key stats, facts, and figures for the new MLS 2019 campaign.
24 – The first time in history that there will be 24 teams competing in an MLS campaign, with FC Cincinnati joining the fray. The League’s newest expansion team will play in the difficult Eastern Conference, ensuring that both conferences now have 12 teams each. They will be based at Nippert Stadium — home of the University of Cincinnati football team — until their new 26,000 seat soccer-specific stadium is ready in 2021.
82,414 – The number of kilometres that the Vancouver Whitecaps will be travelling throughout the 2019 regular season. No team in the entire League will travel more than the Whitecaps. Another Western Conference team isn’t too far behind them, though, as the San Jose Earthquakes will need to travel a total of 80,026 kilometres during their regular season grind.
14 – For the first time ever, 14 MLS teams will qualify for the playoffs in 2019 with a new playoff format being adopted. The postseason will now be single-elimination matches, with the higher seed hosting the game. Seven teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs, with the highest seeded team in each conference given a first-round bye. The postseason will be contested following the FIFA international break in October and will conclude on November 10 — a full month earlier than prior seasons. This will allow for nicer weather throughout the playoffs and provide a longer offseason for teams who go deep in post-season.
5 – Five MLS clubs – Atlanta United, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC – will be competing in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League. No MLS club has ever won the tournament, but Toronto FC came closer to accomplishing the feat than any other team in League history. They lost to Liga MX side Chivas Guadalajara in a penalty kick shoot-out in the second leg of the final.
1 – One more season is all that legendary United States Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard has left in the tank. The Colorado Rapids’ shot-stopper announced via Twitter that the 2019 campaign would be his last. The 39-year-old began his MLS career in 1998 with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, where he played parts of six season before making the move to Manchester United in 2003. In 2016, he returned to MLS to join the Rapids after a long spell with Everton.
34 – Despite the addition of FC Cincinnati, all teams will still play 34 regular season games, just like last season. Every club will continue to play 17 home games and 17 away matches, but it is now a more balanced schedule as teams will face each of their conference opponents twice during the season and non-conference opponents once.
12 –The Portland Timbers will begin the 2019 campaign with 12 consecutive games on the road as Providence Park is being expanded. The expansion will allow for an extra 4,000 seats, which will bring the total capacity to a little over 25,000. The stadium will also be renovated to include a completely re-modelled east side of the stadium, a new scoreboard, ribbon boards and video board, new turf, and an updated concourse and concession stands on the west side of the stadium. Portland’s first home game of the season will take place on June 1 against Los Angeles FC.
5 – A total of five coaching changes have been made from the end of last season to the start of the new campaign. Marc Dos Santos (Vancouver Whitecaps), Luchi Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Caleb Porter (Columbus Crew), Frank de Boer (Atlanta United), and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Los Angeles Galaxy), have all taken over the bench at their new clubs with the promise of fresh start.
31 – Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez broke the MLS record for most goals scored in a single season last year, finding the back of the net 31 times. The previous record was 27 held by Roy Lassiter (1996) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (2014). It’ll be worth keeping an eye on whether the Venezuelan or anyone else for that matter will come anywhere close to the record in 2019.
14,000,000 – While they sold Miguel Almiron for an MLS record fee of $26m to Newcastle United, Atlanta United wasted no time finding his replacement. They splashed the cash – $14 million – to acquire Gerardo Martinez from Copa Libertadores champions River Plate. It is reported to be the second highest incoming MLS transfer of all-time – second only to Ezequiel Barco, who Atlanta United signed last season. He is going to be worth keeping an eye on throughout the season, with both fans and journalists alike excited to see what the 25-year-old Argentine can bring to the League.