MLS' Imbalanced Schedule: Talkin' Bout The Revolution by Jacob Beckett

One of the most common complaints about MLS is the lack of a balanced schedule. In many of the biggest leagues around the world, every team plays the same schedule. For a twenty-team league, a home-and-home against every team in the league yields 38 games where every team’s record can be easily compared to the rest of the league.

Given the vast geography covered by Major League Soccer, as well as the conference structure, MLS teams don’t all play the same schedule. Here’s the nitty-gritty on how this all worked for 2017: every team played 34 games. Those 34 games included one each against members of the opposite conference (unless you’re Minnesota or Atlanta – they played cross-conference matches against each other twice). Each team also plays everyone in their conference twice (once at home, once away), which makes up 20 games. Combined with the 11 out-of-conference matches we’re up to 31, leaving three additional games to be made up against some opponent (rivals often play three times) throughout the league.

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