Major League Soccer

History of the MLS, when was the league founded

The top American soccer competition continues to grow, with more and more cities wanting to join the soccer fever. After being created with ten teams, now there are 28 teams in the competition.

By Wilian Estrella

The top American soccer competition continues to grow, with more and more cities wanting to join the soccer fever. After being created with ten teams, now there are 28 teams in the competition.
The top American soccer competition continues to grow, with more and more cities wanting to join the soccer fever. After being created with ten teams, now there are 28 teams in the competition.
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MLS was founded on December 17, 1993 as a promise by the United States Soccer Federation to establish a 'top-level' professional league in exchange for the concession of the 1994 World Cup. Until then, there was only the NASL (North American Soccer League), which was played between 1968 and 1984.

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MLS was officially launched as a professional league in the 1996 season, made up of ten teams, divided into two conferences. The Western Conference was formed by Colorado Rapids, Dallas Burn, Kansas City Wiz, Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Clash. The Eastern Conference was made up of Columbus Crew, D.C. United, New England Revolution, NY/NJ MetroStars and Tampa Bay Mutiny.

First expansion

In the 1998 season, MLS saw its team quota increase to 12 franchises with the addition of the Chicago Fire and Miami FC. The Illinois franchise got off to a great start, winning its first and only league title in its debut year. The Miami Fusion became the second franchise in the State of Florida, where soccer was one of the most followed sports due to the large Latino population.

Florida disappears

At the end of the 2001 season, MLS received a major setback. The two Florida franchises, Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny would no longer compete the following season, bringing MLS back to ten teams. These two teams were the ones forced to leave the competition, due to the economic problems they were facing.

Back to 12 teams

In the 2004 season, MLS once again increased its quota to 12 teams after the incorporation of Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA. The Utah State franchise was created with the idea of bringing soccer to the central United States, a market that was largely untapped. The team owes the 'Real' in its name to the president's admiration for Real Madrid. Chivas USA was created with the expectation of creating competition in the city of Los Angeles against Galaxy. Another purpose of this franchise was to serve as a springboard to MLS for Mexican players from the Mexican counterpart team, Chivas Guadalajara.

Canada joins MLS

In 2007, a new team would join MLS for the season, and that would be Toronto FC. They would be the first Canadian team to join the North American league, and the first team in the competition to have a soccer-specific stadium.

West Coast expansion continues

The 2009 season would see the beginning of one of today's strongest franchises, Seattle Sounders FC. The Washington State outfit took its name from an online survey of fans. This franchise was born with the idea of growing soccer in an area of the United States where no club existed. The shield depicts Seattle's most famous building, the Space Needle.

Expansion continues in the northwest

In the 2011 season, a new franchise began to participate in MLS. It was Portland Timbers, the Oregon team was founded in 1974 in the NASL, but after several seasons it disappeared in 1982, due to debts owed to its players. In the 2001 season it was reborn as a member of the United Soccer League. But it was in 2009, when commissioner Don Garber made official the franchise's adhesion to MLS.

The other franchise to join MLS that season was Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The second Canadian team to participate in this competition was founded in the 1974 season

In the 2012 MLS season, another Canadian franchise would start playing in the North American league, and that would be the Montreal Impact.

Surpassing twenty teams

For the 2017 season two more franchises began participating in MLS. Atlanta United FC and the already named Minnesota United FC.

The arrival of the Argentinean 'Tata' Martino gave the Atlanta-based team an important leap, not only in quality, but also in impact at a global level in the world of soccer.

The case of Minnesota United FC happened in the blink of an eye. After many rumors, Don Garber announced, officially, that in 2018 MLS will have 22 teams.


For the 2018 season, MLS has already closed the incorporation of a new franchise such as Los Angeles FC. This will be the second team in the Californian city and the third in the state. This ambitious project will try to give competition in a city where the Galaxy have an absolute monopoly and the now defunct Chivas USA, did not even manage to put in trouble. The franchise has taken important steps in the formation of the team and the entity.

Further expansion

In 2019, MLS announced its future expansion to 30 teams. With an average attendance of over 20,000 spectators per game, MLS has the third highest average attendance of any U.S. sports league after the NFL and MLB.

On December 20, 2017, a new expansion franchise was announced in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, under the name Nashville SC.

In early 2018, the 25th franchise was confirmed to be based in Miami, Florida, under the name Inter Miami CF and owned by David Beckham for entry into the 2020 season. Later that year, the city of Cincinnati made its MLS franchise official under the name FC Cincinnati and to debut in the 2019 season, making it the 26th franchise.

In January 2019, the 27th franchise was confirmed for Austin (Texas), the Austin FC club, and debuted in the 2021 season.

Later in 2019, franchise number 28 was confirmed for Saint-Louis, and is to debut in the 2023 season. Franchise number 29 was confirmed for Sacramento, California, and also will debut in the 2023 season.

And lastly, franchise number 30 was announced for Charlotte, which will debut in the 2022 season. This culminates the strategic expansion of 30 teams in MLS, coinciding with the explosive growth in the popularity of soccer across the United States and Canada.

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