Formula for the next MLS expansion city: simple, MLS commissioner says

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Everyone gets excited when one of Major League Soccer’s corner office types mentions specifically targeted expansion cities. And no one is more “corner office” around MLS than commissioner Don Garber.

Miami is the big elephant of an expansion target currently in MLS sights. And this continued rush to fill out the MLS geographical map with lots o’ dots in the American Southeast means Atlanta has gained favored status after the boxes are checked in South Florida.

Past that, today’s list of targets further in the distance included some familiar names – and one relative newcomer. In his ever evolving scroll of dangling possibilities, Garber today mentioned St. Louis, San Antonio and Minneapolis. And Austin! Which is a relative newcomer in this ongoing game of “Whose got next? … MLS expansion edition.”

Either way, Garber says there is no secret formula.

“It starts with an ownership group and moves from there to a downtown stadium, and it really is very simple,” Garber said Tuesday. “The downtown stadium is a formula that has been working for us. It’s hard for us to imagine a scenario where we go into a market without one of those.”

Actually, he has been saying this for a while now. So have I. So have a bunch of other people … but given the human tendency to complicate, we keep looking for something more complex. “Surely it cannot be THIS simple, right?”

It’s not. Right owner with sufficient financing. Right stadium – probably downtown. From there, TV markets and some other considerations may fall in line, but they do seem to be well down this line.

(MORE: Garber says that radical calendar shift to winter remains far away)

(MORE: Garber says MLS still hopeful of the David Beckham-Miami expansion)