List of owners of Major League Soccer teams

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Major League Soccer owners own a share in the league and are granted right to operate a team. Major League Soccer (MLS) operates under a single-entity structure in which teams and player contracts are centrally owned by the league.[1][2][3][4] Each MLS team has an investor-operator that is a shareholder in the league.[5] In order to control costs, the league shares revenues and holds players contracts instead of players contracting with individual teams.

The league has 30 investor-operators for its 28 current and 1 future team. AEG, which at one time invested in six clubs, solely operates one team (LA Galaxy). Lamar Hunt used to operate multiple teams, but now Hunt Sports only operates one team (FC Dallas). Two of the league's teams are operated, at least in part, by neither Americans nor Canadians — Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz (New York Red Bulls), and Indonesian Erick Thohir (D.C. United).[6]


Having multiple clubs operated by a single investor was a necessity in the league's first ten years.[7] At one time Phil Anschutz's AEG operated six MLS clubs, and Lamar Hunt's Hunt Sports operated three teams. In order to attract additional investors, in 2002 the league announced changes to the operating agreement between the league and its teams to improve team revenues and increase the incentives to be an individual team operator.[8] These changes included granting operators the rights to a certain number of players they develop through their teams's academy system each year, sharing the profits of Soccer United Marketing, and being able to sell individual team jersey sponsorships.[8]

As MLS appeared to be on the brink of overall profitability in 2006 and developed significant expansion plans, MLS announced that it wanted each team to have a distinct operator.[9] The league has attracted new investors that have injected more money into the operation.[6] Examples include Red Bull's purchase of the operation rights of the MetroStars from AEG in 2006 for over $100 million.[7][10]


In Fraser v. Major League Soccer, a lawsuit filed in 1996 and decided in 2002, the league won a legal battle with its players in which the court ruled that MLS was a single entity that can lawfully centrally contract for player services.[1] The court also ruled that even absent their collective bargaining agreement, players could opt to play in other leagues if they were unsatisfied.[1]

List of MLS operators by team[edit]

As of March 2023[11][12]

Austin FC

Atlanta United FC

Charlotte FC

Chicago Fire

Colorado Rapids

Columbus Crew

D.C. United

FC Cincinnati

FC Dallas

Houston Dynamo

Inter Miami CF

LA Galaxy

Los Angeles FC

Minnesota United FC

CF Montréal

Nashville SC

New England Revolution

New York City FC

New York Red Bulls

Orlando City SC

Philadelphia Union

Portland Timbers

Real Salt Lake

San Jose Earthquakes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sporting Kansas City

St. Louis City SC

  • The Taylor family led by Carolyn Kindle (2019–present)
  • Jim Kavanaugh (2019–present)

Toronto FC

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Future MLS teams[edit]

San Diego FC[16]

List of defunct MLS teams[edit]

Chivas USA
Miami Fusion
  • Ken Horowitz (1997–2001)
Tampa Bay Mutiny

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Fraser v. Major League Soccer, 01 F.3d 1296 (1st Cir. 2002).
  2. ^ "Red Bull Is New Owner, and Name, of MetroStars", New York Times, March 10, 2006.
  3. ^ "Roundtable: Is MLS Single Entity Here To Stay?", SB Nation, February 28, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  4. ^ "Dempsey Transfer Highlights Influence of MLS Single-Entity Economic Structure", Business of Soccer, August 26, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2014. ("Under MLS’s current structure, MLS owns all teams in the league but contracts with operator-investors (more frequently and inaccurately referred to in conversations as team “owners”) who manage teams and are entitled to certain potential benefits from running the teams. That is, the team “owners” in MLS, including AEG, the Kraft family, and others, are really operator-investors in MLS’s structure.")
  5. ^ "About Major League Soccer | PRESS BOX". Retrieved June 2, 2014. Major League Soccer is structured as a single, limited liability company (single-entity). In the single-entity business structure, club operators own a financial stake in the League, not just their individual team.
  6. ^ a b Forbes, "Major League Soccer's Billionaire Owners", November 20, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Los Angeles Times, "MLS Looks Way Down the Field", March 29, 2006.
  8. ^ a b Sports Illustrated, "Garber, Horowitz discuss MLS contraction", January 9, 2002.
  9. ^ Sports Business Daily, "MLS’ Don Garber Talks State Of The League With The Daily", April 5, 2007.
  10. ^ New York Times, "Red Bull Is New Owner, and Name, of MetroStars", March 10, 2006.
  11. ^ "MLS team owners: Charlotte's David Tepper joins burgeoning list". MLS Digital. December 17, 2019. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  12. ^ "Sacramento Major League Soccer expansion deal collapses. Key investor backs out". Sacramento Bee. February 28, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  13. ^ Foltman, Bob (December 24, 2001). "In 6th year, MLS strains for foothold". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  14. ^ Carlisle, Jeff (July 18, 2019). "NBA star Harden buys stake in MLS' Dynamo". Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  15. ^ "MBaseball Hall of Famer and Seattle icon Ken Griffey Jr. and family join Sounders FC Ownership Group". MLSsoccer.comSounders FC Communications. November 17, 2020. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  16. ^ Zeigler, Mark (May 18, 2023). "San Diego becomes Major League Soccer's 30th franchise in landmark moment for sport's hotbed". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved July 29, 2023.