There is no doubt that soccer is ever growing in the United States and at a rapid speed. Now at its twenty-second year, it may have finally blossomed to “adulthood.” Founded in December 1993, the men’s professional soccer league has grown tremendously and represented the highest sports level in both the United States and in Canada.
Structure of the MLS
The major league soccer has 22 team squads competing in it, 19 of them based in the US while the remaining three are from Canada. The league usually starts on March all through to October with each team playing a minimum of 34 games. Three points are awarded to the winning team while a single point is shared amongst the team in case of a draw.
The losing team gets no points. MLS teams that will be holding the best record at the end of the season gets to celebrate the Supporters Shield. For the Post-season, there are 12 teams participating in the play offs from November to December, concluding with the champions game and the winner gets the MLS Cup.
Major MLS Competitions
Apart from the league games, MLS teams participate in other competitions. Five teams will represent the MLS every season to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League. CONCACAF includes teams from the region including the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico.
Those qualifying for the Champions League includes winners of the Eastern and Western Cup, MLS CUP winners, US Open Cup and two teams from America and Canada that qualify from playing lower division US clubs. However, since the new format of the Champions Leagues in 2008, no US based team has won the cup.
The twenty-two MLS teams are divided between Western and Eastern Conference. A team may have a maximum of 28 players for its first team roster who all eligible for selection during games. A total of 18 players is allowed to participate in single match roster.
Up until 2007, the MLS contained 20 teams but has since added two more teams to include Canadian teams. With plans to increase the league teams to 24 teams in 2018, the MLS is only growing bigger.
In its entire history, the MLS has had 23 teams compete in it and has had 11 different winners for the MLS Cup and 11 for the Supporters Shield. In 6 occasions, both cups have been won by the same club, and only teams have repeated this feat twice.
Since 1991, the MLS has seen a growth of twelve new soccer stadiums. Just like European based soccer clubs owning their stadiums, the MLS has adopted this trend thus creating a game-day atmosphere and experience for the fans. Teams with their stadiums also generate income and save costs for renting out facilities.
It has also boosted tickets sales especially season long tickets. With club stadiums, the growth of the MLS is projected to get higher and attract more soccer fans. Various MLS clubs have already set out plans to build new stadiums, and the remaining teams can only share for now.