For sports fans who became enthralled by the World Cup coverage from Brazil, here’s a guide to Major League Soccer, the top flight league in the United States.
Major League Soccer has two conferences, Eastern and Western with five teams from each conference making the playoffs. There’s one wild card game between 4th and 5th placed teams, then the conference semis and finals are home and home aggregate series with MLS Cup as the championship game.
In the regular season, you play each team in your conference twice home and twice away then each team in the other conference once. All teams from all divisions of soccer in the U.S. play in the U.S. Open Cup, the U.S.’ equivalent to the FA Cup with Canadian teams playing in the Amway Canadian Championship. Four teams from MLS play in the CONCACAF Champions League and the best team in the MLS’s regular season wins the Supporters’ Shield. There is no promotion or relegation allowed within Major League Soccer.
Stadium: Providence Park
Fan Support: A+
Best Players: Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri
Manager: Caleb Porter – Young coach. Extremely intense and competitive. Something of an attacking tactical genius at his best, cold and surly at his worst.
Colors: Forest Green, Gold, White (alternate color: Rose City Red)
History: Came into MLS in 2011, have existed in some form since 1975. Known for fantastic support, giving Portland the name Soccer City, USA. Won the Western Conference regular season title in their best year, 2013.
Rivalries: In the Cascadia Cup with Seattle and Vancouver. Rivalry with Seattle is vicious and one of the best in the world, while rivalry with Vancouver is a little friendlier.
Reputation: Appreciated and hailed as one of the league’s signature clubs. Rub some the wrong way with a sort of oppositional and feisty mentality.
Other: Owner Merritt Paulson is MLS’ Mark Cuban. Passionate, loud, controversial, and has had his share of fines from the league. Have sold out every MLS home game since day one. The Timbers Army is awesome.
Stadium: CenturyLink Field
Best Players: Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins
Manager: Sigi Schmid – One of the most successful managers in American soccer history. Has won MLS Cup with both LA and Columbus, and is the only coach in Sounders MLS history.
Colors: Rave Green, Blue
History: Existed in lower leagues like USL before coming to MLS in 2009, where they smashed records with attendance and fan support. Have made playoffs in all five years of MLS play, but have never made the final.
Rivalries: Cascadia Cup – not liked by Vancouver, but hated by Portland.
Reputation: Heralded as the model franchise. Average more than two times any other club in attendance by virtue of playing in a football stadium that draws as many as 67,000+ for big games. Detractors point at them as fake and a bandwagon type of club that claims to be original but in reality is just gimmicky.
Other: Has a lot of star-power, now and over the years. All sellouts in MLS play. Average around 40,000, only open upper decks up for big games. Won the US Open Cup three years in a row from 2009-2011. Drew Carey is a part owner. Team has a marching band and does a “March to the Match” through Seattle before every game.
Stadium: StubHub Center
Fan Support: B+
Best Players: Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane
Manager: Bruce Arena – The top American manager of all time. Managed the US in two World Cups in 2002 and 2006. Won MLS Cup with LA in both 2011 and 2012. Also won the 1996 and 1997 MLS cups with DC United. Won the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup with DC United. A New Yorker.
Colors: Blue and gold.
History: An MLS original team, founded at the start of the league in 1996. Won MLS Cup a number of times.
Rivalries: Play the California Classico against San Jose, a clash of Northern and Southern California. Have a rivalry against Chivas USA, who share a stadium with the Galaxy.
Reputation: Very much MLS’ glamour club, a spot cemented when they signed David Beckham in 2007. Also one of the most successful teams in the league. Mostly respected.
Other: Trailblazing club in terms of salary expenditure. Owned by AEG, who at one point owned as many as half the teams in the league. Alexi Lalas was the former GM.
Commerce City, CO
Stadium: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Fan Support: C+
Best Players: DeShorn Brown, Dillon Powers
Manager: Pablo Mastroeni – A Rapids legend who was sent off for the US against Italy at the 2006 World Cup. Retired last year, got this coaching job. A class act.
Colors: Burgundy and white.
History: Won MLS Cup for the only time in 2010 in extra time against FC Dallas. Not a traditionally successful club.
Rivalries: Play the Rocky Mountain Cup against Real Salt Lake.
Reputation: A mostly bland club, the Rapids have fair-weather fan support that only gets good in the summer in good weather. A good young team now, rarely has big stars.
Other: Owned by Arsenal and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
REAL SALT LAKE
Stadium: Rio Tinto Stadium
Fan Support: A
Best Players: Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales
Manager: Jeff Cassar – Jason Kreis’ assistant and former MLS player, took over from the boss when he left to manage expansion NYCFC last offseason.
Colors: Claret and Cobalt
History: Founded in 2005, a big success in MLS. Perennial playoff team under Kreis playing an attractive, attacking brand of football while building a strong fan-base. Won MLS Cup in Seattle against LA on penalties in 2009, lost it in 2013 on penalties against SKC.
Rivalries: Colorado in the Rocky Mountain Cup.
Reputation: Well liked for the strong team spirit and unity. Not exactly a destination club though. Never sign by DPs.
Other: Never play on Sunday at home because of Mormon religious beliefs.
Stadium: BC Place
Fan Support: A-
Best Players: Pedro Morales, Erik Hurtado
Manager: Carl Robinson – Welshman played in England, MLS, and took over for Martin Renne after the end of last season. Tough, and well-liked. His first head coaching job.
Colors: Blue and white.
History: Another promoted USL club, came into MLS with the Timbers in 2011. Haven’t done well on the field so much in MLS, but have a good young team now. Always play very entertaining games.
Rivalries: Cascadia Cup against Seattle and Portland.
Reputation: Able to sign some big players due to playing in a beautiful city and being willing to spend. We’ll see how this young team develops.
Other: Play in BC Place, a football stadium. Only open up about 22,000 seats, but usually sell out. Had Golden Boot winner last year in Camilo, who left for Mexico. Fun team to watch.
Stadium: StubHub Center
Fan Support: F
Best Players: Erik Torres, Carlos Bocanegra
Manager: Wilmer Cabrera – Longtime assistant in MLS, former USYNT coach, getting a shot at the top job with the Goats.
Colors: Red, white, and blue.
History: Started in 2005 as Chivas Guadalajara’s sister/minor league club under the same ownership. Things were going okay until 2013, when both clubs came under new ownership that tried to make the club all-Latino. Club was sued for discrimination by white employees, as always shaky fan support plummeted. Owner was forced out before 2014 season, when it was announced the team would be sold and rebranded for the 2015 season. This is the last year of Chivas USA. Did have some good years under Bob Bradley in the late 2000s.
Rivalries: Against LA, who they’re something of a little brother to. We’ll see what happens after the club is sold. MLS says they’ll stay in LA.
Reputation: The laughing stock of the league. An embarrassment. Sounders get more fans in one game than they have gotten all year.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Santa Clara, CA
Stadium: Buck Shaw Stadium (replaced by new stadium for 2015 season)
Fan Support: A-
Best Players: Chris Wondolowski, Clarence Goodson
Manager: Mark Watson – Got the job on an interim basis last year and got it full-time after a strong finish to the season. Struggling mightily this year though – may be in over his head.
Colors: Blue, black
History: Founded as San Jose Clash as an MLS original team in 1996. Changed name to Earthquakes shortly thereafter. Won MLS Cup with Landon Donovan on the team in the early 2000s, but moved to Houston after being unable to secure a stadium deal in the middle of the decade. San Jose was awarded an expansion team a few years later to bring back the Quakes. Won the Supporters’ Shield (for best regular season team) in 2012.
Rivalries: LA in the California Classico, which they host every year in front of a sellout crowd of over 50,000 at Stanford Stadium.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
- Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
- Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Barcelona unveils 2022/23 away kit to honor Olympics anniversary
- Favre new Nice coach as Galtier in PSG talks
- Gabriel Jesus signing helps Mikel Arteta’s aims at Arsenal
- Turkish Süper Lig rights renewed by beIN SPORTS
- Spain without injured Hermoso for Euro 2022
- Cech joins list of Chelsea departures
- USA England World Cup tickets going fast
- A Review of ‘A Woman’s Game’ book by Suzanne Wrack
- Qatar warns against unauthorised use of World Cup logo on car plates
- Where to find Avaí vs. Palmeiras on US TV