[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.