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Charlotte joins the east, Nashville goes west in MLS Conference realignment

2022 brings the earliest season opener as games will start February 26

Next season will look a little different for the Philadelphia Union and Major League Soccer. Sure, there is a new team joining the crowd as the expansion team Charlotte FC finally gets underway. The other reason it will look different is that opening games will take place at the end of February, the earliest MLS has ever kicked off.

This is in part due to the quadrennial event, the FIFA World Cup, which will start at the end of November. Since the world’s summer tournament is being moved to the winter, some of the international dates are getting adjusted. To align for the adjustments the MLS will hold decision day on October 9, a full month earlier compared to this season. The MLS Cup will also be awarded on November 5. This is because the World Cup gets started on November 21.

With Charlotte joining the league, MLS announced Friday that it will once again be going through a conference re-alignment. For Philadelphia fans, there is no need to worry as you are staying in the East. Newcomer Charlotte FC will also be joining the East. However current third place team Nashville FC will move over to the Western Conference starting in 2022.

Every team will still play 34 total matches next season, facing each of their conference opponents twice. They will also play 8 non-conference games. There is also some good news when it comes to the games. The league announcing mostly all the games will take place on the weekends, saying less than five will be midweek matches. These will also not be scheduled in consecutive weeks either, according to MLS.

This means hopefully you will not see a schedule like the boys in blue played from August through September. If you recall it felt like every 4 days, the U were playing a game. Now sure they had the two leg Concacaf Champions League semifinal in that time as well, but it seems the league is taking some precaution to space out contests, which could be a good thing in the long run for players.