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MLS announces conference alignments for 2020, Nashville SC joins Western Conference

Ignoring actual geography, FC Dallas will see a new expansion side more in 2020.

MLS: FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City Peter G. Aiken

Details are slowly trickling in for the 2020 regular season and today’s installment may be one of the more puzzling ones yet.

Major League Soccer has revealed that Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC will be in separate conferences for their debut season after the conference alignment was confirmed by the league for next year. Inter Miami join the East, while Nashville SC will compete in the West, ensuring both conferences will feature 13 clubs.

Yes, Nashville, a city that is clearly East of one team that will remain in the Eastern Conference (the Chicago Fire), will be joining FC Dallas and the rest of the Western Conference in 2020.

My gut tells me this is more about keeping as much parity in the league as possible. Giving a conference two expansion sides would have likely created an unfair advantage for some teams. In this case, it at least evens some things out a bit. Even if it looks really strange when you see it on a map.

Things should even out in the coming yeas with St. Louis, Sacramento and Austin set to join the league. At that time, you can imagine Nashville moving back into the Eastern Conference.

MLS also announced that each club will continue to play a 34-game regular season with 17 home matches and 17 away matches. Every team will play their 12 intra-conference opponents twice – once home and once away for a total of 24 matches – with the other 10 regular-season matches coming against the opposite conference. Those inter-conference opponents will be revealed with the full 2020 schedule release.

Schedules are expected to be revealed before the Christmas holiday.