Major League Soccer (MLS) is a professional soccer league representing the sport’s highest level in both the United States and Canada. MLS constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues of the U.S. and Canada. It is expecting to expand within the next year. The league will be composed of 20 teams,17 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada. The history dates back to a promise to FIFA in the U.S., which stated that there will be a professional soccer league established in the U.S. if the World Cup was hosted in United States.
Major League Soccer (MLS) was founded in 1993. The first season took place in 1996 with ten teams. MLS experienced financial and operational struggles in its first few years: The league lost millions of dollars, teams played in mostly empty American football stadiums, and two teams folded in 2002. Since then, MLS has expanded to 19 teams, and 20 teams in by next year. Owners built soccer-specific stadiums increased the over productivity of professional soccer. The average attendance at MLS matches exceeds that of the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, MLS secured national TV contracts, and the league is now profitable.
The 2002 World Cup, the United States unexpectedly made the quarterfinals, coincided with a resurgence in American soccer and MLS. MLS Cup 2002 drew 61,316 spectators to Gillette Stadium, the largest attendance in an MLS Cup final. MLS limited teams to three substitutions per game in 2003, and adopted International Football Association Board (IFAB) rules in 2005.
“What an incredibly historic day for Major League Soccer and soccer in North America and more importantly for soccer in our world ”
In 2007, the league expanded beyond the United States’ borders into Canada with the Toronto FC expansion team. Major League Soccer took steps to further raise the level of play by adopting the Designated Player Rule, which attracted international stars into the league. The 2007 season witnessed the MLS debut of David Beckham. Beckham’s signing had been seen as a coup for American soccer, and was made possible by the Designated Player Rule. Players such as Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Juan Pablo Ángel , are some of the first Designated Players who made major contributions to their clubs.
In 2013, MLS introduced New York City FC as its 20th team, and Orlando City Soccer Club as its 21st team, both to begin playing in 2015. In 2014, the league announced an expansion Atlanta MLS team as the 22nd team to start playing in 2017 and will be expecting 32 teams in 2020. Even though New York City FC and Orlando City were not set to begin play until 2015, each team made headlines during the summer 2014 transfer window by announcing their first Designated Players — Spain’s leading scorer David Villa and Chelsea’s leading scorer Frank Lampard to New York, and Ballon d’Or winner Kaká to Orlando.
The MLS has come a long way since starting the professional league in 1996 and writing soccer history of its own. It can only get better with kids getting interested in this sport and parks are starting to look full with random people kicking the ball.