MLS Clubs Will Not Play Every Other Franchise For First Time In '20
MLS clubs will "not play every other franchise at least once next season, a departure" from the regular-season scheduling format used since the league launched in '96, according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. With expansion clubs Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC growing the league to 26 clubs and the number of regular season matches staying the same (34), clubs will "play only 10 of 13 teams from the other conference" in '20. MLS yesterday said that Inter Miami will compete in the Eastern Conference, with Nashville SC in the Western Conference. The league is currently "in the process of finalizing" the '20 home openers and "hopes to unveil the complete schedule by the end of the month." The new format will "take some luster off winning the Supporters' Shield because of the increasingly unbalanced nature" of the regular-season schedule. Meanwhile, the playoff format is "expected to remain the same," with seven clubs in each conference competing in single knockout matches, culminating with the MLS Cup in November (WASHINGTON POST, 12/3).
MOVING AROUND: In Nashville, Drake Hills notes although "extensive travel awaits, Nashville SC may not be in the Western Conference for long," as Austin FC is set to join MLS in '21, followed by Sacramento Republic FC in '22, two clubs which "present two obvious Western Conference participants when they begin play." With St. Louis also joining in '22, the Western Conference will "become imbalanced, forcing one or two" clubs to join the Eastern Conference (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 12/3).