After seeing the success of Orlando City’s arrival in Major League Soccer, MLS Commissioner Don Garber has already confirmed that the next MLS expansion team will be announced in the next “45-60 days.”
MLS is currently at 20 teams for the 2015 season, with teams in LA and Atlanta set to arrive in 2017 to take the number to 22 and David Beckham’s franchise in Miami TBD as their struggles with finding a suitable stadium option continues.
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All of that means that one spot is currently open as MLS aims to reach its goal of being a 24-team league by 2020.
Speaking to ESPN following Orlando’s 1-1 draw with fellow expansion outfit New York City FC which saw over 62,500 fans cram into the Citrus Browl in Orlando, Garber confirmed that representatives from Sacramento, St. Louis and San Antonio were in attendance in central Florida, while it is believed reps from both ownership groups vying for a franchise in Minneapolis were also in attendance.
More from Garber, here:
“In the next 45 to 60 days, without a doubt, the next round will be announced,” Garber said. “There’s so much interest in expanding in our league, we’ve got to go about it carefully. We’ve got to think about putting a plan together that ultimately is going to allow us capture this enormous momentum that we’ve been able to achieve.”
Given the fact that Las Vegas is out of the expansion race for 2020 but not out of the picture altogether, is it conceivable that all four of these cities are granted expansion franchises to take the number to 27 by 2020 and then maybe Vegas coming just after to make it 28 by 2022?
That would seem highly unlikely, but if the crowds keep flocking and investor groups are willing to stump up the ever increasing expansion fees, then perhaps MLS could expand faster than it had previously anticipated.
With Sacramento, Minneapolis and San Antonio all home to successful lower-league franchises in both the USL and NASL, it’s easy to see why they could make the step up to MLS. As for St. Louis, it has always been one of the major conundrums as the somewhat mythical ‘hotbed of American soccer’ hasn’t had an MLS side.
Let’s see what the next 45-60 days brings…