How many games are in an MLS season? The answer may surprise you.
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How Many Games Are In an MLS Season?
The Major League Soccer season lasts for 34 games, with each team playing every other team twice. Once the regular season is over, the top seven teams from each conference progress to the playoffs.
The Length of an MLS Season
An MLS season runs from March to October, with each team playing 34 games. The regular season is followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs, which culminate in the MLS Cup.
The Structure of an MLS Season
The Major League Soccer (MLS) season is divided into two parts: the regular season and the playoffs. The regular season runs from late February/early March to early October, while the playoffs go from mid-October to December.
Each MLS team plays 34 regular season games, 17 at home and 17 away. They play each team in their conference twice, once at home and once away, and they play each team in the other conference once. So, for example, if there are 10 teams in a conference and 20 teams in the league, each team would play the other 9 teams in their conference a total of 18 times (2 times home and away), and they would play each team in the other conference once, for a total of 8 games.
At the end of the regular season, the top 6 teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. The playoffs are a single-elimination tournament, meaning that once a team loses they are out of the running for the MLS Cup (the championship trophy). The playoff bracket is reseeded after every round so that the highest remaining seed always faces the lowest remaining seed.
The first round of the playoffs is made up of four total matches, two matches per conference. The higher seed hosts each match. The Conference Semifinals are two more matches per conference, again with higher seeds hosting. The Conference Finals are two more matches played between the winners of each Conference Semifinal series; these are also hosted by higher seeds. Lastly, MLS Cup is a single match between the winners of each Conference Final series; it is hosted by whichever finalist has more regular season points (goals scored during regular season multiplied by number of wins). If MLS Cup ends in a tie after regulation time then 30 minutes of extra time will be played; if it is still tied after extra time then MLS Cup will be decided by a shootout (a best-of-five series where each team gets one chance to score from 35 yards out while the opposing goalkeeper tries to defend).
The Regular Season
The regular season is 32 games long, with each team playing every other team twice – once at home and once away. That’s a total of 240 games. The season starts in late February/early March and runs until early November.
The Regulations of the league state that “Each club shall play 34 games in a season.” In a typical MLS season, each team will play every other team in their conference twice, and teams in the other conference once. This schedule is not followed exactly every year, as inter-conference games are sometimes unbalanced (due to the unbalanced number of teams in each conference), or unplayed altogether. The decision on whether to play these games is made by the league prior to the start of each season.
The MLS Cup
The MLS Cup is the annual championship game of Major League Soccer (MLS). The Cup is contested by the champion of the regular season and the winner of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The All-Star Game
The Major League Soccer All-Star Game is an annual exhibition soccer match held by Major League Soccer featuring selected players from the league against an international club. MLS implemented the game in 1996 as a way to generate interest in the sport in the United States.
The Concacaf Champions League
The Major League Soccer season is divided into two parts: the regular season and the playoffs. The regular season runs from March to October, while the playoffs are held in November and December. Each team plays 34 regular season games, half at home and half away. The top six teams in the standings qualify for the playoffs, which culminate in the MLS Cup, the league’s championship game.
In addition to the MLS regular season and playoffs, teams also compete in the U.S. Open Cup and, if they qualify, the Concacaf Champions League. The Champions League is a continental tournament for clubs in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean region. It is analogous to the Champions League tournament played by European club teams. The Concacaf Champions League winners earn a berth in the FIFA Club World Cup, a global tournament featuring club teams from around the world.
The U.S. Open Cup
The U.S. Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament open to all United States Soccer Federation affiliated clubs, from amateur adult club teams to Major League Soccer teams. There are usually around 100 teams in the tournament every year.
The short answer to how many games are in an MLS season is 34. This includes all Major League Soccer teams playing each other twice, once at home and once away. In addition to the 34 regular season games, there are also several special matches played throughout the year. These include friendlies, the All-Star Game, playoff matches, and the MLS Cup Finals.