March 1, 2011

MLS new conferences

With the MLS season starting on March 15, with Seattle Sounders FC hosting the L.A. Galaxy, many are wondering about the conferences now that Portland and Vancouver have joined the league.

The addition of Portland and Vancouver brings the league to 18 teams. The MLS wanted to have two conferences of nine teams.

Since the league currently had two conferences of eight teams someone would have to move to the East. Unless the league did something dumb like make Portland go to the East.

But thankfully the MLS decided to continue with the geography and send the furthest East team of the Western Conference to the East. That would be the Houston Dynamo.

Along with the new Conferences also comes a new play-off qualifying system for the league.

With 18 teams playing a balanced schedule, we will see the top three teams from each conference automatically qualify, followed by four wild-card teams regardless of conference.

However, the wild-card teams square off with a play-in game to reach the main field, where the survivor with the lowest seed will face the conference winner with the most regular-season points, and the higher-seeded wild-card team will play the opposite conference winner.

Now I'm not sure what will happen next season once Montreal joins the league. But we'll worry about that next year. For now, let's just hope the season get's started the right way in two weeks. With a Sounders FC victory!

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