Hopefully the Rapids won't need to raise the EASTERN conference championship to make it to another final with the new rules in play.
The MLS playoff structure was released today well after the schedule and well after months of discussion and anticipation over what exactly was going to be the new structure. Personally, I like it. The top three teams of each conference will be selected to get in as the top three seeds, with a fourth seed coming in as a wild card.
The way the wild cards are selected to actually be in the structure is different now. There will still be four teams selected as "wild cards" like there used to be but only two of them will make it into the big show. Similar to the 16 seeds in the NCAA Basketball Tourney - is that reference even still relevant? Didn't they add like 3000 teams to the bracket or something? - there will be two play in games to determine the eventual fourth seed for each conference.The Wild Card teams will still be selected by record, regardless of conference.
While this could potentially still allow for a team to make it to the Western Conference from the East - or more likely a team from the West making the East - it completely eliminates the annoying chance that, like the last two years, there will be two teams from an opposite conference in the conference championship game. It's an improvement and though there are arguments that adding two more possible playoff teams makes the regular season less fun, I think that any sense of improvement is good among some of the weaker decisions the league has made in the past few years.