MLS delays decision on next expansion franchise

Sacramento Republic FC
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Happy Holidays, Sacramento, Cincinnati and Detroit. And for one of you it will be a very Happy New Year.

That was the message (of sorts) from Major League Soccer on Thursday as the league confirmed a decision on adding a second expansion franchise in the latest round would be put off until early 2018.

Previously the plan was to name teams 24 and 25 before the end of 2017, with two more teams potentially added sometime in 2018.

[ MORE: MLS should add Cincy and Sacramento right now ]

Nashville were awarded MLS’ 24th franchise on Wednesday, with MLS Commissioner Don Garber revealing that another announcement with regards to team 25 — one of Sacramento, Cincinnati and Detroit who were the other three finalists for MLS expansion after 12 cities submitted their bids in January 2017 — would be made soon.

True to his word, here it is.

What does this mean?

Well, not a lot on the surface. What we do know is that both Sacramento and Cincinnati have rock-solid bids as their USL clubs have gone from strength-to-strength and have impressive fanbases.

Yet there are some doubts with FCC’s soccer-specific stadium deal (even though keeping them at Nippert Stadium would make plenty of sense) and some of the financing behind Sacramento’s bid. Also, Detroit’s plan to play at Ford Field put them down the pecking order but maybe, just maybe, their bid has given MLS plenty of food for thought.

With uncertainty still in the air around David Beckham’s potential MLS franchise in Miami following a significant change in his ownership group recently, plus the uncertainty over the future of the Columbus Crew, it would seem wise for MLS to look into all of its available options before naming the next expansion franchise.

From the outside looking in, this also seems like MLS saying it’s too close to call between Cincinnati and Sacramento for the next franchise and they may well be looking into the impact of having both teams join in 2019, especially with Nashville set to arrive in 2020.

Intriguing times ahead.