MLS fans have known for sometime now that the league would be changing in the future, but no one knew quite how much. It was announced over a year ago that expansion sides New York City FC and Orlando City SC would be joining MLS, but more changes have occurred.
On Monday, MLS announced the closure of Los Angeles based club Chivas USA. The franchise had issues throughout its 10-year history, including poor ownership and an inability to escape from the shadow of the LA Galaxy. This year, the league purchased Chivas from Jorge Vergara after reports of internal race issues.
With Chivas no more, the league announced a dispersal draft in order to spread the players around the league. No details of the draft were announced yet, but should be coming shortly with a December 1 deadline for clubs to execute contract options.
Along with the contraction, MLS announced a new initiative in Los Angeles, with a new expansion team coming in 2017. The club will be under be under new ownership and will join the Atlanta franchise entering the league that season.
As a result, the league will be at 20 teams for the 2015 and 2016 season, with the addition of NYCFC and Orlando City. Since both expansion clubs are on the east coast, MLS also announced a new conference alignment. Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo - who have won the last three Eastern Conference titles - will move to the Western Conference.
Finally, the league announced the schedule format for 2015, which is similar to what fans saw this season. Each club will play their conference opponents at least twice and members of the other conference once. The remainder of the 34-games will be filled in with games against select conference foes.
It will be a new look to the league in 2015, but don't get comfortable. With MLS, things are bound to change at any time and might even do so before the expansion of 2017.