Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo will re-join Major League Soccer’s Western Conference in 2015, MLS announced on Monday as part of conference re-alignment plans for the league’s highly anticipated 20th season.
Expansion clubs Orlando City SC and New York City FC will be added to the Eastern Conference for their inaugural MLS seasons.
“We’ve established some great rivalries in the East. Now we have to re-establish new rivalries in the West,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “This move is a product of the League’s great growth and continued success.”
One of 10 charter members of Major League Soccer, Sporting Kansas City played the team’s first nine seasons (1996-2004) in the Western Conference and reached the postseason on seven occasions. The club shifted to the Eastern Conference prior to the 2005 season and has played each of the past 10 seasons in the East.
As it currently stands, 13 of the past 15 MLS Cup champions will compete in the Western Conference in 2015. Among the 10 teams, five reside in the Pacific Time Zone, three in the Central Time Zone and two in the Mountain Time Zone.
2015 Eastern Conference (10): Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC
2015 Western Conference (10): Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas,Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, Vancouver Whitecaps
Chivas USA will cease operations effective immediately and the league will play with 20 clubs in the 2015 season, according to the announcement. On Thursday, Oct. 30, the league will announce a new MLS Los Angeles club — and ownership group — that will begin play in 2017.
For the 2015 season, the 20 teams will each play 34 games during the regular season. Clubs will play each team in the opposing conference once for five home and five away matches. Clubs will play each of their nine conference opponents at least twice (one home, one away), plus six additional intra-conference games — three home and three away.
Major League Soccer will fully introduce a new identity and crest in 2015 while beginning eight-year media agreements with ESPN, FOX and Univision. San Jose will open the newest soccer-specific stadium in the United States and international stars Kaka (Brazil), Frank Lampard (England) and David Villa (Spain) will all join MLS.
Sporting KC will begin the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs at 7 p.m. on Thursday against the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round. The winner will advance to be the host of No. 1 seed D.C. United at 3 p.m. on Sunday in Leg 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
– Story from Sporting KC