Major League Soccer is the highest level of professional soccer in North America. It is comprised of 22 teams—19 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada. Established in 1993, the MLS was a major component of the United States’ successful bid to host the 1994 World Cup. In 1996 the MLS displayed its inaugural season with only 10 teams; ever since then, the league has been constantly growing on a global front.
Consistent across all professional soccer leagues, a win is rewarded with 3 points, a draw with 1 point, and a loss with none.
The league is split up into two different conferences: the Eastern and the Western. The Eastern conference is comprised of Orlando City, Atlanta United, Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC. The Western conference contains Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Supporters’ Shield
The Supporters’ Shield is a major trophy in the MLS and is awarded to the team with the highest amount of points across both conferences in a single season. The Supporters’ Shield holders gain an automatic entry into the continental CONCACAF Champions’ League.
The All-Star Game
Midway through the MLS season the teams take a short break to observe the best players from each conference. The selected MLS All-Star team unites to play against a big name from another country. The multi-conference conglomerate consists of MLS’ veterans, hardest working players, and up-and-coming stars. The annual game has switched back and forth between playing East All-Stars vs. West All-Stars and the more recently consistent system of the MLS All-Stars vs. Guest Team from another country. The matchup between the MLS All-Stars vs. an international guest has been running strong since 2004 and proves to be the most exciting observation.