This has been a long time coming. Sorry for the break in between updates. No excuses, play like a champion. Let's just get right into it by breaking down MLS into three categories: Format, Schedule, and Quality.
Right now, the league has 19 teams split up into two conferences (Eastern and Western). The schedule is unbalanced to favor regional rivalries. After a total of 34 games (fairly divided based on said rivalries,) 10 teams make the playoffs. The fourth and fifth placed teams of each conference play a wild card round, with the winner advancing to play the top seed of the division. From there it is a, somewhat, standard American-style elimination bracket with the Western Conference champion facing their Eastern Conference counterparts in MLS Cup.
Now, traditionalists (like I once was) tend to dislike this format. They call for a standard, one-table, home-and-away, no-playoffs system. That's fine. I can understand the draw of playing the the rest of the leagues in the world. But this is 'Merica. We do things our way.
On a serious note, I have actually grown fond of the way MLS schedules games. For one thing, the country is huge. It is exhausting to fly five hours, and over three time zones from coast-to-coast. Limiting these types of trips to two or three times a year, as opposed to five or six is beneficial for the players. Additionally, I love the fact that the Cascadia Cup consists of nine games. And the the Galaxy face Chivas USA three times each season. And that New York, DC United, and Philly all play each other three times. The league is still in its infancy. These rivalries have been drawn up on paper, but the way they become real is with the passion of the players and fans. You want to be the best team in your area, you want bragging rights over your neighbors; the way to achieve either of those is repetition. Winning on a consistent basis, or thwarting your opponents' attempts.
Playoffs are another staple of American sports. I stand to be corrected, but the only other major soccer league in the world, that I can think of, which uses a playoff system is Liga MX in Mexico. They do two post seasons every year. The Brazilian Serie A used to have a playoff system until 2003 (which led to my Botafogo winning the league in 1995,) as well. Again, I am okay with playoffs. They are an exciting way to end the season, and to determine a champion. My one problem with the system is that, as it stands, more than half the teams in the league make the post season. This tends to water down the importance of the regular season. Of course, right now there is a tight race for the last few spots in either conference, but where is the exclusivity of the post season if a team with more losses than wins, or a negative goal differential can squeak in? The current playoff format is too forgiving, it should be for teams that earn the right to be there throughout the season.