MLS announced several changes for the 2009 season. I haven't yet decided if I like all of them or not.
- The Reserve Division is no more. The funds will be diverted from the Reserve squad to help solidify the senior roster as well as the Generation Adidas program. Roster size will decrease to 24 and teams may have up to 20 senior roster players.
- Opening day will be March 21, 2009, a change that will help clear some space in the calendar so as not to conflict with United States World Cup qualifying matches.
- There will be eight Western Conference teams and seven Eastern teams, with expansion Seattle taking up the eighth spot in the West.
- Top two teams in each conference get into the playoffs and will be joined by the next four teams with the highest points, regardless of conference. In other words, it will revert back to the 2007 format.
- MLS teams will not be allowed to participate in both the CONCACAF Champions League and SuperLiga; it's one or the other... or neither for the mediocre to bad teams.
- 2009 CONCACAF Champions League participants: Columbus, New York, Houston, DC United.
- 2009 SuperLiga participants: Chicago, New England, Chivas USA, Kansas City.
There you go. My initial thoughts: I like the either/or for international competitions. This not only gives more clubs more international exposure, it alleviates the clogged schedule four MLS teams had in 2008.
The one change I was foolishly hoping would happen did not. The playoffs will remain with two legs in the first round and one-off games the rest of the way. Of course, that was not going to happen. But I am glad to see that Western teams will have to earn their way into the playoffs and not by beating up on the expansion Sounders.