MLS International

MLS stays youngest in North America, youngest Designated Player class ever

Major League Soccer is once again leading the charge in diversity (as determined by birthplace) in the North American sports landscape. From its current pool of 637 players, 72 countries are represented in MLS, the most of any soccer league in the world.

Among those 637 players, 234 (36.7 percent) have been capped by their national teams, including 36 of 53 current Designated Players. Among these, 40 have been included on a FIFA World Cup roster.

During the offseason, MLS clubs signed its youngest group of newcomers in league history. Those 96 players (not counting rookies, Homegrown signings or transfers from USL-affiliates) maintain an average age of 25.05 years old, and 50 percent had international experience. Of note, MLS clubs signed 30 players hailing from South American countries, averaging 22 years of age.

The current class of DPs is the youngest in league history, with the 53 Designated Players in the league averaging 27.32 years of age. This offseason, MLS clubs signed 13 new Designated Players to the league, with those players averaging 23.46 years of age.

Diversity of North American Sports Leagues

League Total Number of Players Born outside US/Canada Total nations represented Average age
MLS (2018) 637 315 (49.4%) 72 25.36
Liga MX (2017-18) 497 207 (41.7%) 23 27.00
MLB (2017) 1087 326 (29.9%) 24 28.33
NHL (2017-18) 779 225 (28.8%) 22 27.17
NBA (2017-18) 496 96 (19.4%) 47 26.22
NFL (2017) 2104 57 (2.7%) 26 26.36

Foreign-born MLS players by country

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Country No. of Players
Argentina 23
England 19
France 19
Ghana 18
Colombia 15

MLS Players by State/Province

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State/Province No. of Players
California 61
New York 21
Ontario 18
Texas 18
New Jersey 17

Average age of MLS newcomers at the end of the regular season

Year Age
2018 25.05*
2017 26.06
2016 25.70
2015 27.02
2014 27.53

*Age at the beginning of the season

Average Age of Designated Players at End of Regular Season

Year Age
2018 27.32*
2017 28.29
2016 29.38
2015 29.21
2014 29.34

*Age at the beginning of the season

All Statistics Courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau
*Leagues in season include all players on current rosters.
*Leagues out of season include players on rosters when the season ended.
*Totals as of March 6, 2018
 
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