Major League Soccer
420 Fifth Avenue, 7th floor
New York, NY, 10018
Phone: (212) 450-1200
Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and was founded in 1996, after the country hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup. MLS will kick off its 22nd season on March 3, 2017.
- In 2017, the 22 MLS teams will play a 34-game regular season schedule, 17 at home and 17 away.
- In 2016, FC Dallas was awarded the Supporters’ Shield for the first time in the club’s history. The Supporters’ Shield is given to the team that finishes with the most regular season points.
- The 2016 season saw an influx of high-profile global stars with international experience, including the signings of Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders FC), Jelle Van Damme (LA Galaxy), Ashley Cole (LA Galaxy), and U.S. Men’s National Team players Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids) and Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union).
- 2016 was the second year in a new eight-year, landmark television and media rights partnership in the United States with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision, highlighted by destination dates and times. With the addition of prominent international television partners, MLS is now among the most widely distributed soccer leagues in the world. MLS has broadcast agreements with Globosat in Brazil, Sky Sports in the UK, Letv Sports in mainland China, Abu Dhabi Media in the Middle East and North Africa, BeIN Sport in SE Asia and Australia, Fuji TV in Japan, FOX Sports Africa and pan-European broadcaster Eurosport -- reaching more than 150 countries and territories.
- 2016 saw MLS reach an all-time high in average attendance (21,692 – an increase of 40 percent from 2006), total attendance (7,375,287) and sellouts (162 – previous record was 161 in 2015). MLS is the sixth-best attended professional soccer league in the world by average attendance.
In 2016, MLS clubs were home to players born in 59 countries outside the United States and Canada, demonstrating the diversity of Major League Soccer. Among the five major team professional sports leagues in the United States, MLS is the most diverse.
A description of several notable MLS players slated to play in 2017 follows:
- Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC): The Italian international has led MLS in combined goals and assists and was named to the Best XI team in both his seasons in the league. After a record-breaking first year in MLS in 2015, Giovinco took home the 2015 Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player award after setting a new single-season record for most combined goals and assists (38). Giovinco guided Toronto all the way to 2016 MLS Cup and is Toronto’s all-time leading goal scorer.
- Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids): A mid-season acquisition from English side Everton, Howard’s return to MLS proved triumphant as he guided the Colorado Rapids to the Western Conference Championship. The Designated Player was a finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and tied for the league lead with two penalty kick saves in the regular season in addition to his two penalty saves in the Conference Semifinals. Howard’s form in Colorado saw him earn the starting goalkeeper spot for the U.S. Men’s National Team, where he starred in Copa America Centenario and 2018 World Cup Qualifying matches.
- Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders FC): Lodeiro sparked a historic turnaround for Seattle after a mid-season transfer from Argentine club Boca Juniors, helping the club become 2016 MLS Cup Champions after scoring four goals in three postseason matches. In 13 regular season games for Sounders FC, Lodeiro scored four goals and added a team-high eight assists en route to being named a Newcomer of the Year finalist. A member of the Uruguay National Team, Lodeiro has played in two World Cups (2010, 2014) and three Copa Americas (2011, 2015, 2016).
- Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls): An MVP finalist in 2016, Kljestan led MLS with 20 assists, the second highest mark ever in league history and most since the second assist rule was changed in 2003, and added six goals. The midfielder’s tremendous form with the Red Bulls earned him a call back with the U.S. Men’s National Team, where he factored heavily in 2018 World Cup Qualifying play.
- Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy): In his first full season in MLS, dos Santos led the Galaxy in goals and assists, becoming one of only two players league wide to register double digit totals in both categories. Dos Santos previously played for Tottenham Hotspur FC in England’s Barclays Premier League, and Villareal CF and FC Barcelona in La Liga. Internationally, dos Santos reentered Mexico’s selection with call-ups for 2018 World Cup Qualifiers on the back of his tremendous form in MLS.
- Kaká (Orlando City SC): The 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year and 2002 World Cup champion captained Orlando City SC through the team’s first two seasons in MLS. The Brazilian powerhouse improved upon his inaugural MLS season with nine goals and a team-leading 10 assists in 2016 for an Orlando City SC squad that finished the year second in average attendance (31,324) behind league-leaders Seattle Sounders FC.
- Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC): Altidore helped lead Toronto FC to 2016 MLS Cup, the team’s best ever postseason finish, with five goals and four assists recorded. The former Villareal CF and Sunderland player finished the season with 10 goals, all within Toronto’s final 14 matches of the regular season. The 27-year-old striker has appeared in two World Cups (2010, 2014) while earning regular U.S. Men’s National Team call-ups.
- David Villa (New York City FC): Villa, named a 2016 MLS MVP finalist after scoring 23 goals, helped lead NYCFC to its first ever postseason appearance. Villa is one of the league’s most dangerous strikers over the past two years, notching a combined 41 goals to tie the league lead over that span. Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer, Villa has played in three World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014) including a first-place finish in the 2010 tournament. Before arriving to MLS, Villa suited up for Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, where he won a combined three La Liga titles (2011, 2013, 2014).
- Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC): One of the most heralded Homegrown Player signings in league history, the 2016 AT&T Rookie of the Year scored an American rookie record with 12 regular season goals to lead Sounders FC to 2016 MLS Cup, where the Cascadia Club went on to win the title. The 22-year-old Morris has 12 caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team with the squad compiling an undefeated 5-0 record in matches where the rising star appeared in during 2016.
- Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls): The England native has been on fire since his arrival to MLS in 2013, becoming the first player in league history to register two 20-plus goal seasons after dropping a Golden Boot-winning 24 goals in 2016. Wright-Phillips’ 68 goals scored since 2014 are the most ever over a three-year span in MLS history. The former Manchester City and Southampton player was named to his second MLS Best XI team (2014, 2016) while being named an MVP finalist this season.
- Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact): The skilled midfielder helped Montreal become the first of two Canadian clubs to advance to the Conference Championship round of the MLS Cup Playoffs after a tremendous start to the postseason in which he scored three goals and added an assist. Piatti finished the season with career-best 17 goals along with six assists. Piatti previously won Copa Libertadores in 2014 and the 2013 Primera Division title while playing for San Lorenzo in his native Argentina.
- Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas): One of the top playmakers in the league, Diaz guided FC Dallas to two titles in 2016, capturing the 2016 U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield titles. Dallas became the first team in league history to record consecutive 60-plus point seasons behind Diaz’s team-best 13 assists in 2016. The 25-year-old finished his fourth season with FC Dallas following a move from Argentine club River Plate.
Major League Soccer is structured as a single, limited liability company (single-entity). In the single-entity business structure, club operators own a financial stake in the League, not just their individual team. The MLS investors are:
- Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG): Investor-operator of the Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy (other domestic sports business ventures include the Staples Center, The Home Depot Center, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings).
- Hunt Sports Group: Investor-operator of FC Dallas (other sports business ventures include the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and NBA’s Chicago Bulls).
- Kraft Soccer, LLC: Investor-operator of the New England Revolution (other sports business ventures include the NFL’s New England Patriots and Gillette Stadium).
- Kroenke Sports Enterprises: Investor-operator of the Colorado Rapids (other sports business ventures include the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, NFL’s St. Louis Rams and EPL’s Arsenal).
- Dell Loy Hansen: Investor-operator of Real Salt Lake. Utah-based entrepreneur and Real Estate developer became sole owner of the club in January, 2013, after purchasing co-ownership stake in a trio of properties – Real Salt Lake, Rio Tinto Stadium and ESPN700 Sports Talk Radio - previously owned by Dave Checketts and SCP Worldwide.
- Red Bull Company Limited: Investor-operator of Red Bull New York. The Austrian company produces the world’s leading energy drink. Other sports investments include a NASCAR team, Red Bull Salzburg, extreme sports and Formula One auto racing.
- Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment: Investor-operator of Toronto FC (other sports business ventures include the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA’s Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Center).
- OnGoal, LLC: Investor-operator group of Sporting Kansas City consists of five Kansas City-area residents led by Cerner Corporation executives Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig.
- D.C. United Holdings: Investor-operators of D.C. United are Erick Thohir, Jason Levien and William H.C. ("Will") Chang. Chang holds ownership interest in Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants, while Thohir has a controlling stake in F.C. Internazionale Milano of the Italian Serie A.
- John Fisher and Lew Wolff: Investor-operator of the San Jose Earthquakes joined MLS as an expansion team in the Western Conference for the 2008 season. Fisher and Wolff are the principle owners of MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
- Andell Holdings, LLC: Investor-operator of the Chicago Fire. Andell Holdings is a private investment firm with global business and investment interests led by Andrew Hauptman.
- Joe Roth, Adrian Hanauer, Drew Carey and Paul Allen (Vulcan Sports and Entertainment): Investor-operators of Seattle Sounders FC consist of Hollywood producer Joe Roth, local entrepreneur Adrian Hanauer, television personality Drew Carey and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (owner of VSE that operates the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and NBA’s Portland Trailblazers).
- Keystone Sports and Entertainment, LLC: Investor-operators of Philadelphia Union include iStar Financial Chairman & CEO Jay Sugarman, veteran sports executive Nick Sakiewicz, Christopher and Robert Buccini and David Pollin, founding partners of The Buccini/Pollin Group.
- Golden Boy Productions and Brener International Group: Mexican-American boxing icon Oscar De La Hoya and Gabriel Brener together invested in the Houston Dynamo and now own 50 percent of the club.
- Greg Kerfoot, Jeff Mallett, Steve Luczo and Steve Nash: Investor-operators of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC include Greg Kerfoot (founder of software company Business Objects), Jeff Mallett (former Yahoo! President and COO and owner of English club Derby County FC), Steve Luczo (President and CEO of Seagate Technology) and Steve Nash (current NBA player and Vancouver native).
- Peregrine, LLC: Investor-operator group of the Portland Timbers consists of former U.S. Treasury Secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs Hank Paulson and his son, Merritt Paulson, a professional sports entrepreneur.
- Free 2 Play Holdings: Joey Saputo is the principal Investor-Operator of the Montreal Impact. The Saputo Family is the founder of Saputo, a major international dairy products company.
- Precourt Sports Ventures LLC: Investor-operator group of the Columbus Crew. PSV is a privately held investment and management firm focused on sport-entertainment business led by Managing Partner Anthony Precourt.
- City Football Group US Holdco LLC: Investor-operator group of New York City Football Club consists of a partnership of Manchester City Football Club and the New York Yankees. Manchester City will be the majority owner of the new club. As an investor, the Yankees will be an active member of the ownership group. Team to begin play in 2015.
- Orlando Sports Holdings, LLC: Investor-operators of Orlando City SC include majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva, and founder and managing partner Phil Rawlins (other sports business ventures include EPL’s Stoke City F.C.). Team to begin play in 2015.
- AMB Group: Investor-operator of the Atlanta team, led by Arthur Blank. Team to begin play in 2017. Also the parent company for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
- Bill McGuire, Jim Pohlad, Glen Taylor, Glen Nelson, Wendy Carlson Nelson: Investor-operators of Minnesota United FC include Bill McGuire (former CEO of UnitedHealth Group), Jim Pohlad (owner of Minnesota Twins), Glen Taylor (owner of Minnesota Timberwolves), Glen Nelson (former Minnesota Wild investor) and Wendy Carlson Nelson (Carlson board member).
- LAFC: Los Angeles ownership group led by entrepreneur Henry Nguyen, sports and entertainment leader Peter Guber, and sports veteran Tom Penn.
Major League Soccer has elevated the sport’s stature in North America by building soccer-specific stadiums. In 1999, the League began moving aggressively to create custom-made venues for its teams that generate the atmosphere and intimacy the game deserves. The seating capacity for these stadiums is between 18,000 and 30,000 and the stadiums share design concepts with some of the finest soccer venues in the world. In 2016, 15 of 20 MLS clubs played their home games in stadiums built with soccer in mind, with the number growing to 16 in July 2017. The existing MLS soccer stadiums are:
- MAPFRE Stadium (Columbus, Ohio): Opened in 1999 as the home of the Columbus Crew. Built by the Hunt Family, this stadium has hosted two All-Star Games, two MLS Cups and many important U.S. National Team games.
- StubHub Center (Carson, Calif.): Opened in 2003 and is the luxurious home of the LA Galaxy. Hosted MLS All-Star Game and several MLS Cups.
- Toyota Stadium (Frisco, Texas): Opened in 2005 as the home of FC Dallas. Hosted MLS Cup 2005 and MLS Cup 2006. A 145-acre multipurpose sports complex with 17 tournament-grade fields.
- Toyota Park (Bridgeview, Ill.): Located just 15 minutes south of downtown Chicago, the handsome venue debuted in 2006 and hosted the Sierra Mist All-Star Game with Chelsea FC competing against the MLS All-Stars.
- BMO Field (Toronto, Canada): Toronto FC began play in MLS in 2007 and was host of the 2008 MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup 2010.
- Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (Commerce City, Colo.): The Colorado Rapids’ stadium opened in 2007 and is the centerpiece of a 24-field soccer complex believed to be one of the world’s largest, and hosted the 2015 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.
- Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah): Real Salt Lake’s stadium opened in 2008 and was the host of the 2009 MLS All-Star Game.
- Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.): The New York Red Bulls state-of-the-art stadium, inaugurated in 2010, is located 10 miles from midtown Manhattan. It features a dynamic form roof—a curving structure that wraps the entire 25,189-seat stadium in an elegant metal shell.
- Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Penn.): This world-class waterfront stadium located just over 15 miles from Center City, Philadelphia. Built at the foot of the Commodore Barry Bridge, this 18,500-seat stadium is the home to Philadelphia Union and was inaugurated in 2010. PPL Park hosted the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 25, 2012.
- Providence Park (Portland, Ore.): Already steeped in sports and entertainment history, Providence Park underwent a $31 million renovation to create an exciting and authentic soccer facility. Hosted the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.
- BC Place (Vancouver, Canada): Vancouver began their inaugural season in MLS at Empire Field before moving into the new BC Place Stadium in downtown Vancouver on October 2, 2011 when the club hosted its rival, Portland Timbers. BC Place has made improvements to the stadium with soccer fans in mind. The revitalized stadium seats 21,000 fans during regular season MLS matches.
- Children’s Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kansas): The $180 million plus, state-of-the-art, soccer-specific stadium seats 18,467 soccer supporters and features a dramatic canopy roof that covers every seating section. The stadium features 36 suites and five clubs, including the innovative Members Club. Hosted the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup 2013
- BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston, Texas): Houston Dynamo’s new downtown Houston stadium, which seats 22,000, opened on May 12, 2012.
- Stade Saputo (Montreal, Canada): Montreal Impact began their inaugural season in MLS at Olympic Stadium moving into the renovated Stade Saputo on the Olympic grounds in June of 2012.
- Avaya Stadium (San Jose, California): San Jose Earthquakes begin its 2016 campaign in its brand new Avaya Stadium (capacity: 18,000) for the second season. The European-inspired building is the first cloud-enabled venue in Major League Soccer and is among the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world.
- Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Georgia): Upon completion in 2017, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be a world-class sports and entertainment facility and home to Atlanta United and the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta United is scheduled to play the first-ever sporting event in the state-of-the-art stadium on July 30, 2017.
The 2017 season, the third of an eight-year television and media rights partnership with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision, will continue to showcase new, consistent national television schedules, expanded live game streaming and innovative season-ending schedule enhancements – giving fans more opportunities than ever to engage with MLS content.
Sky Sports in the UK, pan-European broadcaster Eurosport, Globosat in Brazil, Abu Dhabi Media in the Middle East and North Africa, Letv Sports in mainland China, beIN SPORTS across Southeast Asia and Australia, FOX Sports Latin America and FOX Sports Africa, together with ESPN, broadcast select games across their international platforms, and are part of the ever-growing portfolio of MLS’ global broadcast partnerships.
The portfolio of blue chip partners working with MLS to grow their business continues to expand with the growth of the League. A list of current sponsors, suppliers, and partners – including the year in which the partnership was formed – follows:
- adidas (1996)
- AdvoCare (2015)
- Allstate (2011)
- AT&T (2009)
- Audi (2015)
- Chipotle (2014)
- Coca-Cola (2015)
- Continental Tire (2010)
- DraftKings (2015)
- EA Sports (2012)
- Etihad Airways (2014)
- Heineken (2015)
- The Home Depot (2008)
- Johnson & Johnson (2015)
- Makita USA (2004)
- Mondelēz International (2015)
- SeatGeek (2016)
- Southern New Hampshire University (2015)
- TAG Heuer (2016)
- Target (2017)
- Wells Fargo (2013)