Two teams added to the playoff and a balanced schedule will be two of the changes to MLS next season.The MLS playoffs will feature 10 teams starting next year, MLS commissioner Don Garber announced at halftime of the MLS Cup final.
The decision is a transition back to the days when over half of the teams in MLS qualified for the postseason, as 10 of next year's 18 clubs will take part in the playoffs.
Garber also confirmed that 2011 will feature a balanced schedule.
"We're going to have two extra teams in our playoffs," Garber said on ESPN during the halftime break.
Additionally Garber hinted that no longer will teams be able to win the opposite conference, as has happened the last three years running.
"It doesn't make any sense to have two Western Conference teams playing in the Eastern Conference final. We're going to find a way to fix that," Garber declared.
Garber mentioned that the tweaks still need to be worked out.
One more long-term change is that MLS will study a switch to the international calender, with a season stretching from August through May, rather than the calender year format it currently follows.
Given the bitter cold of the winter months, talk of abandoning the current schedule could just be hot air to appease FIFA bigwig Sepp Blatter, who has frequently maligned MLS's March to November schedule.
Garber's announcement comes just days before the World Cup hosting announcement on Dec. 2. The U.S. is bidding against Australia, South Korea, and Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.
All in all, MLS continues to tinker with its format as it expands, and 2011 will be no different.
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