Yesterday afternoon an impromptu Twitter Q&A from MLS Commissioner Don Garber lifted the lid on all kinds of MLS expansion talk.
St. Louis? Miami? NYC 2? Sacramento? Orlando? Chill out guys, let’s get down to what was actually said.
Fans inundated Garber with requests on the leagues expansion plans, and the commish gave some revealing answers.
According to Garber, the plans for NYC 2 are developing: “we continue to make progress in Queens.” While in the Floridian market, both Orlando and Miami have seen rising levels of interest in an MLS franchise. Garber is “hoping to see support in Florida House for stadium support bill,” to help out Orlando City, while he admitted that in Miami “there’s been more and more interest of late.”
Some cities further down the pecking order for MLS expansion franchises were also mentioned, as Sacramento and St. Louis made the Twitter Q&A. With Garber hopeful of next month’s Manchester City vs. Chelsea friendly at Busch Stadium helping to promote soccer and MLS in St. Louis.
And one fan even asked if 30 teams would adorn MLS in the future. An emphatic, yet slightly non-committal, response came from Garber’s twitter feed: “30 seems like too many.”
So what do we learn from this impromptu outreach from the commissioner? In a nutshell, NYC 2 is pushing ahead and Florida seems to be a market where MLS is targeting.
Fans in Atlanta, Minnesota and San Antonio may be disappointed to hear their names not mentioned more prominently. But those markets are focusing on proving themselves in the NASL, and all three are doing a fine job at that.
Expansion talk always gets the juices flowing, and with Garber opening up to fans about the potential new franchises, it only helps to keep the chatter going amongst soccer circles in the US.
But if the league does fail in its bid to make NYC 2 happen and a stadium plan cannot be worked out in Queens, what then? Orlando seems to be the best option. They have already earmarked land for a new soccer-specific stadium that the city has purchased for the franchise. Plus Orlando City now has a wealthy Brazilian part owner, who will help fund the new SSS. The fan base is on the rise and their links from playing against plenty of MLS sides in preseason and affiliation with Sporting KC has helped their stock to rise further.
What we learned from Garber’s expansion chat is that MLS has plenty of options. We aren’t much closer to seeing which ones will pan out. But boy, its fun to talk about it.