MLS Commish Don Garber announced several competition changes for next year at today’s Annual State of the League address:
*The four-year-old reserve division has been discontinued, with that money diverted to a “bolstered senior roster” (read better, more expensive, players).
*Senior rosters will now be between 18-20 players (it was 18 this year), but no longer will there be up to 10 developmental players. Now there will be four (although teams with more than four Generation Adidas players will have those grandfathered in).
*The season opens March 21, a week earlier than this year, although there will still be 30 league games. The fifteen teams next year (Seattle comes aboard, you’ll recall) play each other home and away with two other games (presumably against regional rivals, if the MLS suits are smart) added. MLS will either clear its schedule completely on two weekends for national teams games (or play with a reduced schedule over four weekends).
*The playoff format reverts to that last seen in 2007 with the top two teams in each conference automatically qualifying for the post-season and the next four with the most points regardless of conference earning wild card berths.
*To ease fixture congestion, MLS teams may no longer play in both SuperLiga and the CONCACAF Champions League, although all 15 will play in the U.S. Open Cup. Therefore the Champions League participants next year are the Columbus Crew, New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo. Playing in the SuperLiga: Chivas USA, Chicago Fire, Kansas City Wizards and New England Revolution.