Major League Soccer remains the most diverse professional league on the North American sports landscape, as new data compiled by MLS shows a player pool with a record 73 countries of birth represented and an average age that continues to drop.
That global representation across MLS’s current pool of 655 players ranks as the most of any professional soccer league in the world, and more than any sports league in North America. The United States leads the way with 290 players, followed by Canada (39), Argentina (30), France (24), Brazil (20) and Colombia (19).
Among those 655 players, 245 have been capped by their national teams (37.25 percent), while over 60 percent of the current list of Designated Players (40 of 62) have been capped. Among these capped players, 48 have been included on a FIFA World Cup roster.
MLS’s latest batch of arrivals, the 84 players signed during the offseason, comes in as the youngest group of newcomers in league history, with an average age of 24.98 years old. Over 40 percent of that group has experience playing for their respective national teams. South America remains one of the league’s favorite recruitment areas, with 29 players averaging 24.41 years of age arriving from there over the winter.
The current class of Designated Players also ranks as youngest in league history, with the 62 DPs averaging 27.1 years of age. The 11 new DPs acquired over this past offseason trend even further in that direction, averaging 25.72 years of age.
MLS clubs have also signed 31 new players to Homegrown Player contracts this offseason. Overall, 134 players are signed to Homegrown contracts at present; those players average 21.20 years of age. Among the Homegrowns, 22 have played for their respective national teams (16.42 percent).
Targeted Allocation Money continues to fuel the league’s progress – 25 TAM players were added during the offseason, averaging 25.24 years of age. That runs the current leaguewide total to 126 TAM players, averaging 27.20 years of age; over 60 percent (79 out of 126) of these TAM players have played for their respective national teams.
All Statistics courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau, based on totals as of March 5. Leagues in season include all players on current rosters. Leagues out of season include players on rosters when the season ended.