Whether you’re new to American soccer, or a long-time fan who’s never considered the broader landscape, you may not actually know the structure of our leagues. The two biggest players on the scene currently are MLS and USL, and there is a difference between the two. In fact, there are a lot of things that vary between these two organizations.
The basic difference between MLS and USL
First and foremost, while both are professional soccer leagues, there are big distinctions that separate the two.
Major League Soccer is sanctioned as a Division One league by US Soccer. This affords the competition with direct spots in competitions like the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and of course, comes with prestige that elevates the league and its clubs in the minds of fans and media everywhere.
Includes: Every regular season game, MLS Cup Playoffs, Leagues Cup, & More
USL operates exclusively in the sphere of the lower divisions. They operate the USL Championship (Division Two) and League One (Division Three) leagues. These levels have less stringent ownership, venue, and market requirements for sanctioning compared to division one. USL also has the amateur League Two league, one of the de facto division four leagues in the US. Below that is an academy setup as well.
MLS started as simply the single major league, but they’ve expanded into other areas in recent years. MLS operates the MLS NEXT academy youth system of leagues, which includes teams from the 29 current MLS teams as well as some independent youth clubs around the country. In 2022 they launched MLS NEXT Pro, a third division league that features primarily reserve teams of the major league clubs.
Founded: 1993 (first season 1996)
Teams: 30 (including announced future expansion)
MLS NEXT Pro
Founded: 2021 (first season 2022)
Teams: 31 (including announced future expansion)
Founded: 1992 (as USISL)
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Author : Derek Reese
Publish date : 2023-11-16 23:36:40
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