Understanding MLS Standings
MLS follows a completely different format as the top European soccer leagues. There are 28 teams – soon to be 29 with the addition of St. Louis City SC – that are divided between the Eastern and Western Conference. Each team plays every team in their conference twice, home and away, and also plays eight interconference games.
In the MLS standings, teams get three points for winning, one for tying, and none for losing. There’s no extra time or penalties in any regular-season match, so each result is final after 90 minutes plus stoppage time.
At the end of the regular season, the top seven teams in each conference qualify for the single-elimination MLS Cup playoffs. The team with the most points at the end of the regular season wins the MLS Supporter’s Shield. The Supporter’s Shield winner and the first-place team in the other conference both receive first-round byes in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
MLS Cup betting is popular during any point in the season, but the championship match (the MLS Cup) is played in November between the winners of the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs. The playoffs, unlike the regular season, do feature two 15-minute extra time periods and penalties, if necessary, in case of a draw.
Unlike European leagues, MLS does not use a promotion/relegation structure, which means that teams are constant from season to season, barring expansion. Late-season MLS scores and standings are particularly important for teams vying for the Supporter’s Shield and first-round playoff bye, along with those on the playoff bubble.
The top team in each conference qualifies for next season’s CONCACAF Champions League, the most prestigious international club competition in North America. The other two berths are occupied by the MLS Cup winner (if not already qualified) and the next highest-ranked team in the table.
Point spreads will take recent results and respective places in the standings into account for each match.Follow us on Twitter