MLS playoff field increases to 10 teams

Major League Soccer announced Wednesday that its 2011 playoff format will include 10 teams out of the 18-team field. The previous format included eight teams. The playoff expansion was announced last fall, with the format announced Wednesday.

Qualifiers include the top three finishers in each conference based on regular-season points, and four wild-card berths based on the next four highest point totals.

The wild card teams will play single elimination games against each other, with the higher seed hosting (1 versus 4, and 2 versus 3). After these play-in games, the lowest remaining seed faces the Supporters' Shield winner (the regular-season points leader) in the conference semifinals, and the other team will face the top seed in the opposite conference from the Supporters' Shield winner.

The conference semifinals are a two-game aggregate series, with each club hosting one game. The conference championships are a single game hosted by the higher seed. MLS Cup remains a single-game championship match, with the game's location to be determined at a later date.