MLS is a league with 29 teams from Major League Soccer. It began in 1996, with 10 teams playing in North America. Today, the league has broken into two groups of 20 teams each, primarily based in North America and Mexico respectively. The United States includes 14 clubs and Canada includes five. The current champions are Toronto FC who have won three titles so far during their decade-long existence. MLS has become a Big League, with nice viewing numbers, television coverage, and fantastic attendance.
MLS is the second most-watched soccer league in the United States, behind only the English Premier League. However, it’s growing despite stiff competition. The NFL and NHL have pushed down MLS viewership for several years now.
MLS has also been expanding to particularly high levels in its last few seasons.
24 teams signed up in 1998. Over the years, American soccer organizations have bought and taken over other leagues. The number of MLS teams has grown from 11 to 20 this year. In the new decade, there is a good possibility that the number will go higher, due to the recent success of several clubs.
There are three primary areas in which MLS has sought to expand its popularity and viewership: television coverage, more corporate sponsorships, and international competition. As audiences grow and more attention is paid to these efforts, MLS will likely become more popular among casual fans as well as diehard supporters of European club leagues like Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. With the popularity of Major League Soccer growing, this is a great time to get involved in that league.
New Teams: All American Soccer Leagues Are Now MLS
Since its inception in 1996, the MLS has expanded the number of times. Teams are spread out across the United States and Canada with teams being added for expansion and relocated from struggling markets. The MLS expansion timeline shows both the new teams added in existence as well as those that have yet to be named like Miami. A couple of markets have been scrapped altogether, including New York City FC which pulled out of its plans to join the league recently. They will start to play in 2015 instead. Chicago also was scheduled to join the league in 2012, but they’ve decided against it. Instead, MLS is pushing forward with a franchise in Orlando, which has already been established.
The MLS is expanding to a higher level by adding teams in the United States and Canada. But the league has also expanded internationally as well through various joint ventures and second-tier leagues. The most recent one of interest was an expansion into China with the creation of a team called Shanghai Shenhua. That bid did not come to fruition, but others have been more interested in joining up with MLS on an international level. In addition, there are numerous clubs from other countries that have attempted to get into MLS but failed at achieving that goal for one reason or another.
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MLS has 17 teams in the United States and two teams in Canada.
Those two markets are considered separate from each other, making MLS an 18 team league that plays in 20 total clubs. However, Miami is scheduled to join the league at some point soon, which will make it a 20 team league instead of one with 19 teams. Additionally, several other markets have had their names thrown around as possible destinations for an MLS expansion team at one point or another. Beyond the current markets with ownership groups ready to move forward, there are also a few markets that were targeted by the league in the recent past but were never established due to various reasons. MLS is ready to expand to 24 teams and possibly even more soon.
MLS has yet to officially name a team for San Antonio,
which has been talked about by the league for several years now. The major obstacle is that there’s no stadium within the area deemed adequate by MLS standards in which to play out. There are also issues surrounding ownership as well as securing funding for a new field in the region. This has already been a considerable problem since 2002 when the city lost its previous franchise – one that was founded in 2005 but did not last until 2012. San Antonio has recently been reported to have an ownership group in place with plans to get a stadium built within the city limits. The league has also visited San Antonio in the past, though a decision on whether or not the city will get a team in future MLS expansion rounds is expected after bids are submitted.
Detroit has also been mentioned as a possible MLS market by the league, but it’s hardly one of their most favored choices at this point. At one point in time, it was rumored that the previous owner of the Columbus Crew SC – which was owned by Lamar Hunt at one time – had an interest in moving the team to Detroit if he were unable to keep them within Ohio. That hope fell apart after the Crew announced plans for a new stadium in Columbus. The city has also been reported to be in the running for an expansion team or two, but the club remains quite uncertain what their future holds this far down the line.
Other cities have been mentioned within MLS circles as potential candidates ever since they were awarded an expansion franchise.
This includes San Diego, St. Louis, and Sacramento among others. In addition to those markets, several others have been tossed out for potential expansion in past years and will likely be considered once again at some point in time. It’s important to remember that no official decisions have been made by the league on any of these teams yet. We have seen bids for expansion come and go, but for the most part, the league is a closed system until another round of expansion.
With the lack of expansion teams added in recent history on top of several folding franchises over the years, more markets have tried to get involved with MLS but have failed to meet their expectations. There’s also been an ongoing effort by MLS to develop its teams within these markets. The profile picture at the top remains a model that follows this goal – one that was first established during a failed attempt at keeping Columbus as an MLS team and later expanded when Houston entered into joining the league in 2006.