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LIVE STREAMING Major League Soccer (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 and Canada. The league comprises 27 teams—24 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada—and plans to expand to 30 teams by the 2023 season. Although not one of the "Big Four", the MLS, along with the Canadian Football League, is considered one of the "Big Six" major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The league is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan.

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Major League Soccer was founded in 1993 as part of the United States' successful bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The inaugural season took place in 1996 with ten teams. MLS experienced financial and operational struggles in its first few years, losing millions of dollars and folding two teams in 2002. Since then, developments such as the proliferation of soccer-specific stadiums around the league, implementation of the Designated Player Rule allowing teams to sign star players such as David Beckham, and national TV contracts have made MLS profitable. With an average attendance of over 20,000 per game, MLS has the fourth-highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the U.S. and Canada after the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB), and Canadian Football League (CFL) and was the seventh-highest attended professional soccer league worldwide by 2013.

The MLS regular season typically starts in late February or early March and runs through mid-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 in late October and November, culminating in the league's championship game, the MLS Cup.

Instead of operating as an association of independently owned clubs, MLS is a single entity in which each team is owned by the league and individually operated by the league's investors. The league has a fixed membership like most sports leagues in the United States and Canada, which makes it one of the world's few soccer leagues that does not use promotion and relegation.

Major League Soccer's regular season runs from late February or early March to October. Teams are geographically divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences, playing 34 games in an unbalanced schedule. With 27 teams in 2021, each team plays two games, home and away, against every team in its conference and one game against all but four or five of the teams in the opposite conference. The 2020 season was the first season in league history in which teams will not play against every other team in the league. At the end of the regular season, the team with the highest point total is awarded the Supporters' Shield and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Teams break for the annual All-Star Game midway through the season, an exhibition game containing the league's best players. The format of the All-Star Game has changed several times since the league's inception; 2020 was the first year in which the MLS All-Stars were planned to play against an all-star team from Mexico's Liga MX, before the event's cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike most major soccer leagues around the world, but similar to other leagues in the Americas, the MLS regular season is followed by a postseason knockout tournament to determine the league champion. Fourteen teams participate in the MLS Cup Playoffs in October, which concludes with the MLS Cup championship game in early December.

Major League Soccer's spring-to-fall schedule results in scheduling conflicts with the FIFA calendar and with summertime international tournaments such as the World Cup and the Gold Cup, causing some players to miss league matches. While MLS has looked into changing to a fall-to-spring format, there are no current plans to do so. If the league were to change its schedule, a winter break would be necessary to accommodate teams located in harsh winter climates. It would also have to compete with the popularity and media presence of the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and National Hockey League (NHL), which all run on fall-to-spring schedules.



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