What Soccer Ball Does the MLS Use?

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It must be said that soccer within the United States has come a really long way.

Especially when you think about how the gap between Major League Soccer and other professional soccer leagues within Europe has gradually shrunk over the last couple of decades.

With Major League Soccer continuing to grow in popularity, you’d naturally expect more questions about this competitive league to arise – whether that’s in an offline setting or on the internet.

And that brings me on to the topic of the day, which concerns the type of soccer ball that the MLS uses.

Here’s the answer…

The MLS Nativo 21 is the official match ball for all fixtures played within the 2021 Major League Soccer season. It was crafted together by Adidas – the global sportswear and sports accessories giant.

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I’ve included a short clip below which showcases the ball in all its glory, as it was unveiled for the 26th campaign of the league’s illustrious history.

Now let’s dissect this ball further.


Which features of the 2021 MLS match ball stand out?

Now, there’s certainly a lot to like about the MLS Nativo 21 soccer ball, but I’m simply going to highlight its most outstanding qualities.


1. Geographically specific panelling

mls soccer ball - geographically specific panelling

Firstly, I have to give a major hats-off gesture to Adidas for how they’ve managed to stylistically ingrain the names of all the 27 cities which the teams competing in the league originate.

With no two panels on this ball looking exactly the same, it is a magnificent sight to behold.

It doesn’t even look remotely similar to a modernized black and white soccer ball!

More so, Adidas have managed to incorporate elements of both the United States and Canada national flags, alongside bits and pieces of red white and blue colour spots.

At a glance, you really get the sense that this soccer ball has been designed to specifically symbolise the highs of Major League Soccer within the United States and neighbouring Canada.


2. Thermally bonded construction

Another brilliant inclusion in the design was the decision to go for the thermal bonding of the panels as opposed to traditional stitching.

You see, using heat to glue this soccer ball gives it better performance when it comes to factors such as:

  • Water uptake
  • Original weight maintenance when used on wet surfaces
  • Air retention


3. FIFA Quality Pro certified

Last but not least, this ball was able to excel at seven different benchmarking tests conducted by the world football governing body – FIFA.

Only the very best soccer balls are awarded a quality certification that signifies their ability to meet the demands of shape and size retention, water absorption, circumference and other advanced metrics.

I’ve already talked about this at length within my article on the soccer balls that professional players use, so you might want to check that out for further details.


What were the MLS soccer balls for 2020 and 2019?

Previous editions of this soccer ball are also noteworthy, so I thought it would be a good moment to highlight them.


MLS 2020 – Adidas Nativo XXV

Adidas Nativo XXV
  • 100% polyurethane cover with Textured surface
  • Thermally bonded seamless construction
  • FIFA Quality Pro certified top match ball

This ball was released as a nice way of commemorating 25 years of Major League Soccer.

It was signed by the general commissioner Don Garber, with his inked signature really complementing the ball’s solar green and glory blue textures.

If you’re interested in making a purchase, here’s a match replica version that’s easier on the wallet.


MLS 2019 – Adidas Nativo Questra

Adidas Nativo Questra
  • MLS 2018-19 OMB White 5
  • 100% polyurethane cover
  • Thermally bonded seamless surface for a more predictable trajectory

This one comes in white, metallic silver, navy blue and red colour shades, and it also has a thermally bonded surface that pretty much guarantees predictable flight trajectory.

You can check out its complete review within my product roundup on Adidas balls.


What size soccer ball does MLS use?

As with any other soccer division, a size 5 soccer ball is used for official competition within the MLS.

This is backed up by Adidas themselves, as they posit that their professional size 5 balls are the official soccer ball size of the MLS.

I don’t think there’s any league in the world that uses any size other than the standard size 5, apart from indoor soccer (futsal) which typically uses size 4 instead.


How much does an MLS soccer ball cost?

Prices of MLS soccer balls will vary, with the amount that you pay being particularly dependent on type of ball you purchase.

If you go for an official match ball – which is top of the range – expect to cough up figures in the region of 100 to 200 dollars.

On the other hand, if you just want to get your hands on a replica or club training version, a budget of around 30 to 60 dollars should be adequate enough.

Another factor that can influence the price is the edition of the soccer ball.

With greater recency comes a steeper cost, as consumers and businesses generally place greater value on the newest soccer balls that just got released.

This is in stark contrast to the earlier models or versions of soccer balls that get phased out of the market the longer time goes on.



Today’s article has covered the topic of what soccer ball is used in the MLS.

Before I jet off, I will remind you that…

The MLS Nativo 21 soccer ball – produced by Adidas – is the official match ball of Major League Soccer for the 2021 season.

I’d suggest you grab a match replica whilst you still can!


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Samuel Waihenya
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