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MLS kicks off 2016 season – SportsUntapped.com
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Added March 7th, 2016 by Ian

MLS kicks off 2016 season
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North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) kicked off its 2016 season with several games on Sunday, March 6th. The new campaign will feature 20 clubs with 17 of them being located in the U.S. and the other three coming from Canada. The eight-month long season will wrap up on October 23rd with the playoffs beginning shortly after. The defending Supporters’ Shield winners are the New York Red Bulls for finishing the 2015 season with the most points while the Portland Timbers are the league’s defending MLS Cup holders.

This year’s franchises are the Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, Montreal Impact, FC Dallas, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC, and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The three Canadian sides are Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

The Eastern Conference is made up of Chicago, Columbus, D.C. United, Montreal, New England, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando, Philadelphia and Toronto while the Western Conference consists of Colorado, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Portland, Real Salt Lake, San Jose, Seattle, Kansas City and Vancouver. During the 2016 MLS campaign there will be a total of 96 matches broadcast o national television in the U.S. with doubleheaders being shown on the popular Soccer Sunday program on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox and Fox Sports 1.

In addition, the Canadian clubs can be seen in Canada on the TSN and French-speaking RDS networks and there will also be 28 games broadcast in Spanish on the UniMás network on Friday nights. The league has also become popular with broadcasters from around the world and MLS games will be shown on Sky Sports in Great Britain, Eurosport in Europe, Abu Dhabi Media in North Africa and the Middle East. Letv Sports in China, Fox Sports in Africa, beIN Sports in the Asia-Pacific region and Fox Sports and ESPN in Latin America.

The new MLS season will see each team play a 34-game schedule with the club with the best record winning the Supporters’ Shield. The schedule is currently unbalanced as teams play 24 contests against their own conference and 10 against the other conference with an All-Star Game taking place in the middle of the campaign. Twelve teams, the top six in each conference, will take part in the playoffs in November and December with the winner of the knockout competition hoisting the MLS Cup. MLS franchises also take part in other competitions such as the Canadian Championship, the U.S. Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League.

MLS was launched back in 1993 just prior to the United States’ hosting 1994 World Cup. However, the first campaign didn’t kick off until 1996 when there were 10 franchises in place. The league has now doubled in size via expansion even though it struggled financially for the first few seasons and it plans on further expansion in the upcoming years. The league is now profitable with the average attendance being larger than the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL).

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