MLS announces 2005 conference realignment and competition format
NEW YORK - Major League Soccer today announced that the League's two expansion teams, Real Salt Lake and Club Deportivo Chivas USA, will join the Western Conference in their inaugural season in MLS in 2005. The Kansas City Wizards will move to the Eastern Conference to establish two divisions comprised of six teams each.
The Western Conference will be made up of the Colorado Rapids, CD Chivas USA, FC Dallas, Los Angeles Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, and the San Jose Earthquakes. The Eastern Conference will feature the Kansas City Wizards joining the Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, the MetroStars, and the New England Revolution.
The 2005 MLS regular season kicks off on Saturday, April 2, 2005, when all 12 teams will take the field for the League's 10th season. A total of 192 regular season games will be played in 2005, with each team playing 32 games apiece (16 home, 16 away). Each team will play four games against each opponent within its conference (two home, two away) as well two games (one home, one away) against each of the six teams in the other conference.
The playoff format remains the same as in 2004, with eight teams (four from each conference) qualifying for the postseason. After a home-and-away Conference Semifinals series, the winners advance to the single game Conference Championship. The Conference Champions will then do battle for the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy at MLS Cup 2005 on Sunday, November 13, 2005 at the new Frisco Soccer & Entertainment Center, the highly-anticipated new home for FC Dallas which is scheduled to open in Spring 2005.
Along with the regular schedule of League games, MLS teams will also once again participate in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as the CONCACAF Champions Cup. The participation of MLS teams and the rounds and dates for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will be announced by the U.S. Soccer Federation at a later date.
The 2004 MLS Cup finalists D.C. United and Kansas City Wizards will represent the United States in the 2005 CONCACAF Champions Cup, the longest running international club competition in the region which has crowned the champion club of the Confederation since its inception in 1962. MLS Cup Champion D.C. United and the Wizards, 2005 runner-ups, will begin play with the first leg of the Champions Cup quarterfinals on March 9, 2005. The eight-team pairing will be determined by a draw to be held at the offices of CONCACAF in early 2005. The winner of the 2005 CONCACAF Champions' Cup will qualify to the next FIFA Club World Championship to be held in Japan in December of 2005.
Major League Soccer's 12 clubs continue their preparations in advance of the 2005 MLS SuperDraft being held in Baltimore, Maryland on Friday, January 14 in conjunction with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention at the Baltimore Convention Center.