Yesterday, MLS commissioner Don Garber held his annual 'State of the League' teleconference call. There were quite a few nuggets of news from the call that Houston Dynamo and MLS fans alike will be interested in:
- Rosters will be expanded, from 24 to 30 players, with more spots reserved for players 24 and younger. This move corresponds with the league removing restrictions on the number of academy players they can sign each year (the current limit is four).
- MLS will play a 34-game home-and-home schedule. While the league's format could change, and there's a possibility conferences could be eliminated, Garber was adament about the future of the playoffs saying, "we will never do away with playoffs."
- MLS will look at changes to the playoff system this winter after the Eastern Conference was an all Western Conference affair. In addition, the possibility of the cup final being played at the higher seeded team instead of a pre-determined neutral field will be looked at.
- The Reserve League will return in 2011. It will consist of 10-game regular season games, all within a team's six-team regional division. The top eight clubs would advance to playoffs. While that's not enough games, it's a start and the reserve teams will be allowed to play against outside competition, including teams in the new NASL, USL and possibly collegiate teams.
- Garber continued to make it clear that a second New York team will likely be the 20th MLS club in 2013. Whether or not it's the Cosmos or another ownership group remains to be seen.
- Garber spoke of possible monetary bonuses for teams that advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, to help with payroll cost.
- There has been discussions have been held with CONMEBOL, South America's governing confederation, about including MLS clubs in Copa Libertadores.
- Garber also inadvertently let slip that FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira will be the 2010 league MVP
If you'd like to enjoy the full Garber experience (and let's be honest, who wouldn't?) you can find a transcript of the call HERE.