It’s difficult to keep up with how many games there are in each season. It also varies across the level of sports, as the total number of this may depend on what kind of sport we are talking about. In the American soccer which is the Major League Soccer (MLS) we have about 34 games and it runs through late February or early March and runs through mid-October. Major League Soccer is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States. The league comprises 29 teams (26 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada) since the 2023 season. The league is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan.

Major League Soccer is the most recent in a series of men’s premier professional national soccer leagues established in the United States and Canada. The predecessor of MLS was the North American Soccer League (NASL), which existed from 1968 until 1984. MLS was founded in 1993 as part of the United States’ successful bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

 How Major League Soccer works

Teams are geographically divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences, playing 34 games in an unbalanced schedule. With 29 teams in 2023, each team plays two games, home and away, against every team in its conference and one game against all but four or five of the teams in the opposite conference.

In addition to league play, MLS clubs also participate in domestic up competition (U.S. Open Cup for U.S.-based clubs or Canadian Championship for Canadian teams), and the best teams also feature in a North American continental competition (CONCACAF Champions League).

Major League Soccer is different from most leagues around the world in that every team follows the same roster and budget rules. Each club ultimately makes its own decisions on how it builds its roster and spends its money, but it must do so within the guidelines set forth by the league.

The owners of every team come together to make collective league decisions, including specific details of the competition structure, and the roster and budget rules. If they feel a change is warranted at any time as the league evolves, they can vote among themselves to implement it. That includes the playoff format changes in 2023.


Among the league rules are maximum salary budgets that prevent clubs from paying players over a certain amount of money, though exceptions exist as in the case of ‘designated players.’ Teams can pay up to three designated players a salary that exceeds the regular maximum limits. This is meant to allow clubs the freedom to sign players that may demand a higher salary than the budget rules allow for, helping to attract big-name global talent.

MLS teams can also use specific amounts of ‘allocation money’ (general or targeted allocation money) to pay down a player’s salary so that it fits within the club’s player budget. There are rules for how general allocation money and targeted allocation money can be used and how much of it teams have every season.

When it comes to building a squad, there are various methods for signing domestic talent, international players, young internationals or academy players. These are all designed in a way to ensure that there is competitive balance and that teams have an equal opportunity at acquiring players. The annual college player draft is one of those examples.

Unlike many top-flight leagues around the world, MLS does not have promotion or relegation even though lower division leagues do exist in the USA and Canada. As a closed league, the same MLS teams compete every year, no matter their position in the standings the season prior. However, teams that finish in the bottom positions typically receive the top picks in the various player selection drafts the following year in the spirit of competitive balance.