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A closer look at MLS – the fastest growing league in the world

As the season is now in full flow, a closer look at statistics only compounds the consensus that Major League Soccer is not only becoming more popular, but it’s also highly entertaining.

Judging popularity is often based on opinions from person to person, but what do we actually learn from the facts?

The inaugural MLS season in 1996 saw a fairly high average attendance of 17,406.

Following that, attendances dropped to around the 15,000 mark for the next ten years or so.

But now it is back up to well above 18,000, demonstrating the continuous rise of the league.

Although it’s a very slow increase over time, it does show that MLS is becoming more sought after.

As well as the rise in attendances, the league has gone from 10 teams to 19 – a strong reflection of the fact that more areas are keen to be involved.

And two more will join next season, in New York City Football Club and Orlando City.

When all is said and done, soccer is essentially about entertainment for supporters watching the beautiful game.

And if entertainment is what you are after then MLS does not disappoint, as the MLS Cup has already seen a total of 12 clubs competing in the final.

It has given us 9 different winners in just 18 seasons – that’s four more winners than the Premier League has had in 21 seasons.

Considering that the Premier League is widely regarded as the most entertaining league in world football, that isn’t a bad number of different champions.

It means that every team has something to play for and can be confident that they stand a good chance of achieving a successful season, because no one is invincible and as the saying goes, anyone can beat anyone.

The unpredictability of MLS makes it so invigorating for fans, and supporters from all over the world are now switching attentions to watch the league, helped by the arrival of footballing icons each season.

MLS Cup Titles                                                 

  • Los Angeles Galaxy – 4  
  • D. C. United –
  • Houston Dynamo – 2      
  • Sporting Kansas City – 2
  • San Jose Earthquakes – 2            
  • Chicago Fire –
  • Colorado Rapids – 1
  • Real Salt Lake – 1              
  • Columbus Crew – 1

(Photo: Sporting Kansas City won their second MLS Cup last season)

If it’s goals that gets you going then look no further than MLS, as the comparisons to the Premier League show that you’re just as likely to see a goal fest in the USA as you are in the UK.

The highest average goals per match record in the Premier League stands at 2.81 which came in the 2011/12 season. Compare that to 3.57 goals per match in the 1998 MLS season.

Both leagues give you around 2.6 goals per match each season.

Average goals per match

  • Premier League 2013/2014 – 2.77 goals per match
  • MLS 2014 (so far) – 2.66 goals per match

Although the quality of football in the Premier League may still be far higher than that of the MLS, the entertainment value is certainly no different.

We also can’t forget how the quality of football is quickly on the rise in MLS as each season sees an influx of more extremely talented professionals from around the world.

It’s an exciting prospect for the future of the game and the revolution is only just getting started.

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About Ben Ashton (226 Articles)
MLS and Premier League reporter. Sub-editor and writer for mlsgb.com. All views are my own.

2 Comments on A closer look at MLS – the fastest growing league in the world

  1. Andres Spivey // May 25, 2014 at 3:00 PM // Reply

    Nice article! Just one thing though, Sporting KC actually have won two MLS Cups. They won one as The Wizards, before the rebranding back in 2000

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