37 Facts About MLS


The predecessor of MLS was the North American Soccer League, which existed from 1968 until 1984.

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MLS was founded in 1993 as part of the United States' successful bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

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MLS experienced financial and operational struggles in its first few years, losing millions of dollars and folding two teams in 2002.

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The format of the All-Star Game has changed several times since the league's inception; 2020 was the first year in which the MLS All-Stars were planned to play against an all-star team from Mexico's Liga MX, before the event's cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The predecessor of MLS was the North American Soccer League, which existed from 1968 until 1984.

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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.

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One aspect that had alienated fans was that MLS experimented with rules deviations in its early years in an attempt to "Americanize" the sport.

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MLS used a countdown clock and halves ended when the clock reached 0:00.

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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.

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MLS announced in January 2002 that it had decided to contract the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion, leaving the league with ten teams.

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The court ruled that MLS's policy of centrally contracting players and limiting player salaries through a salary cap and other restrictions were a legal method for the league to maintain solvency and competitive parity since MLS was a single entity and therefore incapable of conspiring with itself.

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MLS underwent a transition in the years leading up to the 2006 World Cup.

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In 2013, MLS introduced New York City FC as its 20th team, and Orlando City Soccer Club as its 21st team, both of which would begin playing in 2015.

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The 20th season of MLS saw the arrivals of several players who have starred at the highest levels of European club soccer and in international soccer: Giovanni dos Santos, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Didier Drogba, David Villa, and Sebastian Giovinco.

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MLS confirmed in August 2016 that Minnesota United would begin play in 2017 along with Atlanta United FC.

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MLS has announced the ownership groups of the 28th and 29th teams would each pay a $200 million entrance fee.

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The 2020 season resumed in July with the MLS is Back Tournament, a competition in which 24 out of the 26 teams competed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando for a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.

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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 lawfully centrally contract for player services.

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MLS salaries are limited by a salary cap, which MLS has had in place since the league's inception in 1996.

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MLS teams have a limited number of international roster slots that they can use to sign non-domestic players.

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MLS has a set of pool goalkeepers who are signed to a contract with the league and are loaned to teams during emergencies in which they are missing a goalkeeper due to injuries or suspensions.

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MLS has introduced various initiatives and rules intended to improve quality of players while still maintaining the salary cap.

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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.

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MLS has introduced various initiatives and rules intended to develop young players.

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MLS has required all of its teams to operate youth development programs since 2008.

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MLS formerly operated a reserve league that gave playing time to players who were not starters for their MLS teams.

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MLS began integrating its Reserve League with the league then known as USL Pro in 2013, and after the 2014 season folded the Reserve League, with MLS now requiring all teams to either affiliate with a USL team or field their own reserve side in that league.

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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 club jerseys, following the practice of international sport, specifically soccer.

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All MLS teams have had jersey sponsors since February 2016.

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MLS follows the rules and standards of the International Football Association Board .

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MLS uses the list of banned substances published by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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Current MLS logo debuted in 2014, ahead of the league's 20th season, replacing an earlier logo that featured a stylized boot and ball.

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Several club names in MLS originated with previous professional soccer clubs, such as the 1970s-era NASL team names San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps.

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From 2012 to 2014, MLS matches were broadcast by NBC Sports, with 40 matches per year—primarily on NBCSN, and select matches broadcast on the NBC network.

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MLS remains in negotiations with ESPN, Fox Sports, and Univision to carry a smaller package of games in simulcast with Apple TV.

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Coverage of MLS expanded into Canada in 2007 with the addition of Toronto FC.

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MLS 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.

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