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MLS 2018: 50 Facts about Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer's appeal is growing across the world, and with it a growing fan base of eagle eyed viewers like ourselves want to delve deeper and deeper into the history of the league. The Hype Train has been looking into the facts and statistics behind MLS and have condensed some fleeting observations for all to see ahead of the 2018 season. This might be particularly interesting, if like us, you're trying to build up a base knowledge of the MLS in hopes of creating a Fantasy team that can rule the world. All aboard.

MLS: 50 Facts and Statistics

Some might be very simple and obvious, and most are club related rather than player specific, but a fact is a fact, so let's get this show on the road...

1 - MLS was founded on December 17th 1993 as part of the USA's successful bid to host the 1994 World Cup.

2 - The MLS's governing body is called the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), with its headquarters based in Chicago, Illinois.

3 - The first MLS season took place in 1996 with 10 teams; Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas), Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City), LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, New York/Jersey MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls), San Jose Clash (now San Jose Earthquakes), and Tampa Bay Mutiny.

4 - The first club to be founded in MLS was Columbus Crew, who were established on May 10th 1994.

5 - Since its first season in 1996, 3 clubs have folded whilst in MLS; Tampa Bay Mutiny (1996-2001), Miami Fusion (1998-2001), and Chivas USA (2005-2014).

6 - MLS has a partnership with an affiliate football league, the USL (United Soccer League). There is no promotion or relegation involved between clubs. 5 current MLS clubs were integrated from the USL system; Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, Montreal Impact, and Orlando City.

7 - In addition to MLS having a partnership with USL, they had a similar partnership with the North American Soccer League (NASL). In 2017 the USSF revoked its status as a 'Division II' league, which is at the same level of the USL. 1 current MLS side was integrated through NASL, Minnesota United FC, whilst Montreal Impact also participated in the league.

8 - The 'Designated Player Rule' was adopted in the 2007 MLS season, a rule which allows clubs to pay transfer fees or pay higher wages for players. David Beckham was the first 'DP' in MLS history when he signed for LA Galaxy in 2007.

9 - An entire of MLS takes place in one calendar year, with the season starting in March. The regular season typically ends at the end of October with post-season play-offs for the MLS Cup taking place in November and December. January and February then act as the pre-season period.

10 - The 2018 season will be MLS's 23rd consecutive season.

11 - There are two conferences with MLS, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Ahead of the 2018 season, 11 teams will feature in East, and 12 teams in the West.

12 - The 2018 MLS season will feature 1 expansion team, Los Angeles FC, who will become the 26th side to compete in the league. LAFC will compete in the Western Conference.

13 - Each MLS season is 34 league games long, followed up with 6 or 7 play-off games in a post-season. Each team plays clubs within their own conference home and away, with the remaining fixtures drawn randomly.

14 - In MLS, rules of classification for its league tables places the number of victories above the total goal difference, which deters the appeal for calculated draws. The rules that define a league table are as followed:

1) points

2) total wins

3) total goal differential

4) total goals scored

5) disciplinary points

6) away goal differential

7) away goals scored

8) home goals scored

9) home goal differential

10) coin toss or drawing of lots

15 - In the Western Conference during the 2017 season, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders both finished on 53 points at the top of the division. Portland had a +10 goal difference, and Seattle a +13 goal difference, which in a European league would have had Seattle win the league. In MLS, Portland won the Western Conference as they won 15 games, compared to the 14 victories amassed by Seattle.

16 - There are two domestic cup competitions affiliated with MLS. The first is the U.S. Open Cup (branded the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup), with features MLS, USL, NASL, and regional teams that have qualified in earlier rounds. The second is the Canadian Championship, which features Toronto, Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact, and USL side Ottawa Fury.

17 - In 2007, MLS expanded to include teams from another nation, Canada. In the 2018 season the league features Vancouver Whitecaps (west), Montreal Impact (east), and Toronto FC (east).

18 - Toronto FC became the first Canadian side to win either the Supporters' Shield or the MLS Cup, with the club winning both in the 2017 season.

19 - Teams in Europe fight for qualification to the Europa League and the Champions League. MLS teams tussle for spots in the CONCACAF Champions League, a 16 team tournament, which has seen Mexican sides victor in each of the last 12 seasons.

20 - The last MLS side to win the CONCACAF Champions League was LA Galaxy in 2000 when the tournament was branded as the Champions' Cup.

21 - As of January 28th 2018, 7 of the 11 Manager's (or Head Coaches as is the popular term in MLS) in the East Conference are American, compared to the 4 of 12 in the West Conference.

22 - As of January 28th 2018, there are 3 British Manager's in MLS, all managing in the West Conference; Carl Robinson (Wales) manages the Vancouver Whitecaps, Adrian Heath (England) manages Minnesota United, and Anthony Hudson (England) is in charge of Colorado Rapids.

23 - Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders both managed 53 points in the 2017 season in the Western Conference. 5 teams in the Eastern Conference achieved more points over the course of the season than both the Timbers and the Sounders; Toronto (69), New York City FC (57), Chicago Fire (55), Atlanta United (55), and Columbus Crew (54).

24 - Over its 22 seasons, 12 clubs have won the Supporters' Shield, and 12 have won the MLS Cup.

25 - Only on 7 occasions has the club that has won the Supporters' Shield gone on to win the MLS Cup in the same season; D.C. United (1997, 1999), Sporting Kansas City (2000), LA Galaxy (2002, 2011), Columbus Crew (2008), and Toronto (2017).

26 - The current holders of the U.S. Open Cup are Sporting Kansas City, who beat New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the 2017 final.

27 - 8 clubs who have competed in MLS have not won either the Supporters' Shield or MLS Cup; New York City FC, Atlanta United, New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union, Montreal Impact, Orlando City, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Minnesota United.

28 - 8 clubs have won both the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup (but not necessarily in the same season); Toronto, Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, San Jose Earthquakes, and LA Galaxy.

29 - 2 clubs have won the Supporters' Shield, but not the MLS Cup; New York Red Bulls (2013, 2015), FC Dallas (2016).

30 - 4 clubs have won the MLS Cup, but not the Supporters' Shield; Portland Timbers (2015), Houston Dynamo (2006, 2007), Real Salt Lake (2009), and Colorado Rapids (2010).

31 - 3 clubs have won both the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup on multiple occasions; D.C. United, San Jose Earthquakes, and LA Galaxy.

32 - LA Galaxy are the only club to have won the MLS Cup on 5 occasions (2002, 2005, 2011, 2012, and 2014), with all 5 victories occurring in the 2000's.

33 - LA Galaxy have appeared in more MLS Cup finals than any other club, with 9 appearances. The club to have appeared the second most times in the final is D.C. United, with 5 appearances, though the last was in 2004.

34 - New England Revolution are the only club in the MLS who competed in the first season in 1996 to have never won the Supporters' Shield or MLS Cup.

35 - New England Revolution have been MLS Cup runners-up on 5 occasions (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, an 2014), the most final losses by any MLS club.

36 - Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes are the only MLS clubs to have 100% winning records in MLS Cup finals. Portland were victorious in their only final appearance in 2015, whilst San Jose were victorious in both the 2001 and 2003 finals.

37 - 6 clubs have won the MLS Cup final since 2010; Colorado Rapids (2010), LA Galaxy (2011, 2012, 2014), Sporting Kansas City (2013), Portland Timbers (2015), Seattle Sounders (2016), Toronto FC (2017)... Only 4 Premier League clubs have won their league in the same period (Chelsea, Man United, Man City, and Leicester).

38 - The MLS Cup has been successfully defended on just occasions; D.C. United (1993 and 1994), Houston Dynamo (2006 and 2007), and LA Galaxy (2011 and 2012).

39 - LA Galaxy (1998, 2002, 2010, 2011) and D.C. United (1997, 1999, 2006, 2007) have won the Supporters' Shield 4 times each, the most by any MLS clubs.

40 - Sporting Kansas City and LA Galaxy have been runners-up in the Supporters' Shield (coming 2nd in the overall league) 4 times, the most by any clubs in the MLS.

41 - Los Angeles became the first two-team city in MLS history, with Los Angeles FC joining LA Galaxy from the 2018 season.

42 - The largest stadium capacity for a match-day in MLS is the 42,500 that attend Atlanta United's home games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

43 - The smallest stadium capacity in the MLS is the 18,000 that can fit into San Jose Earthquakes's Avaya Stadium.

44 - 17 of the 23 MLS clubs in 2018 will have 'soccer-specific' stadiums; Atlanta United, Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, New England Revolution, Minnesota United, and New York City FC are the 6 clubs who play in ground-share and have to have their capacities reduced for games.

45 - The StubHub Center (home of LA Galaxy) has hosted 6 MLS Cup final matches, more than any other club.

46 - MLS introduced the VAR system (video referee assistants) in competitive matches during its 2017 season after the 2017 MLS All-Star Game on 2 August 2017.

47 - Sigi Schmid is the most experienced manager in the MLS heading into the 2018 season, managing 520 games in the competition. Schmid, who is in his second spell as Manager of LA Galaxy, has also managed Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders.

48 - MLS clubs can sign unlimited numbers of homegrown players that can be included in an 18-man match day squad.

49 - Don Garber has been the commissioner of MLS since 1999, serving as the league's Chief Executive.

50 - As of 2017 the average evaluation of an MLS team was $223 million, with clubs only valued at an average of $37 million in 2008.

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All aboard.


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