What Would An MLS Single Table Have Looked Like in Historic Terms

I put together this chart to determine what a single table, no playoff MLS would have looked like each season since 1996. I re-figured the rankings for the 1999-1999 period without shootouts and for 2000 without overtime victories, so the rankings I have do not correspond directly with the official final standings. This is still far from an exact science because teams have always played a skewed schedule towards their division or conference, unlike major European leagues where each team faces each other twice. So for example in the expansion year of 2005, Western Conference teams had more points largely because of the futility of both expansion franchises that were in the West. Nonetheless, we get so many complaints about MLS Cup and the Regular Season being “meaningless” I thought it would be fascinating to take a look at how the league’s champions would have changed.

In the single table format the Champions of MLS would have been as follows:

1996: Tampa Bay Mutiny
1997: DC United
1998: LA Galaxy
1999: DC United
2000: Kansas City Wizards
2001: Miami Fusion
2002: LA Galaxy
2003: Chicago Fire
2004: Columbus Crew
2005: New England Revolution
2006: DC United

Under the single table both defunct franchises (Miami and Tampa Bay) would have won titles as would New England, and Columbus. San Jose nor its successor franchise Houston would have won a title so they can be almost termed as “cup specialist” eurofootball language.

The only teams to win the single table that in fact also won MLS Cup are 1997 DC United, 2000 Kansas City Wizards and 2002 LA Galaxy.

While many observers of the game bash MLS for having a playoff system this study once again reinforced how wide open and unpredictable those playoffs in fact are.

The table is linked below:


This entry was posted in MLS Table, MLS Talk. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the World Soccer Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the books 'Blue With Envy' about Manchester City FC, and 'Soccerwarz' about the MLS, USL and NASL infighting.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

2 Responses to What Would An MLS Single Table Have Looked Like in Historic Terms

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.