Major League Soccer (MLS) is the highest level soccer league in the United States sanctioned by the professional division of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF or U.S. Soccer), a member of FIFA. MLS was formed in 1996, following the staging of a successful FIFA World Cup in the United States in 1994. MLS began with ten teams. The Chicago Fire and the Miami Fusion joined in 1998. Most of the players in the league are from the United States but some are renowned international players, with Latin America being being the home the region for the largest number of the international stars.
Unlike many other professional sports leagues in the United States, MLS is organized as a "single-entity" organization, in which the league contracts directly with the players, in an effort to control spending and maximize exposure. Each team has an owner/investor and the league allows an owner to have more than one team.
The full roster for each MLS team is limited to a maximum of 18 senior players, plus a maximum of six (6) roster-protected players. Of the 18 senior players, MLS teams are allowed a maximum of three (3) international players on their active roster. In MLS, a player is not considered an international (regardless of eligibility to play for the U.S. National Team) if he is a U. S. citizen, is a resident alien (green card), or under asylum protection. This criteria, defining an international player, has been established by U.S. Soccer and is in accordance with U. S. Immigration and Naturalization laws which requires that MLS not limit or restrict the number of lawful permanent or temporary residents, asylees or refugees permitted to play on any team's active roster.
In 1999, the city of Columbus, Ohio built Columbus Crew Stadium, the first major stadium ever built specifically for soccer in the United States. A major goal of MLS management is to build such stadiums, which are often called "soccer-specific stadiums".
The Miami Fusion played in Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which was a former high school stadium which had been converted into a soccer-specific stadium. However, MLS contracted following the 2001 season, from 12 back to 10 teams, and the Miami Fusion ceased operation, as did the Tampa Bay Mutiny.
A new soccer-specific stadium, the new home of the LA Galaxy beginning with the 2003 season, opened at Home Depot Center (HDC) in Carson, California. In the first year of operation, the HDC hosted the MLS All Star Game, the 2003 Women's World Cup (including the championship final), and the 2003 MLS Cup Final. The Galaxy previously played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
MLS attendance was strong the first season, declined slightly each of the following years, before stabilizing in a successful 2002 season.
Quality of play in MLS has improved in the league's first few years. The success of the United States Men's National Team in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan/Korea has been partly attributed to skills built through play in MLS.
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2 Past MLS Cup Championship Games
3 MLS Commissioners
4 External Links
Current Member Teams
Past MLS Cup Championship Games
See Major League Soccer All-Star Game