MLS Cup Trophy (detail)
Getty Images

MLS Cup Playoff Tiebreakers: Why the league changed the first standings tiebreaker to total wins

Know your MLS tiebreakers.

Whether your team is shooting for the Supporters' Shield, a playoff spot or a higher conference seed in the final weekend of the 2013 regular season, the new tiebreaker system adopted in 2013 will be a major factor in the verdicts handed down.

And in case you're still not up to speed, if two or more teams are tied on points in the standings, the first tiebreaker that will be used year has changed: It'll be total wins. That's a shift from last year's system, which saw total goals scored used first.

In fact, it's the "total wins" criteria that helped the Seattle Sounders clinch their playoff berth this weekend.

For those who are wondering about the thinking behind the change in tiebreakers, it's provided by MLS executive vice president for competition, technical and game operations Nelson Rodriguez.

“The object of the game is to win, whether at home or on the road," Rodriguez said. "The competition committee felt it was important to reward those teams who as a collective whole have won more games than their opposing teams.”

Here's the full list of tiebreakers going into the final weekend:
1. Most Wins
2. Goals For
3. Goal Differential
4. Fewest Disciplinary Points
5. Road Goals
6. Road Goal Differential
7. Home Goals
8. Home Goal Differential
9. Coin Toss (2 teams) or Drawing of Lots (3 or more)

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.