About the MLS

Major League Soccer is a bit of a different beast. But here are some basics to know:

The Teams

There are 22 of them (with six more expansion franchises expected to join in coming years) — 11 each in the Eastern and Western conferences. Minnesota plays in the West.

The Regular Season

The 34-game regular season runs March to October, with each team playing roughly once a week with a short summer break. The six teams with the most points (three for a win, one for a tie, zero for a loss) in each conference move on to the playoffs.

The Playoffs

The top two teams in each conference receive a bye to the conference semifinals while the remaining four teams play in the first round (a single game). The conference semis and finals are a home-and-away series decided by the aggregate goals, while the MLS Cup final is a single game.


Paying For Big Names

The salary cap is $3.845 million this year. To attract bigger-name players in a world market, teams can sign three designated players, for whom only part of the salary counts against the cap. The team covers the rest. United doesn’t yet have any designated players.


Expansion Struggles

Of the 13 expansion sides that have joined MLS since its founding with 10 clubs in 1996, only Chicago (1998) won the league in its first season. Two others made the playoffs.

Megan Ryan