We always knew that Major League Soccer was going to do things their own way. They always have and will always continue to do so.
On Wednesday night in Kansas City, MLS commissioner Don Garber announced that the league would expand to 24 clubs by the end of the decade, or 2020 for that matter. Naturally the front runner in the expansion race is Orlando City, followed up by Miami with some guy name David Beckham leading that charge.
That means two more clubs will be out there for the taking and for the love of all things good and holy I hope those teams are balance out the map just a little more for FC Dallas. Yeah, I'm selfish like that. But then again I'm willing to bet most of you are too.
So how will this all look in 2020? First up where the league will go to get to 23 and 24 clubs is the question.
Personally I want St. Louis and San Antonio.
At the end of the day, I want to see those two cities in MLS. For one, it adds another rival to FC Dallas' list. Second of all, this expansion easily means that the rivalry with Houston will be improved by more games against the Dynamo. Lastly, I wouldn't be shocked to see the conference re-alignment also help build rivalries more with teams like Colorado, Salt Lake, and maybe even Kansas City (after visiting that town this week, I want more games against them just to have an excuse to visit that stadium more).
If you get to 24 clubs, at some point the league will need to break down the conferences a little more. As much as I hate the idea of moving further away from a single table format, this is America after all, so more divisions will be made. As long as the league doesn't attempt the stupidness that was the three conferences from back in the early 2000s (East, West and Central), we'll be fine.
Naturally there will and should be 12 teams per conference and if you want, breaking it further down to six per division is also fine. Rivalries will need to be preserved as much as possible with this. To which I say, if you can preserve something 100%, then don't attempt to mess with it. Even with that warning, I doubt the league will follow that as some will get their way in a division format.
East 1: New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, New England, Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto
East 2: Columbus, Orlando, Miami, Chicago, D.C., St. Louis
West 1: Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Colorado, Salt Lake, San Antonio
West 2: Chivas, LA, San Jose, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver
It isn't perfect but it may be practical for the league. I hate the idea of splitting up KC and St. Louis in this scenario but if you add say a San Diego or Sacramento to the league, you'd have to split up one of the Western rivals like San Jose-LA, Chivas-LA, or even worse one of the Cascadia Cup teams. No dice.
This could also change if say the league added a team in North Carolina (I'd be down with that) or even a Nashville, Indianapolis, or Minnesota. Say one of those three went in over San Antonio for instance and you'd likely be able to keep most, if not all of the natural league rivalries in tact.
There is no way on earth the league can keep a balanced schedule with 24 clubs. I just don't see a home-and-away format with 23 other clubs. That would make The schedule push to 46 regular season games if you went in that direction. Just. Not. Going. To. Happen.
The current 34 game schedule is big enough and is likely where the league will need to remain once at 24 clubs. The simple schedule in my mind is to keep a similar format to where things are now.
So with that you'd go home-and-away to everyone in your conference. That's 22 games right there. Split the games with the other conferences up to where you have six at home and six on the road. That leaves you with 34. Boom.
This kind of scheduling will keep the rivalries largely at their best. As much as I like seeing teams get three games against their rivals (for the most part) right now, I'd much rather see it go back to a home-and-away format for those games. Keep it even.
So what is your take on all of this expansion talk? Where do you want to see the league go with their four open slots? Would you go to St. Louis and San Antonio like me? Or would you go elsewhere? Let's hear it. Also, would you change up the scheduling any with this expansion?