Which MLS teams play in the Champions League?
With the 2022 Major League Soccer regular season upon us, one that sees 28 teams compete, we consider the format of the competition and others.
As we prepare for the start of a fresh new season in Major League Soccer, there are a wide variety of questions being posed. When does it kick-off? Which teams are involved? Is there an All-Star Game? Are the teams involved in the Champions League?...
No MLS in Champions League
That final question above may be a surprise to anyone who knows even the slightest aspect of how European football/soccer competitions are structured. The clear answer here is 'no!' Why on earth would American teams be included in a European tournament?!
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Well, I suppose the confusion could come about from understanding geography. Europe, you know, that continent that includes the big five leagues - Premier League (England), LaLiga (Spain), Bundesliga (Germany), Serie A (Italy) and Ligue 1 (France) - among many others, under the regulation of governing body UEFA, has a trophy for the champion of Europe. Since 1992 this has been called the Champions League (history lesson here).
The teams that compete in UEFA's Champions League these days consist of the winner of the domestic league and, for the bigger leagues with numerous 'top teams', those that finish in second, third or fourth position. One thing they have in common... they're all in Europe.
What about the CONCACAF Champions League?
This is likely where the rest of the confusion arises. I mean, how dare two sporting organisations use the same name! But there we have it.
MLS teams do compete in this much-closer-to-home version. Interestingly, the last time a team from Major League Soccer won the CONCACAF Champions League was in 2000, with the Los Angeles Galaxy going all the way. We take a look at how this season is shaping up.
What you need to know about MLS 2022
The 2022 Major League Soccer regular season is about to get underway - with one new addition this year. Charlotte FC will be making their debut in the Eastern Conference as the expansion franchise, taking the total number of teams involved this season to 28. Plans are afoot to expand MLS again next year with Sacramento Republic FC and St. Louis City SC set to join to take the league to a maximum of 30 teams. Nashville meanwhile, who spent the last two seasons in the Eastern Conference, will move to the Western Conference.
When does the 2022 MLS regular season start?
The 2022 MLS regular season kicks off on Saturday 26 February 2022 - much earlier than usual to accommodate players who will be with their national teams at the World Cup finals in Qatar, starting the end of November. The 2022 Super Draft took place in January - newcomers Charlotte took the No.1 pick, midfielder Ben Bender.
There will be 34 weeks of action with each team playing 17 games at home and 17 games on the road. All teams will face each of their respective conference opponents twice (home and away) and play eight non-conference opponents once. A maximum of five matchdays will be played mid-week with the rest of games played at weekends.
2022 MLS opening day action
The 2022 season gets underway with four games being played on the opening day. The action starts in Philly, where the Union welcome Minnesota to Subaru Park for a 7pm kick-off. Other games lined up for Saturday include: Columbus vs Vancouver, LAFC vs Colorado and Dallas vs Toronto.
The rest of the Matchday 1 fixtures take place on Sunday 27th starting with a midday kick-off at Q2 stadium where last year’s newcomers Austin host Cincinnati. Defending champions New York City bring the weekend’s action to a close as guests of LA Galaxy with that game starting at 11pm at Dignity Health Sports Park.
The 2022 MLS regular season ends on Sunday 9 October. There is a difference this year in that eight teams from each conference will enter the play-offs which will start immediately after the regular season. No dates have been confirmed for the play-offs but we can assume that the Round 1 games will be played on the weekend of 15/16 October.
The 2022 MLS Cup Final will take place on Saturday 5 November - just 16 days before the World Cup finals commence in Qatar.
Where will be the 2022 MLS All-Star Game be played?
Finally, during the summer, about two thirds of the way through the campaign, the 2022 MLS All-Star Game will be played. It has been scheduled for Wednesday 10 August and will be played at Allianz Field, Minnesota.
It will bring to a close a week of events taking place in Minneapolis and Saint Paul including the MLS All-Star Skills Challenge. It will be the first time that Minnesota has hosted the All-Star Game.
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