Major League Soccer's Board of Governor's has announced some big changes to the playoff format for the 2012 season. Here are the highlights:
- The MLS Cup Final will no longer be played at a predetermined neutral site. The team with the higher regular season point total will now host the Final.
- The Montral Impact will be the 10th Eastern Conference club.
- The top five teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs. There will be no more "mixed" conference post season competition. The 4th and 5th place teams will face each other in a single elimination first round game with the winner advancing to face the Conference Champion.
- The Conference finals are now a two leg competition.
- Changes have also been made to the regular season schedule since there will be 19 teams. The balanced format is out the window. In the East, each club will play a total of 25 conference matches. Each club will play seven of their conference opponents three times and the remaining two conference opponents twice each. There will be only one match played against teams in the Western Conference.
The release date for the full schedule hasn't been announced yet but a December/January date has been floated out there. That would really be a big departure from seasons past.