Not that it’ll be easy, but Orlando City’s route to the playoffs may have just gotten a teeny bit less difficult. According to a Sports Illustrated report, MLS is going to increase the number of playoff teams in 2015 from the current 10 to 12. The number of knockout games will grow from two to four, according to the report.
Starting next season, the third-place team in each conference will host the sixth seed in one single-elimination game while No. 4 hosts No. 5 in the other. The four conference semifinalists then will be reseeded to ensure the first-place finisher faces off against the lowest-ranked knockout round survivor. The bracket will look like the one used in the NFL since 1990.
Orlando City would just need to finish in the top 60% in its conference to qualify for the playoffs and in the top 50% when MLS expands to 24 teams. Finishing sixth or better in the Eastern Conference is slightly easier than finishing in the top five. The Lions would have to finish ahead of just four clubs in the conference.
With City’s commitment to building a winner, this is good news.
MLS will reportedly keep the current format for the Eastern Conference and Western Conference Finals and MLS Cup. The SI story said the announcement on expanded playoffs could come as early as next week.