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MLS Considering Playoff Format Changes in 2017

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With this year’s playoffs still underway, league leadership hints changes may be on the horizon.

MLS: MLS Cup Final-Portland Timbers at Columbus Crew Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s biggest MLS playoff game is still two days away but already there is talk of changing the format in 2017.

"I think we believe that the format we have now works, but we're always open to improving as much as we possibly can to make it exciting for fans and fair for our clubs," said MLS Vice President Jeff Agoos in an interview with ESPNFC.com.

The MLS playoff’s most recent structure has come under fire for being too confusing and different from other mainstream U.S. sports tournament styles. While NFL and NCAA’s playoffs are single elimination, the MLS uses a two-leg format that gives both teams an opportunity to play before a home crowd.

Additionally, the league currently uses a controversial “away goals” rule that gives extra weight to goals scored on the road. The rule seems to encourage an attacking style from away teams seeking to gain precious away goals and a cloistered defensive style from home teams leery of giving any away.

Agoos is quick to point out that playoff rules - like nearly all rules in sports - can prove to be difficult to balance.

"When we didn't have away goals, people were criticizing us for that," Agoos said. "Now that we do have away goals, people are criticizing us for having them."

The final decision on playoff format changes ultimately rests with the league’s technical committee which will consider these changes and more during the coming offseason.

Read the full ESPNFC article here.

UPDATE:

MLS Commissioner Don Garber says there will be no change to the MLS playoff system in 2017. Do you believe him?