May 27, 2023 - Sports

Charted: The rapid rise of Major League Soccer

A pictogram detailing how many years it took a league to get to 30 teams. MLS only took 29 years, half as much as the 2nd shortest, the NBA. MLB took the longest, with 122 years.

Data: NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL, MLS; Chart: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Major League Soccer is poised to have 30 teams in less than three decades, faster than any other major sports league in North America.

Driving the news: The MLS awarded San Diego an expansion franchise that's set to begin play in 2025.

Zoom in: The newer leagues tend to reach 30 teams faster. The second youngest of the bunch, the NBA, took 58 years to reach 30 teams, twice as long as MLS.

  • The MLB — with a long history dating back to the 19th century — took 122 years to reach the 30 mark.

The big picture: The MLS is threatening to overtake the NHL as the fourth most popular league in North America, and many companies are trying to cash in on soccer's rapid ascent.

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