MLS Playoff History: Evolving Formats 2005-2012

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our look back at the interesting playoff formats from years past.

Major League Soccer has been remarkably inconsistent in their format used for the playoffs over the years and, as Timbers fans, we have not had the joy of seeing some of the stranger ones in action. Yesterday we looked at the league's first nine years. Now here is a quick rundown of the last eight years of the league and just how the playoffs were handled in ye olden times.

2005

Qualifiers: Top 4 from each conference.

Rounds: Conference Semifinals (Home and Away), Conference Finals (Single Match), Cup Final (Single Game).

Winners: LA Galaxy 1-0 over the New England Revolution at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, TX.

MLS added Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake this year, taking the league back to 12 times for the first time since the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion were contracted in 2002.

2006

Qualifiers: Top 4 from each conference.

Rounds: Conference Semifinals (Home and Away), Conference Finals (Single Match), Cup Final (Single Game).

Winners: Houston Dynamo 1(4)-1(3) over the New England Revolution at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, TX.

2007

Qualifiers: Top 4 from each conference.

Rounds: Conference Semifinals (Home and Away), Conference Finals (Single Match), Cup Final (Single Game).

Winners: Houston Dynamo 2-1 over the New England Revolution at RFK Memorial Stadium in Washington D.C.

Toronto FC was added to the Eastern Conference this year, although that has not directly impacted the post-season to date with Toronto failing to make the playoffs every year since joining the league. This year also saw the introduction of the "Beckham Rule" (aka the Designated Player Rule) to MLS, which drastically changed the structure of the league going forward.

2008

Qualifiers: Top team from each conference and the next six teams with the highest points regardless of conference.

Rounds: Conference Semifinals (Home and Away), Conference Finals (Single Match), Cup Final (Single Game).

Winners: Columbus Crew 3-1 over the New York Red Bulls at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.

The San Jose Earthquakes rejoined the league this year after their previous incarnation had been relocated to Houston in 2005, bringing MLS back up to 14 teams and evening out the East and West at seven teams apiece. This year's MLS Cup would see the Red Bulls advance through the playoffs as the fourth seed in the West, thanks to the strange seeding of the playoffs that year.

2009

Qualifiers: Top team from each conference and the next six teams with the highest points regardless of conference.

Rounds: Conference Semifinals (Home and Away), Conference Finals (Single Match), Cup Final (Single Game).

Winners: Real Salt Lake 1(5)-1(4) over the LA Galaxy at Qwest Field in Seattle, WA.

After 13 years of existence, MLS finally gained a purpose when the Seattle Sounders joined the league and invented soccer. This year saw RSL represent the East in the MLS Cup after finishing 5th in the Western Conference, but with more points than the 4th place Eastern Conference team.

2010

Qualifiers: Top team from each conference and the next six teams with the highest points regardless of conference.

Rounds: Conference Semifinals (Home and Away), conference Finals (Single Game), Cup Final (Single Game).

Winners: Colorado Rapids 2-1 over FC Dallas at BMO Field in Toronto, ON.

2011

Qualifiers: Top three teams from each conference and the next four teams with the highest points to play in wildcard matches, the lowest of which would face the Supporters' Shield winner regardless of conference.

Rounds: Wildcard (Single Game), Conference Semifinal (Home and Away), Conference Final (Single game), Cup Final (Single Game).

Winners: LA Galaxy 1-0 over the Houston Dyanmo at the Home Depot Conter in Carson, CA.

In 2011 the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps entered MLS. Also known as the best year.

2012

Qualifiers: Top five teams in each conference with the 4th and 5th seeded teams playing a wildcard game.

Rounds: Wildcard (Single Game), Conference Semifinal (Home and Away), Conference Final (Home and Away), MLS Cup (Single Game).

Winners: LA Galaxy 3-1 over the Houston Dyanmo at the Home Depot Center in Catson, CA.

The most recent round of MLS expansion saw the Montreal Impact join MLS this year and put the league on an unbalanced schedule with 19 teams.

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