Rahul Sharma (Editor)

1996 Major League Soccer season

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Season  1996
Goals scored  539
Start date  1996
Matches played  160
1996 Major League Soccer season imagescomplexcomcompleximageuploadtfeatured
MLS Cup  D.C. United (1st title)
Supporters' Shield  Tampa Bay Mutiny (1st shield)
Top goalscorer  Roy Lassiter Tampa Bay Mutiny Goals: 27
Longest winning run  Los Angeles Galaxy Games: 12 (04/13 – 06/30)
Longest losing run  Columbus Crew Games: 6 (05/15 – 06/22)
Similar  2008 Major League Soccer se, 2012 Major League Soccer se, 2015 Major League Soccer se

The 1996 Major League Soccer season was the inaugural season of Major League Soccer. It was also the 84th season of FIFA-sanctioned soccer, and the 18th with a national first-division league, in the United States and Canada.


Preparation for first season

Major League Soccer had originally intended to begin competitive action in 1995. Various difficulties forced the league to postpone its first season until 1996. In preparation for its first season, the league began signing what it called marque players, beginning with Tab Ramos on January 3, 1995. Beginning in October 1995, the league apportioned the marque players in the 1996 MLS Inaugural Allocations. Each team received two national team and two foreign players in the allocation. The league then invited about 250 players to a tryout the second week of January 1996 on the campus of UC Irvine. On February 6 and 7, 1996, the league held its 1996 MLS Inaugural Player Draft in which the ten teams selected 160 players over sixteen rounds. The Columbus Crew selected Brian McBride with the first pick of the draft. On March 4, 1996, the league then held the 1996 MLS College Draft followed by the 1996 MLS Supplemental Draft later that day. Despite the numerous drafts, the teams were not obligated to sign only players from the drafts.


The preseason began the first week of March. The teams reduced their rosters to twenty-two players by March 25 and had to make a final roster reduction to eighteen by April 15. The teams had a $1,200,000 salary cap with no player allowed to receive more than $192,500. In order to promote American players, teams were limited to five foreigners on the roster.


The teams played thirty-two games each. Each win was worth three points, a loss counted for zero and a shootout win earned a team one point. Fear of alienating fans with tied games had led the league to adopting the shootout when games ended even. The league also adopted a count down clock instead of running clock. The league also divided the teams equally into two conferences – Eastern and Western. The league began its first season on Saturday, April 6, 1996, when the San Jose Clash hosted D.C. United at Spartan Stadium. ESPN carried the game live which the Clash won on a goal by Eric Wynalda. That goal was selected as the 1996 MLS Goal of the Year. The regular season ended on September 22. The playoffs began two days later.

Overall standings

  • ^Note 1 – CONCACAF Champions' Cup berths awarded to the participants of MLS Cup 1996 (D.C. and Los Angeles)
  • Playoff bracket

  • Best of Three series winners will advance.
  • Conference semifinals

    Eastern Conference

  • D.C. United wins series 2 – 1, advances to Conference finals.
  • Tampa Bay Mutiny wins series 2 – 1, advances to Conference finals.
  • Western Conference

  • Kansas City Wiz wins series 2 – 1, advances to Conference finals.
  • Los Angeles Galaxy wins series 2 – 1, advances to Conference finals.
  • Conference finals

    Eastern Conference

  • D.C. United wins series 2 – 0, advances to MLS Cup '96.
  • Western Conference

  • Los Angeles Galaxy wins series 2 – 0, advances to MLS Cup '96.
  • MLS Cup '96

  • D.C. United and Los Angeles Galaxy earn a berth to the 1997 CONCACAF Champions' Cup.
  • Team awards

  • MLS Cup – D.C. United
  • MLS Supporters' Shield – Tampa Bay Mutiny
  • U.S. Open Cup – D.C. United
  • Goalkeeping leaders

    (Minimum 1,000 minutes)


    1996 Major League Soccer season Wikipedia

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