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SI Report: The MLS Cup Playoff format set to undergo further change for the 2015 season

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The format of the MLS Cup Playoffs have evolved over the years and, if sources are to be believed, they could change once more for the upcoming 2015 season

MLS Cup Playoffs returning to Toronto? It may have just gotten a little easier...
MLS Cup Playoffs returning to Toronto? It may have just gotten a little easier...
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the second legs of the Conference Finals taking place this weekend, Sports Illustrated chose the perfect time – half-time of the Eastern decider on Saturday afternoon between New England and New York – to report that the MLS Playoffs will once more undergo changes, expanding next season by two teams, going from ten to twelve participants in the annual MLS Cup chase.

Brian Straus, who regularly has his ear to the ground on such matters, cites a source with knowledge of such things that states an official announcement could come before the conclusion of this season's playoffs and that this expanded format would see the addition of two more knockout matches, with third hosting sixth and fourth hosting fifth before reverting to the home-and-away series for the conference semifinals and finals.

The league is set to begin the 2015 season with a total of twenty teams, as the dissolution of Chivas and the inaugural season for a pair of expansion sides – New York City and Orlando City – will see each conference comprised on ten clubs.

Under the proposed format, the top six teams from each conference would take part in the subsequent playoffs – a whopping sixty-percent of those that start will reach the hallow ground of the post-season – but with the rampant expansion set to continue and the league aiming to reach 24 teams by the end of the decade, that proportion will drop to a more respectable level in the coming years.

The idea that so many clubs would be involved in the post-season was met with immediate suspicion and cries that it would further devalue the regular season – as well as few jokes about poor Toronto FC. That is always a risk, but the potential of extending the race for more clubs and adding further importance to the top two spots in each conference could counterbalance such considerations.

So, what does this mean for TFC?

With Houston and Kansas City bound for the West in the rebalance, two expansion teams set to start in the East, and presumably none of that conference crossover that proved so confusing in the past, what with Salt Lake and Colorado somehow winning the Eastern Conference Championships, in effect, if the reports are true, 2015 will be a glorious chance for Toronto to finally break into the post-season.

Albeit with a bit of help from circumstance.