MLS has announced a 2011 playoff format in which 10 of the 18 teams will qualify for the post season: the three top teams from the Eastern and Western conferences, and four wildcards regardless of conference.
Here’s the release from the league:
Today Major League Soccer announced the format for the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs. For a visual representation of the playoffs, go to www.MLSsoccer.com.
Ten clubs will qualify for the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs:
* The top three finishers in each conference, based on regular season points (six automatic berths)
* The next best four clubs based on regular season points, irrespective of conference (four wild cards)
o The four wild cards will play single elimination games against each other, with higher seeds hosting (1 vs. 4; 2 vs. 3). These play-in games are part of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
o After the two play-in games conclude, the lowest remaining seed will face the Supporters’ Shield winner in the Conference Semifinals; the other will face the No. 1 seed in the opposite conference from the Supporters’ Shield winner.
The four Conference Semifinals will be decided by two-game aggregate series, with each club hosting one game. The two Conference Championships will be single games hosted by the higher seed. MLS Cup will again be a single championship match hosted at a predetermined site to be announced at a later date.
The 2011 MLS regular season concludes Oct. 23. The dates for the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup will be announced at a later date.
The 2011 MLS season starts Tuesday, March 15 when the LA Galaxy travel to face the Seattle Sounders at 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com). All 18 clubs are in action during First Kick presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.