Many MLS nay-sayers will point to the league's current playoff format as one of it's major shortcomings. The current format has the top five teams from each conference qualifying for the playoffs and competing in two separate brackets. The first round is a one-off Wild Card match between the fourth and fifth place teams with the winner going up against the conference's top seed in the Conference Semis. The semis are conducted in a home-and-away aggregate-goal format, much like the Champions League knockout stages, until a winner is crowned from the MLS Cup championship game.
The problem right away is that you have 10 out of 19 competing clubs qualifying for the postseason. What's the incentive and reward for excelling all season, an early-round playoff bye? That's not good enough with so few teams. The league needs to move away from this US division/conference mentality, and become a one-table league that rewards the best team at the end of the regular season. MLS is not like other professional sports in this country so let's stop trying to emulate their postseason model. At least take strides by cutting down the number of teams in the playoffs.