What You Need to Know About Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer

The Major League Soccer is unlike any other football/soccer competition.

On one hand, it is one of the most popular leagues on the planet. It boasts an average stadium attendance of 22.000. It garners millions of dollars in advertising and commands the interest of international stars.

On the other hand, its slow march to the top ranks of pro leagues in the US serves as an evidence that America is still relatively disconnected with it, and, to some extent, with how to bet on sports such as soccer.

Despite some success, soccer has yet to meet its initial, lofty goals in the US. Could this be due to the differences in format between the MLS and its European counterparts?

Nitrogen Sports Blog breaks down the inner workings of Major League Soccer in this piece that can also serve as complement for a soccer sports betting guide.

1994, the year of “soccer”

Yes, the sport began in England. But, while the Brits now refer to the sport as “football”, Americans have always called it “soccer”. It is likely because “soccer” was the term generally used until the 1980s. Or perhaps it was used to create a distinction between football and
American Football.

The MLS began in 1996, two years after a nation’s interest in the sport was piqued as a result of the successful 1994 World Cup hosted by the US. Only 10 teams joined the first edition.

Bet on Major League Soccer
Bet on Major League Soccer

The initial Major League Soccer format

The year 1996 saw soccer enjoy continued popularity in the US despite the nation being two years removed from a World Cup hosting gig. A year before the 1994 World Cup, though, the seed had already been planted for a future soccer league in the US, with the country’s Federation agreeing to set up a national league in 1993 as part of their bid to host the grandest soccer event on the planet.

In 2019 the competition includes 24 teams. They are divided into two groups: the Eastern and the Western divisions. Most European competitions favor the round robin format in which every team plays each other. But, the US Federation opted for a playoff system. Currently, 14 teams qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs. The last two teams standing will play in the MLS Cup, the league’s most prestigious game.

Stability versus competition

The Major League Soccer was originally organized in a radical manner. It was intended to be different from most other soccer leagues found in other parts of the globe. In the MLS, all teams are owned by the league itself. It also holds all contracts of every player.

There is also no relegation system in the MLS. Clubs are added to the league as a result of direct negotiations with the Federation. For example, David Beckham’s club, Inter Miami, is set to play their first match in 2020.

The franchise model and lack of promotion or relegation have been contentious issues. Some club owners have called for a change. This is unlikely to occur in the near future. One of the reasons for this is that the MLS is, for all intents and purposes, not the top tier of US football. Rather, it is a standalone league, similar to the USL and NASL, the lesser known soccer competitions in the US.

Joining the Major League Soccer has proven to be a tempting destination for international stars such as David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It is interesting to note that because the league has become a possible landing spot for aging but still highly marketable and expensive stars, a designated player rule has been established. Under that rule, there’s a minority set of players, who are allowed to receive a salary that exceeds the cap.

Does the MLS need to adapt to the formats used by competitions such as the Premier League or La Liga in Europe? While some changes may promote competition, stats suggest that the MLS is in fine shape. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing sporting events both in attendance and sponsorship. Even though this sport isn’t considered among the major ones in the US, there is an ever-growing interest in it, as evidenced by the increased hunger for soccer betting tips by bettors and fans alike. In a sense, despite the struggles, the Major League Soccer has turned out to be a success story.