Ties in the playoffs?
It happened in the first home game of two home-and-home series of the MLS playoffs.
American sports fans are learning the FIFA-centric ways: home-and-home series are decided by the combined goals of the two games.
The second game of each series will be played until a winner is determined. If the tie is not broken by the end of regulation in these games, there is overtime and then penalty kicks to settle the score.
The question needs to be asked: is this style of playoffs good enough for the high drama expectations of American sports fans?
Should fans pay money to see a game in the playoffs that is not settled with a win or loss? Wouldn’t playing two out of three be a more optimal format?
These ties feel un-American. Ties in the regular season are one thing, but ties in the playoffs don’t seem to fit right.
There may still be plenty of drama left to see in the second game of the home-and-home series, but seeing a winner and a loser for each game also leaves plenty to talk about.
In a way, the home-and-home kind of cuts the drama in half. Each game should be left to be finished on its own merit, not left to be decided for another time in another game.
The team who is best should be the team who can make deciding goals in any overtime and pressure kicks during all Pk’s.
There’s no real uproar anymore about these home-and-home playoffs. Fans have come to accept them…or is it just soccer fans who have come to accept them?
American sports fans will always want winners and losers in playoffs.
The home-and-home is different and has some appeal. It can be carried through for international tournaments when rules are not interpreted by Americans only.
MLS should step up and get things right by American sports fan expectations and not be pretentious to safeguard its reputation.
For example, instant replay review to get the call right in sports is an American ideal being copied around the world and now being instituted by FIFA with goal line technology. Things happen more slowly for soccer than other sports because of FIFA’s inability to adapt to changing times.
MLS has a chance to be a leader in global soccer instead of a copycat League. One opportunity exists in the playoffs, to play each game to the end for a win and a loss.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com