Minnesota United, currently of the North American Soccer League (NASL), is expected to have its expansion franchise bid accepted by Major League Soccer in the coming weeks, according to a report by SI‘s Brian Straus.
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Straus, citing multiple sources, reported on Friday that United’s bid has been chosen ahead of a second Twin Cities bid, led by the NFL’s Vikings, Sacramento Republic (United Soccer League) and San Antonio (NASL). The prospective United ownership group also features Timberwolves (NBA) owner Glen Taylor and Twins (MLB) owner Jim Pohlad.
According to the report, MLS has sent “a signed Letter of Intent … confirming that United is the choice for team No. 23” to the city of Minneapolis as the club endeavors to build a downtown soccer-specific stadium, which the club hopes to complete in order to enter the league in 2018.
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With Atlanta, Los Angeles and now reportedly Minneapolis set to join the league, only a single expansion place remains as MLS aims to feature 24 teams by its 2020 season.
Straus goes on to speculate that Sacramento Republic would likely join United in the not-so-distant future, nabbing expansion place No. 24, if not for David Beckham’s ongoing quest to bring a team to Miami.
MLS’s deal with Beckham stands, so he’ll be given every opportunity to secure a stadium before the league makes its decision.
United always seemed the more likely — and wiser — choice of the two Twin Cities bids, as they’ll eventually play in their own stadium, while the Vikings bid was built around the NFL team’s $1-billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium which is currently under construction.
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The already existing fanbase and soccer infrastructure also make United the more attractive candidate. Once the club’s expansion bid is formally announced — Straus says it could be sooner than the 30- to 45-day timeline MLS commissioner Don Garber gave this week — United can start recruiting and signing marquee players to their NASL roster in an attempt to enter the league as a contender in 2018.