A Guide to 2024 Major League Soccer

A Guide to 2024 Major League Soccer

The 2024 Major League Soccer season promises excitement, competition, and plenty of thrilling matches. The new season kicked off on February 21st with Inter Miami defeating Real Salt Lake (2-0). The 2024 MLS season will be concluded on October 19th which marks the beginning of the MLS Playoffs and will finally lead to the start of the MLS Cup on December 7th. Keep reading for an overview of this season’s format, budget rules, how to watch, and more. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a newbie to Major League Soccer, this guide will have you covered from kickoff to the final whistle!

How to Watch MLS 2024

Apple TV+ MLS Season Pass Subscription

You no longer have to worry about missing a single moment with Apple TV. This exclusive streaming partnership allows fans to stream and rewatch every game on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass, which is an add-on to the normal Apple TV+ service. Pre-existing subscribers have access to a discounted rate at $12.99 (USD) per month or $79 per season. While non-subscribers pay $14.99 per month or $99 for the full season.

MLS Season Pass is available in the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K, and Apple TV HD. You can also find the Apple TV app on many popular smart TVs, streaming devices, set-top boxes, and gaming consoles. If you use an Android device, you can watch it on the web at tv.apple.com/mls.

Click here to learn more.


MLS Season Ticket Holder Benefit

Are you an MLS full-season ticket holder? If so, you’ll automatically qualify for one free subscription to the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+ (one per account). Eligible full-season ticket account owners will receive their MLS Season Pass subscription and redemption instructions via email starting February 1, 2024.

Click here to learn more.


Apple TV+ Free Trial

While MLS Season Pass doesn’t feature a free trial, the service does showcase multiple matches per week for broadcast, meaning non-subscribers have access to a select portion of games every week for free. Check the MLS Season Pass section every week to see what free matches are available to watch. Additionally, there’s a free trial offered for Apple's main streaming service Apple TV+. You’ll be able to try out Apple TV+ with complete access to content, such as the Messi's World Cup documentary and Ted Lasso (add-ons not included).

Click here to learn more.


adiClub MLS Season Pass Offer

adiClub is the Adidas membership program that allows customers to earn points when they spend money. Members can also earn points by running or working out. Using points in the adiClub, people can get a full season subscription to MLS Season Pass for 10,000 points.

Click here to learn more.


Fox or FS1 Network

There will be one game per week, on average, available on FOX or FS1 networks. These channels can be accessed via streaming services like YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV or fuboTV. MLS fans can also watch MLS games on local FOX stations, depending on what’s available in their area.


MLS Season Format

This year, Major League Soccer consists of a whopping 29 clubs from the USA and Canada, divided into 2 conferences—the Eastern and Western. From February to October, the teams will be going head-to-head in a 34-match regular season with 17 home-games and 17 away-games. This format ensures a balanced structure, so that every team has an equal opportunity to compete against each other. After the 34-match regular season is over, 18 out of the 29 clubs will advance to the playoffs. Major League Soccer will continue to follow their new post season format that was introduced in 2023. In addition to league play, MLS clubs also participate in domestic cup competitions (U.S. Open Cup for U.S.-based clubs or Canadian Championship for Canadian teams), and the best teams are also featured in a North American continental competition (CONCACAF Champions League).


MLS Budget & Signing Rules

Did you know that MLS differs from most leagues globally due to how they manage their budget? Whereas most leagues ensure that every team follows the same strict budget rules, MLS teams get to make their own decisions in terms of how they build their rosters (within reason). All MLS clubs are given more free range with their spending, but they must follow the guidelines enforced by the league. Major League Soccer operates under a salary cap system, which limits the amount teams can spend on salaries of the players. This contributes to maintaining the leagues’ competitive balance, ensuring wealthier teams don’t outspend smaller ones. Another budget rule, known as the Designated Player Rule and nicknamed the “Beckham Rule”, allows clubs to sign up to 3 players whose salaries would exceed the regular salary cap. This works as an incentive for the teams to invest more in star players like Lionel Messi, who may demand a higher salary than the budget allows. Another budget guideline involves the use of allocation money (general or targeted). MLS teams can use some of these funds to help sign players outside the salary cap, or to help pay down the salaries of designated players.

When it comes to building and maintaining a powerhouse team, there are various methods for signing domestic talent, international players, or young academy players. MLS encourages clubs to sign players from their own academies as ‘Homegrown Players’ in an effort to retain local talent. To further incentivize selecting players from their own, the league allows all homegrown players to be exempt from the MLS SuperDraft. These players are also given a break from the regular salary cap guidelines. Another interesting signing rule to note for the 2024 season is the leagues discovery claims procedure. All teams can choose to submit discovery claims for players that aren’t under contract with another MLS team. Once the discovery claim is validated for a player and that player ends up joining MLS, that team has first claim to negotiate a contract with them before anyone else. These signing rules are strategically put in place to ensure a steady flow of player movement and fair competition within the league.


MLS League Expansion & Trophies

Prepare to see some changes happening this year related to expansion procedures. The 2024 Major League Soccer season is the first season since 2016 to not have any expansion franchises joining the league. In past years, MLS has opened up new spots in the league for new clubs to join. Normally, new clubs wanting to join have to pay an expansion fee with some clubs paying up to $200 million to be part of the league. Even though there aren’t any open spots for expansion this year, we can look forward to San Diego FC’s debut to MLS for the 2025 season, which will take the participating teams from 29 to 30.

The MLS awards prestigious trophies and titles each season to guarantee a high level of competitiveness. The MLS Cup is the most coveted prize of them all and is awarded to the winning team of the MLS Cup Playoffs, otherwise known as the MLS champions. The team that acquires the most points throughout the 34-match regular season, regardless of conference, is awarded the Supporters’ Shield.


MLS Playoff Format (Updated in 2023)

The MLS Cup Playoffs is the annual postseason elimination tournament of Major League Soccer. A new format was introduced in 2023, and fans can expect the same format to be followed in 2024. This season, 18 teams will qualify for the tournament based on regular season point totals. The 18 teams are selected from the 9 top teams from the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. The teams seeded 1 through 7 in each conference progress to the First-Round proper, while the teams placed 8 & 9 contest in one-off Wild Card matches. The new format also changed the Round of 16 format going forward to a best-of-three series with no draws. The first team to claim two victories will advance to the single-elimination format used for conference semifinals, conference finals, and MLS Cup final. The last team standing at the end of the knockout bracket wins the MLS Cup and is considered the MLS champion.


MLS All Star Game

This summer, Major League Soccer will be bringing back the MLS All-Star game. All players taking part in the event will be selected through a combination of fan voting, coach selections, and league nominations. The MLS All-Star team typically faces off against a prominent international team like Real Madrid or Juventus. This season the exciting match will be played in Columbus on July 24th. This season’s format and opponent have yet to be announced.


MLS Leagues Cup Tournament

The Major League Soccer regular season takes a brief pause during the middle of the season for the Leagues Cup tournament, where every club from MLS and Liga MX take part in a World Cup-style format. There are three qualification spots up for grabs for the highest-ranked teams in the Leagues Cup for 2024. Teams will be invited to participate in the tournament based on their overall performance and achievements leading up to it. The three highest-placing teams will qualify for the 2025 CONCACAF Champions Cup. Some big changes have been announced for the 2024! This season, only two regions will be used for the tournament's group stage, divided into eight groups in the West and seven in the East. The MLS Leagues Cup tournament will take place from July 26th to August 25th, with all matches set to be played in the United States and Canada.  


As we all get ready for what’s to come in Major League Soccer for 2024, anticipation for an action-packed season of matches is at an all-time high. Whether you’re cheering on your hometown heroes, following the journey of your favourite players, or are simply along for the wild ride, this season promises plenty of unforgettable moments around every corner. We can’t wait to see which team dominates this season and is named the 2024 MLS champions!


Are you a die-hard fan of MLS? Check out our MLS collection featuring merch from Inter Miami & Toronto FC!




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