The major soccer league or “MLS” as we know it is the professional soccer league in both the United States and Canada. It was founded in 1993 although the first season didn’t take place until 1996. It was founded as part of the Unites States Successful bid to host the 1994 World cup which went down flawless and in which the United States received huger credit for.
The “MLS” is composed of nineteen teams, sixteen in the Unites States and only three in Canada. The season in the Unites States differs from that of Europe where in runs from March until December with each team playing 34 times in a season and then the winner being awarded the “Supporters Shield” and then ten teams compete in the postseason MLS cup playoffs which then ends with the championship game “The MLS cup”. A bit like the “NBA – National Basketball Association “The teams in the MLS are divided into Eastern and Western conferences and midway through the season the teams break for the annual “All star game”, this is a friendly game which includes the finest players from the MLS against a club from a different league.
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 began playing in stadiums owned or rented by American football teams, most of the venues with capacities of 60,000 or more. Also the leagues quality was cast into doubt when the U.S. men’s national team, which was made up largely of MLS players, was eliminated in the first round of the 1998 World Cup by losing to all opponents in the group stage and finishing in last place. However this all changed after the 2002 World cup when the United States made the Quarter finals of the world cup leading to the resurgence in American soccer and in particular the MLS. So in its first season after the world cup the MLS set an attendance record when 61,000 people witnessed the LA Galaxy take home their first title.
It is commonly known that when the season finishes in the MLS a few players will be loaned to a premier league club in England until the MLS season kicks off again in March, this is to keep a players fitness going and also to help out a premier league club who maybe do not have sufficient funds to go out and buy a player in the January transfer window.
In 2007 the MLS pulled off its biggest coup when David Beckham signed for the LA Galaxy, this made International headlines across the world and was seen as a positive signing for the Galaxy and also helped the MLS acquire more big name signings which to this day can be seen at all teams around the MLS. One of these big names is none other than Thierry Henry who played his football with Arsenal before moving to Barcelona and who now plays with New York Red bulls. Robbie Keane, another player that played his football in England moved to LA Galaxy and is currently captain and doing remarkable things. Another big name that has just been announced and will be moving to Toronto FC is Jermaine Defoe who currently plays for Tottenham Hotspur; he is the latest premiership player to join the ranks in the MLS after agreeing a four year deal. After his successful five years playing for LA Galaxy, David Beckham left the LA Galaxy in 2012 and now there is big talk that he will be setting up a franchise in Miami.
The MLS has faced criticism from FIFA and some domestic soccer fans for neither abiding by the FIFA calendar nor changing the league schedule to one that begins in August and ends in May to coincide with the European leagues. The criticism received is because the current March to December format clashes with CONCACAF GOLD CUP and also the WORLD CUP and other FIFA-sanctioned international competitions held in June and July. This only leads to top players abandoning their MLS teams during those two months so they can compete in these tournaments, and thus makes it harder for the league to recruit more of the world’s best players.
In my opinion the Major League Soccer is still a long way away from being on par with major leagues around Europe and this clearly shows with players joining the league when they are clearly past their best and also because it is not the number one sport in the U.S and to be honest it will never be as you have the likes of the NBA, NFL and the MLB all ahead of the MLS. One can only say that since its existence in 1993 the MLS has proven people wrong and to this day is still going strong.
Although he has long since left the MLS check out David Beckhams Greatest Ever MLS goals:
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