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MLS balanced in 2011 with 34-game schedule
by Ridge Mahoney, September 16th, 2010 12:41AM

TAGS:  mls


[MLS] To accommodate an expanded roster of 18 teams in 2011, MLS has taken the logical route and expanded its schedule to 34 games. Though the league has played an irregular schedule in the past, it opted to retain the formula of every team playing each league opponent once at home and once on the road regardless of conference alignment.

The 16th MLS season will kick off on March 19, 2011. The 34 matches in 32 weeks leading up to the final day of the season, Oct. 22. MLS also confirmed it will not take breaks for the Concacaf Gold Cup – the final of which will be played in the Rose Bowl on June 26, 2011 – or other international competitions. The league took a two-week break, the first in its history, during the 2010 World Cup first round.

Yet to be decided is the conference alignment for 2011. If the league retains its two-conference format, the addition of Portland and Vancouver would necessitate the moving of one Western Conference team to the Eastern Conference so both conferences would include nine teams. There is little support among team and league officials to lump all 18 teams together in a single table.

Splitting the 18 teams into three conferences, a la the Mexican league, and tweaking the playoff format have been suggested. This season, the league changed the playoff structure to award automatic places to only the top two teams in each conference, instead of three, with the remaining four spots allotted by overall points.

  1. Dave Kantor
    commented on: September 16, 2010 at 8:33 a.m.
    "There is little support among team and league officials to lump all 18 teams together in a single table." Ridge, can you explain why a single table has little support? I think in the end, regional rivalries occur regardless of divisional alignment, and having teams cross conferences in the playoffs is just weird.
  1. Juan R
    commented on: September 16, 2010 at 11:52 a.m.
    It's just how MLS likes things. I think Garber used to work for the NFL and they have that mindset. I don't think it's a horrible thing at the moment, though I can't wait until we have a single table and pro/rel. Single table will come way before pro/rel. We'll need another 10-12 solid franchises for pro/rel to be a possibility, it seems. Maybe in 15 years? or maybe before the 2022 World Cup? That's more important for me than a single table right now.
  1. David Sirias
    commented on: September 16, 2010 at 12:16 p.m.
    "There is little support among team and league officials to lump all 18 teams together in a single table." Sources/links Ridge? Ok you can't reveal your sources. But are you sure this is not coming out of your imagination? The hard core MLS fans want a single table. My sources? Go to any freakin soccer board in this country. And what the customer wants should always drive management thinking......Single table is lovely little device that shines a light on excellence, mediocrity, and game day significance. Even the last place teams don't want to finish last, relegation aside. Garber does a lot of things right. Bust he should at least do a proper survey to see what the attentive MLS fan thinks of single table. Garber gets a failing grade on this issue.
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: September 16, 2010 at 12:44 p.m.
    What's the difference in having a single table as opposed to the current conference concoction. At least it would be quite evident which team has the best record. Who cares about conferences, rivalries are natural. Top 8 teams qualify for the playoff; 1 v 8, 2 v 7, etc in the first round with the better record team getting home field advantage in the first round and away goals determine the winner in case of a tie in a 2 game series. Same goes for the semis. Final to be played at top ranked teams home...the neuteral field final is a slap in the face to the supporters. Time to stop kow-towing to the other sports...keep it simple stupid.

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