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NEWS: Record 73 Countries Represented Among Diverse Major League Soccer Player Pool

NEW YORK (September 19, 2017) – Major League Soccer once again sets the trend in the North American landscape as the youngest and most diverse among the big five professional sports leagues. From its current pool of 641 players, a league-record 73 countries are represented (as determined by birthplace), while MLS players hold an average age of 26.18 years, more than a year younger than the next closest league.
 
Compared to other top international soccer leagues, MLS has the widest representation across the globe with the most countries represented, while also holding the second-highest total in percentage of players born within its competitive borders (48.36% of players born outside USA and Canada).
 
Out of those 641 players, 245 have been capped by their national teams (38.16%), while nearly 75%, 44 of 59, of current Designated Players (average age of 28.28 years) have represented their home countries. Designated Players across MLS continue to get younger every year, as the average age dropped by more than a year since 2016 (29.38 years), and by more than two years since 2012 (30.89 years).
 
Among these internationally capped players, 43 standouts in MLS have been included on a FIFA World Cup roster, with four players reaching the pinnacle of international soccer in capturing a FIFA World Cup title.
 
Outside of the U.S. and Canada, Argentina and England lead the pack with 23 MLS players born in their respective nations. France ranks next at 18 players, while Ghana leads all African nations with 17 players.
 
CONCACAF nations are well represented in MLS, with several countries sporting high percentages of players in the league who have also represented their respective nations. Twelve of 13 players born in Jamaica have represented the Reggae Boyz on the international stage, while 11 of 13 players have done the same for a Costa Rican squad that reached the quarterfinals stage of the 2014 World Cup.
 
With a look across the globe, Ghana has seen seven of its 17 MLS-based players play for its national team, while all four New Zealanders and an additional two foreign-born players have suited up for the Kiwis. In South America, five of the six Venezuelan players in MLS have played for the national team, while Switzerland leads all UEFA-competing teams with four MLS players to represent its national team.

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 September 15, 2017

Big Five North American Professional Sports Leagues

 

League (year)

Total # of Players

Players Born Abroad (% born outside U.S.A. & Canada)

Countries Represented (incl. U.S.A. & Canada)

Average Age of All Players (in years)

 

 

MLS (2017)

641

310 (48.36%)

73

26.18

 

MLB (2016)

1089

313 (28.7%)

23

29.45

 

NHL (2016-2017)

788

223 (28.2%)

22

27.87

 

NBA (2016-2017)

450

98 (21.7%)

45

27.44

 

NFL (2016)

2078

60 (2.9%)

27

27.35

 

 

 

Top Soccer Leagues Worldwide

 

League (all 2017)

Total # of Players

Players Born Abroad (% born outside host nation)

Countries Represented (incl. U.S.A. & Canada)

Average Age of All Players (in years)

 

 

MLS

641

(48.36%)

73

26.18

 

English Premier League

522

(67.4%)

65

27.0

 

Serie A

560

(53.4%)

54

26.1

 

Bundesliga

518

(52.5%)

62

25.1

 

Ligue 1

530

(50.2%)

60

25.6

 

La Liga

479

(43.0%)

43

26.8

 

 

 

MLS Players by Birthplace (Country)

 

Countries

Total # of Players in MLS by Birthplace

 

 

USA

303

 

Canada

28

 

Argentina

23

 

England

23

 

France

18

 

Ghana

17

 

Brazil

14

 

Colombia

14

 

Costa Rica

13

 

Jamaica

13

 

Mexico

10

 

Germany

9

 

Honduras

9

 

Panama

9

 

 

 

MLS Players Born in U.S./Canada

 

Year

# of Players in MLS Born in U.S. or Canada

 

 

2017

331

 

2016

315

 

2015

321

 

2014

346

 

2013

347

 

2012

330

 

 

 

MLS Players by Birthplace (State/Province)

 

State/Province

Total # of Players in MLS by Birthplace

 

 

California

63

 

Texas

26

 

New York

21

 

New Jersey

18

 

Ohio

17

 

Ontario (CAN)

16

 

Illinois

14

 

Georgia

12

 

Pennsylvania

12

 

North Carolina

11

 

Virginia

11

 

Missouri

10

 

 

 

MLS Players by National Team Experience

 

Countries

# of Players with National Team Experience by Country

 

 

USA

69

 

Canada

21

 

Jamaica

12

 

Costa Rica

11

 

Panama

9

 

Ghana

7

 

Honduras

6

 

New Zealand

6

 

Trinidad and Tobago

6

 

Argentina

5

 

Venezuela

5

 

Switzerland

4

 

 

 

Designated Player Average Age Year by Year

 

Year

Average Designated Player Age (in years at end of season)

 

 

2017

28.29

 

2016

29.38

 

2015

29.21

 

2014

29.34

 

2013

29.87

 

2012

30.89

 

2011

30.59

 

2010

30.94

 

2009

32.25

 

2008

33.50

 

2007

32.73

 

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