Brief Information

Countries Involved in MLS: United States and Canada 

Confederation Aligned: CONCACAF

Founded on: 17th December, 1993

Head Quarters: Fifth Avenue, New York City

Number of Teams: 22 (USA – 19, Canada – 3)

Conferences: Eastern Conference and Western Conference

Domestic Tournaments: US Open Cup and Canadian Championship

Other Tournament: CONCACAF Championship

Current MLS Cup: Seattle Sounders FC (1st Title)

Most Number of MLS Cups: LA Galaxy (5 titles)

Attached Performance based Trophy: Supporters’ Shield

Current Supporters’ Shield Holders: Toronto FC (1st Shield)

Most Number of Supporters’ Shield Holders: D. C. United and LA Galaxy (4 Shields)

Official Website: mlssoccer.com

Introduction

Major League Soccer is a men’s professional soccer league which is played in the United States and was sanctioned by U.S. Soccer, which represents sport’s highest level in both the United States and Canada.

MLS comprises as one of the major professional sports league of the United States and Canada. The league constitutes 22 teams where 19 teams from U.S and 3 teams from Canada takes part in the regular season.

The regular season runs from March to October with each team playing 34 games. The team with the best record in the regular season is awarded with Supporters shield. The postseason includes 12 teams who compete in MLS Cup Playoffs through November and December, climaxing in the championship game, the MLS Cup.

The teams also play in other domestic competitions against other teams from different divisions in the U.S. Open Cup and the Canadian Championship. MLS teams also compete against continental rivals in the CONCACAF Champions League.

History

In 1988, in exchange for FIFA awarding the right to host the 1994 World

Cup, U.S. Soccer promised to establish a Division 1 professional soccer league where Major League Soccer was established in 1993. The first season took place in 1996

with 10 teams in which MLS experienced financial and operational struggles in its first few years. The league lost millions of dollars where teams played in mostly American football stadiums and two teams got folded in 2002.

Since then, MLS expanded to 22 teams where owners built soccer specific stadium and now average attendance exceeds that of the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA). After that MLS secured national TV contracts and the league is now profitable.

Teams

The 22 teams is divided between Eastern and Western Conference. Here each club is allowed to keep 28 players in its first team roster. All the 28 players are eligible for the selection of 18 players game-day squad for the regular season and playoffs.

Since 2005 season, MLS has added many new clubs and during the period of expansion, Los Angeles became the first two-team market, and the league pushed into Canada in 2007. The league expanded from 20 teams to 22 teams in 2017 with the addition of Atlanta and Minnesota.

The league is going to expand in 23 teams with the addition of Los Angeles FC in 2018 and also plans to expand to 24 teams by 2019. The league further plans to expand to 26 teams by the beginning of 2020 season and 28 teams at some later date.

In the history of MLS, 23 different clubs have competed in the league with 11 winning at least one MLS cup and 11 having won at least one Supporters Shield. Six times the same club have won both the trophies in the same year (two clubs have done it twice).

Beginning of 2017 season, teams are aligned as follows:

Teams City Stadium Joined

Eastern Conference

Atlanta United FC Atlanta, Gerogia Mercedes Benz Stadium 2017
Chicago Fire Bridgeview, Illinois Toyota Parl 1998
Columbus Crew SC Columbus, Ohio MAPFRE Stadium 1996
D.C. United Washington, D.C. Audi Field 1996
Montreal Impact Montreal, Quebec Saputo Stadium 2012
New England Revolution Foxborough, Massachusetts Gillette Stadium 1996
New York City FC New York, New York Yankee Stadium 2015
New York Red Bulls Harrison, New Jersey Red Bull Arena 1996
Orlando City SC Orlando, Florida Orlando City Stadium 2015
Philadelphia Union Chester, Pennsylvania Talen Energy Stadium 2010
Toronto FC Toronto, Ontario BMO Field 2007

Western Conference

Colorado Rapids Commerce City, Colorado Dick’s Sporting Goods Park 1996
FC Dallas Frisco, Texas Toyota Stadium 1996
Houston Dynamo Houston, Texas BBVA Compass Stadium 2006
LA Galaxy Carson, California StubHub Center 1996
Minnesota United FC Minneapolis, Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium 2017
Portland Timbers Portland, Oregon Providence Park 2011
Real Salt Lake Sandy, Utah Rio Tinto Stadium 2005
San Jose Earthquakes San Jose, California Avaya Stadium 1996
Seattle Sounders FC Seattle, Washington CenturyLink Field 2009
Sporting Kansas City Kansas City, Kansas Children’s Mercy Park 1996
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Vancouver, British Columbia BC Place 2011

 

Future Teams
Team City Stadium Joining League
Los Angeles FC Los Angeles, California Banc of California Stadium 2018
Miami Miami, Florida Miami MLS Stadium  

 

2019

(pending stadium agreement, not officially awarded)

 

Defunct Teams
Teams City Stadium Years Active
Chivas USA Carson, California StubHub Center 2005-2014
Miami Fusion Fort Lauderdale, Florida Lockhart Stadium 1998-2001
Tampa Bay Mutiny Tampa, Florida Raymond James Stadium 1996-2001

 

Some stadiums are shared facility not a soccer specific stadium.

MLS Competition Format

Major League Soccer’s regular season runs from March to October where teams are divided into Eastern and Western Conference. Teams play 34 games in an unbalanced schedule where 23 matches are played against the teams within the same conference and 11 against the teams of other conference.

Midway through the season, teams break for the annual All Star game a friendly match between the league’s finest players and a major club from different league. At the end of the league the team with the highest points in the regular season is awarded the Supporters Shield.

The regular season is followed by 12 teams MLS Cup playoffs in November and ending with the MLS Championship final in early December. Where this playoffs format is unlike to some soccer leagues around the world but is similar to other leagues in America. 

MLS’s spring to fall schedule clashes the FIFA calendar and with the summertime tournaments such as World Cup and Gold Cup, which causes many players to miss some MLS matches. While MLS has looked into changing into fall to spring format but there are no current plans to do so. If the league changes its schedule then substantial winter break would be necessary due to teams located in harsh winter climate.

Other Competitions

MLS teams also play in other competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League. In this competition, every year five MLS teams compete against other clubs from CONCACAF region (Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean). As per the spot allocated to the MLS teams, two U.S. based MLS teams qualify based on the regular season results (the winner of Western Conference and the winner of Eastern Conference). The third U.S. team to qualify is the winner of MLS Cup.

A fourth U.S. based MLS team can qualify via the U.S. Open Cup where U.S. based teams compete against lower division U.S. clubs. If a team qualifies through multiple berths, or if any of the MLS berths are taken by Canada based MLS team then the berth is reallocated to the best U.S. based team in the Supporters’ Shield table which has failed to qualify. Canadian MLS clubs play against lower division Canadian clubs in the Canadian Championship for the one Champions League spot which is allocated to Canada.

 

 

No MLS clubs have won the CONCACAF Champions League since the beginning of its current format in 2008. Mexican clubs have dominated the competition but MLS teams have twice reached the finals (Real Salt Lake in 2011 and Montreal Impact in 2015).

League Championships

Teams with total number MLS Cups and Supporters Shield:

Teams MLS Cups Years Supporters Shield Years
LA Galaxy 5 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2014 4 1998, 2002, 2010, 2011
D.C. United 4 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004 4 1997, 1999, 2006, 2007
San Jose Earthquakes 2 2001, 2003 2 2005, 2012
Sporting Kansas City 2 2000, 2013 1 2000
Houston Dynamo 2 2006, 2007
Columbus Crew SC 1 2008 3 2004, 2008, 2009
Chicago Fire 1 1998 1 2003
Seattle Sounders FC 1 2016 1 2014
Real Salt Lake 1 2009
Colorado Rapids 1 2010
Portland Timbers 1 2015
New York Red Bulls 2 2013, 2015
Tampa Bay Mutiny 1 1996
Miami Fusion 1 2001
FC Dallas 1 2016
Toronto FC 1 2017

 

Numbers are as per date 27 October 2017.

Player Records

As of October 23, 2017 here are the top 10 player records:

Goals

Rank Player Years Goals
1 Landon Donovan 2001-2004, 2016 145
2 Jeff Cunningham 1998-2011 134
Chris Wondolowski 2005-present 134
4 Jaime Moreno 1996-2010 133
5 Ante Razov 1996-2000, 2001-2009 114
6 Jason Kreis 1996-2007 108
7 Dwayne De Rosario 2001-2004 104
8 Taylor Twellman 2002-2010 101
8 Edson Buddle 2001-2010, 2012-2015 100
10 Kei Kamara 2006-2013, 2015-present 98

 

Assists

Rank Player Years Assists
1 Landon Donovan 2001-2004, 2016 136
2 Steve Ralston 1996-2010 135
3 Brad Davis 2002-2016 123
4 Carlos Valderrama 1996-2002 114
5 Preki 1996-2005 112
6 Jaime Moreno 1996-2010 102
7 Marco Etcheverry 1996-2003 101
8 Cobi Jones 1996-2007 91
9 Andy Williams 1998-2011 86
10 Sacha Kljestan 2006-2010, 2015-present 84

 

Games Played

Rank Player Years Games
1 Nick Rimando 2000-present 452
2 Kyle Beckerman 2000-present 432
3 Kevin Hartman 1997-2003 416
4 Brad Davis 2002-2016 392
5 Steve Ralston 1996-2010 378
6 Brian Carroll 2003-2017 371
Chad Marshall 2004-present 371
8 Bobby Boswell 2005-present 366
9 Jeff Cunningham 1998-2011 365
10 Drew Moor 2005-present 361

 

Player Records (Active)

Numbers listed below is as per 23 October 2017

Goals

Rank Player Goals
1 Chris Wondolowski 134
2 Kei Kamara 98
3 Bradley Wright-Phillips 86
4 Clint Dempsey 71
5 Chris Rolfe 64

 

Assists

Rank Player Assists
1 Sacha Kljestan 84
2 Javier Morales 83
3 Graham Zusi 56
4 Diego Valeri 53
5

 

Dax McCarty 51
Mauro Rosales 51

 

Games Played

Rank Player Games
1 Nick Rimando 452
2 Kyle Beckerman 432
3 Chad Marshall 371
4 Bobby Boswell 366
5 Drew Moor 362

 

The rivalries in MLS has been turned into Rivalry Cups and the information about the rivalry cups is given below in this link:

Major League Soccer (MLS) Rivalry Cups:

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