Greater home-field advantage.
Three uninterrupted weeks.
Sweeping changes came to the Major League Soccer playoff structure, the league announced Monday.
Atlanta United had to endure two two-leg playoff series, interrupted by a one-week break for international competition, and a one-game championship format in capturing the MLS Cup last week. That will change for the 2019 season.
Starting next season, the playoffs will consist of a straight-bracket format that will reward regular-season performance with a greater homefield advantage. The playoffs will be positioned between the October and November FIFA window culminating in three weeks.
In the new single-elimination format, the higher-seeded club will host the playoff game.
The 2019 MLS season will begin on March 2 and conclude Oct. 6. The postseason will begin on Oct. 19 with the MLS Cup on Nov. 10.
The league also announced that the playoff field will be increased to 14 teams, up from 12. The top seven teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason. The top team in each conference will receive a first-round bye.
The new format will mean the playoffs in 2022 will conclude before the World Cup in Qatar on Nov. 21.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.