20 February 2019
While US soccer fans may have spent the last few months getting their fix of the beautiful game by watching some of the action from leagues in Europe and other locations, they can rest assured that a new domestic season is now just around the corner.
Preparations for the 2019 season of Major League Soccer (MLS) are now getting underway, with the action of the regular season all set to kick off on March 2 and run all of the way through until the start of October. After that, of course, we then have the play-offs and the final excitement of the MLS Cup, so there is plenty to look forward to.
With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney involved in the MLS, there seem to be more eyes on the competition than ever before. Whether you’re an experienced fan or a beginner in the world of soccer, here is a quick look at some of the key issues you need to know for the season ahead.
New Play-off Format
One of the fundamental changes you need to be prepared for in the 2019 season is how the structure of the competition has been slightly amended.
The MLS will feature a new play-off format this year, with it including a fixed-bracket single elimination structure where the higher seed will host each match.
Furthermore, the number of league teams qualifying for post-season action is increasing from 12 to 14, with one team per conference being given a first round bye. Finally, there will also be no reseeding, even in the event that a lower-ranked side pulls off an upset.
But which teams are expected to do well this year? As of January 25, pre-event and live betting provider MoPlay has Supporters Shield holders New York Red Bulls as the favorites to win outright, ahead of reigning MLS Cup champions Atlanta United.
Other clubs which are expected to do well include the Los Angeles sides, as well as New York City FC and the Seattle Sounders. However, one team which is sure to attract attention is FC Cincinnati, with the side making their much-anticipated debut in the competition.
Another notable aspect of this season will be that it is the last chance for US soccer fans to see goalkeeper Tim Howard in action. The 39-year-old Colorado Rapids player, who has enjoyed a decorated club career and is the USA’s most capped goalkeeper of all-time, has revealed he is retiring at the end of the season.
An Exciting Year Ahead
While other leagues across the world like the EPL and La Liga may attract a huge amount of attention, the domestic MLS competition has grown in terms of both quality and reputation in recent years.
With the addition of a new team and a tweaked play-off structure, we are sure that this season could well be one of the biggest and most exciting that the MLS has ever seen. With that in mind, we simply can’t wait for the action to finally kick off.