Major League Soccer is a men's professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation which represents the sport's highest level in the United States and Canada. The league comprises 26 teams—23 in the U. S. and 3 in Canada and constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues in both countries. The league plans to expand to 30 teams with the additions of Austin FC and Charlotte in 2021 Sacramento Republic FC and a St. Louis franchise in 2022; the regular season starts in late February or early March and goes through mid-October, with each team playing 34 games. Fourteen teams compete in the postseason MLS Cup Playoffs through October and November, culminating in the championship game, the MLS Cup. MLS teams play in domestic competitions against teams from other divisions in the U. S. Open in the Canadian Championship. MLS teams compete against continental rivals in the CONCACAF Champions League. With an average attendance of over 20,000 per game, MLS has the third highest average attendance of any sports league in the U.
S. after the National Football League and Major League Baseball, is the seventh highest attended professional soccer league worldwide. Major League Soccer was founded in 1993 as part of the United States' successful bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup; the first season took place in 1996 with ten teams. MLS experienced financial and operational struggles in its first few years: the league lost millions of dollars, teams played in empty American football stadiums, two teams folded in 2002. Since MLS has expanded to 26 teams, soccer-specific stadiums have proliferated around the league, average attendance exceeds that of the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association, the Designated Player Rule allows teams to sign star players such as David Beckham, MLS secured national TV contracts, the league is now profitable. Instead of operating as an association of independently owned teams, MLS is a single entity in which each team is owned by the league and individually operated by the league's investors.
The investor-operators control their teams as owners control teams in other leagues, are referred to as the team's owners. The league has a fixed membership like most sports leagues in the United States and Canada, which makes it one of the world's few soccer leagues that does not use promotion and relegation, a practice, uncommon in the two countries. MLS headquarters is located in New York City. Major League Soccer's regular season runs from March to October. Teams are geographically divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences, playing 34 games in an unbalanced schedule. With 26 teams in 2020, each team plays two games against teams in its conference and one game against 10 out of the 13 teams in the opposite conference; the 2020 season is the first season in league history in which teams will not play against every other team in the league. Midway through the season, teams break for the annual All-Star Game, exhibition game containing the league's best players. 2020 is the first year in which the MLS All-Stars will play against the all-stars from Mexico's Liga MX.
At the end of the regular season, the team with the highest point total is awarded the Supporters' Shield and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Unlike most major soccer leagues around the world, but similar to other leagues in the Americas, the MLS regular season is followed by a postseason knockout tournament. Fourteen teams participate in the MLS Cup Playoffs in October, which concludes with the MLS Cup championship game in early November. Major League Soccer's spring-to-fall schedule results in scheduling conflicts with the FIFA calendar and with summertime international tournaments such as the World Cup and the Gold Cup, causing several players to miss some MLS matches. While MLS has looked into changing to a fall-to-spring format, there are no current plans to do so. If the league were to change its schedule, a substantial winter break would still be necessary due to teams being located in harsh winter climates, it would have to compete with the popularity and media presence of the National Football League in the fall and winter as well as the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League, which both run on fall-to-spring schedules.
MLS teams play in other international and domestic competitions. Every year, five MLS teams — four from the U. S. and one from Canada — play in the CONCACAF Champions League against other clubs from the CONCACAF region. Two U. S.-based MLS teams qualify based on MLS regular-season results: the team with the most points in the Western conference and the team with the most points in the Eastern conference. The third U. S. team to qualify is the winner of the MLS Cup. A fourth U. S.-based MLS team can qualify via the U. S. Open Cup. If a team qualifies through multiple berths, or if any of the MLS berths are taken by a Canada-based MLS team, the berth is reallocated to the best U. S.-based team in the overall table that has otherwise not qualified. Canadian MLS clubs play against other Canadian clubs in the Canadian Championship for the one CONCACAF Champions League spot allocated to Canada. No MLS club has won the Champions League since it began its current format in 2008, but MLS teams have reached the final three times: Real Salt Lake in 2011, Montreal Impact in 2015, Toronto FC in 2018.
Diana Kovatcheva is a Bulgarian lawyer and politician, who served as justice minister from 30 November 2011 to 21 February 2013. Kovatcheva was born in Sofia in 1975, she holds a law degree. She obtained a PhD in international law and international relations. Kovatcheva worked as a researcher at the Institute for Legal Sciences of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences from 2000 to 2001, she was named executive director of Transparency International Bulgaria in August 2002. Her term lasted until 28 November 2011. On 30 November 2011, she was appointed justice minister to the cabinet led by prime minister Boyko Borisov, she succeeded Margarita Popova, elected vice-president of Bulgaria. Kovatcheva served until mid-March 2013, she was succeeded by caretaker justice minister Dragomir Yordanov. On 3 September 2019 Kovacheva was sworn in as Ombudsman of Bulgaria succeeding Maya Manolova In June 2014 Diana Kovatcheva was awarded by Queen Elizabeth II with the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her tireless efforts in the fight against corruption, her work in the field of rule of law and her endeavor to bring transparency to the judiciary
The fourth season of The Walking Dead, an American post-apocalyptic horror television series on AMC, premiered on October 13, 2013, concluded on March 30, 2014, consisting of 16 episodes. Developed for television by Frank Darabont, the series is based on the eponymous series of comic books by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, it was executive produced by Kirkman, David Alpert, Scott M. Gimple, Greg Nicotero, Tom Luse, Gale Anne Hurd, with Gimple assuming the role of showrunner after Glen Mazzara's departure from the series; the fourth season was well received by critics. It was nominated for multiple awards and won three, including Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series for the second consecutive year, at the 40th Saturn Awards; this season adapts material from issues #40–61 of the comic book series and introduces notable comic characters, including Bob Stookey, Sgt. Abraham Ford, Dr. Eugene Porter and Rosita Espinosa, as well as the Chambler Family, a modified version of the Chalmers Family from a tie-in novel, The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor.
The season continues the story of Rick Grimes and his group of survivors as they continue to survive in a post-apocalyptic world invaded by flesh-eating zombies, dubbed "walkers". Set several months after the attempted attack on the prison by The Governor and his army, Rick has renounced his leadership in order to live a quiet and more peaceful life in contrast to his cold-hearted nature in the previous season. Striving to hold onto humanity and his fellow survivors struggle to maintain their close to an ideal life at the prison as problems arise in the face of new evil, threats within and outside the premises, including a deadly flu strain and the return of the vengeful Governor. A fourth season of the show, consisting of 16 episodes, was confirmed in December 2012. Production began in Senoia, Georgia on May 6, 2013. In July 2013, it was reported that David S. Goyer would be directing the penultimate episode of the season, however Goyer did not direct the episode due to scheduling conflicts.
Greg Nicotero, who replaced Goyer, directed three episodes for the season, while Tricia Brock and Ernest Dickerson each directed two episodes. Michelle MacLaren returned this season to direct the season finale, after directing episodes in seasons one and two. Comic book co-creator Robert Kirkman wrote two episodes of the season. Filming was completed on November 23, 2013. In an interview with showrunner Scott Gimple, he shares: "The ultimate inspiration for The Walking Dead is the comic book. Sometimes, we can go far away from the comic book story, but we serve the comic book story, and when we go far away from it, we're inspired by it - and the novels as well. And beyond that, all of the great stuff that we have consumed along the way, from zombie movies to Star Wars to other comics to highbrow movies like The Grand Illusion to Jaws, and really, world history. The plague storyline was inspired by both Camus' The Plague and other stories about the plague I heard in Edinburgh, but it starts with the comic book."
Following the two previous web series in 2011 and 2012, another set of webisodes titled The Oath was released on October 1, 2013. A third season of the live talk show aired alongside the fourth season of The Walking Dead; the fourth season features thirteen series regulars, with nine actors receiving opening credits billing, while four others are credited as "Also starring". Melissa McBride and Scott Wilson, who portray Carol Peletier and Hershel Greene were added in the opening sequence after being credited as "Also starring". David Morrissey, who plays The Governor, is not credited among the main cast until his reappearance in the episode "Live Bait". Credited as "Also starring" are Emily Kinney, Chad L. Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green, who were promoted from recurring status, Lawrence Gilliard Jr. who joins the main cast as Bob Stookey. Wilson and Morrissey were both removed from the opening credits, as series regulars after the episode "After". However, Wilson was re-added to the opening credits and as a series regular for the season finale, "A".
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, the series' protagonist, the father of Carl and Judith, a former sheriff's deputy, who relinquished his leadership over the survivor group out of disgust towards his own previous actions as leader. Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, an antihero-like Southern redneck, the group's primary hunter and has a strong bond with Carol, forms a bond with Beth. Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee, a former pizza delivery man married to Maggie Greene, who has matured over the series. Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene, Hershel's elder daughter, Beth's half-sister, Glenn's wife, a determined and capable fighter. Chandler Riggs as Rick's adolescent son. Brave to a fault, Carl begins to develop a callous mentality in response to the lethal landscape of a savage, new world; however he is emotionally conflicted with himself because of the brutality of his previous choices in the new world. Danai Gurira as Michonne, a quiet and meticulous, yet fierce woman, who has joined Rick's group, she has begun to bond with the group, shares a close bond with Rick's son Carl but is still fierce and secretive of her past.
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, a former victim of domestic abuse, who has empowered herself but has come to make several dark and questionable decisions for the good of her group. She is the only known female Atlanta camp survivor left. Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene, a religious former veterinarian and farmer, protectiv