weeks ago – lost 4-1 to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Favorites for the Supporters Shield through the end of the summer, the Sounders have given up a total of 9 goals in their last two games, while scoring only two.
This change of fortunes reminded me of something I actually do like about the MLS playoff push: its unpredictability. In contrast to the sometimes numbing predictability of the European leagues (the champions of Europe’s top 4 divisions last season were decided weeks before the season ended in May), the run-in for MLS’ playoffs is whiplash-inducing. And it’s not just a one-season phenomenon either. The by-design parity of the league means that a team can change its luck within the space of just a few games.
That can be fun for both neutrals and supporters of particular team.
Did your team start the season terribly? Fear not: they could still make a late run to the playoffs? And if your team barely made it into the playoffs, there’s no reason to lament, for they might still end up winning MLS Cup when all is said and done.
I still have issues with the structure of the playoffs, which doesn’t really reward the teams that have been consistent throughout the regular season, but it was nice to get a reminder that the MLS playoff race has its own particular charms to offer