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Record 73 countries represented among diverse MLS 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

MLS Player Maps and Lists

World map of players by birthplace

Map of players born in the U.S. and Canada

Map of players born in Latin America and Spain

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