The Major League Soccer (MLS) season is coming to a close in a week. I know, I know. Much different than every other football league around the world. The race for the Supporters’ Shield has been close all season, presently contested between San Jose Earthquakes, currently with 64 points, and Sporting Kansas City with 59 points. Real Salt Lake and Chicago Fire are close to the top two, each with 56 points.
So why do I care who wins the Supporters’ Shield? Why should you care? All it gets the winner is the top seed in the MLS Playoffs. This season, 10 (yes, 10!) teams make the playoffs! More teams are in the MLS Playoffs than are not!
In a watered-down league playoff, nearly every team with a record above the .500 mark will compete for the MLS Cup. Why? Because American culture loves the playoff format. It is short. It crowns a champion in one final game (usually). It gives most likely 10th seed Vancouver Whitecaps, sporting a record of 11-12-9 and 40 points, a shot. Why should they have a shot you ask? Over a season of 34 games isn’t enough to crown a team champion… An American league needs a playoff schedule shortened into six games to make sure the best team wins. But does the BEST team always win these shortened playoffs? No. It makes it exciting(?) by giving a team with a .500 record a chance to steal glory from a club who has done their job all season long.
If you are an American with a typical attention span of…