MLS was formed on December 17, 1993, in fulfillment of U.S. Soccer's promise to FIFA to establish a "Division One" professional football league in exchange for the staging of the FIFA World Cup USA 1994 in the United States. The league began play in 1996 with ten teams and had surprisingly strong attendance the first season. Numbers declined slightly after the first year, but have stabilized in subsequent years. The original 10 teams were divided into two conferences: the Eastern Conference (Columbus Crew, D.C. United, New England Revolution, NY/NJ MetroStars, and Tampa Bay Mutiny), and Western Conference (Colorado Rapids, Dallas Burn, Kansas City Wiz, Los Angeles Galaxy, and San Jose Clash).

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