Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men's professional soccer league, sanctioned by U.S. Soccer, that represents the sport's highest level in both the United States and Canada. MLS constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada.The league is composed of 20 teams—17 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada. The MLS regular season runs from March to October, with each team playing 34 games; the team with the best record is awarded the Supporters' Shield. The post season includes twelve teams competing in the MLS Cup Playoffs through November and December, culminating in the championship game, the MLS Cup. MLS teams also play in other domestic competitions against teams from other divisions in the U.S. Open Cup and in the Canadian Championship. MLS teams also compete against continental rivals in the CONCACAF Champions League. Major League Soccer was founded in 1993 as part of the United States' successful bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The first season took place in 1996 with ten teams. MLS experienced financial and operational struggles in its first few years: The league lost millions of dollars, teams played in mostly empty American football stadiums, and two teams folded in 2002. Since then, MLS has expanded to 20 teams, owners built soccer-specific stadiums, average MLS attendance exceeds that of the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA), MLS secured national TV contracts, and the league is now profitable.