Inter Miami boss Phil Neville criticizes ‘poor’ MLS for failing to choose a playoff format


Inter Miami boss Phil Neville criticizes ‘poor’ MLS for failing to choose a playoff format – with teams unsure of what the title race will look like just five days out from the season

Inter Miami coach Phil Neville blasted MLS for its lack of communication to clubs on the league’s playoff format.

Major League Soccer kicks its regular season off this Saturday, but no clarification has been given as to how the league’s 29 teams will decide a champion.

Reports from The Athletic suggested the top flight of American soccer could choose to completely overhaul its playoff system.

The current playoff structure follows a typical single-elimination pattern with the top seven teams in each conference whittling themselves down until an MLS Cup champion is determined.

Instead, the league is considering a World Cup-esque postseason where the eight teams from each conference get drawn into four separate four team groups. The winners of both groups play in the semifinals and then the MLS Cup Final.

Phil Neville has publicly criticized MLS for a lack of transparency on the playoffs this season

Reports said that Major League Soccer would be considering a change in its playoff format

Reports said that Major League Soccer would be considering a change in its playoff format

But Neville says that teams haven't been informed yet - with the season starting in five days

But Neville says that teams haven’t been informed yet – with the season starting in five days

No decision has been publicly announced by the league regarding the format for the 2023 season – even with MLS beginning its season on February 25.

Neville spoke to The Athletic on Sunday – saying even the managers of the 29 clubs don’t know what’s going on, pointing to this as one of the reasons why the league is not one of the best in the world. 

‘We’re six days, seven days out from the first game of the season, we don’t know the playoff format. I think that’s poor,’ Neville said. 

‘When you’re talking about professionalism, and “elite,” I think when you’re seven days out from the start of the season – we’ve had talks here, and one of our players asked one of the MLS guys the other day: “What’s the playoff system” and they were like: “We don’t know.” 

‘And I’m like: “That’s not elite.” You’re talking about differences between the U.K. and the U.S.? We talked about the intensity of the fans. [This is another] big difference.’

MLS’s public relations department sent out a tweet earlier Monday to hype up the season. When talking about the final day of the regular season, a graphic read that, ‘everything [will be] on the line in a battle for playoff spots and seeding.’ It did not specify how many spots there were, nor what the seeding or format would be.  

DailyMail.com has reached out to Major League Soccer’s communications department for comment on the 2023 playoff format. 

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