The deadline for MLS expansion applications is fast approaching, and Phoenix has come out of nowhere to thrust itself into the conversation.
USL club Phoenix Rising announced on Thursday that it plans to submit the necessary paperwork that MLS has requested from owners looking to land a first-division franchise during the next round of expansion. The decision to try and become one of the four teams that will move the league to 28 clubs comes after Rising’s owners traveled to New York City to have a meeting with MLS executives last Friday.
“Being invited to submit an MLS expansion team application is an honor,” Phoenix Rising governor Berke Bakay said in a statement released by the club. “It has always been our intention to bring Division 1 professional soccer to Arizona. But, we will need every soccer fan, business and community leader to quickly come together and support our application effort in order to achieve this incredible goal for our state.”
Phoenix may have thrown its name into the hat of potential expansion teams, but faces considerable opposition. There are currently 10 other markets looking to claim an MLS franchise, including Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, and Tampa/St. Petersburg.
MLS’s deadline for expansion applications is Jan. 31.