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Nashville SC will play first season in Western Conference

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This will give each conference 13 teams, with 24 games being played in-conference.

Who’s ready for a road trip featuring hot chicken and the Grand Ole Opry?

Nashville SC will play its inaugural MLS season as a member of the Western Conference, it was announced on Monday. Inter Miami, as you’d probably expect, will play in the Eastern Conference.

The upshot from a Seattle Sounders perspective — aside from ensuring a road trip to an admittedly interesting locale — is that the two conferences will each have 13 teams and the season will remain at 34 games, with 24 intra-conference matches being played in a home-and-home set and the remaining 10 against teams from the Eastern Conference. That means the Sounders won’t play three Eastern Conference teams, so the Sounders will play no more matches in the eastern time zone (five at most) than they played in 2019 (five). It also marks the first time in MLS history that every team won’t play each other at least once.

While the decision to put Nashville in the West seems a bit like a head scratcher on the surface, it does beat the alternatives. First off, it’s probably only a one-year situation, as Nashville will likely move to the Eastern Conference in 2021 when Austin is scheduled to join MLS. The other likely options were to leave conferences unbalanced this year or to move the Chicago Fire twice in two years, either of which would be far less ideal.