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Major League Soccer: A Closer Look at the Unique and Dynamic League System

Major League Soccer (MLS) has established itself as one of the premier soccer leagues in North America and with legendary players like Rooney and Pirlo moving to the league the viewership has increased significantly. But with the arrival of Lionel Messi football fans all over the world will be tuning in.

But what are the Play-Offs? Why are there two trophies? Why do rivals play in the same team once a year? 

Are you new to the MLS? Do not worry TSL has got you covered.

Conference-Based Structure

MLS features a unique conference-based structure, dividing its 29 teams- 26 from the USA and 3 from Canada into two conferences: the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. This format allows for a balanced distribution of teams and ensures geographic proximity in matchups, minimizing travel distances, for the 2023 season, there are 15 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the Western Conference. The conferences provide a framework for regular-season scheduling and determine the path to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Regular Season and Points System 

The MLS regular season is a thrilling marathon where teams compete to secure a spot in the playoffs. Each team plays a total of 34 matches, facing opponents from both within and outside their conference. The points system is straightforward, with three points awarded for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. Teams accumulate points throughout the season, aiming for a higher position in the standings.

Also Read: MLS vs NFL Comparison: Teams, No. of Games, Format, Revenue, Sponsorship, Team Net Worth, Salaries, and Attendance

MLS Cup Playoffs

The MLS Cup Playoffs are the pinnacle of the league’s competitive spirit. The top seven teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, creating an intense knockout stage. In the playoffs, teams battle it out in a single-elimination format, with higher-seeded teams hosting matches. The journey culminates in the MLS Cup, where the conference champions face off to claim the coveted title of MLS Cup champion.

Supporters’ Shield

In addition to the playoffs, MLS recognizes the team with the best regular-season record through the Supporters’ Shield. This prestigious accolade adds an extra layer of competitiveness, as it rewards consistent performance throughout the year. The team that earns the most points in the regular season is crowned the winner of the Supporters’ Shield, emphasizing the importance of sustained excellence.

MLS All-Stars

A United States staple in all the major sports of the country, the MLS All-Star game takes place at the mid-point of the MLS season and has seen an MLS All-Star team face various opponents. The All-Stars are picked amongst all the best-performing players throughout the league through a combination of fan voting and selections by the appointed manager of the team and league commissioner. In 2021 and 2022, they faced a team of Liga MX All-Stars. But in 2023 the MLS All-Stars will play against Arsenal at Audi Field in Washington D.C.

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Rushikesh Barje
Rushikesh Barje
A hopeless romantic in love with Manchester United.

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