professional soccer league in the United States and Canada
“ MLS ” redirects here. For other uses, see MLS ( disambiguation )
Football league

Major League Soccer ( MLS ) is a men ‘s master soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport ‘s highest flat in the United States. [ 3 ] [ 4 ] The league comprises 28 teams—25 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada—and will expand to 29 teams for the 2023 season. [ 5 ] [ 6 ] The league is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan. Major League Soccer is the most recent of a series of men ‘s premier professional national soccer leagues established in the United States and Canada. The predecessor of MLS was the north american Soccer League ( NASL ), which existed from 1968 until 1984. [ 7 ] The MLS was founded in 1993 as part of the United States ‘ successful wish to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. [ 8 ] The inaugural address season took place in 1996 with ten teams. [ 9 ] MLS experienced fiscal and operational struggles in its first few years, losing millions of dollars and folding two teams in 2002. [ 10 ] Since then, developments such as the proliferation of soccer-specific stadiums around the league, implementation of the Designated Player Rule allowing teams to sign star players such as David Beckham, and national television receiver contracts have made MLS profitable. [ 11 ] With an average attendance of over 20,000 per game, MLS has the fourth-highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the U.S. and Canada after the National Football League ( NFL ) and Major League Baseball ( MLB ), and canadian Football League ( CFL ) [ 12 ] and was the seventh-highest attend professional soccer league global by 2013. [ 13 ] The MLS regular season typically starts in belated February or early March and runs through mid-october, with each team playing 34 games ; [ 14 ] [ 15 ] the team with the best record is awarded the Supporters ‘ Shield. Fourteen team compete in the postseason MLS Cup Playoffs in former October and November, culminating in the league ‘s championship game, the MLS Cup. [ 16 ] rather of function as an association of independently owned clubs, MLS is a single entity in which each team is owned by the league and individually operated by the league ‘s investors. [ 17 ] The league has a fasten membership like most sports leagues in the United States and Canada, which makes it one of the world ‘s few soccer leagues that do not use a promotion and relegation summons. [ 18 ]

competition format [edit ]

Major League Soccer ‘s regular season runs from recently February or early March to October. Teams are geographically divided into the Eastern and western Conferences, playing 34 games in an unbalance schedule. With 27 teams in 2021, each team plays two games, family and away, against every team in its league and one plot against all but four or five of the teams in the opposite conference. The 2020 season was the first temper in league history in which teams did not play against every other team in the league. [ 19 ] At the end of the regular season, the team with the highest point total is awarded the Supporters ‘ Shield and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. [ 20 ] Teams dampen for the annual All-Star Game midway through the temper, an exhibition game containing the league ‘s best players. The format of the All-Star Game has changed several times since the league ‘s origin ; 2020 was the beginning year in which the MLS All-Stars were planned to play against an all-star team from Mexico ‘s Liga MX, before the consequence ‘s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [ 21 ] [ 22 ] Unlike most major soccer leagues around the world, but like to other leagues in the Americas, [ 23 ] the MLS regular season is followed by a postseason hard tournament to determine the league champion. Fourteen team enter in the MLS Cup Playoffs in October, which concludes with the MLS Cup championship game in early on December. [ 24 ] Major League Soccer ‘s spring-to-fall agenda results in scheduling conflicts with the FIFA calendar and with summer international tournaments such as the World Cup and the Gold Cup, [ 25 ] causing some players to miss league matches. [ 26 ] While MLS has looked into changing to a fall-to-spring format, there are no stream plans to do so. Were the league to change its schedule, a winter interrupt would be necessary to accommodate teams located in harsh winter climates. [ 27 ] [ 28 ] [ 29 ] It would besides have to compete with the popularity and media presence of the National Football League ( NFL ), National Basketball Association ( NBA ), and National Hockey League ( NHL ), which all run on fall-to-spring schedules. [ 29 ]

other competitions [edit ]

MLS teams besides play in other external and domestic competitions. Each season, improving to five MLS teams—four from the U.S. and one from Canada—play in the CONCACAF Champions League against early clubs from the CONCACAF area. Two U.S.-based MLS teams qualify based on regular-season results from the former year : the teams with the highest point total from each of the two conferences, one of whom is the Supporter ‘s Shield champion. The third U.S. team to qualify is the reigning MLS Cup ace. A fourth U.S.-based MLS team can qualify by winning the U.S. Open Cup. [ 30 ] If a team qualifies through multiple berths, or if any of the three MLS berths are taken by a canadian team, the position is reallocated to the highest-placed U.S.-based team in the previous season ‘s overall table that has otherwise not qualified. Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver compete against other canadian sides in the canadian Championship for the one CONCACAF Champions League mooring allocated to Canada. [ 31 ] seattle Sounders FC became the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League under the competition ‘s stream brand in 2022. [ 32 ] [ 33 ] Since 2018, the reigning MLS Cup champion plays in the Campeones Cup, a single game against the Campeón de Campeones from Liga MX, hosted by the MLS team in September. [ 34 ] The inaugural edition saw Tigres UANL defeat Toronto FC at BMO Field in Toronto in 2018. [ 35 ] Another inter-league contest with Liga MX, the Leagues Cup, was established in 2019. The 2020 edition of the tournament was in the first place planned to pair eight MLS clubs against eight Liga MX clubs in a single-elimination tournament hosted in the United States, reviving an inter-league competition that previously took identify in the now-defunct north american Superliga, before its cancelation. [ 36 ]

Teams [edit ]

The 28 teams of Major League Soccer are divided between the Eastern and western Conferences. Each team is allowed up to 30 players on its first team roll. [ 37 ] All 30 players are eligible for excerpt to each 18-player game-day squad during the regular season and playoffs. MLS has regularly expanded since the 2005 season. The league plans to grow to 29 teams with the addition of St. Louis City SC in 2023. [ 38 ] The league features numerous competition cups that are contested by two or more teams, normally geographic rivals. [ 39 ] Each trophy is awarded to the team with the best record in matches during the regular temper involving the participating teams. The concept is comparable to rivalry trophies played for by American college football teams. [ 40 ]

future teams [edit ]

former teams [edit ]

Notes
1 Shared facility ; not a soccer-specific stadium
2 Standard reduced capability for soccer ; can be increased

timeline [edit ]

League extremity Former member Future member other leagues

history [edit ]

Major League Soccer is the most recent of a series of men ‘s premier professional national soccer leagues established in the United States and Canada. The harbinger of MLS was the union american Soccer League ( NASL ), which existed from 1968 until 1984. [ 41 ] The United States did not have a truly national top-flight league with FIFA -sanctioning until the creation of the NASL. The first gear league to have U.S. and canadian professional clubs, the NASL struggled until the mid-1970s when the New York Cosmos, the league ‘s most big team, signed a count of the global ‘s best players including Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer. [ 42 ] Pelé ‘s arrival attracted other long-familiar external stars to the league including Johan Cruyff, Gerd Müller, Eusébio, Bobby Moore, and George Best. Despite dramatic increases in attendance ( with some matches drawing over 70,000 fans such as Soccer Bowl ’78, the highest attendance to date for any club soccer championship in the United States ) over-expansion, the economic recession of the early 1980s, and disputes with the players union ultimately led to the collapse of the NASL following the 1984 season, leaving the United States without a top-level soccer league until MLS. [ 43 ] [ 44 ]

establishment [edit ]

In 1988, in exchange for FIFA awarding the correctly to host the 1994 World Cup, U.S. Soccer promised to establish a Division 1 professional soccer league. [ 45 ] In 1993, U.S. Soccer selected Major League Professional Soccer ( the harbinger to MLS ) as the single Division 1 master soccer league. [ 45 ] Major League Soccer was formally formed in February 1995 as a limited indebtedness ship’s company. [ 45 ] Tab Ramos was the beginning player signed by MLS, on January 3, 1995, and was assigned to the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. [ 46 ] MLS began play in 1996 with ten teams. The first game was held on April 6, 1996, as the San Jose Clash defeated D.C. United before 31,000 fans at Spartan Stadium in San Jose in a game broadcast on ESPN. [ 47 ] The league had generated some buzz by managing to lure some marquee players from the 1994 World Cup to play in MLS—including U.S. stars such as Alexi Lalas, Tony Meola and Eric Wynalda, and foreign players such as Mexico ‘s Jorge Campos and Colombia ‘s Carlos Valderrama. [ 48 ] D.C. United won the MLS Cup in three of the league ‘s foremost four seasons. [ 49 ] The league added its beginning two expansion teams in 1998 —the Miami Fusion and the Chicago Fire ; the Chicago Fire won its first entitle in its inaugural season. [ 50 ] After its first gear season, MLS suffered from a refuse in attendance. [ 51 ] The league ‘s gloomy attendance was all the more apparent in lighter of the fact that eight of the original ten teams played in big american english football stadiums. [ 50 ] One aspect that had alienated fans was that MLS experimented with rules deviations in its early years in an attempt to “ Americanize ” the sport. The league implemented the use of shootouts to resolve link games. MLS besides used a countdown clock and halves ended when the clock reached 0:00. The league realized that the principle changes had alienated some traditional soccer fans while failing to draw newfangled american sports fans, and the gunfight and countdown clock were eliminated after the 1999 season. [ 52 ] The league ‘s quality was cast into doubt when the U.S. men ‘s national team, which was made up largely of MLS players, finished in last place at the 1998 World Cup. [ 50 ] Major League Soccer lost an estimated $ 250 million during its first five years, and more than $ 350 million between its establish and 2004. [ 53 ] [ 54 ] [ 55 ] [ 56 ] The league ‘s fiscal problems led to Commissioner Doug Logan being replaced by Don Garber, a former NFL executive, in August 1999. [ 57 ] Following decreased attendance and increase losses by late 2001, league officials planned to fold but were able to secure new finance from owners Lamar Hunt, Philip Anschutz, and the Kraft family to take on more teams. [ 58 ] MLS announced in January 2002 that it had decided to contract the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion, leaving the league with ten teams. [ 59 ] Despite the fiscal problems, though, MLS did have some accomplishments that would set the stage for the league ‘s revival. Columbus Crew Stadium, now known as Historic Crew Stadium, was built in 1999, becoming MLS ‘s beginning soccer-specific stadium. [ 60 ] This began a vogue among MLS teams to construct their own venues rather of leasing American football stadiums. [ 61 ] In 2000, the league won an antimonopoly lawsuit, Fraser v. Major League Soccer, that the players had filed in 1996. The woo ruled that MLS ‘s policy of centrally contracting players and limiting player salaries through a wage cap and early restrictions were a legal method acting for the league to maintain solvency and competitive parity since MLS was a individual entity and therefore incapable of conspiring with itself. [ 62 ]

revival [edit ]

The 2002 FIFA World Cup, in which the United States unexpectedly made the quarterfinals, coincided with a revival in american soccer and MLS. [ 39 ] MLS Cup 2002 drew 61,316 spectators to Gillette Stadium, the largest attendance in an MLS Cup final until 2018. [ 63 ] MLS limited teams to three substitutions per game in 2003, and adopted International Football Association Board ( IFAB ) rules in 2005. [ 64 ] MLS underwent a passage in the years leading up to the 2006 World Cup. After marketing itself on the talents of american players, the league lost some of its homegrown stars to outstanding european leagues. For example, Tim Howard was transferred to Manchester United for $ 4 million in one of the most lucrative contract deals in league history. [ 65 ] [ 66 ] Many more american players did make an impingement in MLS. In 2005, Jason Kreis became the first actor to score 100 career MLS goals. [ 67 ] The league ‘s fiscal stabilization plan included teams moving out of big American football stadiums and into soccer-specific stadiums. [ 59 ] From 2003 to 2008, the league oversaw the construction of six extra soccer-specific stadiums, largely funded by owners such as Lamar Hunt and Phil Anschutz, so that by the end of 2008, a majority of teams were now in soccer-specific stadiums. [ 50 ] It was besides in this earned run average that MLS expanded for the foremost clock since 1998. veridical Salt Lake and Chivas USA began play in 2005, with Chivas USA becoming the second club in Los Angeles. [ 68 ] By 2006 the San Jose Earthquakes owners, players and a few coaches moved to Texas to become the expansion Houston Dynamo, after failing to build a stadium in San Jose. The Dynamo became an expansion team, leaving their history behind for a new San Jose ownership group that formed in 2007. [ 69 ]

arrival of Designated Players [edit ]

The 2010 season besides brought the unfold of the New York Red Bulls ‘ soccer-specific stadium, Red Bull Arena In 2007 the league expanded beyond the United States ‘ borders into Canada with the Toronto FC expansion team. [ 70 ] Major League Soccer took steps to further raise the level of play by adopting the Designated Player Rule, which helped bring external stars into the league. [ 71 ] The 2007 season witnessed the MLS debut of David Beckham. Beckham ‘s sign had been seen as a coup for american soccer, and was made potential by the Designated Player Rule. Players such as Cuauhtémoc Blanco ( Chicago Fire ) and Juan Pablo Ángel ( New York Red Bulls ), are some of the first Designated Players who made major contributions to their clubs. [ 72 ] The departures of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, coupled with the return of former U.S. national team stars Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride, highlighted the exchange of peak prospects to Europe for experience veterans to MLS. [ 73 ] By 2008, San Jose had returned to the league under newly possession, and in 2009, the expansion side Seattle Sounders FC began play in MLS. [ 70 ] The Sounders set a new median attendance record for the league, with 30,943 spectators per match, and were the beginning expansion team to qualify for the playoffs since 1998. [ 74 ] The 2010 temper ushered in an expansion franchise in the Philadelphia Union and their modern PPL Park stadium ( nowadays known as Subaru Park ). [ 70 ] The 2010 season besides brought the opening of the New York Red Bulls ‘ soccer-specific stadium, Red Bull Arena, and the debut of french striker Thierry Henry. [ 75 ] The 2011 season brought promote expansion with the addition of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the second gear canadian MLS franchise, and the Portland Timbers. [ 76 ] Real Salt Lake reached the finals of the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League. [ 77 ] During the 2011 season, the Galaxy signed another international star in Republic of Ireland all-time leading goalscorer Robbie Keane. [ 78 ] MLS drew an median attendance of 17,872 in 2011, higher than the median attendances of the NBA and NHL. [ 79 ] In 2012, the Montreal Impact became the league ‘s 19th franchise and the third base in Canada, and made their dwelling debut in front of a herd of 58,912, [ 80 ] while the New York Red Bulls added australian all-time leading goalscorer Tim Cahill .
With an average attendance of over 20,000 per game, MLS has the third gear highest average attendance of any sports league in the U.S. after the National Football League ( NFL ) and Major League Baseball ( MLB ), [ 12 ] and is the seventh highest attended master soccer league cosmopolitan as of 2013. [ 13 ] In 2013, MLS introduced New York City FC [ 81 ] as its 20th team, and Orlando City Soccer Club [ 82 ] as its 21st team, both of which would begin playing in 2015. In 2013, the league implemented its “ core Players ” first step, allowing teams to retain key players using memory funds rather of losing the players to foreign leagues. [ 83 ] Among the first high-profile players re-signed in 2013 using memory funds were U.S. national team regulars Graham Zusi and Matt Besler. Beginning in summer of 2013 and continuing in the run up to the 2014 World Cup, MLS began signing U.S. stars based abroad, including Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley from Europe ; and DaMarcus Beasley from Mexico ‘s Liga MX. [ 84 ] By the 2014 season, fifteen of the nineteen MLS mind coaches had previously played in MLS. [ 85 ] By 2013, the league ‘s popularity had increased to the point where MLS was angstrom popular as Major League Baseball among 12- to 17-year-olds, as reported by the 2013 Luker on Trends ESPN poll, having jumped in popularity since the 2010 World Cup. [ 86 ] [ 87 ] In 2014, the league announced Atlanta United FC as the 22nd team to start playing in 2017. [ 88 ] even though New York City FC and Orlando City were not set to begin bring until 2015, each team made headlines during the summer 2014 transfer window by announcing their first base Designated Players— Spain ‘s precede scorer David Villa and Chelsea ‘s moderate scorekeeper Frank Lampard to New York, and Ballon d’Or achiever Kaká to Orlando. [ 89 ] The 2014 World Cup featured 21 MLS players on World Cup rosters and a record 11 MLS players playing for foreign teams—including players from traditional powerhouses Brazil ( Júlio César ) and Spain ( David Villa ) ; in the U.S. v. Germany match the U.S. fielded a team with seven MLS starters. [ 90 ] On September 18, 2014, MLS unveiled their fresh logo as part of a brand inaugural. In summation to the new crest logo, MLS teams display versions in their own colors on their jerseys. [ 91 ] Chivas USA folded following the 2014 season, while New York City FC and Orlando City SC joined the league in 2015 as the 19th and 20th teams. [ 92 ] Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo moved from the Eastern Conference to the western Conference in 2015 to make two 10-team conferences. [ 92 ] [ 93 ] In early on 2015, the league announced that two teams— Los Angeles FC and Minnesota United —would join MLS in either 2017 or 2018. [ 94 ] The 20th season of MLS saw the arrivals of several players who have starred at the highest levels of european club soccer and in external soccer : Giovanni dos Santos, Kaká, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Didier Drogba, David Villa, and Sebastian Giovinco. [ 95 ] MLS confirmed in August 2016 that Minnesota United would begin play in 2017 along with Atlanta United FC. [ 96 ] In April 2016, the league ‘s commissioner Don Garber reiterated the purpose of the league to expand to 28 teams, with the adjacent round of expansion “ probable happen in 2020 ”. [ 97 ] [ 98 ] In December 2016, he updated the expansion plans stating that the league will look to approve the 25th and 26th teams in 2017 and to start maneuver in 2020. [ 99 ] In January 2017, the league received bids from 12 ownership groups. [ 100 ] In July 2017, it was reported that Major League Soccer had rejected an offer by MP & Silva to acquire all television rights to the league following the termination of its current contracts with Fox, ESPN, and Univision, where MP & Silva insisted that the hand would be conditional on Major League Soccer adopting a promotion and delegating organization. The league stated that it rejected the offer due to the single periods that the current rightsholders have to negotiate extensions to their contracts. additionally, media noted that Major League Soccer has long-opposed the borrowing of promotion and relegation, continuing to utilize the fixed, franchise-based model used in other U.S. sports leagues. [ 18 ] [ 101 ] Furthermore, MP & Silva founder Riccardo Silva besides owned Miami FC of the NASL, which stood to benefit from such a promotion and relegation system. [ 101 ] In October 2017, Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt announced plans to move the franchise to Austin, Texas by 2019. [ 102 ] The announcement spawned a league-wide recoil and legal action against the league by the Ohio state politics. [ 103 ] On August 15, 2018, the Austin City Council voted to approve an agreement with Precourt to move Crew SC to Austin, and on August 22, 2018, the club ‘s newly name, Austin FC, was announced. [ 104 ] After negotiations between Precourt and Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns, were announced, MLS made it clear that Austin would receive an expansion team only after a conduct to sell Columbus to a local buyer had completed. [ 105 ] The purchase of Crew SC by Haslam ‘s group was finalized in late December 2018, [ 106 ] and on January 15, 2019, Austin FC was officially announced as a 2021 MLS entry. [ 107 ] MLS announced on December 20, 2017, that it would be awarding an expansion franchise to Nashville, Tennessee, to play in a yet-to-be-built 27,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, Nashville Fairgrounds Stadium, and would join MLS in 2020. [ 108 ] The management of the Nashville franchise announced in February 2019 that the MLS side would assume the Nashville SC name then in function by the city ‘s USL Championship team. [ 109 ] FC Cincinnati ‘s inauguration MLS home match drew a 32,250 sellout crowd. On January 29, 2018, MLS awarded Miami an expansion team, led by David Beckham. Inter Miami CF started MLS play on March 1, 2020, and design on opening the proposed 25,000-seat stadium sometime in the about future. [ 110 ] An expansion team was awarded to Cincinnati, Ohio on May 29, 2018, to the possession group of USL ‘s FC Cincinnati. The team, which assumed the existing FC Cincinnati name, started MLS play in 2019 and moved to the new 26,000-seat TQL Stadium in 2021. [ 111 ] In 2013, New York City FC agreed to pay a record $ 100 million expansion fee for the good to join MLS in 2015. [ 112 ] This record was surpassed by the ownership groups of FC Cincinnati and Nashville SC, which each paid $ 150 million to join MLS ( FC Cincinnati in 2019 and Nashville SC in 2020 ). [ 113 ] Despite being announced in January 2018, Inter Miami CF only paid a $ 25 million expansion tip due to a clause in part-owner David Beckham ‘s original play contract signed in 2007. [ 114 ] The lapp $ 150 million was paid as an effective entrance fee by a group that bought Columbus Crew in 2018, which led to that team ‘s previous operator receiving rights to Austin FC, which joined MLS in 2021. [ 115 ] [ 116 ] MLS has besides announced the ownership groups of the 28th and 29th teams would each pay a $ 200 million entrance tip. [ 112 ] The league planned to expand to 30 teams with the accession of Austin FC in 2021, [ 107 ] Charlotte in 2022, [ 117 ] and Sacramento and St. Louis in 2023 ; however, this was reduced to 29 after Sacramento ‘s bid was placed on indefinite hold. [ 38 ] [ 118 ] [ 6 ] [ 119 ] Commissioner Don Garber has suggested that another round of golf of expansion could lead to 32 teams in MLS. [ 120 ] The league suspended its 2020 season on March 12, 2020, after two weeks, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, and other U.S.-based sports leagues did the same. [ 121 ] [ 122 ] [ 123 ] The 2020 season resumed in July with the MLS is Back Tournament, a contest in which 24 out of the 26 teams competed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando for a touch in the CONCACAF Champions League. In September 2020, the league announced the formation of MLS Next, an academy league for MLS academy teams from the under-13 to under-19 level. [ 124 ]

League championships [edit ]

As of the 2021 season, 30 different clubs have competed in the league, with 14 having won at least one MLS Cup, and 15 winning at least one Supporters ‘ Shield. [ 125 ] The two trophies have been won by the lapp golf club in the like year on seven occasions ( two clubs have accomplished the feat twice ). [ 126 ]

organization [edit ]

possession [edit ]

Major League Soccer operates under a single-entity structure in which team and player contracts are centrally owned by the league. [ 4 ] [ 127 ] [ 128 ] Each team has an investor-operator that is a stockholder in the league. [ 129 ] In order to control costs, MLS shares revenues and holds players contracts alternatively of players contracting with individual teams. In Fraser v. Major League Soccer, a lawsuit filed in 1996 and decided in 2002, the league won a legal battle with its players in which the court ruled that MLS was a single entity that can legitimately centrally narrow for player services. [ 4 ] The court besides ruled that even absent their collective dicker agreement, players could opt to play in early leagues if they were unsatisfied. [ 4 ] Having multiple clubs operated by a single investor was a necessity in the league ‘s inaugural ten years. [ 130 ] At one time Phil Anschutz ‘s AEG operated six MLS franchises and Lamar Hunt ‘s Hunt Sports three franchises. In order to attract extra investors, in 2002 the league announced changes to the function agreement between the league and its teams to improve team revenues and increase the incentives to be an individual cabaret operator. [ 131 ] These changes included grant operators the rights to a certain number of players they develop through their club ‘s academy system each year, sharing the profits of Soccer United Marketing, and being able to sell individual club jersey sponsorships. [ 131 ] As MLS appeared to be on the brink of overall profitableness in 2006 and developed significant expansion plans, MLS announced that it wanted each clubhouse to have a distinct operator. [ 132 ] The league has attracted new investors that have injected more money into the league. [ 133 ] Examples include Red Bull ‘s leverage of the MetroStars from AEG in 2006 for over $ 100 million. [ 130 ] [ 134 ] For the 2014 season, the league assumed control condition of the former Chivas USA baseball club, which had suffered from mismanagement and poor fiscal results under its person operator relationship. [ 135 ] [ 136 ] The league finally dissolved the team, [ 137 ] in favor of awarding rights to a second gear soccer club in the Los Angeles area to a newly investor group on October 30, 2014. [ 138 ] The league now has 30 investor-operators for its 28 stream and 2 future clubs, with no member of any club ‘s investor group having a stake in that of any early baseball club. Since December 2015, when AEG sold its remaining 50 % interest in the Houston Dynamo, the erstwhile multiple-team operators AEG and Hunt Sports, with the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas respectively, now alone control one franchise. [ 139 ] [ 140 ]

League executives [edit ]

Don Garber has been the commissioner of Major League Soccer since 1999, serving as the league ‘s head executive. The league ‘s first commissioner was Doug Logan, who served in the function from 1995 to 1999. [ 141 ] [ 142 ] Mark Abbott, a erstwhile MLS clientele collaborator, has served as the league ‘s president of the united states and Deputy Commissioner since 2006. [ 143 ]

Player skill and salaries [edit ]

The average wage for MLS players is $ 373,094, [ 144 ] lower than the average salaries in England ‘s second-tier EFL Championship ( $ 420,000 in 2015 ), [ 145 ] the Netherlands ‘ Eredivisie ( $ 445,000 ), [ 146 ] or Mexico ‘s Liga MX ( $ 418,000 in 2015 ). [ 147 ] The league ‘s minimum player wage increased in 2017 to $ 65,000 for most players, and roll players # 25–30 saw their minimum wage increased to $ 53,000. [ 148 ] [ 149 ] MLS salaries are limited by a wage cap, which MLS has had in target since the league ‘s origin in 1996. The aim of the wage crown is to prevent the team ‘s owners from unsustainable spend on actor salaries and to prevent a competitive asymmetry among teams. [ 45 ] The wage hood survived a legal challenge by the players in the Fraser v. Major League Soccer lawsuit. The 2017 wage cap increased to $ 3.845 million per team. [ 148 ] [ 149 ] Teams may augment their squads by signing players from other leagues. MLS has two transfer windows —the primary pre-season transfer windowpane lasts three months from mid February until mid May, and the secondary mid season transportation window runs one month from early July to early August. [ 150 ] When an MLS baseball club sells one of its players oversea, the club and the league split the transfer revenues, with the clubhouse retaining from 33 % to 75 % depending on the player ‘s status and tenure. [ 151 ] MLS teams have a circumscribed number of external roll slots that they can use to sign non-domestic players. however, MLS teams much obtain green cards for their non-domestic players in club to qualify them for domestic status and thus free up international roll slots. [ 152 ] In 2015, 49 % of MLS players were born outside of the U.S. and Canada, with players from 58 countries represented. [ 153 ] [ 154 ] MLS has a set up of pool goalkeepers who are signed to a sign with the league and are loaned to teams during emergencies in which they are missing a goalkeeper due to injuries or suspensions. [ 155 ] The pool goalkeeper trains with an MLS clubhouse or an affiliated team when not assigned to a team ; some pond goalkeepers, including Tim Melia, have gone on to be signed to permanent contract with their assign teams. [ 156 ] In the by, when rosters were smaller, there were multiple goalkeepers signed to the pool, however, in holocene years alone one or two keepers are signed as team rosters are much larger. [ 157 ]

Designated Players and allotment money [edit ]

MLS has besides introduced assorted initiatives and rules intended to improve timbre of players while still maintaining the wage cap. Rules concerning Designated Players and allotment money admit for extra engage spend that is nontaxable from the wage cap. These initiatives have brought about an increase in on-field competition. [ 158 ] [ unreliable source? ] The designated player ( DP ) rule allows teams to sign a limited act of players whose wage exceeds the maximal cap ; in 2017, each DP player lone counted as $ 480,625 ( the maximum non-DP wage ) against the crown. Instituted in 2007, England ‘s David Beckham was the first sign under the DP rule. [ 71 ] The DP rule has led to large income inequality in MLS with top DPs earn ampere much as 180 times more than a player earning the league minimum. [ 159 ] In the 2013 season, 21 % of the league ‘s engage spend went to barely five players ; this stretched to 29 % on the top 6 players in the 2014 season. [ 160 ] [ 161 ] [ unreliable source? ] The league ‘s “ core Players ” inaugural allows teams to re-sign players using retentiveness funds that do not count against the wage cap. [ 83 ] Retention funds were implemented in 2013 as a mechanism for MLS to retain key players ; among the first high-profile players re-signed using retention funds were U.S. national team regulars Graham Zusi and Matt Besler. [ 83 ] MLS teams can besides obtain allotment money, which is money that the team can use on player salaries that does not count against the crown, and teams can earn allotment money in several ways, such as from the remove fees earned by selling players to teams in other leagues. [ 162 ] MLS teams can besides use target Allocation Money ( often referred to as TAM ), an enterprise announced in 2015. Teams can use TAM funds to attract high-profile players by “ buying down ” contracts of players to below the Designated Player floor. [ 163 ] High-profile players for which TAM funds were used include Hector Villalba and Zlatan Ibrahimović .

youth development [edit ]

MLS has introduced diverse initiatives and rules intended to develop young players. Rules concerning Generation Adidas players and home grow players provide incentives for clubs to develop and retain unseasoned players. [ 158 ] MLS has required all of its teams to operate youth development programs since 2008. [ 164 ] MLS roll rules allow teams to sign an unlimited number of players straight from their academies and bypassing the draft march. [ 165 ] There is besides auxiliary wage budget made by MLS alone for homegrown players that are registered using senior roll slots called homegrown actor funds. [ 166 ] One of the most big and lucrative examples of success in “ home-grown ” development was Jozy Altidore, who rose to prominence as a adolescent in MLS before his record transfer fee $ 10 million move to Villarreal in Spain in 2008. [ 167 ] The diverse MLS teams ‘ exploitation academies play matches in a U.S. Soccer developmental league against youth academies from early leagues such as the north american english Soccer League ( NASL ), which had been a Division II league anterior to 2018, and USL Pro, originally a Division III league but now the Division II USL Championship. [ 168 ] The league operates a Generation Adidas plan, which is a joint venture between MLS and U.S. Soccer that encourages young american english players to enter MLS. [ 169 ] The Generation Adidas plan has been in plaza since 1997, and has introduced players such as Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Michael Bradley into MLS. Players under the Home Grown Player rule are signed to Generation Adidas contracts, [ 150 ] all players on Generation Adidas contracts are “ off budget players ” and their salaries do not count against the capital. MLS once operated a reserve league that gave playing time to players who were not starters for their MLS teams. The Reserve League was formed in 2005, and operated through 2014 ( with the exception of the 2009 & 2010 seasons ). [ 170 ] MLS began integrating its Reserve League with the league then known as USL Pro in 2013, [ 171 ] and after the 2014 season folded the Reserve League, with MLS nowadays requiring all teams to either consort with a USL team or field their own reserve side in that league. Following the fold of the Development Academy, [ 172 ] MLS announced its own development league in 2020. [ citation needed ] It includes all of the MLS team academies arsenic well as 95 clubs across the area ; many of which were a part of the Development Academy. [ citation needed ]

Stadiums [edit ]

Since 1999, the league has overseen the construction of twelve stadiums specifically designed for soccer. The development of soccer-specific stadiums owned by the teams has generated a better gameday experience for the fans. [ 173 ] The soccer-specific stadiums have yielded positive fiscal results as teams were no long required to pay to rent out facilities and gained control over gross streams such as concessions, park, naming rights, and the ability to host non-MLS events. [ 136 ] [ 173 ] several teams have doubled their season tickets following the team ‘s motivate into a soccer-specific stadium. [ 174 ] The establishment of soccer-specific stadiums is considered the key to the league and the ability of teams to turn a profit. [ 175 ] In 2006, Tim Leiweke, then CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, described the proliferation of soccer-specific stadiums as the call on sharpen for MLS. [ 175 ] Columbus Crew owner Lamar Hunt started this course in 1999 by constructing Columbus Crew Stadium, now known as Historic Crew Stadium, as MLS ‘s first soccer-specific stadium. [ 60 ] The Los Angeles Galaxy followed four years belated with the open of the Home Depot Center, immediately Dignity Health Sports Park, in 2003. [ 176 ] FC Dallas opened Pizza Hut Park, now Toyota Stadium, in 2005, and the Chicago Fire began playing their home plate games in Toyota Park, now SeatGeek Stadium, in 2006. The 2007 season brought the opening of Dick ‘s Sporting Goods Park for the Colorado Rapids and BMO Field for Toronto FC. [ 177 ] Near the end of the 2008 season, Rio Tinto Stadium became the home of Real Salt Lake, which meant that for the first time in MLS history a majority of MLS ‘s teams ( 8 out of 14 ) played in soccer-specific stadiums. [ 178 ] Red Bull Arena, the newfangled home of the New York Red Bulls opened for the start of the 2010 season, [ 179 ] and the Philadelphia Union opened PPL Park, now Subaru Park, in June 2010, center through their inaugural address season. [ 180 ] The following temper, in 2011, the Portland Timbers made their MLS debut in a newly renovated Jeld-Wen Field, now renamed Providence Park, which was originally a multi-purpose venue but turned into a soccer-specific facility. [ 181 ] besides in 2011, Sporting Kansas City moved to new Livestrong Sporting Park, now Children ‘s Mercy Park. [ 182 ] The Houston Dynamo relocated to their newfangled family at BBVA Compass Stadium, now PNC Stadium, in 2012. [ 179 ] In the same year, the Montreal Impact joined the league in an expanded Stade Saputo, which reopened in June 2012, when renovations pushed the induct capacity to over 20,000. The Impact has used Olympic Stadium for early temper matches and for games that require a larger capacitance. [ 183 ] The San Jose Earthquakes, who had played at Buck Shaw Stadium from 2008 until 2014, opened their modern Avaya Stadium ( now PayPal Park ) before the 2015 season. [ 184 ] Orlando City SC intended to begin constructing its soccer-specific stadium, now known as Exploria Stadium, in 2014 to be completed in 2015. [ 185 ] Delays caused by changes to the stadium plans pushed back the raw venue ‘s opening, first to late 2016 and ultimately to the startle of the 2017 season. [ 186 ] Orlando City played at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, now Camping World Stadium, while awaiting the construction of their new venue through the 2016 temper. Exploria Stadium hosted its first MLS match on March 5, 2017, against New York City FC as Orlando City Stadium .
The development of extra MLS stadium has continued to progress. D.C. United had played their home games at former NFL and Major League Baseball venue RFK Stadium. In 2013, D.C. United announced the sign of a public-private partnership term sheet to build a new soccer stadium in Washington, D.C., and a final batch was reached in deep 2014. In deep February 2017, D.C. United last broke flat coat on their new stadium, Audi Field. [ 187 ] After 21 years of playing at RFK Stadium, DC United played their first bet on at Audi field in July 2018. Two teams have announced their hope to build a soccer-specific stadium, although these teams have not finalized the stadium locate and received all necessity government approvals. New York City FC play home games at Yankee Stadium, a Major League Baseball venue, although they intend to move into a soccer-specific stadium in the future. The New England Revolution play home games at a National Football League venue, Gillette Stadium, but are presently in discussion with the City of Boston regarding a electric potential soccer-specific stadium in South Boston. [ 188 ] respective remaining clubs play in stadiums not originally built for MLS and have not announced plans to move. The Seattle Sounders FC play at Lumen Field, a dual-purpose facility used for both American football and soccer. The Vancouver Whitecaps FC joined the league with Portland in 2011 and temporarily held matches at Empire Field before moving into the refurbished BC Place in October 2011, [ 189 ] a retractable-roof stadium that hosts canadian football a well as soccer. [ 190 ] Of the three teams that made their MLS debuts in 2017 and 2018, one opened a soccer-specific stadium in 2019, a second is playing in a shared football stadium, and the final opened a soccer-specific stadium for its inauguration 2018 season. Minnesota United FC, which debuted in 2017, built Allianz Field in St. Paul which hosted its inaugural address game against New York City FC on April 13, 2019. [ 191 ] [ 192 ] Until that prison term, the team played in Minneapolis at TCF Bank Stadium ( nowadays Huntington Bank Stadium ), home to University of Minnesota football. [ 193 ] Atlanta United FC began play in 2017 at a college football facility, Georgia Tech ‘s Bobby Dodd Stadium, before moving into its permanent home at the retractable-roof Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which it shares with the NFL ‘s Atlanta Falcons ; the two teams share a park owner and the stadium is equipped with screens to cordon off the upper tiers for most matches. [ 194 ] Los Angeles FC, which began play in 2018, opened Banc of California Stadium on the former locate of the Los Angeles Sports Arena in April of its inauguration temper. [ 195 ] FC Cincinnati made its MLS debut in 2019 at Nippert Stadium, the football home of the University of Cincinnati. The stadium had been home to FCC ‘s USL Championship predecessor for all of its three seasons of play. The club moved within Cincinnati to the new TQL Stadium in 2021. [ 196 ] Inter Miami began play in 2020 at Inter Miami CF Stadium, immediately known as DRV PNK Stadium, at the former site of Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale before opening Miami Freedom Park in the future. [ 197 ] Nashville SC has announced it will play the 2020 and 2021 seasons at an NFL facility, the Tennessee Titans ‘ Nissan Stadium, before opening the Nashville Fairgrounds Stadium in 2022. [ 198 ] Austin FC opened Q2 Stadium for its first season in 2021. [ 107 ]

profitableness and revenues [edit ]

Average franchise valuations
Year Value
2008 $37 million
2013 $103 million
2015 $157 million
2016 $185 million
2017 $223 million
2018 $240 million
2019 $313 million
2021 $550 million

Major League Soccer began to demonstrate positive signs of long-run profitableness equally early on as 2004 with the single-entity possession structure, wage ceiling, and the media and marketing umbrella Soccer United Marketing ( SUM ) all contributing towards MLS ‘s fiscal security. [ 54 ] As soccer-specific stadiums are built, ownership expands, and television coverage increases, MLS has seen its revenues increase while controlling costs. [ 10 ] television receiver coverage and gross have increased since the league ‘s early years. In 2006, MLS reached an 8-year television deal with ESPN spanning the 2007–2014 seasons, and marked the first clock that MLS earned rights fees, reported to be worth $ 7–8 million annually. [ 199 ] In September 2012 the league extended its distribution agreement with London-based Media rights representation MP & Silva until 2014 in a consider worth $ 10 million per annum. Total league television revenues are over $ 40 million annually. [ 200 ] [ 201 ] In 2011, MLS earned $ 150 million when it sold a 25 % bet on in SUM. [ 10 ]

In early on 2005, MLS signed a 10-year, $ 150 million sponsorship deal with Adidas for its jerseys and other equipment. [ 54 ] In 2007, MLS teams started selling ad space on the front of jerseys to go along with the league-wide sponsorship partners who had already been advertising on the back of cabaret jerseys, following the commit of external sport, specifically soccer. MLS established a floor of $ 500,000 per shirt sponsorship, with the league receiving a flat fee of $ 200,000 per deal. [ 230 ] As of July 2014, sixteen teams had signed sponsorship deals to have caller logo placed on the presence of their jerseys ( and another team is directly owned by its shirt sponsor ), and the league average from jersey sponsors was about $ 2.4 million. [ 231 ] All MLS teams have had jersey sponsors since February 2016. [ citation needed ] Sleeve sponsorship was introduced to MLS in the 2020 season, with the teams able to sell a 2-by-2-inch ( 51 by 51 millimeter ) department on the right weapon where the league logo bandage is normally positioned. [ 232 ] The Los Angeles Galaxy made a profit in 2003 in their first season at The Home Depot Center, [ 53 ] and FC Dallas turned a profit after moving into Pizza Hut Park in 2005. [ 233 ] For each season between 2006 and 2009, two to three MLS clubs ( by and large clubs with a soccer-specific stadium ) were reported as profitable by the league. [ 233 ] [ 234 ] [ 235 ] By 2012 the league had shown a set improvement in its fiscal health. In November 2013, Forbes published a report that revealed that ten-spot of the league ‘s nineteen teams earned an operate profit in 2012, while two broke even and seven had a loss. Forbes estimated that the league ‘s collective annual revenues were $ 494 million, and that the league ‘s corporate annual net income was $ 34 million. Forbes valued the league ‘s franchises to be worth $ 103 million on average, about three times angstrom much as the $ 37 million average valuation in 2008. The Seattle Sounders FC franchise was named the most valuable at $ 175 million, a 483 % gain over the $ 30 million league entrance fee it paid in 2009. [ 136 ] The tendency in increase team values has continued with MLS teams seeing a solid 52 % increase in franchise values from 2012 to 2014. In August 2015 Forbes updated its MLS franchise values with the most profitable team measuring $ 245 million and the least $ 105 million. The median value jumped from $ 103 to $ 157 million. [ 11 ] As of 2018 Forbes estimates Atlanta United FC are the most valuable MLS team, deserving $ 330 million, while the Colorado Rapids are the lowest value, at $ 155 million. [ 236 ] These valuations do not include the value of stadiums or training facilities owned by the respective clubs. MLS teams typically use commercial flights to transport players and staff between matches, with only four charter flights allowed under league rules. [ 237 ]

Rules and officials [edit ]

MLS follows the rules and standards of the International Football Association Board ( IFAB ). Since 2005, the playoff extra time structure follows IFAB standards : two wax 15-minute periods, followed by a penalty gunfight if necessary. U.S. Soccer hired the first full-time master referees in league history in 2007 as depart of the league ‘s “ Game First ” initiatives. [ 238 ] Major League Soccer has been implementing fines and suspensions since the 2011 season for pretense ( diving ) through its Disciplinary Committee, which reviews plays after the match. The beginning player fined under the modern rule was Charlie Davies, fined $ 1,000 for intentionally deceiving match officials. [ 239 ] MLS uses the tilt of banned substances published by the World Anti-Doping Agency. [ 240 ]

Branding [edit ]

The current MLS logo debuted in 2014, ahead of the league ‘s 20th season, replacing an earlier logo that featured a stylize bang and ball. The current logo is a simple crest with a aslant stripe, the MLS wordmark, and three stars that represent “ community, club, and country ”. The logo was designed to be remixed in different color schemes that match teams when used on trade and jersey. [ 241 ] The current league anthem debuted in 2020 and was composed by film mark composer Hans Zimmer. It will be used during league broadcasts and as a preliminary to kickoff at stadiums. [ 242 ]

team names [edit ]

For more information on MLS team names, see the individual team entries .
In the early years of MLS, teams were typically given official nicknames in the style of other U.S. sports leagues ( for example, Columbus Crew, Los Angeles Galaxy, New England Revolution ). several club names in MLS originated with former professional soccer clubs, such as the 1970s-era NASL team name San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps. [ 243 ] D.C. United and Miami Fusion FC were the only two MLS teams to adopt european name conventions during the 1990s. [ 244 ] In late years, European-style names have become increasingly common in MLS, with expansion teams such as real Salt Lake, Toronto FC, New York City FC, Atlanta United FC, Minnesota United FC, and FC Cincinnati, along with rebrandings such as FC Dallas ( once the Dallas Burn ), Sporting Kansas City ( once the Kansas City Wizards ) [ 245 ] and CF Montréal ( once the Montreal Impact ). austrian beverage caller Red Bull GmbH owns and sponsors the New York Red Bulls a well as early sports teams outside the U.S. [ 134 ]

Media coverage [edit ]

Starting in 2023, all MLS and Leagues Cup matches, angstrom well as certain matches from MLS Next Pro and MLS Next, will be streamed on Apple TV through their app and web site. [ 246 ] The ten-year deal will end the current system of most matches being aired by regional sports networks. As a result, no matches will be topic to a local blackout or early restriction once the deal goes into effect. MLS ‘s current home television receiver partners, such as ESPN and Univision, may even air some matches, although those matches will besides be available on Apple television receiver .

United States [edit ]

As of the 2021 season, MLS matches are broadcast nationally by ESPN networks and Fox Sports in English, and Univision networks in spanish under an eight-year contract. Each broadcaster has a window for national regular season matches, with UniMás airing a game on Friday nights in spanish and extra matches on Univision Deportes Network, and ESPN and Fox Sports 1 airing games on Sunday evenings in English. ESPN, FS1, and Univision plowshare in coverage of the playoffs, while ABC and Fox alternate broadcasting the MLS Cup final in English. In sum, at least 125 matches are aired per-season across all three networks. The three contracts have an average estimated value of $ 90 million per season—five times larger than the average $ 18 million value of the previous contracts with ESPN, Univision, and NBC Sports. [ 247 ] [ 248 ] [ 249 ] Matches not televised nationally are broadcast regionally, much by regional sports networks like Bally Sports, NBC Sports Regional Networks, Spectrum Sports and Root Sports, and sometimes by sublunar stations like KTXA, WGN and KMYU. [ 79 ] regionally televised matches are available outside their local anesthetic markets on ESPN+, which replaced MLS Live in 2018. [ 250 ] From 2012 to 2014, MLS matches were broadcast by NBC Sports, with 40 matches per year—primarily on NBCSN, and blue-ribbon matches broadcast on the NBC network. [ 251 ] The motion from Fox Soccer to the more widely distributed NBCSN caused viewership numbers to double for the 2012 season. [ 252 ] soccer United Marketing partnered with Google and Bedrocket Media Ventures in 2012 to launch “ KickTV ”, a premium YouTube channel with original soccer programming. [ 253 ] KickTV was sold to Copa90 in 2015 to form its american branch. [ 254 ] In 2020, Soccer United Marketing signed a multi-year agreement with Bleacher Report to produce content and highlights for MLS and the U.S. national teams through the 2022 season. [ 255 ]

Canada [edit ]

coverage of MLS expanded into Canada in 2007 with the addition of Toronto FC. Currently, English-language national MLS broadcast rights in Canada are held by the TSN networks through a five-year deal foremost renewed in 2017. The networks chiefly broadcast matches involving the league ‘s canadian franchises, in combination with separate “ regional ” rights deals giving TSN exclusive rights to all Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC matches. [ 256 ] [ 257 ] [ 258 ] A restrict number of matches are besides carried by CTV. [ 258 ] TVA Sports holds exclusive French-language rights to MLS in Canada as of the 2017 season. As separate of a break “ regional ” rights deal, it besides holds exclusive rights to all CF Montréal games. [ 258 ] [ 259 ] In 2018, online streaming military service DAZN obtained Major League Soccer ‘s digital out-of-market service MLS Live—with populate and on-demand cyclosis of matches featuring U.S. teams ( matches with canadian teams are alone available after a 48-hour delay to protect the league ‘s main rightsholders TSN and TVA Sports ). [ 260 ]

International [edit ]

MLS besides entered into a four-year contract with Sky Sports to broadcast two MLS matches per week in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 2015 to 2019. [ 261 ] As part of the agreement, Sky Sports air at least two MLS regular-season matches each workweek, adenine well as the MLS All-Star Game, every MLS Cup Playoff game, and the MLS Cup final. The matches appeared across Sky ‘s family of networks. It besides carried weekly MLS highlights across versatile platforms, including Sky Sports News and SkySports.com. Sky Sports besides broadcast at least one match from MLS ‘s “ Decision Day ” – the final day of the MLS regular temper. Many of the matches on Decision Day every year are expected to determine the concluding spots for the MLS Cup Playoffs. [ 262 ] DSport, owned by Discovery Communications, will televise league matches in India beginning in 2017. [ 263 ]

Video games [edit ]

Major League Soccer is a playable league in both the FIFA and the Football Manager series. The league made its video game debut in 1999 with FIFA 2000. In 2000, Konami released ESPN MLS GameNight, and two years late, they released its sequel, ESPN MLS ExtraTime 2002. The league made its first gear appearance in the management series Football Manager 2005 in 2004. [ 264 ]

musician records [edit ]

Statistics below are for all-time leaders. Statistics are for regular season only. Bold indicates active MLS players .

As of November 7, 2021[265]

actor records ( active ) [edit ]

Statistics below are for all-time leaders who are still playing. Statistics are for unconstipated temper only .

As of November 7, 2021[265]

MLS awards [edit ]

At the ending of each temper, the league presents several awards for outstanding achievements, largely to players, but besides to coaches, referees, and teams. The finalists in each class are determined by voting from MLS players, team employees, and the media. [ 266 ]

See besides [edit ]

References [edit ]

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