The addition of the Montreal Impact gives the Eastern Conference a 10th team. The Western Conference, home of RSL, remains with nine.
Of the 34-game schedule, Western Conference clubs will play each West opponent three times, for 24 games. Four West teams will play four conference opponents twice at home and once away. The other four West clubs will have one home conference game and two away.
The home and away games will be reversed in 2013. Western Conference clubs will play each East opponent once each, for 10 games.
"The new schedule does a good job reducing travel," Lagerwey said. "It's good if you want to succeed in all competitions.
"In effect, it creates two leagues. Having two-thirds of your games against Dallas, Los Angeles and Colorado is not a lot of fun."
With the 34-game MLS schedule, coupled with CONCACAF and Open Cup matches, RSL could play as many as 50 games in 2012.
MLS had considered a schedule that would have every team play one another twice, home and away.
"That would have been just ruinous," Lagerwey said. "We'd be looking at [traveling] more than 50,000 miles."
Teams will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs the top five in points from each conference at the end of the regular season. The fourth- and fifth-place teams will play a single knockout game, the winner of which will advance to the conference semifinals and face the first-place team in the conference.
The conference semifinals will be decided by a two-game, aggregate-goal format, the same as 2011. The conference championships will also be decided by a two-game, aggregate-goal format, and the MLS Cup will be hosted by the finalist that finished the regular season with the most points in the standings.