The Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs are set to begin on Wednesday, and so too will all the usual drama, excitement, and intensity that come with them.
Still, is a postseason the best way to determine a champion? That's something that gets debated regularly in MLS circles. Yes, there is no denying that a postseason, where anything can happen and so much is at stake, is fun. But not everyone agrees that it is the best method to crown a champion.
Here are where some of MLS's player stand on the matter:
Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew SC): “I like it. I think it brings that, 'Anyone can win' mentality that American sports fans love, and there’s just an added excitement. If the season ended Sunday and the Red Bulls won, it would just be, 'That’s it; we’re done.' There’s so much more left to play for. I can’t wait."
Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC): “It’s just so different. The playoffs is an American thing; it’s not going away, I don’t think. So you adapt to it, and you understand that it is the way it is, and it’s about getting hot at the right time and going on a run in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if you’re squeaking in on the last day or you’re the Supporters’ Shield winners. Everybody is even.”
Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City): "I love playing in the playoffs, man. It's a different atmosphere. As much as you want to say that every game means the same in the regular season, the playoffs are a different level. You're just focused more. I just love playing in the playoffs."
Matt Hedges (FC Dallas): “No, not really. I think you play 34 games in the regular season, and the team that is most consistent during that should be the winner of the league. I mean, so six games at the end of the season or 34 games, which one do you think shows who the better team is? That’s my view on it. I always thought the regular season winner is more important, but a lot of people don’t see it that way.”
Brian Carroll (Philadelphia Union): “Playoffs are kind of ingrained in the sports culture in America. That’s just kind of how it is and it’s what fans like and we do have a regular-season championship trophy with the Supporters’ Shield. So with that and the playoffs, I think it adds an extra interesting dimension. The playoffs are just a different animal, and I think players, coaches, fans appreciate it, whether it’s different from other leagues around the world or not.
“For me, it’s the extra competitive level. Everything just gets raised to a new level. And it’s the people who can calm down and continue to do their role to the best of their ability while helping their teammate next to them that ultimately succeeds. And you just have to get hot and get on a good run. So I like the different scenarios that the playoffs present.”
Justin Mapp (Montreal Impact): “Yeah. I can see it both ways; the single table does show the most consistent team, but playoffs are fun. It adds a unique element. It's kind of a North American thing. It's unique compared to other parts of the world. It’s what we do. It’s more games for the fans. Everybody wins.”
David Ousted (Vancouver Whitecaps): "It's fun. It's a fun aspect. I would still say that the Supporters' Shield is something that is tougher to win for a team, obviously because it's over 34 games and you need to be very consistent. The playoffs are a fun thing to go into. It's a one off game, maybe two games that can decide everything. So it gets to be a little bit like Champions League, these two-legged games of high intensity. It's definitely, spectator wise, a fun thing to see."
Robert Earnshaw (Vanouver Whitecaps): "I don't like it so much. I believe, because it's a league and because it's done in a way where you play 34 games, you play the whole season, it has to be the prize of finishing the top. Here, it's not so much because you have to go into the playoffs. We always see so many teams that finish in the top, in the league side of it, get knocked out very early, or within a couple of rounds. That's the difficulty part because you work all year and you put in all the effort and you do all the work behind the scenes and you play good football throughout the season, then it doesn't give you the achievement of winning the Cup. So it's difficult but it also makes it exciting, that's the other key.
"On the one side, that's it, but on the other side, it makes it exciting. Now, you win the league or you finish in the top two, but you have to go on. It's going to come down to two teams and only one team will lifting that cup. It does make it more exciting in that way."
Todd Dunivant (LA Galaxy):"What makes them fun? I think it's just the intensity's ratcheted up. It's another level from the regular season. It separated teams, and the truth about your team comes out, whatever that means. That for me is the biggest thing about the playoffs."