MLS shortens season by month, goes to all-knockout playoffs

first_img Share: MLS says the new format will reward teams with top regular seasons with greater home-field advantage.The league expands to 24 teams with the addition of Cincinnati next year, and 14 teams will make the playoffs. Each of the two conference winners will get first-round byes and be joined in the conference semifinals by the winners of the three first-round series.The league will finish before the November international break — and before the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that Nov. 21. The October break will be between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.Opening day will be March 2 next year, and the regular season will end Oct. 6.The league said the changes resulted from discussions throughout the year with team owners, general managers, television partners and other officials. The changes were ratified last week. Published: December 17, 2018, 4:10pm GO MLS shortens season by month, goes to all-knockout playoffs Opening day is March 2 with end on Oct. 6 Major League Soccer is shortening its season by a month, going to single-elimination playoffs and scheduling the 2019 MLS Cup final for Nov. 10 in its earliest finish since 2002.The league announced the change Monday and will have an all-knockout postseason in place of a two-leg format for the conference semifinals and finals. MLS had started using a two-leg, total-goals format in 2003.After then-U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann criticized the league’s season as being too short, MLS stretched its schedule into December each year starting in 2012. Klinsmann was fired in November 2016.“The big challenge is for MLS overall, how can they stretch that season into a format that is kind of competitive with the rest of the world?” Klinsmann said in 2011. “Right now it’s not competitive. If you have a seven-, eight-month season, that’s not competitive with the rest of the world.” “The idea here is to continually work on making the regular season become more and more important, so winning in March is as important as winning in September or October,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said this month. “Our playoff format, the one that we’re evaluating, I think is really going to place a very, very high emphasis, strong emphasis, on the regular season.”center_img Atlanta United team captain Michael Parkhurst (3) kisses the trophy as teammates celebrate during the trophy presentation after the MLS Cup championship soccer game against the Portland Timbers, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. Atlanta United won 2-0. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland) Share: By ANNE M. PETERSON, Associated Press Receive latest stories and local news in your email: By signing up you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.last_img

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