The 2022 Major League Soccer season will begin on February 26 and will conclude with the MLS Cup final on Nov. 5, the league announced on Friday.
In a bid to accommodate the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Nov. 21, the start of the MLS season is the earliest by three days in the league’s history.
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The 2022 campaign features the debut season of Charlotte FC. The expansion team will take up residence in the Eastern Conference, with Nashville SC moving to the West, resulting in 14 teams in each conference.
Each team will play a 34-game regular season, facing each conference opponent twice plus eight matches against non-conference teams.
In an attempt to avoid fixture congestion, the regular season schedule will consist of all weekend matches with the exception of five, or fewer, midweek matches — targeting one each in May, June and July, and two in August. The midweek match dates for each team will not be scheduled in consecutive weeks.
Some MLS teams will have commitments in other competitions such as the U.S. Open Cup, Leagues Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
MLS said its announcement that it will also seek to avoid scheduling matches during the FIFA international windows in March, June or September. Only at a team’s request will MLS consider scheduling a match during the March window, or during the second weekend of the June double window. Teams may not request to play matches during the September window, at the final stretch of the regular season.
The full MLS regular season schedule will be announced later this year.