About MLS

Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men's professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport's highest level in the United States. The league comprises 26 teams—23 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada—and will expand to 27 teams with the addition of Inter Miami CF in 2020. Major League Soccer's regular season runs from March to October, with each team playing 34 games; the team with the best record is awarded the Supporters' Shield. Fourteen teams compete in the postseason MLS Cup Playoffs through October and November, culminating in the championship game, the MLS Cup. MLS teams also play in domestic competitions against other leagues, such as the U.S. Open Cup and Canadian Championship. MLS teams also compete in international club tournaments such as the CONCACAF Champions League and Campeones Cup.

The league began to play in 1996 as a single, 10-team division. The first championship was won by D.C. United, who defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy 3–2 in the MLS Cup final. The league expanded to 12 teams in 1998, then doubled in size again to 24 teams by 2006. Major League Soccer experienced financial and operational struggles in its first decade, mainly due to the limited amount of investors willing to operate the league and the lack of established soccer-specific stadium infrastructure. The league lost $350 million between 2002 and 2006. The financial woes led MLS to seek ways to generate additional revenue, resulting in the creation of single-entity ownership in which each team is owned and operated by the league. MLS also implemented a salary cap to control team spending, helping to stem losses. 

In 2007, David Beckham signed a five-year contract with MLS to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy, which helped increase league exposure. The league continued to expand in 2011 with the addition of two expansion teams: the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Montreal Impact. MLS experienced its first decline in average attendance since 2001 with a minor dip in 2012, but attendance rebounded to an all-time high of over 21,000 per game in 2016. Since 2007, MLS has implemented various initiatives to improve the league's overall quality and appeal to a wider audience. These include stricter policing of dangerous play, implementation of video replay for officiating decisions, and a reduction in the time between matches. 

The league has also tried to improve its overall competitiveness by instituting a playoff format and awarding the Supporters' Shield to the team with the best regular season record. In 2014, MLS initiated a partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation to jointly manage the sport in the United States. The league has also been working to attract more international stars to play in MLS. In 2015, MLS signed a multi-year broadcast rights deal with ESPN and Fox Sports worth a combined $720 million per year, which was the most expensive television contract in the history of soccer in the United States at the time. The league's current television deal runs through the 2022 season.

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