Tonight at half time of the MLS Cup final between FC Dallas and Colorado, Don Garber announced some things the league is looking into, expanding the playoffs, and the 2011 schedule. Most of the news leaked onto the net after the league held a press conference before the game tonight.
First, leaked before hand was the comment that MLS will begin looking at potentially switching their schedule to the "international calender". Which means moving to a fall to spring schedule with a winter break. They seem no where close to a decision, and part of it just seems like lip service to FIFA with the World Cup bid decision coming up in the next month. We'll see in the future if this is something that MLS will really look to doing or not. Personally I'm not a fan at all, I understand taking breaks for FIFA international dates, but switching to that calender just seems destined for failure.
The bigger news of the announcement was the fact that MLS is set to expand their playoff format. MLS will add two more playoff spots, making it 10 teams that make the playoffs now instead of 8. The final playoff spot will be decided by a play-in game. They haven't fully finalized everything, but did say it will be 10 teams for sure making the playoffs. Garber also said that they will continue to work to address the situation of multiple teams from the opposite conference making the conference final in the other conference. Certainly this is going to polarize a lot of people on seeing it as a bad thing or a good thing. MLS had just recently gotten to a point where 50% of the teams made the playoffs, down from 80% at one time. Still it does seem to devalue the regular season a bit. So it'll be interesting to see what happens when a 10th seed makes MLS Cup.
The final point of the conversation had to do with the 2011 schedule. The schedule had been expanded to 34 games from 30 and most immediately assumed it was to accommodate a balanced schedule again, but Garber in the State of the League said that they weren't sure. Tonight Garber confirmed there will once again be a balanced schedule, probably the last time as 2012 with 19 and potentially 20 in 2013 the league seems unlikely to expand to 36 and then 38 games.