The Washington Post

MLS unveils format changes for 2012 season

*The Montreal Impact will become the 10th club in the MLS Eastern Conference. The same nine teams will make up the Western Conference.

*Each club will again play 34 regular season matches.

*The regular season will have an unbalanced schedule, with each club playing a team from the other conference just once. The number of games against specific in-conference opponents will vary. [Details here.] This year, every team played one another home and away.

For much more.....

*The top five clubs in each conference will receive the 10 automatic playoff berths. This year, the top three in each conference advanced, with the next four regardless of conference affiliation receiving wild-card berths.

*The fourth-place and fifth-place teams in each conference will play one another in a one-game playoff. The winner will face the top seed in their respective conference semifinals, which will retain a two-leg, aggregate format.

*The conference finals will move from a one-game format to a two-leg, aggregate format. MLS Cup will remain a single match, but with the better team in the regular season hosting the final.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.

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