For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. With MLS adding two west coast teams to the table this year, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps respectively, a change had to be made in the conference alignment. The Houston Dynamo have been moved to the Eastern Conference, creating two conferences of 9 teams each.â†µ
Upon joining MLS in 2006, Houston became the easternmost club in the Western Conference. The two-time MLS Cup Champions are now the westernmost team in the Eastern Conference. Houstonâ€™s average distance from its Eastern Conference foes is 194.6 miles shorter than its average distance to the nine Western Conference clubs. This year, every team will play each of the other 17 clubs once at home, once away, for a balanced, 34-game regular season.â†µ
With that, the ghost of the San Jose Earthquakes which hovered over Houston is finally exercised. When the Earthquakes moved to Houston in ‘06 they remained in the West, much like the football Cardinals moving from St. Louis. However, it’s likely another realignment is still on the way, with Montreal joining MLS next year, and the strong likelihood of the New York Cosmos joining the year after that. Since Houston is the Westernmost Eastern Conference team, would they simply be pushed back? Or, is MLS possibly going to live up to the promises it’s made about adjusting to a European schedule (August – May) and the possibility of a single table?â†µ
There were roster rules announced today as well. The new minimum for roster players is now $32,600, and those spots are only for players under the age of 25. The per team salary budget is $2,675,000, with the maximum salary of $335,000. A designated player, such as Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and now Juan Pablo Angel, is counted as the maximum against the budget, but then the individual club is required to post the rest of the salary. For those unfamiliar, MLS salaries are payed from a centralized fund as opposed to true individual team ownership.