October 31, 2023
The Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup Playoffs introduced a best-of-three series for the first time in two decades. This format, limited to Round One, aimed to create more pessimistic play among lower seeds, with teams hoping to secure a draw and rely on penalties for victory. However, the outcome has been quite different from what was anticipated.
Contrary to expectations, the opening matches of Round One have been filled with excitement and high-scoring games. In fact, every game so far has featured three or more goals. While some matches were decided by halftime, the only truly compelling game was the Houston Dynamo's 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
The absence of the win-or-go-home pressure and the two-leg aggregate series may be contributing factors to the unexpected outcome. Without the urgency to secure a victory in a single game or the need to consider every goal's impact on the final outcome, teams seem to be more willing to take risks and mount comebacks.
This is not the first time the MLS playoffs have seen such results. In the early days of the league, blowout games were not uncommon in best-of-three series. This led to format changes, including the introduction of total points earned as the deciding factor. However, that system was also eventually replaced.
While the best-of-three format works well in sports like the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs and MLB's Postseason, where randomness plays a significant role, it may not be as necessary in the NBA. The extended duration of the MLS series, spanning 12-to-14 days, raises questions about the decision to remove the possibility of extra time.
The unexpected outcome of the best-of-three series in the MLS Cup Playoffs challenges preconceived notions about defensive play and penalties. It remains to be seen if the trend will continue in Matches 2 and 3, but it is clear that this format has brought excitement and unpredictability to the playoffs. Whether it is the ideal format for MLS or if adjustments are needed is a question that will likely be debated in the future.
Matteo "Teo" Bianchi, hailed as BettingRanker's "Data Dynamo", is the quintessential combination of a sports enthusiast and a numbers whiz. His meticulous research ensures bettors are always a step ahead, making him a cornerstone of the platform.