When is Soccer Season? (MLS, Youth, and Europe)

post title over image of soccer player

For a soccer fan, soccer season can be the most exciting time of the year. But to be adequately prepared for the season, you need to know when it starts. Here I’m going to tell precisely when soccer season starts.

Most soccer seasons start in the Fall and end in the Spring of the following year. The MLS is unique in that it begins in the Spring and ends in the Fall of the same year. Youth Soccer season takes place in both the Spring and the Fall season every year.

The timing and duration of a soccer season are dependent on the league or level of soccer you are interested in knowing about.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • When the MLS season starts and ends, and why it’s different from other leagues around the world
  • When teams compete in a youth soccer season
  • When the European soccer seasons take place

If you’re looking for information about high school soccer season, check out my article – When is High School Soccer Season?

MLS Soccer Season

Let’s start by looking at MLS soccer season.

The MLS season starts at the end of February and ends in December of the same year. From February through October, the teams compete in two conferences. Then from October, the MLS teams compete in the MLS Cup playoffs ending with the MLS Cup championship game in December.

There are two stages to an MLS season.

  • The league stage
  • and the playoffs stage

First, there is the league stage where every team competes in a league format intending to finish with the best record overall.

The MLS splits teams into two leagues: an Eastern Conference and a Western Conference. Each team plays every other team in their league two times throughout the season. The team that finishes this stage of the season with the best record wins the Supporters shield.

The second stage of the MLS season is the MLS Cup playoffs. 

From mid-October, the MLS teams compete in an elimination tournament with the aim of winning the MLS Cup in December.

The top teams from the league stage qualify for the playoff stage.

Not only is this method of determining the season’s champion different from most leagues around the world, but the MLS takes place at a different time of year than most other nation’s soccer leagues.

Why the MLS Season Runs Through the Summer

Soccer in America
Soccer in America

While most soccer seasons take place from Fall through Spring of the following year, the MLS runs through the summer.

MLS season takes place in the summer, so there is less crossover with the more popular American sports. Operating at this time of year means there is a long period of the season where the MLS is not competing for attention with basketball or football.

When the MLS was founded in 1993, the creators were aware that they would be competing against the traditionally popular sports of football and basketball. If they were to attract a significant number of fans, they would need to stand out from the competition.

One way to do this was to schedule the season to take place outside of the timeframes that other sports used.

For example:

  • Basketball season takes place from December through May
  • and football season takes place September to February

By playing throughout the summer, the MLS could draw a larger crowd to their games.

While this season schedule works on the basis of drawing a larger fan base, there are some disadvantages to this disparity with the rest of the FIFA calendar.

Two examples of this include:

  • The MLS often pause the season partway through to allow for major international tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup to take place
  • and international players and coaches arrive and depart halfway through a season to work with teams from other countries

These two factors alone cause major disruption to many teams, which would instantly disappear if the MLS season matched the soccer season calendar for the rest of the world.

When is Youth Soccer Season?

With over 3 million players, US youth soccer has one of the highest numbers of participants of any level of soccer in the US. Every one of these players needs to know when the youth soccer season begins.

Youth soccer season takes place from February through May or September through November each year. Although there is no set schedule a youth soccer season must follow, most seasons around the US take place in either Spring or Fall. A youth soccer season lasts three months.

Although many youth soccer leagues and tournaments are members of the organization US Youth Soccer, the individual leagues and tournaments have a lot of freedom when scheduling their soccer season.

This freedom means that the timing of a youth soccer season will vary depending on the location of the league and the organization responsible for the schedule.

However, despite this freedom, the majority of youth soccer seasons start in either February or September each year.

To find out more about youth soccer, check out one of my other articles:

When is Soccer Season in Europe?

As I mentioned earlier, the MLS is unique throughout world soccer because its soccer season runs throughout the summer. The European soccer leagues run their seasons on a different schedule.

Soccer Season in Europe runs from the end of Summer through Spring the following year. The majority of soccer leagues across Europe start at the end of August and finish during May the next year.

Unlike North America, Europe contains multiple different soccer leagues. Every nation has its own soccer season, and teams from each country compete against other teams from the same country.

However, every one of these nations follows the same soccer season schedule.

As an example of this, let me show you when soccer season is for the top five leagues in Europe.

Soccer LeagueDuration of Season
Premier League – EnglandAugust through May
La Liga – SpainSeptember through May
Serie A – ItalySeptember through May
Ligue 1 – FranceAugust through May
Bundesliga – GermanySeptember through May
When soccer season starts and ends in Europe

As you can see in the table above:

  • Soccer season in England starts in August and ends in May the following year.
  • Soccer season in Spain starts in September and ends in May the following year.
  • Soccer season in Italy starts in September and ends in May the following year.
  • Soccer season in France starts in August and ends in May the following year.
  • Soccer season in Germany starts in September and ends in May the following year.

To find out how many games are in a soccer season for all these leagues, check out my article – How many games in a soccer season?

Preparing yourself for soccer season takes more than just knowing when the season begins. Have a look at one of my previous articles for more helpful information.

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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