Playoff scenarios, Part II

With the standings as they are heading into the last week, there is a possibility after next week's results of several teams being tied on points - and thus we must delve into the world of tie-breakers.

If there are multiple teams tied on points (and as many as six could be after the season's final games), the important thing to remember is that the first tie-breaker is head-to-head competition. From the MLS rule book: 

  • First tie-breaker: The highest position shall be awarded to the team with the better win/loss record in current regular season games against all other teams equal in points. (head-to-head competition)


This tie-breaker is a little strange if there are several teams tied on points. Let's say that, six teams are tied on points at the completion of all games and there are two playoff spots available - one must first calculate every team's head-to-head record against each of the five other teams. The team that has the best head-to-head record amongst those six teams is then awarded the highest available playoff spot, and thus removed from the group of tied teams. Then the head-to-head records of the five remaining teams must then be RE-calculated to determine who has the best head-to-head record and should receive the final playoff spot. Got it?

Here are a few of the multiple-teams-are-tied-and-my-head-is-going-explode possibilities with the tie-breakers worked out...

  • If RSL defeats COL and DAL-SEA tie and DC-KC tie and NE-CLB tie and TOR-NY tie, then there are six teams tied with 40 points.
    • In that scenario, TOR gets seventh place, then COL gets eighth


  • If CHV defeats CHI and DAL defeats SEA and DC defeats KC and NE defeats CLB and TOR defeats NY, then there are five teams tied for 42 points.
    • If COL defeats RSL, they would then take sixth place, and so:
      • DC gets seventh place, and DAL gets eighth place.
    • If RSL defeats COL, or they tie, they both finish with less than 42, so they're out.
      • And so: DC gets sixth place, DAL gets seventh place, CHI gets eighth place.


Clear enough for you?