Major League Soccer announced Friday the schedule format and conference alignment for the 2022 MLS season.
Due to a pretty packed 2022 international soccer calendar, the MLS regular season will begin earlier than ever before, kicking off on Saturday, Feb. 26, and run through Decision Day, the regular season finale, on Sunday, October 9. Following three consecutive weeks of 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs action, MLS Cup will be played on Saturday, Nov. 5, more than two weeks prior to the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Nov. 21 and more than a week prior to the player release date on Nov. 14.
Along with that, there will also be a conference shake-up with the addition of the 28th team in Charlotte, who will be placed in the Eastern Conference. FC Dallas will see Nashville SC will return to the Western Conference, resulting in two conferences of 14 teams each.
All teams will play a 34-game regular season - 17 home games, 17 away games - facing each of their conference opponents two times and playing eight non-conference opponents once.
The MLS regular season schedule will consist of all weekend matches with the exception of five, or fewer, midweek matches – targeting one each in May, June, and July, and two in August. The midweek match dates for each team will not be scheduled in consecutive weeks. This is a bit of a shift from 2021, where we saw FC Dallas play on the midweek nine times (once on Tuesday and eight on Wednesday). This will likely help accommodate the return of the US Open Cup to the schedule during the summer months as well.
In observance of the 2022 FIFA calendar, MLS will seek to avoid scheduling matches during the FIFA international windows in March, June, or September. Only at a team’s request will MLS consider scheduling a match during the March window, or during the second weekend of the June double window. Teams may not request to play matches during the September window, at the final stretch of the regular season.
The full MLS regular season schedule will be announced later this year.