WASHINGTON, D.C. March 27, 2013 — When it comes to places of birth, Major League Soccer boasts the most diverse group of athletes among the top five top team sports leagues in the United States, with 61 different countries represented as of March 27.
According to Elite Sports Data, of the 530 players in MLS, 213 (40.1 percent) were born outside the the U.S. and Canada and represent 59 nations. Compare that to:
* The NBA has 438 players and 84 (19. 2 percent) were born out the U.S. and Canada from 44 countries.
* The NHL has 753 players and 183 (24.3 percent) were born out the U.S. and Canada from 19 countries.
* The MLB has 1057 players and 272 (25.7 percent) were born out the U.S. and Canada from 16 countries.
* The NFL has 2041 players and 54 (2.7 percent) were born out the U.S. and Canada from 16 countries.
Click here to see a world map of MLS players by birthplace, and a list of those born abroad.
The primary transfer window, in which MLS clubs may acquire players under contract in other countries ends on May 6, and more overseas talent is expected join an already impressive group of 2013 MLS newcomers that includes Claudio Bieler (Sporting Kansas City), Robert Earnshaw (Toronto FC), Raul Fernandez (FC Dallas), Glaúber (Columbus), Jose Kléberson (Philadelphia), Obafemi Martins (Seattle), Edgar Mejía (Chivas), Andres Romero (Montreal), Diego Valeri (Portland), and more than 40 others with professional experience abroad.
The average age of MLS players born outside U.S./Canada is 26.5 years old. However, this season’s newcomers average 25.4 years old (as of March 25, 2013), furthering the trend of clubs adding young international talent on the rise.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email email@example.com
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