The MLS Cup is an international soccer tournament organized by the MLS, the North American Soccer League. Organized by the commissioner of United Soccer Professional League, the tournament is held annually in late March and early April. The competition consists of teams from the different conferences of North America. The winners of each conference receive automatic qualification to the playoffs, while the runners up have to fight for their chance at the MLS Cup. Both the Eastern and the Western Conferences have their own set of qualifying tournaments which the conference winners have to win in order to qualify for the MLS Cup.
DescriptionThe MLS Cup is basically the annual championship match of Major League Soccer, also known as the MLS Soccer tournament. The tournament is held annually during early March and early April and pits the champion of the Eastern Conference against that of the Western Conference. The West Conference finalist is then awarded the status of world champions, the trophy is gifted to the winner and the current champions are eligible for the MLS Cup playoffs.
FormatThe competition is arranged in a single format, similar to the FIFA World Cup tournaments. For the first round, the four highest-seeded teams are sanctioned to participate in the tournament. From there the other teams are given points based on their performance. These teams are decided through the process of elimination, where the team with the most points wins. This is followed by another round where the two lowest placed teams play against the other third placed team who has the extra point and so on till the last match is played.
Winners League/ Championship winner team that winning the MLS Cup usually gets the right to be named MLS champions for a second successive time. This title is not just given to the champions, but also to the teams finishing second and third. Another interesting thing about the MLS Cup is that after the tournament, a particular team is not automatically given the right to be named as the MLS champions for a second consecutive year. This is because of a select number of factors. The team that finished first is given the chance to challenge for the MLS Cup title again. Should they lose the championship to another team, the teams that finished second and third are awarded with the title.
Knockout roundTeams that don't qualify to the championship round have to win a series of matches against other MLS teams until they reach the knockout stage. The team with the most wins after the knockout stage becomes the winners of this phase. The MLS Cup runners up need to beat out the runner up from the same league and the other conference in order to become the eventual winners. The teams with the most wins after the knockout stage become the MLS Cup champions for a second consecutive year.
Playoffs / ConferencesThe playoffs consist of a round robin format in which the lower league teams are invited to join. The top four teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs, where the next round consists of a single elimination bracket. This is followed by another single elimination bracket until the final, which is a best-of-two format. The team finishing third in this tournament gets the title.
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