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How 2020 MLS Alignment, Scheduling Setup Affects Orlando City

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With MLS announcing its 2020 conference alignment and scheduling format, the Lions’ schedule will be a bit weirder than usual.

MLS: New England Revolution at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City’s schedule just got weird. Major League Soccer announced the league alignment and schedule structure for 2020 and the big news is that Inter Miami will join the Eastern Conference for 2020, with Nashville SC slotted into the Western Conference (yes, seriously). It’s likely a one-year shift for the Tennessee-based club with Austin entering in 2021, but it’ll be odd having the team in the West despite it being further east than Chicago.

And, as a result, the Lions might not even play Nashville in 2020. With the league keeping a 34-game schedule for next season, every team will play each conference opponent twice (home and away, making up 24 of the 34 matches on the schedule). That leaves just 10 matches to play against the 13 teams in the other conference. So, Orlando City, along with every other team in the league, will skip playing three teams from the opposite conference. Teams will still play five home and five road games against teams from the other conference.

It’s likely that MLS will have a southeastern-based team like Nashville face Orlando City in 2020, so that means we’ll miss three of the teams Orlando City has played over the last five seasons. In a perfect world, the Lions would miss out on facing LAFC, Seattle, and perhaps the Galaxy, easing up the schedule a bit. From a travel distance/cost perspective, it would make sense to drop Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland from the schedule to save some travel wear and tear on the players. But MLS gonna MLS so it’ll probably be something like Houston, Real Salt Lake, and Sporting Kansas City. We’ll just have to wait and see.

MLS typically releases opening day schedules in late December and then the full season schedule in early January. Orlando City then typically announces its full preseason schedule a week to 10 days after the full schedule release. But this year it’s possible that those dates will be moved up earlier than normal.

2019 MLS Alignment

Eastern Conference (13 clubs)

Western Conference (13 clubs)

Orlando City 2020 Schedule Breakdown

  • 34 total matches (17 home, 17 away)
  • 24 matches vs. the other 12 Eastern Conference teams (one vs. each home and away)
  • 10 matches vs. 10 of the 13 Western Conference teams (five home, five away)