Major League Soccer
|Other club(s) from||Canada|
|Founded||December 17, 1993|
|Number of teams||22|
|Level on pyramid||1 (US), 1 (CAN)|
|Domestic cup(s)||U.S. Open Cup
|International cup(s)||CONCACAF Champions League|
|Current MLS Cup||Seattle Sounders FC (1st title)
|Current Supporters' Shield||FC Dallas (1st shield)
|Most MLS Cups||LA Galaxy (5 titles)|
|Most Supporters' Shields||D.C. United &
LA Galaxy (4 shields)
|2017 Major League Soccer season|
Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men's professional soccer league, sanctioned by U.S. Soccer, that represents the sport's highest level in both the United States and Canada. MLS constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada. The league is composed of 22 teams—19 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada. The MLS regular season runs from March to October, with each team playing 34 games; the team with the best record is awarded the Supporters' Shield. The postseason includes twelve teams competing in the MLS Cup Playoffs through November and December, culminating in the championship game, the MLS Cup. MLS teams also play in other domestic competitions against teams from other divisions in the U.S. Open Cup and in the Canadian Championship. MLS teams also compete against continental rivals in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Major League Soccer was founded in 1993 as part of the United States' successful bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. 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 22 teams, owners built soccer-specific stadiums, average MLS attendance exceeds that of the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA), MLS secured national TV contracts, and the league is now profitable.
Instead of operating as an association of independently owned teams, MLS is a single entity in which each team is owned and controlled by the league's investors. The investor-operators control their teams as owners control teams in other leagues, and are commonly (but inaccurately) referred to as the team's owners. The league has a fixed membership, like most sports leagues in the United States and Canada, which makes it one of the world's few soccer leagues that does not use promotion and relegation, a practice that is uncommon in the two countries. MLS headquarters is located in New York City.
- 1 Competition format
- 2 Teams
- 3 History
- 4 League championships
- 5 Organization
- 6 Media coverage
- 7 Player records
- 8 MLS awards
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Major League Soccer's regular season runs from March to October. Teams are divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences. Teams play 34 games in an unbalanced schedule: 23 matches against teams within their conference, plus 11 matches against teams from the other conference. Midway through the season, teams break for the annual All-Star Game, a friendly game between the league's finest players and a major club from a different league. At the end of the regular season, the team with the highest point total is awarded the Supporters' Shield.
Unlike some soccer leagues around the world, but similar to other leagues in the Americas, the MLS regular season is followed by the 12-team MLS Cup Playoffs in November, ending with the MLS Cup championship final in early December. Although some commentators have argued that playoffs reduce the importance of the regular season, Commissioner Don Garber has explained "Our purpose is to have a valuable competition, and that includes having playoffs that are more meaningful."
Major League Soccer's spring-to-fall schedule results in scheduling conflicts with the FIFA calendar and with summertime international tournaments such as the World Cup and the Gold Cup, causing several players to miss some MLS matches. While MLS has looked into changing to an fall-to-spring format, there are no current plans to do so. If the league were to change its schedule, a winter break would be needed, especially with several teams in colder climates, which some believe would lead to a disadvantage. It would also have to compete with the more popular National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), and National Basketball Association (NBA).
MLS teams also play in other competitions. Every year, up to five MLS teams play in the CONCACAF Champions League against other clubs from the CONCACAF region (Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean). Two U.S.-based MLS teams qualify based on MLS regular-season results: the winner of the Western conference and the winner of the Eastern conference. The third U.S. team to qualify is the winner of the 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 a Canada-based MLS team, the berth is reallocated to the best U.S.-based team in the Supporters' Shield table which has failed to otherwise qualify. Canadian MLS clubs play against lower division Canadian clubs in the Canadian Championship for the one Champions League spot allocated to Canada. No MLS club has won the Champions League since it began its current format in 2008, with Mexican clubs dominating the competition, but MLS teams have twice reached the final: Real Salt Lake in 2011 and the Montreal Impact in 2015.
MLS's 22 teams are divided between the Eastern and Western Conferences. Each club is allowed up to 28 players on its first team roster. All 28 players are eligible for selection to each 18-player game-day squad during the regular season and playoffs.
Since the 2005 season, MLS has added many new clubs. During this period of expansion, Los Angeles became the first two-team market, and the league pushed into Canada in 2007. The league is expanding from 20 teams to 22 teams in 2017 with the additions of Atlanta and Minnesota, and then to 24 teams in 2018 with the addition of Los Angeles and likely Miami. The league plans to have 24 teams by 2018. The league further plans to expand to 26 teams by the beginning of the 2020 season and to 28 teams at some later date. The next two expansion franchises are planned to be awarded during the second or third quarters of 2017 according to a December 15, 2016, announcement by MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
In the history of MLS, 23 different clubs have competed in the league, with 11 having won at least one MLS Cup, and 11 winning at least one Supporters' Shield. Only six times the same club won both trophies the same year (two clubs did it twice).
Several teams compete annually for secondary MLS rivalry cups that are typically contested by two teams, usually geographic rivals (e.g., Portland vs. Seattle vs. Vancouver). Each cup is awarded to the team with the better regular-season record in games played between the two teams. The concept is comparable to minor trophies played for by American college football teams.
Beginning with the 2017 season, teams are aligned as follows:
|Team||City||Stadium||Capacity||Year founded||Joining League|
|Los Angeles FC||Los Angeles, California||Banc of California Stadium||22,000||2014||2018|
|Miami||Miami, Florida||Miami MLS stadium||25,000||2014||2019 (pending stadium agreement, not officially awarded)|
|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 1||1996–2001|
- Shared facility; not a soccer-specific stadium
- Team plans to move into a soccer-specific stadium
- Shared facility; is a soccer-specific stadium
Major League Soccer is the most recent of a series of men's premier professional national soccer leagues established in the United States and Canada. The predecessor of MLS was the North American Soccer League (NASL), which played from 1968 until 1984.
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. In 1993, U.S. Soccer selected Major League Professional Soccer (the precursor to MLS) as the exclusive Division 1 professional soccer league. Major League Soccer was officially formed in February 1995 as a limited liability company.
MLS began play in 1996 with ten teams. The first game was held on April 6, 1996, as the San Jose Clash defeated D.C. United before 31,000 fans at Spartan Stadium in San Jose in a game broadcast on ESPN. 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. D.C. United won the MLS Cup in three of the league's first four seasons. The league added its first two expansion teams in 1998—the Miami Fusion and the Chicago Fire; the Chicago Fire won its first title in its inaugural season.
After its first season, MLS suffered from a decline in attendance. The league's low attendance was all the more apparent in light of the fact that eight of the original ten teams played in large American football stadiums. One aspect that had alienated fans was that MLS experimented with rules deviations in its early years in an attempt to "Americanize" the sport. The league implemented the use of shootouts to resolve tie games. MLS also used a countdown clock and halves ended when the clock reached 0:00. The league realized that the rule changes had alienated some traditional soccer fans while failing to draw new American sports fans, and the shootout and countdown clock were eliminated after the 1999 season. 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.
Major League Soccer lost an estimated $250 million during its first five years, and more than $350 million between its founding and 2004. The league's financial problems led to Commissioner Doug Logan being replaced by Garber, a former NFL executive, in August 1999. MLS announced in January 2002 that it had decided to contract the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion, leaving the league with ten teams.
Despite the financial problems, though, MLS did have some accomplishments that would set the stage for the league's resurgence. Columbus Crew Stadium was built in 1999, becoming MLS's first soccer-specific stadium. This began a trend among MLS teams to construct their own venues instead of leasing American football stadiums. In 2000, the league won an antitrust lawsuit, Fraser v. Major League Soccer, that the players had filed in 1996. 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.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup, in which 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.
MLS underwent a transition in the years leading up to the 2006 World Cup. After marketing itself on the talents of American players, the league lost some of its homegrown stars to prominent European leagues. For example, Tim Howard was transferred to Manchester United for $4 million in one of the most lucrative contract deals in league history. Many more American players did make an impact in MLS. In 2005, Jason Kreis became the first player to score 100 career MLS goals.
The league's financial stabilization plan included teams moving out of large American football stadiums and into soccer-specific stadiums. From 2003 to 2008, the league oversaw the construction of six additional soccer-specific stadiums, largely funded by owners such as Lamar Hunt and Phil Anschutz, so that by the end of 2008, a majority of teams were now in soccer-specific stadiums.
It was also in this era that MLS expanded for the first time since 1998. Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA began play in 2005, with Chivas USA becoming the second club in Los Angeles. By 2006 the San Jose Earthquakes owners, players and a few coaches moved to Texas to become the expansion Houston Dynamo, after failing to build a stadium in San Jose. The Dynamo became an expansion team, leaving their history behind for a new San Jose ownership group that formed in 2007.
Arrival of Designated Players
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 helped bring 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 (Chicago Fire) and Juan Pablo Ángel (New York Red Bulls), are some of the first Designated Players who made major contributions to their clubs. The departures of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, coupled with the return of former U.S. national team stars Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride, highlighted the exchange of top prospects to Europe for experienced veterans to MLS.
By 2008, San Jose had returned to the league under new ownership, and in 2009, the expansion side Seattle Sounders FC began play in MLS. The 2010 season ushered in an expansion franchise in the Philadelphia Union and their new PPL Park stadium. The 2010 season also brought the opening of the New York Red Bulls' soccer-specific stadium, Red Bull Arena, and the debut of French striker Thierry Henry.
The 2011 season brought further expansion with the addition of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the second Canadian MLS franchise, and the Portland Timbers. Real Salt Lake reached the finals of the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League. During the 2011 season, the Galaxy signed another international star in Republic of Ireland all-time leading goalscorer Robbie Keane. MLS drew an average attendance of 17,872 in 2011, higher than the average attendances of the NBA and NHL. In 2012, the Montreal Impact became the league's 19th franchise and the third in Canada, and made their home debut in front of a crowd of 58,912, while the New York Red Bulls added Australian all-time leading goalscorer Tim Cahill.
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. In 2013, the league implemented its "Core Players" initiative, allowing teams to retain key players using retention funds instead of losing the players to foreign leagues. Among the first high-profile players re-signed in 2013 using retention funds were U.S. national team regulars Graham Zusi and Matt Besler. Beginning in summer of 2013 and continuing in the run up to the 2014 World Cup, MLS began signing U.S. stars based abroad, including Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley from Europe; and DaMarcus Beasley from the Liga MX. By the 2014 season, fifteen of the nineteen MLS head coaches had previously played in MLS. By 2013, the league's popularity had increased to the point where MLS was as popular as Major League Baseball among 12- to 17-year-olds, as reported by the 2013 Luker on Trends ESPN poll, having jumped in popularity since the 2010 World Cup.
In 2014, the league announced Atlanta United FC as the 22nd team to start playing in 2017. 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 2014 World Cup featured 21 MLS players on World Cup rosters and a record 11 MLS players playing for foreign teams – including players from traditional powerhouses Brazil (Júlio César) and Spain (David Villa); in the U.S. v. Germany match the U.S. fielded a team with seven MLS starters.
On September 18, 2014, MLS unveiled their new logo as part of the "MLS Next" branding initiative. In addition to the new crest logo, MLS teams display versions in their own colors that are displayed on their jerseys at every game. This change represents the first time that the MLS logo has been changed since the league's inception. Chivas USA folded following the 2014 season, while New York City FC and Orlando City SC joined the league in 2015 as the 19th and 20th teams. Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference in 2015 to make two 10-team conferences.
In early 2015, the league announced that two teams—Los Angeles FC and Minnesota United—would join MLS in either 2017 or 2018. 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, Kaká, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Didier Drogba, David Villa, and Sebastian Giovinco. On December 6, 2015, MLS announced its intent to expand to 28 teams. MLS confirmed in August 2016 that Minnesota United would begin play in 2017 along with Atlanta United FC.
In April 2016, the league's commissioner Don Garber reiterated the intention of the league to expand to 28 teams, with the next round of expansion "likely happening in 2020". Cities like Cincinnati, Detroit, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio and San Diego have been mentioned among potential candidates. In December 2016, he updated the expansion plans stating that the league will look to approve the 25th and 26th teams in 2017 and to start play in 2020. He also added Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, and Tampa Bay to the list of expansion candidates. In January 2017, the league received bids from 12 ownership groups, the 10 previously disclosed, plus Indianapolis and Phoenix.
MLS Cup titles and Supporters' Shield Wins
|LA Galaxy||5||2002, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2014||4||1998, 2002, 2010, 2011||21|
|D.C. United||4||1996, 1997, 1999, 2004||4||1997, 1999, 2006, 2007||21|
|San Jose Earthquakes||2||2001, 2003||2||2005, 2012||19|
|Sporting Kansas City||2||2000, 2013||1||2000||21|
|Houston Dynamo||2||2006, 2007||–||11|
|Columbus Crew SC||1||2008||3||2004, 2008, 2009||21|
|Seattle Sounders FC||1||2016||1||2014||8|
|Real Salt Lake||1||2009||–||12|
|New York Red Bulls||–||2||2013, 2015||21|
|Tampa Bay Mutiny*||–||1||1996||6*|
|*Franchise folded after completion of the 2001 season|
Major League Soccer operates under a single-entity structure in which teams and player contracts are centrally owned by the league. Each team has an investor-operator that is a shareholder in the league. In order to control costs, MLS shares revenues and holds players contracts instead of players contracting with individual teams. 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. The court also ruled that even absent their collective bargaining agreement, players could opt to play in other leagues if they were unsatisfied.
Having multiple clubs operated by a single investor was a necessity in the league's first ten years. At one time Phil Anschutz's AEG operated six MLS franchises and Lamar Hunt's Hunt Sports three franchises. In order to attract additional investors, in 2002 the league announced changes to the operating agreement between the league and its teams to improve team revenues and increase the incentives to be an individual club operator. These changes included granting operators the rights to a certain number of players they develop through their club's academy system each year, sharing the profits of Soccer United Marketing, and being able to sell individual club jersey sponsorships.
As MLS appeared to be on the brink of overall profitability in 2006 and developed significant expansion plans, MLS announced that it wanted each club to have a distinct operator. The league has attracted new investors that have injected more money into the league. Examples include Red Bull's purchase of the MetroStars from AEG in 2006 for over $100 million. For the 2014 season, the league assumed control of the former Chivas USA club, which had suffered from mismanagement and poor financial results under its individual operator relationship. The league eventually dissolved the team, in favor of awarding rights to a second soccer club in the Los Angeles area to a new investor group on October 30, 2014.
The league now has 20 investor-operators for its 20 clubs. Since December 2015, when AEG sold its remaining 50% interest in the Houston Dynamo, the former multiple-team operators AEG and Hunt Sports, with the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas respectively, now only control one franchise.
Player acquisition and salaries
The average salary for MLS players is $316,777, lower than the average salaries in England's second-tier Football League Championship ($420,000 in 2015), Holland's Eredivisie ($445,000), or Mexico's Liga MX ($418,000 in 2015). The league's minimum player salary increased in 2017 to $65,000 for most players, and roster players #25–28 saw their minimum salary increased to $53,000.
MLS salaries are limited by a salary cap, which MLS has had in place since the league's inception in 1996. The purpose of the salary cap is to prevent the team's owners from unsustainable spending on player salaries and to prevent a competitive imbalance among teams. The salary cap survived a legal challenge by the players in the Fraser v. Major League Soccer lawsuit. The 2017 salary cap increased to $3.845 million per team.
Teams may augment their squads by signing players from other leagues. MLS has two transfer windows—the primary pre-season transfer window lasts three months from mid February until mid May, and the secondary mid season transfer window runs one month from early July to early August. When an MLS club sells one of its players overseas, the club and the league split the transfer revenues, with the club retaining from 33% to 75% depending on the player's status and tenure. MLS teams have a limited number of international roster slots that they can use to sign non-domestic players. However MLS teams regularly obtain green cards for their non-domestic players to qualify them for domestic status and free up international roster slots. In 2015, 49% of MLS players were born outside of the U.S. and Canada, with players from 58 countries represented.
MLS has also introduced various initiatives and rules intended to improve quality of players while still maintaining the salary cap. Rules concerning Designated Players and allocation money allow for additional wage spending that is exempt from the salary cap. These initiatives have brought about an increase in on-field competition.
The designated player (DP) rule allows teams to sign a limited number of players whose salary exceeds the maximum cap, each DP player only counts as $480,625 (the maximum non-DP salary) against the cap in 2017. Instituted in 2007, England's David Beckham was the first signing under the DP rule. The DP rule has led to large income inequality in MLS with top DPs earning as much as 180 times more than a player earning the league minimum. In the 2013 season 21% of the league's wage spending went to just 5 players, this stretched to 29% on the top 6 players in the 2014 season.
The league's "Core Players" initiative allows teams to re-sign players using retention funds that do not count against the salary cap. 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. MLS teams can also obtain allocation money, which is money that the team can use on player salaries that does not count against the cap, and teams can earn allocation money in several ways, such as from the transfer fees earned by selling players to teams in other leagues. MLS teams can also use Targeted Allocation Money (often referred to as TAM), an initiative announced in 2015. Teams can use TAM funds to attract high-profile players by "buying down" contracts of players to below the Designated Player level. High-profile players for which TAM funds were used include Omar Gonzalez.
MLS has introduced various initiatives and rules intended to develop young players. Rules concerning Generation Adidas players and home grown players provide incentives for clubs to develop and retain young players.
MLS has required all of its teams to operate youth development programs since 2008. MLS roster rules allow teams to sign an unlimited number players straight from their academies and bypassing the draft process. There is also supplementary salary budget made by MLS only for homegrown players that are registered using senior roster slots called homegrown player funds. One of the most prominent and lucrative examples of success in "home-grown" development was Jozy Altidore, who rose to prominence as a teenager in MLS before his record transfer fee $10 million move to Villarreal in Spain in 2008. The various MLS teams' development academies play matches in a U.S. Soccer developmental league against youth academies from other leagues such as the Division II North American Soccer League (NASL) and Division III USL Pro, the latter of which has now rebranded itself as the United Soccer League.
The league operates a Generation Adidas program, which is a joint venture between MLS and U.S. Soccer that encourages young American players to enter MLS. The Generation Adidas program has been in place since 1997, and has introduced players such as Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Michael Bradley into MLS. Players under the Home Grown Player rule are signed to Generation Adidas contracts, all players on Generation Adidas contracts are "off budget players" and their salaries do not count against the cap.
MLS formerly operated a reserve league which gave playing time to players who were not starters for their MLS teams. The Reserve League was formed in 2005, and operated through 2014 (with the exception of the 2009 & 2010 seasons). 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.
Since 1999, the league has overseen the construction of twelve stadiums specifically designed for soccer. The development of soccer-specific stadiums owned by the teams has generated a better gameday experience for the fans. The soccer-specific stadiums have yielded positive financial results as teams were no longer required to pay to rent out facilities and gained control over revenue streams such as concessions, parking, naming rights, and the ability to host non MLS events. Several teams have doubled their season-tickets following the team's move into a soccer-specific stadium. The establishment of soccer-specific stadiums is considered the key to the league and the ability of teams to turn a profit. In 2006, Tim Leiweke, then CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, described the proliferation of soccer-specific stadiums as the turning point for MLS.
Columbus Crew owner Lamar Hunt started this trend in 1999 by constructing Columbus Crew Stadium, now known as Mapfre Stadium, as MLS's first soccer-specific stadium. The Los Angeles Galaxy followed four years later with the opening of The Home Depot Center, now StubHub Center, in 2003. FC Dallas opened Pizza Hut Park, now Toyota Stadium, in 2005, and the Chicago Fire began playing their home games in Toyota Park in 2006. The 2007 season brought the opening of Dick's Sporting Goods Park for the Colorado Rapids and BMO Field for Toronto FC.
Near the end of the 2008 season, Rio Tinto Stadium became the home of Real Salt Lake, which meant that for the first time in MLS history a majority of MLS's teams (8 out of 14) played in soccer-specific stadiums. Red Bull Arena, the new home of the New York Red Bulls opened for the start of the 2010 season, and the Philadelphia Union opened PPL Park, since renamed Talen Energy Stadium, in June 2010, midway through their inaugural season.
The following season, in 2011, the Portland Timbers made their MLS debut in a newly renovated Jeld-Wen Field, now renamed Providence Park, which was originally a multi-purpose venue but turned into a soccer-specific facility. Also in 2011, Sporting Kansas City moved to new Livestrong Sporting Park, now Children's Mercy Park. The Houston Dynamo relocated to their new home at BBVA Compass Stadium in 2012. In the same year, the Montreal Impact joined the league in an expanded Stade Saputo, which reopened in June 2012, when renovations pushed the seating capacity to over 20,000. The Impact has used Olympic Stadium for early season matches and for games that require a larger capacity. The San Jose Earthquakes, who had played at Buck Shaw Stadium from 2008 until 2014, opened their new Avaya Stadium before the 2015 season.
The development of additional MLS stadiums is in progress. The Orlando City SC expansion team intended to begin constructing Orlando City Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium, in 2014 to be completed in 2015. Delays caused by changes to the stadium plans pushed back the new venue's opening, first to late in the 2016 season and finally to the start of the 2017 season. Orlando City have been playing at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, now Camping World Stadium, while awaiting the opening of their new venue.
Three teams have announced their desire to build a soccer-specific stadium, although these teams have not finalized the stadium site and received all necessary government approvals. D.C. United plays home games at a former NFL and Major League Baseball venue, RFK Stadium; in 2013, D.C. United announced the signing of a public-private partnership term sheet to build a 25,000-seat new soccer stadium in Washington, D.C., and a final deal was reached in late 2014. The New York City FC expansion team plays home games at Yankee Stadium, a Major League Baseball venue, although they intend to move into a soccer-specific stadium in the future. The New England Revolution play home games at a National Football League venue, Gillette Stadium, but are currently in discussion with the City of Boston regarding a potential soccer-specific stadium in South Boston.
Several remaining clubs play in stadiums not originally built for MLS and have not announced plans to move. The Seattle Sounders play at CenturyLink Field, a dual-purpose facility used for both American football and soccer. The Vancouver Whitecaps FC joined the league with Portland in 2011 and temporarily held matches at Empire Field before moving into the refurbished BC Place in October 2011, a retractable-roof stadium that hosts Canadian football as well as soccer.
Of the three confirmed future teams, two are building soccer-specific stadiums and the other will play in a shared football stadium. Minnesota United FC, debuting in 2017, is building an as yet-unnamed stadium in St. Paul and plans to open it for the 2018 season. Until that time, the team will play in Minneapolis at TCF Bank Stadium, home to University of Minnesota football. Los Angeles FC, entering in 2018, is currently building Banc of California Stadium on the former site of the Los Angeles Sports Arena and expects to open it in time for the team's debut. Atlanta United, also entering in 2017, shares ownership with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons; the two teams will share the retractable-roof Mercedes-Benz Stadium once it opens during the 2017 MLS season. Due to construction delays, Atlanta United will play the first half of its inaugural season at another college football facility, namely Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Profitability and revenues
Major League Soccer began to demonstrate positive signs of long-term profitability as early as 2004 with the single-entity ownership structure, salary cap, and the media and marketing umbrella Soccer United Marketing (SUM) all contributing towards MLS's financial security. As soccer-specific stadiums are built, ownership expands, and television coverage increases, MLS has seen its revenues increase while controlling costs.
Television coverage and revenue have increased since the league's early years. In 2006, MLS reached an 8-year TV deal with ESPN spanning the 2007–2014 seasons, and marked the first time that MLS earned rights fees, reported to be worth $7–8 million annually. In September 2012 the league extended its distribution agreement with London-based Media rights agency MP & Silva until 2014 in a deal worth $10 million annually. Total league TV revenues are over $40 million annually. In 2011, MLS earned $150 million when it sold a 25% stake in SUM.
In early 2005, MLS signed a 10-year, $150 million sponsorship deal with Adidas. 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. MLS established a floor of $500,000 per shirt sponsorship, with the league receiving a flat fee of $200,000 per deal. As of July 2014, sixteen teams had signed sponsorship deals to have company logos placed on the front of their jerseys (and another team is directly owned by its shirt sponsor), and the league average from jersey sponsors was about $2.4 million. All MLS teams have had jersey sponsors since February 2016.
The Los Angeles Galaxy made a profit in 2003 in their first season at The Home Depot Center, and FC Dallas turned a profit after moving into Pizza Hut Park in 2005. For each season between 2006 and 2009, two to three MLS clubs (generally clubs with a soccer-specific stadium) were reported as profitable by the league.
By 2012, the league had shown a marked improvement in its financial health. In November 2013, Forbes published its first valuation of MLS teams since 2008, and revealed that ten of the league's nineteen teams earned an operating profit in 2012, while two broke even and seven had a loss. Forbes estimated that the league's collective annual revenues were $494 million, and that the league's collective annual profit was $34 million. Forbes valued the league's franchises to be worth $103 million on average, almost three times as much as the $37 million average valuation in 2008. The Seattle Sounders FC franchise was named the most valuable at $175 million, a 483% gain over the $30 million league entrance fee it paid in 2009.
The trend in increased team values has continued with MLS teams seeing a strong 52% increase in franchise values from 2012 to 2014. In August 2015, Forbes released the updated list of MLS franchise values with the most profitable team weighing in at $245 million and the least at $105 million. The average value jumped from $103 to $157 million.
From 2015 to 2016 the league saw an increase of 18% of the average value of the MLS franchises. The most profitable one weighted in at $285 million and the least at $110 million. The average value in 2016 is $185 million.
Rules and officials
MLS follows the rules and standards of the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The playoff extra time structure follows IFAB standards: two full 15-minute periods, followed by a penalty shootout if necessary. Away goals apply to the playoff stage of the competition, but do not apply to overtime in the second leg of any two-legged playoff series.
U.S. Soccer hired the first full-time professional referees in league history in 2007 as part of the league's "Game First" initiatives. Major League Soccer has been implementing fines and suspensions since the 2011 season for simulation (diving) through its Disciplinary Committee, which reviews plays after the match. The first player fined under the new rule was Charlie Davies, fined $1,000 for intentionally deceiving match officials.
- For more information on MLS team names, see the individual team entries.
Originally, in the style of other U.S. sports leagues, teams were given nicknames at their creation. Examples include the Columbus Crew, the San Jose Clash and the Los Angeles Galaxy. Several of the club names in MLS originated with earlier professional soccer clubs, such as the 1970s-era NASL team names San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps.
D.C. United and Miami Fusion F.C. were the only two MLS teams to adopt European naming conventions during the 1990s. However, European-style names have increased in MLS, with expansion teams such as Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC, in addition to 2015 entrants New York City FC and Orlando City S.C., along with several re-brandings such as the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) and Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City).
As of the 2015 season, MLS matches are broadcast nationally by ESPN networks and Fox Sports in English, and Univision networks in Spanish under an eight-year contract. Each broadcaster has a window for national regular season matches, with UniMas airing a game on Friday nights in Spanish and additional matches on Univision Deportes Network, and ESPN and Fox Sports 1 airing games on Sunday evenings in English. ESPN, FS1, and Univision will share in coverage of the playoffs, while ESPN and FS1 will alternate broadcasting the MLS Cup final in English. In total, at least 125 matches will be aired per-season across all three networks, and the three contracts have an average estimated value of $90 million per season—five times larger than the average $18 million value of the previous contracts with ESPN, Univision, and NBC Sports. 7.
Matches not televised nationally are broadcast regionally, often by regional sports networks like Fox Sports Networks, Comcast SportsNet, Spectrum Sports and Root Sports, and sometimes by terrestrial stations like WJLA-TV, KTXA, WRDQ anad KMYU.
From 2012 to 2014, MLS matches were previously broadcast by NBC Sports, with 40 matches per year—primarily on NBCSN, and select matches broadcast on the NBC network. The move from Fox Soccer to the more widely distributed NBCSN proved successful, with viewership numbers doubling for the 2012 season over those of Fox Soccer.
Coverage of MLS expanded into Canada in 2007 with the addition of Toronto FC. Currently, English-language national MLS broadcast rights in Canada are through the TSN networks with a six-year deal for the 2011–2016 seasons. TSN and TSN2 broadcast a minimum of 30 games during each season, all featuring at least one Canadian team. French-language sister networks RDS and RDS2 have similar broadcast rights. The networks also carry additional games not involving Canadian teams. GolTV Canada carries selected all-U.S. MLS matchups.
As in the United States, the individual Canadian teams also have separate broadcast deals for games not aired under the TSN/RDS national contract. TSN and Sportsnet split coverage of Toronto FC non-national games (TSN and Sportsnet's parent companies own a joint majority stake in the team through Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment), TVA Sports airs all Montreal Impact games, and TSN broadcasts the Vancouver Whitecaps in a separate deal.
MLS also entered into a four-year contract with Sky Sports to broadcast two MLS matches per week in the UK and Ireland from 2015 to 2019. As part of the new agreement, Sky Sports will broadcast at least two MLS regular-season matches each week, as well as the AT&T MLS All-Star Game, every MLS Cup Playoff game, and the MLS Cup final. The matches will appear across Sky's family of networks. The UK-based broadcaster will also carry weekly MLS highlights across various platforms, including Sky Sports News and SkySports.com. Sky Sports will also broadcast at least one match from MLS's new "Decision Day" – the recently announced format change for the final day of the MLS regular season, during which all Eastern Conference games will be played simultaneously at 5 pm ET (9 pm UK time) followed by all Western Conference games at 7 pm ET (11 pm UK time). Many of the matches are expected to determine the final spots for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
beIN SPORT to televise league matches live across Southeast Asia and Australia. The agreement runs from the 2015 to 2018 seasons in Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, and Thailand. At least two MLS regular season matches will be aired per week, as well as the AT&T MLS All-Star Game, at least two matches from the newly created Decision Day, all MLS Cup Playoff games and MLS Cup. In addition, beIN SPORTS will carry highlights, player features, and other MLS content across its digital platforms.
Discovery Sports will broadcast MLS Across India from 2017 onwards
Major League Soccer is a playable league in both the FIFA and the Football Manager series. The league made its video game debut in 1999 with FIFA 2000. In 2001, Konami released ESPN MLS ExtraTime 2002, which, to date, is the only soccer title to be based solely on MLS. The league made its first appearance in the management series Football Manager 2005 in 2004.
Statistics below are for all-time leaders. Statistics are for regular season only. Bold indicates active MLS players.
Player records (active)
Statistics below are for all-time leaders who are still playing. Statistics are for regular season only.
At the conclusion of each season, the league presents several awards for outstanding achievements, mostly to players, but also to coaches, referees, and teams. The finalists in each category are determined by voting from MLS players, team employees, and the media.
- MLS Best XI
- MLS Coach of the Year Award
- MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award
- MLS Defender of the Year Award
- MLS Fair Play Award (individual)
- MLS Fair Play Award (team)
- MLS Goal of the Year Award
- MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award
- MLS Golden Boot
- Landon Donovan MVP Award
- MLS Newcomer of the Year Award
- MLS Referee of the Year Award
- MLS Rookie of the Year Award
- MLS Save of the Year Award
- Canadian Championship
- Generation Adidas
- List of MLS coaches
- List of MLS drafts
- List of MLS seasons
- MLS All-Star Game
- MLS Attendance
- MLS Combine
- MLS Cup Playoffs
- MLS International Roster Slots
- MLS Players Union
- MLS Reserve Division
- MLS rivalry cups
- MLS SuperDraft
- MLS on television
- Sueño MLS
- U.S. soccer league system
- US Open Cup
- World Series of Soccer (MLS)
- Borg, Simon (December 17, 2010). "MLS celebrates 17th anniversary of formal debut". Major League Soccer. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- "About Major League Soccer". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Fraser v. Major League Soccer, 01 F.3d 1296 (1st Cir. 2002).
- MLSsoccer staff (April 25, 2015). "MLS maintains status as most diverse professional sports league in North America". Major League Soccer. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- Hickey, Walt (April 4, 2014). "The 'Big Five' in North American Pro Sports". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
- "MLS expands playoffs, adds 2 teams in 20th season". USA Today. January 7, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
- MLSsoccer staff (January 7, 2015). "Major League Soccer unveils 2015 schedule, with Decision Day finale and expanded playoff format". mlssoccer.com. Major League Soccer. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- "MLS Cup Playoffs 101: How the 2013 postseason works". Portland Timbers. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "CONCACAF Approves U.S. Soccer's/MLS Request to Amend Their Qualification Process to CCL". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "About Major League Soccer". MLSnet. September 5, 2008. Archived from the original on June 25, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
- "1996 Season Recap". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Teams". Forbes. November 20, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Smith, Chris (August 19, 2015). "Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Teams 2015". Forbes. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- Fraser v. Major League Soccer, 01 F.3d 1296 (US 1st Cir. March 20, 2002) (“MLS owns all of the teams that play in the league (a total of 12 prior to the start of 2002), as well as all intellectual property rights, tickets, supplied equipment, and broadcast rights. … However, MLS has also relinquished some control over team operations to certain investors. MLS contracts with these investors to operate…the league's teams”).
- "Dempsey Transfer Highlights Influence of MLS Single-Entity Economic Structure". Business of Soccer. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MY TWO CENTS Part II: A few reasons how promotion/relegation system could be a success in the United States". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Major League Soccer, L.L.C. Company Information". Hoovers, Inc. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- "New Teams and New Stadiums Highlight 2017 MLS Regular Season Schedule". Major League Soccer. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
- "MLS All-Star Game creates opportunities for Portland, U.S. soccer: Editorial". OregonLive.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "A case for the Supporters Shield". Brotherly Game. August 21, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "How the MLS Playoff Format Punishes Ambitious Teams". Forbes. October 15, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Wahl, Grant (October 31, 2011). "Beckham's Last Stand". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
'With the playoffs you can end up winning the Supporters' Shield [for best regular-season record] and then go out in the first round.'
- "Are there too many MLS playoff teams?". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS commissioner talks Pacific Northwest rivalry, league's future". CNN. March 11, 2011.
- Lewis, Michael (June 19, 2010). "FIFA president Blatter says MLS needs to adopt int'l calendar to compete". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- "MLS May Change Its Schedule To Help The US's World Cup Bid". Business Insider. November 22, 2010. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
- "MLS looks at switching to international schedule". USA Today. November 22, 2011. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
- "Playoffs expand to 10 teams, more changes ahead" (Press release). Major League Soccer. November 22, 2010. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- "MLS' Garber: No plans for international calendar". USA Today. February 15, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- "Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Canada Soccer announces move to new timeframe for future Amway Canadian Championships". Canada Soccer. March 21, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- "MLS Roster Rules". MLSsoccer.com.
- Cite error: The named reference
MLS_Roster_Ruleswas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
- PA Sports. "MLS considers expanding to Montreal". Bleacher Report. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Stejskal, Sam (March 25, 2015). "MLS Commissioner Don Garber: Minneapolis represents everything that is spurring growth of MLS". MLS.
- Galarcep, Ives (August 1, 2013). "Garber: MLS to expand to 24 teams by 2020". Soccer By Ives.
- "MLS Unveils Expansion Process, Timeline and Fee". OurSports Central. December 15, 2016.
- "MLS Trophies - By Trophy". MLSsoccer.com. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS guide: Learn more about Orlando's new pro league". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Learn about MLS". New York City FC. Archived from the original on July 20, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "Derby or Rivalry in MLS?". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS announces new strategy for Los Angeles market, 2015 conference alignment". mlssoccer.com. Major League Soccer. October 27, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
- MLSsoccer staff (May 18, 2015). "LAFC announce plan for new soccer stadium in south Los Angeles". mlssoccer.com. Major League Soccer. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- Baxter, Kevin (May 17, 2015). "Expansion L.A. soccer team plans new stadium on Sports Arena site". LATimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
- Firchau, Nick (February 5, 2014). "David Beckham exercises MLS expansion option on future Miami franchise". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- "By The Numbers… North American Soccer League vs Major League Soccer". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "FRASER v. MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS KICKS OFF TO FESTIVE CROWD, MIXED ON-FIELD REVIEWS". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "19 Teams with 1 Goal: A Spotlight on Major League Soccer", June 10, 2014.
- "Trophy Case". DC United. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS 3.0 Series: A History of MLS 1.0". Last Word on Sports. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Resurgence and Expansion of the MLS". Soccer Politics / The Politics of Football. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Shootout banned; TV lineup changed". SI.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Holmes, Stanley (November 22, 2004). "Soccer: Time To Kick It Up A Notch". Businessweek. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "For M.L.S., the Sport's Future Is in the Eye of the Beholder". The New York Times. November 11, 2005. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "MLS fans in several cities wait nervously for contraction decision". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS considering weight-loss program". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Mls Boots Commissioner, Turns To Nfl For Successor". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "The Throw-In: Did eliminating Tampa, Miami save MLS?". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Columbus Crew history". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Making Soccer 'Major League' in the USA and Beyond:Major League Soccer's First Decade". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Fraser v. Major League Soccer, 97 F.Supp.2d 130 (D. Mass 2000)
- "MLS Cup 2002". Major League Soccer. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
- "Formatting MLS, Part 4: Global Tradition, American Appeal". Waldlichtung. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Tim Howard club career". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Carlisle, Jeff (March 24, 2015). "Americans in the Premier League -- why have numbers dropped recently?". ESPN FC. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "Jason Kreis still has something to prove". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Real Salt Lake vs. Chivas USA - Expansion rivalry a history lesson". RSL Soapbox. September 28, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Quakes History". San Jose Earthquakes. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS 101: MLS Expansion Draft and Allocation Money". Portland Timbers. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- McMahon, Bobby (August 5, 2012). ""Has The "Beckham Rule" Worked For MLS?"". http://www.forbes.com/sportsmoney. Forbes Media. Retrieved August 20, 2015. External link in
- Lalas, Greg (April 17, 2007). "Foreign exchange program". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
- "A brief guide to Major League Soccer". The Boot Room. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "New York Red Bulls sign international star Thierry Henry". New York Red Bulls. July 14, 2010. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
- "Atlanta expansion signifies changing landscape ahead for Major League Soccer". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Real Salt Lake: Monterrey wins CONCACAF Champions League, 3-2 on aggregate". DeseretNews.com. April 27, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Spurs striker Robbie Keane joins MLS side LA Galaxy". BBC Sport. August 16, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
- "MLS steadily builds toward goal of profitability". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Fire tie Impact in MLS opener". ESPN.com. Associated Press. March 17, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
- "Major League Soccer announces New York expansion team: New York City Football Club". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
- "MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER AWARDS EXPANSION TEAM TO ORLANDO". orlandocitysoccer.com. Orlando City Soccer Club. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
- "Retention funds explained: MLS reveals list of 14 players like Graham Zusi re-signed under initiative". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- """FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo waits on US internationals: "More players are coming"""". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "The Throw-In: Enjoy MLS in 2014, because this league will never be the same again". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Bennett, Roger (March 7, 2014). "MLS equals MLB in popularity with kids". ESPNFC.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Edwards, Andy (March 7, 2014). ""2013 poll results: MLS equal to MLB in "avid interest" popularity among adolescents - SIDELINE"". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Major League Soccer names Atlanta as 22nd franchise, set for 2017 debut | MLSsoccer.com". mlssoccer.com. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
- "De George: New clubs raising the stakes in MLS". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "USMNT 0, Germany 1, FIFA World Cup, Group G Match Recap". MLSsoccer.com MatchCenter. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Ben Bromley (September 18, 2014). "Major League Soccer announces new logo as part of MLS NEXT". SB Nation. Vox Media, Inc. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
- Baxter, Kevin (August 23, 2015). "MLS develops a buzz with international influx of talent". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing Company. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- "MLS announces possible plans to expand league to 28 teams, 2016 scheduling updates". mlssoccer.com. December 6, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
- Stejskal, Sam (August 19, 2016). "Minnesota United FC to join MLS in 2017, debuting at TCF Bank Stadium". MLSSoccer. Major League Soccer. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
- "Commissioner Garber: Next round of MLS expansion "likely happening in 2020"". mlssoccer.com. April 14, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- "Cincinnati set to welcome Commissioner Don Garber in push for MLS expansion". mlssoccer.com. November 15, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- "12 Groups Submit MLS Expansion Applications". OurSports Central. January 31, 2017.
- "Roundtable: Is MLS Single Entity Here To Stay?". Hot Time in Old Town. February 28, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "About Major League Soccer | PRESS BOX". Pressbox.mlssoccer.com. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
Major League Soccer is structured as a single, limited liability company (single-entity). In the single-entity business structure, club operators own a financial stake in the League, not just their individual team.
- Los Angeles Times, "MLS Looks Way Down the Field", March 29, 2006.
- "Major League Soccer Announces Elimination of Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion for 2002 Season". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS' Don Garber Talks State of the League with the Daily". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Major League Soccer's Billionaire Owners". Forbes. November 20, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- The New York Times, "Red Bull Is New Owner, and Name, of MetroStars", March 10, 2006.
- "Major League Soccer assumes ownership of Chivas USA". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Forbes, "Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Teams", November 20, 2013.
- "Dear Fans and Friends". CDChivasUSA.com. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
- "Major League Soccer awards new team to Los Angeles". MLSSoccer.com. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
- "Chicago Fire sold to Andell Holdings". Chicago Fire Media Relations. September 6, 2007. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- "Group led by Gabriel Brener acquires AEG's ownership interests in Houston Dynamo". mlssoccer.com. December 16, 2015. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
- "Average MLS salary goes up, with surprising value available leaguewide". ESPN FC. May 19, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "Mind the gap... Premier League wages soar with average salaries during 2014–15 season around £1.7million". Daily Mail. February 20, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "Dutch professional football continues financial improvement". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Carlisle, Jeff (January 7, 2015). "MLS confident new CBA will be done in time for March 6 season start". ESPN FC. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- "MLS Players Union announces that it has ratified collective bargaining agreement". Major League Soccer. July 16, 2015. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
- "2015 MLS Player Rules and Regulations Summary". MLS Press Box. Major League Soccer. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
- "Roster Rules and Regulations". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Goff, Steve (August 2, 2016). "Israeli club ups offer for D.C. United's Steve Birnbaum, but". Washington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "ASN article: MLS Allure: Why Wages Are Only Part of the Story". Retrieved September 15, 2015.
- "Recent analysis of foreign player pool in MLS reveals interesting numbers – SIDELINE". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
- "MLS remains most diverse professional sports league in North America". LA Galaxy. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
- Martin, Pat (May 4, 2007). "MLS comes out of the gates strong in '07". monstersandcritics.com. Archived from the original on May 24, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
- "2014 MLS Player Salaries: April 1, 2014: By Club" (PDF). Major League Soccer Players Union. April 2, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- Reese, Bill (January 30, 2014). "A Look at Income Inequality in MLS". Empire of Soccer. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- Fenn, Steve (April 11, 2014). "2014 MLS Salaries Visualized". StatHunting. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "The great allocation money chase". The Philly Soccer Page. June 26, 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
- Tomlich, Ryan. "MLS approves large TAM increase, additional Homegrown Player spending". Soccer by Ives. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
- "MLS launches youth development initiative". espnfc.com. November 10, 2006.
- "MLS 2015 Roster Rules".
- "MLS announces $37 million investment in Targeted Allocation Money, Homegrown Player funds for 2016–17".
- Bell, Jack (June 5, 2008). "Spanish Soccer Team Strikes Deal for Altidore". The New York Times. United States. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- "U.S. Soccer Development Academy 2014–2015". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "US U-20 players headline 2006 class". Soccernet.espn.go.com. January 11, 2006. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- MLSsoccer.com, "Commissioner reveals details of Reserve Division", November 16, 2010.
- "MLS, USL Pro reach deal on restructured Reserve League". www.mlssoccer.com. January 23, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
- The New York Times, "M.L.S. Continues to Bolster Growing Brand With New Stadium in Houston", May 12, 2012.
- Sports Business Journal, "MLS club presidents on the season ahead", March 4, 2013.
- Sports Business Journal, "Soccer's visionary: Phil Anschutz", June 5, 2006.
- "StubHub Center - About". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Executives". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Rio Tinto Stadium Set To Open". CONNECTICUT SPORTS LAW. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "About Major League Soccer". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Opinion: Is NYC FC's stadium deal a black eye for MLS?". Once A Metro. April 22, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Portland Timbers, Jeld-Wen joined at the right time on stadium naming rights". OregonLive.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Sporting Kansas City's Sporting Park will serve as host of MLS Cup". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "The State of Soccer in Montreal". Last Word on Sports. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "San Jose Earthquakes Stadium Construction Delayed Again; Scheduled to Open for 2015 Season". Business of Soccer. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Schlueb, Mark (January 7, 2014). "Orlando officials, Orlando City Lions to brainstorm design for MLS stadium - Orlando Sentinel". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
- "Your City Your Stadium: Update on Proposed Stadium Opening". Orlando City Soccer Club. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- Goff, Steven (December 17, 2014). "D.C. United stadium approval improves its playing field in MLS in many ways". The Washington Post.
- Boston Globe,"Kraft family looks to build soccer stadium in Boston". November 18, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
- "Vancouver Whitecaps - History". Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Charles Bennett. "How to Make the CFL USA Work This Time and 15 Places Where It Could Thrive". Bleacher Report. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Greder, Andy (July 28, 2016). "MLS expansion: Atlanta is lock for 2017, Minnesota expected to join them". TwinCities.com. Pioneer Press. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- Quarstad, Brian (August 19, 2016). "Minnesota United to play inaugural MLS season at new home: TCF Bank Stadium". Major League Soccer. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
- "LAFC owners join with Los Angeles business and community leaders to break ground on Bank of California Stadium" (Press release). Los Angeles FC. August 23, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
- "Atlanta United to Start MLS Season in March 2017 at Georgia Tech's Historic Bobby Dodd Stadium" (Press release). Atlanta United FC. October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
- "ESPN, MLS Reach Eight-Year TV Deal That Includes Rights Fees". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS agrees golden deal with MP & Silva - Sports Broadcast news - Soccer". SportsPro Media. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- "MP & Silva extends MLS deal - Sports Broadcast news - Soccer North America". SportsPro Media. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- "American Family Insurance to be Atlanta United's first jersey sponsor". www.mlssoccer.com. July 12, 2016. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
- "Two Major League Soccer clubs unveil new home kits for 2016". www.sportslogos.net. January 25, 2016. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
- "Rapids partner with Transamerica for major jersey sponsorship". www.coloradorapids.com. March 18, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- McCarthy, Jack (February 15, 2012). "Crew partner with Barbasol as new jersey sponsor". MLS. Retrieved February 15, 2012.
- "Leidos becomes official sponsor of D.C. United". dcunited.com. February 24, 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "FC Dallas signs multi-year, multi-million dollar jersey deal with AdvoCare". MLS. June 27, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- "Houston Dynamo find shared business, community values with new jersey sponsor BHP Billiton". MLS. July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
- "Herbalife Renews Sponsorship With MLS Galaxy for a Record 10 Years, $44M". Sports Business Daily. March 16, 2012. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
- "Target becomes official MLS partner-Lands-Minnesota United jersey front". www.mlssoccer.com. January 19, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
- "BMO sign multi-million deal with Montreal Impact". June 15, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- "UnitedHealthcare, New England Revolution Announce Partnership". Businesswire.com. April 22, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- "New York City Football Club Takes Flight with Etihad Airways Partnership". New York City FC. November 13, 2014. Archived from the original on November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
- "Orlando City locks in Orlando Health as healthcare partner and jersey sponsor for MLS". mynews13.com. November 18, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
- "Union soccer team wins sponsorship from Bimbo bakery". Philly.com. January 11, 2011. Archived from the original on January 15, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian (September 2, 2010). "Timbers announce Alaska Airlines as sponsor for MLS jerseys". Oregonlive.com. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- "Real Salt Lake signs one of top MLS jersey deals". Sports Business Journal. October 28, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- "Earthquakes Sign Exclusive Healthcare and Official Jersey Partnership Agreement With Sutter Health". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
- "Sounders FC gets big-name sponsor for MLS team: Microsoft and Xbox 360 Live". Associated Press. May 29, 2008. Retrieved August 21, 2014. – via Highbeam (subscription required)
- "Sporting KC sign shirt sponsor deal with Ivy Funds". Sbnation.com. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
- "Toronto FC keeps bank's name on jerseys". Sports Business Journal. October 28, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- "Vancouver Whitecaps secure major shirt sponsorship". Sportspromedia.com. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Weinbach, John (September 28, 2006). "Major League Soccer to sell ad space on jerseys". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Steve Wartenberg. "Crew catching up financially to rest of MLS". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Longman, Jere (July 8, 2007). "Beckham Arrives to Find a Sport Thriving in Its Own Way". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Schwartz, Peter J.; Badenhausen, Kurt (September 9, 2008). "Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Teams". Forbes.com. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- "Sounders FC's success resonates globally". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Communications, Forbes Corporate. "Forbes Releases 2016 MLS Team Valuations". Retrieved September 8, 2016.
- "Competition Rules and Regulations". MLSsoccer.com. March 2014. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- "'Game First' initiatives enhance on-field product". Major League Soccer Communications. April 2, 2007. Archived from the original on April 26, 2008. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "MLS Disciplinary Committee fines Davies for dive vs. RSL". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Toye: Fans are delighted the old NASL names, Sounders, Timbers, Whitecaps and Quakes were saved". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Dure, Beau (2010). Long Range Goals: The Success Story of Major League Soccer. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books. pp. 21–23. ISBN 978-1-59797-509-4.
- "Will the Kansas City Wizards become Sporting Kansas City?". Kansas City Business Journal. November 16, 2010. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "NBC to end MLS deal in 2015; ESPN, Fox pay $70 million per year for new rights package". The Goalkeeper. Philly.com. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- John McDuling (May 12, 2014). "Here's more evidence that Americans are growing fond of soccer". Quartz. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
- "MLS's big play". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "M.L.S. and TV Networks Reach Deal to Set Weekly Slots for Games". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
- "ESPN, Fox and Univision promise new emphasis to domestic game, MLS in landmark eight-year TV deal". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
- "Business Off The Pitch: Breakdown of Major League Soccer's Broadcast Partners". Goal.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS, NBC announce three-year broadcast deal". MLSsoccer.com. August 10, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Jonathan Tannenwald (November 29, 2012). "Analyzing NBC's ratings in its first season of broadcasting Major League Soccer". Philly.com. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
- TSN (February 14, 2011). "TSN Becomes Official Broadcaster of MLS in Canada with Landmark Six-Year Deal". Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- GolTV (Canada). "GolTV Canada Matches for March 11–17, 2011" (PDF). Retrieved March 11, 2011. (lists carriage of a Los Angeles vs. Seattle MLS game)
- Delia-Lavictoire, Yvan (July 14, 2011). "Impact sign multimedia deal, name TVA Sports broadcaster". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
- "Every Game, All Season Long: MLS ON TSN Kicks Off its Complete Coverage of Vancouver Whitecaps FC This Saturday". Bell Media PR. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- "TSN to broadcast all Whitecaps FC games beginning in 2014". TSN.ca. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
- "MLS and Sky Sports Announce Groundbreaking Partnership to Broadcast MLS in the United Kingdom" (Press release). Major League Soccer. February 25, 2015. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "MLS and British broadcaster Sky Sports announce groundbreaking partnership". MLSsoccer.com. February 25, 2015. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- Cushnan, David. "Eurosport signs four-year deal to broadcast MLS". sportspromedia.com. SportsPro. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
- "MLS and beIN SPORTS Announce Partnership to Broadcast MLS across Southeast Asia and Australia | PRESS BOX". pressbox.mlssoccer.com.
- "Football Manager signs with MLS". Sports Interactive. May 13, 2004. Archived from the original on July 14, 2004. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "MLS Announces 2013 Awards Finalists". Retrieved September 20, 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Major League Soccer.|
|Division 1 Soccer League in the United States