Pretty sure most MLS teams (if not all) perpetually operate in the red. So profit? Eh. More like attempting to break even.
This is a myth perpetuated by the league to give them leverage to continue their calvinball ways.
So, how do these owners make money, and why are the books red for so many of these teams? Let's start with the second question. It looks like a lot of MLS clubs aren't making a profit because the extra money is being reinvested into the team and the league as a whole, as I mentioned earlier. The league introduced a new way to sign really good players whose salaries are above the league's cap but under $1,000,000, starting caliber players who aren’t quite on the DP level. Teams have doubled down on Homegrown Players and are doing a lot to keep promising players from leaving for Europe with relatively strong salaries. There are also accounting methods that can be used to nudge the numbers to make them look worse in order to get better deals when negotiating player salaries (and trying to get public financing for stadiums... more on that another time.) If you shift real money into Allocation Money, then it can maybe be rewritten as a business expense, or perhaps buying a ton of team merchandise to sell later, etc.
Buying into MLS also means you've bought into SUM which is very lucrative,
Believing the owners are operating a loss and that they're charitable to just even run the teams at all for us.. well that means you fell for their trick.
SUM handles all the television rights for not just MLS but all soccer in America. That means if a soccer game happens and is broadcast on national television in the United States, SUM gets a cut. All those friendlies featuring touring European clubs that happen every summer? MLS owners get a cut of that. Whenever Mexico plays a friendly in America, SUM gets a cut of that. Whenever the United States hosts the Gold Cup, SUM gets a piece of that action. SUM also has broadcasting rights for the national teams. Every time the USMNT, USWNT, or one of the youth teams has a game on TV, these MLS owners split the pot. World Cup qualifiers? SUM collects a check. This is way greater than the money MLS puts in. Essentially, SUM and its investors benefit from the entirety of American soccer, which makes the investment into MLS appealing. Of course, soccer is a rapidly growing sport in this country, with a growing appetite at essentially all levels. Case in point, SUM was valued between $500 and $600 million in 2011.This year, the valuation for the company was revealed when the MLS investors bought a portion of the company back from the investing group Providence, sitting in at over 2 billion, a massive and dramatic increase in just 6 years.