Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Beginner's Guide to Major League Soccer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Beginner's Guide to Major League Soccer

Article excerpt

Major League Soccer is coming to town, and while St. Louisans are familiar with Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, many don't know much about MLS.

WHAT IS IT?

Professional soccer. The league is in its 24th season, founded in 1996. Each team owner also owns a portion of the league, setting its ownership structure apart from the NFL and other major American sports leagues.

HOW IS THE LEAGUE STRUCTURED?

The league has 24 teams divided into the Western and Eastern conferences.

The league offers several rivalry possibilities, with Kansas City and Chicago both boasting teams. St. Louis' least-favorite sports team owner, Stan Kroenke, owns an MLS team, the Colorado Rapids.

Three more teams will join the league in coming years, with Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC starting in 2020 and Austin FC starting in 2021. With St. Louis grabbing one more expansion slot and expected to begin play in 2022, two other teams are still be to determined. Charlotte, Las Vegas and Sacramento are other cities bidding for MLS teams.

SC? FC? WHAT?

Several teams pull from European influences: FC stands for football club; it's an English way of referring to soccer teams. SC is an American-ization of that: soccer club. United in team names is another reference to English soccer (Manchester United).

WHEN IS THE SEASON?

The league's season begins in March and ends in October. Playoffs for its championship, the MLS Cup, start in mid-October; this year's championship game is Nov. 10. Teams play a 34-game regular season, with 17 home games.

HOW DO TEAMS WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP?

Unlike the English Premier League, which has no championship, MLS teams play for the MLS Cup. For this season, the top seven teams will move to a single-elimination playoff; the top team from each conference will have a first-round bye. The L.A. Galaxy has the most championships (5). D.C. United has four.

WHAT ARE THE GAMES LIKE?

Soccer teams have voracious fans that form local supporting groups. The St. Louligans are one supporter group for St. Louis' current pro team, St. Louis FC, which plays in the United Soccer League, a level below the MLS. Group members sit together, chant throughout the game, beat drums and otherwise support their teams. …

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