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Season

Regular Season:
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Format:
24 teams, distributed into 2 groups of 12 teams each (Eastern and Western Conference) on regional basis.
Each team plays all the others from its own group twice - home and away; and and all the teams from the other group once - for a total of 34 games each.

Scoring points:
3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss.

Table order:
1. points won; 2. games won; 3. total goals scored; 4. total goal difference; 5. fairplay ranking; 6. total away goals scored; 7. total away goals difference; 8. total home goals scored; 9. total home goals difference; 10. draw.

Qualification for CONCACAF competitions:
1 place of each Conference: possible CONCACAF Champions League

Qualification for the Final Stages:
1-7 place of each group: qualify for the Final Stages

MLS Supporters' Shield:
Teams' records from the Regular Season are summed (a total of 34 games each) and an unified Summary Table is compiled (MLS Supporters' Shield).

MLS Supporters' Shield Table order:
1. points won; 2. games won; 3. total goals scored; 4. total goal difference; 5. fairplay ranking; 6. total away goals scored; 7. total away goals difference; 8. total home goals scored; 9. total home goals difference; 10. draw.

Qualification for CONCACAF competitions:
1 place in MLS Supporters's Shield Table: CONCACAF Champions League

Relegation from the league:
no established promotion/relegation system

Promotion to the league:
no established promotion/relegation system


Final Stages (MLS Cup):
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Format:
12 teams from the Regular Season contest the MLS Cup winner in a knockout format.
The 2 teams, placed 1st in each conference, enter the MLS Cup directly at the Conference Semi-finals.

Play-in Round:
12 teams are distributed into 6 pairs according to their Regular Season standings:
2nd in Eastern Conference vs 7th in Eastern Conference (match 1);
3rd in Eastern Conference vs 6th in Eastern Conference (match 2);
4th in Eastern Conference vs 5th in Eastern Conference (match 3);
2nd in Western Conference vs 7th in Western Conference (match 4);
3rd in Western Conference vs 6th in Western Conference (match 5);
4th in Western Conference vs 5th in Western Conference (match 6).
Winners are decided over one leg, with extra time and penalties if score is level after regular time.
The higher placed teams from the Regular Season are hosts.

Conference Semi-finals:
6 teams from the Play-in Round and the 2 teams that enter the competition at this stage are distributed into 4 pairs:
1st in Eastern Conference vs winner match 3 (match A);
winner match 1 vs winner match 2 (match B);
winner match 4 vs winner match 5 (match C);
1st in Western Conference vs winner match 6 (match D).
Winners are decided over one leg, with extra time and penalties if score is level after regular time.
The higher placed teams from the Regular Season are hosts.

Conference Finals:
4 teams are distributed into 2 pairs as follows:
winner match A vs winner match B;
winner match C vs winner match D.
Winners are decided over one leg, with extra time and penalties if score is level after regular time.
The higher placed teams from the Regular Season are hosts.

Final:
The two Semi-finals winners meet each other with the winner becoming MLS Cup winner.
Winner is decided over one leg, with extra time and penalties if score is level after regular time.
The higher placed team in the MLS Supporters' Shield table is host.

Qualification for CONCACAF competitions:
winner: CONCACAF Champions League
* - Canadian teams (Montreal Impact, Toronto and Whitecaps) are not eligible for CONCACAF Champions League qualification through the MLS.
** - if the MLS Cup winner has already qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League (due to winning the US Open Cup), then the the Regular Season conference winner with the worse MLS Supporters' Shield placing also qualifies.