Atlanta to join Eastern Conference in 2017, Minnesota to compete in West

Atlanta and Minnesota will enter Major League Soccer together in 2017, but the two newest MLS expansion teams will take up residence in separate conferences.

In the wake of Friday's announcement that Minnesota will join in 2017, the league announced that Atlanta United FC will compete in the Eastern Conference next season, while Minnesota United FC will be a member of the Western Conference.

Eastern Conference Western Conference

That even split will take each conference's membership to 11 teams. New York City FC and Orlando City SC both joined the East during the last round of MLS expansion in 2015, necessitating a move back to the West for the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City.

While the 2017 scheduling format has not yet been confirmed, the current state of affairs sees clubs play 34 games each regular season: 24 against teams within their conference and 10 against teams from the other conference.

MLS has utilized an East-West conference format for all but two of its 21 years of existence. The 2000 and 2001 campaigns featured three divisions, with a Central Division comprised of Chicago, Columbus, Dallas and the since-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny in addition to East and West groupings.  

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