MLS maintains status as most diverse professional sports league in North America

From Europe to Mexico to Africa to the United States and Canada, Major League Soccer continues to boast athletes from all over the globe. The international flavor is part of the league's makeup, and the reason why it remains the most diverse professional sports league in North America.

A recent study by the Elias Sports Bureau showed that MLS continues to have the most diverse group of athletes among the five major team sports leagues based in the US and Canada as determined by birthplace. As of April 23, a total of 58 countries are represented in MLS from its current pool of 551 players.

Nearly half of the players in MLS were born outside of the US and Canada – a total of 236 players hailing from Central America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean. Argentina and England claim the most MLS representation, providing the league with 22 players each.  Standouts include Argentine maestros Javier Morales (RSL), Diego Valeri (POR), Ignacio Piatti (MTL) and English stalwarts Bradley Wright-Phillips (NYRB), Dom Dwyer (SKC) and Liam Ridgewell (POR). The two countries are followed by Brazil (19), Jamaica (18), France (15) and Colombia (14) in contributing the greatest number of players.

Here's a visual breakdown of which country every player in MLS hails from (click the image for a higher-resolution version):



MLS is also comprised of a wealth of domestic talent, with the majority of its players born in the United States and Canada – a total of 315, spanning 41 states and provinces. The states that claim the most representation this year are California (59), Texas (27) and Ohio (20). Ontario leads MLS player numbers in Canada with 13. Here's a state-by-state/province-by-province breakdown:

Last year, a total of 17 current and former MLS players (15 of whom were born in the US) were named to the US national team roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup that was held in Brazil. 

For those that like statistics, 42.8 percent of the players in MLS were born outside of the United States and Canada. Major League Baseball is second among the top five sports leagues in the US and Canada with 26.5 perecent, the National Hockey League follows by the slightest of margins at 26.4 percent, the National Basketball Association comes in fourth with 19.6 percent, and the National Football League finishes last with 2.8 percent.

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