David Beckham’s new Inter Miami will make their Major League Soccer debut in the Eastern Conference when the 2020 season kicks off next March. Fellow new franchise Nashville SC will begin life in the Western Conference, despite being further east than Chicago.
MLS has now swelled to 26 clubs in total – 13 in each conference – but the format will remain the same, whereby every team still plays 34 regular season games.
The number of intra-conference games will go up to 24, with every club playing home and away against the other 12 teams in their conference.
The remaining 10 games of the 34 in the regular season schedule will be against clubs from the opposite conference and will be confirmed when the 2020 fixture list is confirmed.
MLS will continue to grow in the coming years, with newly formed Austin FC to join in 2021. The existing Sacramento Republic will make the jump from the USL Championship in time for 2022, while St Louis will be another new franchise in 2022.
Seattle Sounders are reigning MLS champions following their MLS Cup win over Toronto FC last month, in a repeat of the 2016 and 2017 championship games.
MLS began in 1996 with just 10 competing teams. The initial popularity soon began to wane, but the success of the United States national team at the 2002 World Cup, combined with important transitions to soccer specific stadiums and the advent of the Designated Player era – which saw the watershed arrival of David Beckham in 2007, kickstarted renewed growth.
2020 Major League Soccer Conferences (MLS Debut Season):
|Western Conference||Eastern Conference|
|Colorado Rapids (1996)||Atlanta United (2017)|
|FC Dallas (1996*)||Chicago Fire (1998)|
|Houston Dynamo (2006)||FC Cincinnati (2019)|
|LA Galaxy (1996)||Columbus Crew (1996)|
|Los Angeles FC (2018)||D.C. United (1996)|
|Minnesota United (2017)||Inter Miami (2020)|
|Nashville SC (2020)||Montreal Impact (2012)|
|Portland Timbers (2011)||New England Revolution (1996)|
|Real Salt Lake (2005)||New York City (2015)|
|San Jose Earthquakes (2008)||New York Red Bulls (1996**)|
|Seattle Sounders (2009)||Orlando City (2015)|
|Sporting Kansas City (1996***)||Philadelphia Union (2010)|
|Vancouver Whitecaps (2011)||Toronto FC (2007)|
*formerly founder club Dallas Burn
**formerly founder club New York/New Jersey Metrostars
***formerly founder club Kansas City Wizards