As one of the sports that is played by almost every country in the world, it comes as no surprise that even North America and Canada have their own league. Major League Soccer (or MLS) is a professional soccer league in the United States and Canada that is made up of about sixteen clubs. There are plans to expand the league to fourteen clubs. Major League Soccer is part of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) and the teams also compete on a regular basis with teams from their neighbours’ leagues.
The Major League Soccer was formed in 1993 as part of a promise to FIFA. Alan Rothenberg and the US Soccer Federation promised FIFA to establish a ‘Division One’ soccer league in exchange for staging the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The league officially started in 1996 with only ten teams. The first season showed a great number of supporters, but the number steadily declined in the years leading up to the new millennium. There was a decline in support after the dismal performance of the league in the 1998 FIFA World Cup which showed the American team ending up near the bottom of the 32 countries that were taking part. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of support for the Major League Soccer.
The teams of Major League Soccer are divided into two different sides: the Eastern and the Western Conference. The Eastern Conference teams are: Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, DC United, Kansas City Wizards, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, and Toronto FC. The teams of the Western Conference are CD Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, and San Jose Earthquakes. The sixteen teams have taken part in a number of tournaments between each other over the past few years. Of the sixteen teams that take part in the competitions, only six of the teams have won the Major League Soccer Cup thus far.
Major League Soccer seeks to expand its size in years to come. There are currently plans in the works to add at least two teams by 2010. The current goals are for a Seattle team by 2009 and a Philadelphia team by 2010 bringing the total up to eighteen different clubs in the league. Since its inception, two clubs have fallen away and there are currently no plans to resurrect the older teams. Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny were part of the league during the late 1990’s but fell away in 2001. The teams fell away during the period in which the league was seeking to contract the number of teams that were part of it.
As far as soccer goes in North America and Canada, Major League Soccer seems to be on top of the whole affair. Their continued efforts to bring soccer to the people seems to meeting with success. While they may have had some trouble in the past with declining numbers, the increasing amount of success in international tournaments seems to have attracted more people back to the game.