Major League Soccer is a professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. The league was started in 1993 and 1996 was the first official season. Since 1996, more soccer clubs have joined the league.
When does the season start? How do the playoffs work in Major League Soccer? We break it all down in this Major League Soccer tutorial clip.
Early History – Before MLS
The first year of MLS was not an unqualified success. This was primarily because the league was financially unstable. There was a big disparity in revenues, and in fact, some teams could not afford to attend the first season. By 1985 season, the league was stable enough to expand to 24 teams.
In a league that was struggling financially, Major League Soccer looked into the possibility of joining the United Soccer League, which was a semi-professional league in the Northeast United States.
The Start of MLS
1996: The first Major League Soccer (MLS) soccer team was founded in 1996. The United States men’s national soccer team (USMNT) won the first game of the World Cup against North Korea after losing to Denmark and against Colombia, and then lost to Brazil.
The Early Struggles
The league faced many challenges during the first three years of MLS competition. When MLS began play in 1996, it did so without a long-term TV contract, and only a handful of cities had a stadium capable of hosting a professional soccer match. The league also faced a credibility problem because it was played in much smaller venues than major-league stadiums and because the fans who did show up to watch the games were often hostile to the sport and often uninterested in following the league. The league’s finances also were not stable, and the league was unable to attract fans to games. The league did achieve modest success, however, and even experienced some growth in its first three seasons.
While in England every game is a battle for the title, MLS determines the winner at the end of the season. However, in the United States most of the matches are played in the fall and winter while the summer months are used for exhibition matches.
The Growth of MLS
From 2002 to 2017, Major League Soccer saw a phenomenal increase in the number of teams, sponsors, and television viewers. In 2007, David Beckham joined the LA Galaxy, which helped put a national spotlight on the league since he was one of the world’s more famous association football players.
The North American Soccer League is one of the richest and most competitive leagues in world. The league is headquartered in San Diego and consists of eight teams, most of which are based in the United States.
A few years ago, MLS tried to expand their demographic of fans by becoming an international league. In fact, the MLS is the only men’s professional soccer league in the world that has not only continued to grow, but has also become successful in being internationally competitive. According to the Guardian, by 2008, MLS had increased its attendance from 20,000 to over 23,000 and saw its average attendance at a league-record $7,100. By 2011, attendance surpassed 30,000, and the league began attracting significant television and sponsorship money.
How MLS Compares to the Other Sports in America / Canada via Popularity?
MLS is set to surpass the NHL and NBA in 2019 as the 5th most watched sport in the United States.
That is according to a new survey from Nielsen.
MLS also has the most exciting regular season, according to the 2018-19 Nielsen Sports Index. The index tracks how frequently a game is being talked about in the media, and it is compiled from several sources — including Twitter mentions, sports talk programs and websites, and sports radio callers.
MLS also won the 2018 ESPY Award for best social media team, best MLS team, and coach of the year.
According to the latest figures, there are only around 1.4 million viewers in the U.S. watching the MLS Cup final game between Portland and NYCFC. To put that in perspective, NHL, which is the number four sport in America via TV ratings, had 3.51 million people tune into that via Game 5 of the Stanley Cup.
I think that the gap between MLS and NHL is narrowing. I also think that MLS continues to see an increase in its regular season and MLS Cup ratings, which means it has a chance to crack into the top 4 via popularity in the United States.
How Do MLS Team Score Points During the Regular Season?
When is the MLS Season?
The MLS season runs from late February to October. Running the season during this time is different from the Premier League, which runs from August to May. In the Premier League, teams score points by winning or tying games and can win the Supporters’ Shield at the end of the season for the best record. However, in the MLS, a team is awarded points based on its regular season performance, and the Supporters’ Shield is not awarded.
Since the MLS has only 18 teams, this means that the playoffs are going to be held over two stages. The top 6 teams will compete in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, with the top 4 seeds getting a bye into the conference final.
The top 4 from the West will play in the other semi-finals, with the top 2 seeds getting a bye into the final. In the final, the winners of the 2 semi-finals will compete for the MLS Cup, in a home and away format.
This means if FC Dallas is playing Dallas United SC in a league match, it would be a friendly, since they are in 2 different conferences. However, if FC Dallas and Dallas United SC were playing each other for the league, the game would be played on the same day.
How Many Games in the Regular Season?
The regular season consists of 17 games, with a home-and-away split of 10 and 7 games. That means the season starts April 3 and ends on June 6.
MLS All-Star Game
The MLS All-Star Game is an annual event that takes the best players from the MLS and plays them against an international squad. The game started in 1996, and MLS teams have been competing with teams from the English Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga and other European leagues. It is played in the middle of the season, and it is supposed to help grow the sport of soccer and MLS on an international level.
C. The All-Star Game is played in various cities, depending on how many players from that MLS city were selected to the All-Star Game.
What is the Supporters’ Shield in MLS?
No MLS team has done this before but that’s why MLS has the Shield. I’m not saying this is the year the Shield will be taken from the hands of the Red Bulls and awarded to some other team but the Shield is a big part of the rivalry with the Red Bulls and this is a fun thing to look forward to.
MLS Cup is one of the four major tournaments each year. The MLS Cup is the championship of MLS. It is played by the team with the best record in the regular season. If you win the Supporters Shield, you are automatically invited to play for the MLS Cup. Otherwise, you have to go through a qualifying stage.
How Do Playoffs Work in MLS?
The MLS is modeled after the more traditional leagues in England and Europe. This means there are plenty of knockout rounds to choose from. Also like other leagues, MLS is broken into two conferences. Teams in one conference play each other, and then the top team from each conference plays another team from the opposite conference for the right to play for the MLS Cup.
How Popular is the MLS Cup?
The 2021 MLS Cup was the third time the league has hosted its championship game in a dome after 2008 and 2009. The league has now hosted its championship game in a dome in four years.
What Teams Are in Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer teams are broken down into Eastern and Western Conferences. As a note, there will be more teams in the future!
Does MLS Have Promotion/ Relegation?
However, if you are a team that is not a member of one of the top four Major League Soccer conferences, you will be subject to the annual MLS draft. It is an annual draft during which each league’s non-playoff teams will have to pick players to join their roster. The teams will also have to make trades to fill these voids if they were not included in the draft. See the rules for the MLS Draft to learn more.
Conclusion: What is Major League Soccer?
MLS is also the highest professional American soccer league. It began in 1996 and has expanded over the past 21 years with more teams, higher quality soccer fields, and more professional stadiums. It is also different from leagues like the Premier League, which have a different format. Still, the differences help the sport modernize the game for American audiences, which has grown with a new generation of soccer fans.