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MLS remains most diverse professional sports league in North America

Major League Soccer continues to set the standard in diversity across the North American sports landscape, as the league boasts the most diverse group of athletes among the top five major sports leagues in the U.S. as determined by birthplace. As of March 18, 2016, a total of 59 countries from around the world are represented in MLS from its current pool of 536 players.

With a total of 246 players born from outside of the U.S. and Canada, MLS not only continues to attract players from across the globe, but some of the best talent countries have to offer.

This week, 74 MLS players have been called to represent their respective countries including 28 for the U.S., seven for Canada, and 39 players representing 15 countries, including Cameroon, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guam, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago.

These players will be competing at the senior level in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, Caribbean Cup and friendlies, and at the youth levels in Olympic Qualifying, Dallas Cup and exhibition matches.

MLS will have 28 players representing nine countries in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying (45 including U.S. and Canadian teams), with 13 set to square off in the Costa Rica-Jamaica doubleheader alone.

MLS will provide six crucial contributors in 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, including two 2015 MLS Cup winners in Portland Timbers teammates Fanendo Adi (Nigeria) and Adam Kwarasey (Ghana).

MLS will also be represented in Europe in a pair of friendlies that will serve as preparation for the UEFA Euro 2016, as prolific countrymen LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane and Colorado Rapids’ Kevin Doyle were called upon by Ireland. For a full list of international call-ups and matches during the March international window, please click here.

Some of MLS’ brightest young talent will have a chance to impress on the international stage with 14 MLS players seeing U-23 action, 12 of whom will suit up for the U.S.’s Olympic qualifying showdown with Colombia. Three Homegrown standouts with senior team experience, Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas) and Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), will lead the charge alongside notable 2015 rookies Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes) and Khiry Shelton (New York City FC). MLS will also boost U-20 teams with six players named to friendly squads for Canada and the U.S.

MLS’ rich international talent pool will also be on display this summer, as over 50 MLS players are expected to represent half of the countries participating in the 2016 Copa América Centenario. The historic tournament will feature 16 countries spanning North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

MLS Player Maps

MLS Player Lists

League (year)

Total # of Players

Players Born Abroad

(% born outside U.S.A. & Canada)

Countries Represented

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

MLS (2016)

536

246 (45.8%)

59

 

NBA (2015-2016)

443

90 (20.3%)

43

NHL (2015-2016)

748

206 (27.5%)

21

MLB (2015)

1083

291 (26.9%)

21

NFL (2015)

2068

63 (3.0%)

31