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How Did Major League Soccer Originate? A Short History


Major League Soccer (MLS) has been around for the past 30 years. It originated in December 1993 when America petitioned to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. However, their first official season was in 1996 starting with 10 teams before growing by an extra two teams a couple of years afterward.

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A Rough Start for Major League Soccer

Just within its first couple of seasons, Major League Soccer was having trouble maintaining profits. The first season showed proficient game attendance from the fans but suffered a large dip in the second season. Hence, a couple of the teams disbanded as a result of the financial strain. These teams were the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny.

Miami Fusion was a soccer club based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and their home base was Lockhart Stadium. The club was active between 1998 to 2001.

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Tampa Bay Mutiny was a soccer club that originated in Tampa, Florida. Their home base was Tampa Stadium from 1996 to 1998 before moving to the Raymond James Stadium in 1999 before disbanding in 2001.

The Third Team To Ever Disband in MLS History (2014)

Another team disbanded in 2014 after being active for nine years in MLS. Chivas USA from Carson, California rebranded their team as Los Angeles FC (LAFC).

The Predecessors of Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer (MLS) is the recent installment where professional men’s soccer players play in Division 1 throughout American and Canadian clubs. Other preceding soccer leagues dominated the United States before Major League Soccer originated in the 1990s.

The closest predecessor of MLS was the North American Soccer League (NASL) which operated between 1968 to 1984. Professional soccer was not closely affiliated with FIFA until this league was enacted.

However, the league built momentum too quickly while experiencing the national recession in the 1980s. Even though there was a high turnout for their Soccer Bowl in 1978, NASL eventually had to disband in 1984 to settle financial issues.

How MLS Originated

Major League Soccer was first known as Major League Professional Soccer and became a Division 1 men’s professional soccer organization. They received television rights from ABC Sports and ESPN in March 1994 before they selected team players or personnel.

There were supposed to be 12 teams that began the first season. However, The first ten teams that began the league in its first seasons were:

  • Tampa Bay Mutiny.
  • D.C. United.
  • Los Angeles Galaxy.
  • Columbus Crew.
  • Kansas City Wiz.
  • NJ/NY MetroStars.
  • Colorado Rapids.
  • San Jose Clash.
  • Dallas Burn.
  • New England Revolution.

Milestones for MLS Players

There were many milestones that various MLS players experienced through the early years of the league’s formation. America’s entry into the 2002 World Cup final games made soccer itself more popular as a professional sport nationally speaking.

Freddy Adu was a Ghana-born player aged 14 who joined D.C. United in 2004 because of being selected in the MLS SuperDraft. He made history as the youngest player in MLS history to appear in a league game.

Jason Kreis from Real Salt Lake was the first MLS player to secure 100-plus goals in his career in 2005. His final goal count was 108 over his career before retiring from Real Salt Lake in 2007. He went on to coach five clubs throughout MLS between 2007 to 2021.

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