The MlS has been known as the laughing stock of all soccer leagues, but is trying to overcome that. Recently MLS commissioner Don Graber has said he wants this league to be one of the premier leagues with a long term goal of 28 teams if not more. Back in 2012, that may not have seemed possible as the league stood at 14 teams. Now here we are entering the 2018 season and 23 teams are in play with LA FC joining this March. The expansion is not done. About a month ago, Nashville was awarded the 24th franchise scheduled to begin play in 2020. Now today, nearly after four years of trying Miami has been awarded the 25th franchise also hoping for 2020 as a start date. The commissioner has also said, there are five more cities narrowed down to the next expansion team which should be announced by may. That would make the league 26 teams by 2020 and now all of a sudden his plan of 28 teams by 2024 may turn into more. I love the direction the league is going in.
It wouldn't shock me to see the league expand to 40 and do two leagues based on a pro/rel model someday. It's probably the only way promotion/relegation would be feasible in this country.
As far as not being "respected" shall we say, might help to not provide the spine of a national team that can't even outplay a Bosnian Legue all-star squad + one sophomore from Nebraska-Omaha during the January national team camp...