How MLS Could Revise Conferences, Schedule for 2015

IMAGE, BILL REESE FOR EMPIREOFSOCCER.COM

BY BILL REESE
Staff Writer

Remember August? Way back in the summer, reports suggested that Major League Soccer would revise it’s conferences and regular season format for the 2015 season when the 20th team, New York City F.C., planned to enter. The plan would have split the league into two even conferences playing a somewhat balanced 28-game schedule. Whether or not fans liked the shorter regular season, it seemed like a reasonable, thought-out plan – a rarity for MLS.

Last Tuesday’s announcement that Orlando City SC would become the league’s 21st franchise, joining concurrently with NYCFC for the 2015 season, made the league’s proposed 28-game schedule and equal conferences a near impossibility – thrown out the door before the league’s fans were even finished hating on it.

So, now what? A league with 21 clubs means that several conference and/or schedule changes need to be made.

I’ve come up with my favorite ways to re-arrange MLS’s conferences, schedules and playoffs for 2015. Of course, by the time this article is posted, the league will have added Miami Beckhams FC and we’ll have to start over again, but here goes …

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    • Bill Reese

      Assuming Miami and Atlanta are shoe-ins for teams #22-23 (and we have some evidence to suggest that they are), team #24 will likely be Midwestern. Contenders are San Antonio, St. Louis, OK City, Minnesota and Detroit. Sacramento is a dark horse out west. I’d be really surprised if they didn’t pick one of those cities for Team #24.

  • In the 3 conference setup I would have Toronto in the central and Orlando in the east. The only negative is breaking up the Colorado/SLC and Toronto/Montreal rivalries. I think I favor keeping East/West and awarding CCL spots to the conference winners instead of the MLS Cup runner up.

    • Brian

      I like how this works out for the central. It puts KC, Dallas & Houston all in the same conference which is good for rivalries. I hope this happens.

  • takethekongviee

    Regarding the future conference and play off structure, i would make changes knowing that the current goal is 24 teams. Thus, for structure, i would create four divisions. Play your divisional rival 3x and everyone else once. 15 + 18 = 33 games (am confident they will find a “system” to determine the schediking gap between now and Team 24.)

    For playoffs, the top three teams in each division qualify. BUT no more divisional play! Each group gets one team from each division. Each group gets afirst, second, and third place team. It makes the playoffs national in a way league play would be less so. Sure, playoff travel would be tougher but playoffs should be tough. Top two teams in each group make the two legged semis. And in a year where the league’s two best teams hailed from the same divisio, this system lets them meet in the Final.

  • Danny

    I like the two Conferance set up. But with Kansas City joining the West next season. Since Miami/Beckham is to join soon. Also think New York Red Bulls should change their name to New Jersey Red Bulls. Staying true to where they really play from.

  • Why not go with an AFC/NFC model (ABA, NBA; NL, AL). Make both conferences geographically diverse, and keep some of the big rivalries (put cascadia in the National, and LA in American). Then you have basically TWO conferences, and both conferences have the same skin in the game in terms of splitting the playoff load… it may end up splitting some good rivalries, but they would still have the chance to meet up in non-conference games.

  • Charles

    Why would it be called Champions League when the 12th place team is making it ?

    Champions of what ? The bottom half of the league ?

  • Mr. Unkown

    They already kicked out Chivas USA so it can be 10 and 10.

    • Bill Reese

      Yes they did. I mean, had I known Chivas would go out of business on November 26th of last year when I wrote this article, I would have written something different.

  • Marcus

    Any idea when the 2015 MLS schedule will be released? I haven’t been able to find it…

    • Bill Reese

      Last season the schedule was released in late November. I would expect the 2015 schedule to come out in the next moth or so.

      • Marcus

        Thanks Bill – I’ll keep looking for it!

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