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MLS announces new playoff berth format after postponed games

LAFC players celebrate during a game against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
(LAFC)

Major League Soccer announced Thursday it has canceled six games postponed by COVID-19 outbreaks and will award playoff berths based on points-per-game rather than regular-season records.

The main beneficiary of the change could be the Colorado Rapids, who have the second-fewest total points in the Western Conference but are in position to grab a playoff berth based on points per game. The Rapids were idled more than a month by the coronavirus, which infected five players and 13 staff members, including coach Robin Fraser.

The MLS used a similar points-per-game formula to determine the final regular-season standings in 2001 after games were canceled following the Sept. 11 attacks. Teams played no more than 27 regular-season games that season. That was the league’s shortest regular season until this year, when COVID-19 limited the schedule to 23 games.

LAFC secured a playoff birth with a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo coupled with a Galaxy loss to the Portland Timbers earlier.

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MLS will not reschedule five of Colorado’s postponed games, including matches with the Galaxy and LAFC. As a result, the Rapids will play just 18 regular-season games, five fewer than some of its conference rivals. Only four of the 12 Western Conference teams will play a full 23-game schedule.

All 14 teams in the Eastern Conference will play a full schedule.

With the change LAFC, which had already qualified for the postseason, dropped a place to fifth in the standings, which could cost it a home game in the first round. The Galaxy remain last in the standings and now have a sizable gap to make up on Colorado, which holds the final playoff berth.

If the Rapids take three points from their final three games, the Galaxy would have to win all three of their remaining matches to pass Colorado.


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