With so many sports and so many different leagues, it’s difficult to keep up with how many games there are in each season. It also varies across the level of sports, so we’ve provided a quick breakdown of how long a typical soccer season lasts.
How many soccer games are there in a season? There are between 10 to 15 soccer games per season in high school, 18 to 20 in college, and 38 games in most professional leagues.
Here’s a breakdown of how many games there are in each league:
|League||Teams||Total Games In a Season|
|MLS||34 (2 leagues)||34 + 13 Playoff Games|
|NWSL||12||22 + 3 Playoff Games|
High School Season (Average)
Throughout the US, most high school soccer seasons take place in the fall, since this is when the weather is the most pleasant. While there isn’t a standard calendar across the United States, you can generally expect the soccer season to take place from August to October.
In general, high school teams will play between 10 and 12 regular-season games. Those teams that make it into the post-season will play a few additional games, usually ending at around 15 games over three months.
Some states also have a spring soccer season. In some states, the girls teams play in the spring, and the boys play in the fall. In other states, the spring season is a shorter season with friendly games that allow players to build their skills in time for the more competitive fall season.
College Season (Average)
Students who play soccer in the NCAA should anticipate a very packed season. Over 10 weeks, teams will play 18 to 20 games in the regular season alone.
There were plans to vote on changing this, since playing more or less twice a week causes a lot of injury to players. The vote had been planned for April of 2020, but it got delayed when the world essentially shut down. There are rumors that the change will be addressed again in 2022.
Pro Leagues In Europe
Here, we’ll go through how many games there are in the European top leagues and break down their popular league schedule and discuss why they’re so similar.
- 38 Games Per Season
All of the 20 teams in the Premier League come from England, which is not to be confused with Britain (which includes Scotland and Wales) or Great Britain (which includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).
Those countries have leagues of their own that don’t necessarily follow the same schedule. As a quick comparison, the Scottish Premiership only has 12 teams, but they all still play 38 games.
The lowest three teams at the end of the season are subject to relegation to the English Football League, which hosts 24 teams. In the same August to May time period, those 24 teams also play in a round-robin format, meaning they rack up 48 games in the same time period.
The top two teams advance to the Premier League. The third through sixth teams in the EFL play each other in a play-off. The winner of the Championship playoff, as it is known, will have played an additional two games to earn the privilege to move up to the Premier League, for a total of 50 games.
Learn more about the Premier League schedule here.
- 42 Games Per Season
The Spanish La Liga also hosts 20 teams that play 38 games, and soccer fans around the world will likely recognize reigning champions Real Madrid, who have a record 35 championship titles in La Liga. Their system of relegation is the same, and they relegate their three lowest teams to the Segunda Division, also known as La Liga 2.
In that division, there are 22 teams that play a total of 42 games in their season. The top two get an automatic bid to La Liga, and again, the third through sixth teams play in a playoff to win their way up. So the third team that is promoted will have played 45 total games in their season.
Learn more about the La Liga schedule here.
- 38 Games Per Season
Like the Premier League, La Liga, and Bundesliga, the Italian Serie A teams play 38 games from August to May. This league is home to teams Juventus and AC Milan, with Juventus holding a record 36 Serie A titles.
The Italian Serie B league also has 20 teams, playing 38 games. As with the others, the top two teams get automatic promotion to Serie A.
If the third-placed team is 10 or more points ahead of the 4th place team, they’re also given automatic promotion. If not, there is a playoff round that changes depending on each year’s table, meaning the number of games played by the winning team varies.
- 38 Games Per Season
This French league (with one team from Monaco) currently has 20 teams who play 38 games. However, in the 2023-2024 season, there will only be 18 teams.
This means that four teams will be relegated to the Ligue 2, and only the top two will be promoted. From 2023 onward, the Ligue 1 teams will play 34 games per season. Ligue 2 teams also play 38 games, although this will decrease in 2024 when Ligue 2 will also have 18 teams.
- 34 Games Per Season
This German league features 18 teams that play from August to May. All teams play every other team twice, once home and once away, for a total of 34 games per team per season.
Their corresponding 2. Bundesliga League also hosts 18 teams that play 38 games. The third-placed 2. Bundesliga team plays an additional game against the 16th-placed (third from last) Bundesliga team to determine which team will play in the Bundesliga the following season.
That means one team from each league will play 39 games in their season.
Why Are the European Leagues So Similar?
All of the above leagues participate in the UEFA Champions League tournament. Under the organizing body of UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), teams began to play in a more uniform way so that they could participate in the championships put on by UEFA, which was formed in 1954.
The most prestigious of these is the Champions League, which began in 1992. In the Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and the Italian Serie A, the top four teams are automatically qualified for entry into the group stage of the Champions League.
Thus, the top four teams from each of those leagues play in an additional six games. The top two teams from each of the eight groups advance into the knockout round. The winner and runner up of the Champions League will play an additional four games throughout the tournament.
Therefore, from August to the following June, the winner of the UEFA Champions League will play their 38 regular-season games, six in the group stage, and four in the knockout round. This is a total of 48 games in under a year, with very little time in the off-season.
Learn more about how the soccer season works here.
- MLS: 34 regular season games + 13 play-off games
- NWSL: 22 regular season games + 3 play-off games
Even though soccer isn’t anywhere near as popular in the US as it is in the rest of the world, the States does host a professional men’s and professional women’s soccer league.
They play on more or less the same schedule from March (men’s) and April (women’s) until October. The post-season begins in December.
In the regular season, each MLS team will play 34 games, with 17 at home and 17 away. The teams that make the post-season play up to an additional 13 games for a total of 47.
By comparison, the NWSL teams play in 22 regular-season games, with 11 at home and 11 away. The teams that make the post-season play an additional three games for a total of 25.
Learn more about the MLS schedule here.
The world over, soccer is a beloved sport. However, there isn’t a consistent schedule throughout the entire world. Most teams are broken up into federations, and so the leagues there will follow more or less the same schedule.
Many leagues are set up as a round-robin, with each team playing every other team twice. That means that as more teams are added to the league, there will be more games.