Major League Soccer (MLS) is the name of the men’s professional soccer league for both the United States and Canada. It was created by the United States Soccer Federation and founded in 1993. There are currently 22 major league soccer teams, with 19 in the U.S. and three in Canada. The league has plans to expand to 28 teams by the end of 2020.
While American football continues to be the number one most viewed professional sport, soccer has been gaining a rapid following since this North American debut. As far as viewership goes, American football continues to dominate the sports scene, but there have been a number of factors that have increased Americans’ interest in soccer. Celebrity David Beckham first made headlines when he moved to the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team. This resulted in an overnight boost in popularity. Currently, soccer is in the top five most-viewed sports, alongside American football, basketball, baseball, and boxing.
Another factor that has made the sport more popular is the increase in the Hispanic population in the US. Soccer is a very popular sport in Latin cultures and they account for almost 70% of soccer viewership alone. Another factor is the ability to globally televise matches that were previously unavailable to Americans.
For people who are not familiar with the sport, there are many acronyms associated with American soccer. In addition to leagues, there are also divisions and sanctioned affiliate groups.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the governing body for international soccer. Countries that are members are also required to have memberships with at least one of the following regional confederations: Europe, the Caribbean, Oceania, Asia, Africa, North & Central America, and South America. The US is a member of CONCACAF, which is a combination of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. This also covers Mexico.
The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) is a nonprofit organization that is the official governing body of US soccer. This FIFA member governs all of the U.S. amateur and professional soccer matches. United Soccer Coaches (NSCAA) is an organization founded by soccer coaches around the world. With over 30,000 members, it is the largest soccer coaches’ organization worldwide.