Wednesday, 24 Jul 2024

How Long Is an MLS Game?

Landon Donovan

As Major League Soccer (MLS) gains popularity in North America, many fans are curious about the duration of an MLS game. For those new to the sport, understanding the time commitment is essential before heading to the stadium. Fortunately, MLS games fit neatly into a two-hour window, making it an accessible and affordable outing for families and friends to enjoy high-quality soccer.

How Long is an MLS Game?

An MLS regular-season game consists of two 45-minute halves, with a 15-minute break in between. Any injury time added to either half contributes to the total duration. On average, an MLS game lasts between 1 hour and 55 minutes to 2 hours and 5 minutes. This concise timeframe ensures fans can enjoy the action without the game dragging on for too long.

How Much Extra Time is Generally Added to Each Half?

Most matches include around three minutes of added time per half. However, the actual amount can vary depending on factors such as injuries, delays, and goals. In clean contests, there may only be one minute of stoppage time. In more eventful games, the added time can extend to five minutes. Nevertheless, the additional time does not significantly lengthen the actual gameplay, typically adding no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

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Why Is There a lot of Added Time at the End of Some Halves?

Injuries, interruptions in play, and numerous goals contribute to extended stoppage time. When the action frequently comes to a halt, it’s expected that additional time will be added at the end of a half. However, it’s important to note that a significant amount of added time at the end of the first half does not guarantee the same for the second half. The decision to add time rests with the referees, who provide an estimated duration to help fans plan accordingly.

How Long Is an MLS Season?


The MLS season spans 34 matches, taking place from February to October. Each team plays 17 home games and 17 away games, with a total of 28 teams in the league as of 2022. The MLS employs an Eastern and Western Conference system to ensure scheduling fairness. Teams face their conference opponents twice a year, with an additional eight cross-conference games against different opponents, ensuring balanced competition.

How Long Is an MLS Playoff Game?

MLS playoff games follow the same format as regular-season games, with the added stipulation that there must be a winner to advance to the next round. If a game remains tied after 90 minutes, two 15-minute halves are played. Should the score still be level after the two halves, a penalty shootout ensues. This shootout involves each team selecting five penalty takers to face off against the opposing goalkeeper. The team that scores the most goals during the shootout emerges as the winner.

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Including the full 120 minutes of gameplay and a penalty shootout, fans can expect a total time of approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes at the stadium. This duration remains shorter than the average duration of NFL or MLB games during the regular season.

When Is The MLS Season?

The MLS season follows a unique schedule compared to most other major soccer leagues worldwide. It typically begins at the end of February or the beginning of March, with the regular season concluding in October. The playoff matches take place from October to early November. The MLS Cup Final, the pinnacle of the season, occurs around November 5. This scheduling choice allows the MLS to capture more attention as it competes primarily with baseball during this period, avoiding direct conflicts with the NBA, NFL, college football, and college basketball.

Comparing MLS Games to Other Sporting Events

The MLS stands out as one of the shortest sporting events on average. While the exact duration of any sporting event can vary, here is a general comparison:

  • American Football: 3 hours to 3 hours and 15 minutes
  • Baseball: 2 hours and 55 minutes to 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • Tennis: 40 minutes to 3 hours or more
  • Basketball: 2 hours and 15 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • Soccer: 1 hour and 55 minutes to 2 hours and 5 minutes

Not only does soccer provide a shorter game duration, but it also offers the highest amount of live-action among these major sports. Approximately two-thirds of the match involves active gameplay, meaning fans experience live action for around 50% of the total time, including halftime. In comparison, American football and baseball have significantly less live-action, with approximately 11-12 minutes and 18-20 minutes, respectively.

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Q: How long is an MLS game?
A: An MLS regular-season game typically lasts between 1 hour and 55 minutes to 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Q: How much extra time is added to each half in an MLS game?
A: On average, there is around three minutes of added time per half, but it can vary depending on factors such as injuries, stoppages, and goals.

Q: How long is an MLS season?
A: The MLS season consists of 34 matches, played from February to October.

Q: How long is an MLS playoff game?
A: MLS playoff games follow the same format as regular-season games, but if a game remains tied after 90 minutes, two 15-minute halves are played. If the score is still level, a penalty shootout occurs.


MLS games offer an exciting and time-efficient way to experience live sports. With a duration of approximately two hours, fans can enjoy the fast-paced action without dedicating excessive time to the game. As soccer’s popularity continues to grow in the United States, its controlled pace ensures a satisfying experience for both in-person and television viewers. To learn more about MLS and upcoming matches, visit Movin993.