How To Fix The MLS Playoffs

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 03: Landon Donovan #10 (C) of the Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates with Mike Magee #18 (L0 and Chris Birchall #8 after scoring on a penalty kick in the second half against the New York Red Bulls in their Western Conference Semifinal at The Home Depot Center on September 9, 2011 in Carson, California. The Galaxy won 2-1 to advance to the Conference Finals. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Bruce Arena, on a conference call to preview Sunday's matchup against Real Salt Lake, was asked what he would do to fix the MLS Playoffs. MLS has used an eight team tournament with the double legged opening round for the playoffs since 2003. This year, MLS made the wildcards play in a play-in round before the playoffs began. Neither of the play-in teams made it to the conference championship, which eliminates the possibility for a Colorado Rapids situation happening again. 

In that regard, the changes have been a success. It still stands that the Supporters' Shield winner, especially with the extra fatigue of Champions League, could have been knocked out of the playoffs by the lowest seeded team. Bruce Arena, speaking from the top of his head, suggested there might not yet be enough of a reward for the Supporters' Shield winner in the playoffs.

"I might advance the supporters’ shield winner into a final, or a semifinal. Really give them a reward that way. It’s possible that you could have this regular season competition, and then have the MLS Cup and have the Shield winner in the final. Have the playoffs in such a manner that those teams are playing off to meet the Supporter’s Shield winner in the final." 

As someone who watches MLS, would you want to see the Shield winner and possibly the other Conference leader given a full round bye? I like the idea of MLS Cup featuring the regular season winner versus the playoff winner. However, that does take away from the intrigue of a full knockout tournament. What do you think? 

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