Major League Soccer (MLS) is the top-flight football league in the United States of America. This 22-year old soccer league features teams from the United States and Canada. Initially, the decision to create this league was inspired by the massive success of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, which drew record audiences.
After setting up all the necessary sporting structures, the MLS started in 1996 with just ten teams. This new development served to improve the opportunities for homegrown players to play professional soccer. The success of MLS was evident when the US national team was able to get to the quarter-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
The MLS has grown rapidly in recent years. It all started when US-based clubs started signing talented foreign players like David Beckham at the end of their careers. As much as this trend is still ongoing, the MLS also attracts hot prospects, as well as big players at the peak of their careers. The league has also been adding to the number of teams in the MLS, with 23 clubs participating in 2018.
Best teams in MLS history
Which are the most impressive teams in the history of the MLS? The MLS Cup is undoubtedly a factor in determining the best teams, but other competitions like the Domestic Cup and the Supporters Shield are often used when it comes to ranking teams.
1998 Chicago Fire: This team is the only expansion team to win the MLS Cup. They also surprised soccer fans by winning the US Open Cup the same year, thus completing an impressive double.
2007 Houston Dynamo: Having won the MLS in 2006, Houston Dynamo were able to successfully defend their title in 2007, winning twice against the New England Revolution.
1999 D.C. United: This DC-based team was able to win the first four seasons of the MLS, from 1996 to 1999.
2011 Los Angeles Galaxy: This star-studded team won back to back MLS Cups in 2011 and 2012, as well as the Supporters Shield in 2011. This double placed them among the best in MLS history.
2017 Toronto FC: This is the only team in MLS history to win the treble. They also finished the league with a record 69 points, and the most wins in a single season (20).
The MSL plays a 34-match season. The 2019 season will see the league expand to 24 teams. The league is split into two conferences, East and West. Each conference has 12 teams and every team in each conference plays against each other once.
Only 14 out of 24 clubs will make it to the postseason with the top two teams in each conference being exempted from playing in the first round. This means conference winners enjoy the privilege of playing one game less than the other teams in the top seven.
In the elimination stage, higher tier teams are given the privilege of playing their matches at home. There is no reseeding in the elimination stages, and the team that wins the conference finals gets a ticket to compete for the MLS Cup with the winner from the other conference.