Major League Soccer (MLS) is the top professional soccer league in the United States. Founded in 1993, the MLS first began play in 1996 with ten teams. Since then, the MLS has expanded to 13 teams as of the 2007 season with the plan of expanding to 16 by 2010. The league has gone through times of popularity and times of struggle, but the league is currently showing signs of escalation due in a large part to the arrival of English superstar David Beckham.
An MLS season lasts from April to November with the MLS Cup Playoffs following the regular season; the victor is named MLS champion. As of the 2007 season, each team plays 30 regular season matches. Victories earn teams three points, a tie garners one point, while a loss is worth zero points.
An MLS team is allowed to carry a maximum of 18 players on their roster. Of the 18 available slots, 4 can be senior international players (25 years of age or older) and 3 can be youth international players (24 years of age or younger). Each team is also permitted to have a developmental roster of ten players. Each team is permitted only three substitutions per game.
The year 2005 saw the MLS begin a Reserve Division. This division allows teams to acquire invaluable experience for their non-starters. Each of the MLS’s teams receive twelve games for their reserve squad to play and the reserve division title is awarded to the team with the best record at the end of the twelve games; there is no playoff system. A reserve team is allowed a maximum of 20 players and each team is permitted to make six substitutions per game.