The MLS was founded on December 17, 1993, as promised to U.S. Soccer Federation in return for the 1994 World Cup concessions, establishing a top-level professional league. MLS was formally launched as a professional league for the 1996 season, consisting of ten teams divided into two conferences. Since 1996, Major League Soccer has grown from ten teams to a more significant number of soccer clubs as the sport has grown in popularity among fans. Since 2002, Major League Soccer has grown by building new stadiums dedicated solely to football, creating better domestic television contracts, and implementing a Designated Player rule that allows MLS teams to sign players overseas.
The ten U.S. teams that were ready for action in the first season were – Tampa Bay Mutiny, Dallas Burn, Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution, D.C. United, Columbus Crew, Kansas City Wiz, NY/NJ MetroStars, Los Angeles Galaxy, and San Jose Clash. Doug Logan served as the league’s inaugural commissioner. Top athletes like Jorge Campos and Alexi Lalas were among the league’s public faces, and ESPN and ABC Sports obtained the league’s broadcasting rights in a three-year agreement that covered 35 games in addition to the MLS World Cup. D.C. United and the San Jose Clash faced off in the first game of the season on April 6, 1996, at what was then known as Spartan Stadium in San Jose. D.C. United would go on to become the first dynasty in Major League Soccer, winning the first three titles out of four.
In 1996 D.C. United won MLS Cup that season over LA Galaxy. Major League Soccer added its first two expansion teams in 1998, the Miami Fusion and the Chicago Fire. Chicago Fire won their first championship in 1998, ending D.C. United’s domination of the MLS Cup. The announcement culminated in the Strategic Expansion Plan for the 30 teams in the MLS, coinciding with an explosive rise in soccer’s popularity throughout the U.S. and Canada. The MLS will expand to 29 teams in 2023, adding St. Louis City, SC. Starting next year, each MLS and Mexicos Liga MX team will participate in the league’s reformatted, month-long league Cup, intended to foster the North American rivalry. Once more players such as star players Miguel Almiron, Davis, and Adams come over to European shores and have impacted the English Premier League, the rest of the world can genuinely start considering MLS a top flight. Jimmy Conrad is not sure if this is wanted by consensus on the ownership and management levels, as they seem pretty keen on parity and the idea of any team in MLS being able to take home trophies in a given year. Still, it will cost some money if they genuinely want to compete with the big boys worldwide.