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MLS considering giving higher seeds choice of playing first playoff legs at home


Two postseasons ago, the Major League Soccer community began debating whether playing the first leg of a playoff series at home was an advantage, giving the team with the worse regular season record an edge over the team that’d accomplished more before the playoffs. Given Bruce Arena and Dominic Kinnear’s success steering the Galaxy and Dynamo through that postseason, it was unclear whether lower seeds’ success was due to venues or savvy coaches, but the debate still gave birth to an interesting idea: Let the team with the better record choose whether they get the first leg at home.

Major League Soccer appears to be moving closer to adopting the idea, something Sports Illustrated originally reported yesterday. Today, the league’s official website confirmed the New York office is considering the rule, with MLS potentially deciding some time before March whether the change would take effect for in 2014.

For some, this is a needed change, with leg one at the lower seed’s stadium giving the worse regular finisher a chance to set the tone for the series. Others see the choice as an interesting wrinkle, while others have argued the team with the better record simply deserves the advantage of choosing when to play at home.

As for detractors, it’s hard to find anybody too outspoken, but you don’t have to look far to find people apathetic about the move. For some, it doesn’t matter when you play your home game. You get one game at your place, one at theirs. No matter what, you have to win over 180 minutes.

They’re views that underscore the two quotes in Sports Illustrated’s original piece. Those who see the current format (higher seed plays the first game at home) as a problem support this change, but there’s no real “consensus.” Others take a ‘why not’ approach, while others don’t think it matters. While there’s no mounting protest to the move, there also isn’t an overwhelming push for a change, even if the tweak looks likely to take effect.