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Where should MLS expand to next?

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It has been more than two months since Major League Soccer approved plans to add two expansion teams by 2011 and the speculation about which two markets will be chosen is rampant.

In every corner of the United States, and various parts of Canada, there is growing buzz about MLS potentially choosing them. There are the favorites, such as New York, and the darkhorses, like Ottawa, but we still aren’t close to knowing which two cities will receive teams.

What if it were up to you to decide? What if you could vote on which two teams joined MLS by 2011? Here is your chance. I want you to select two cities to be the next two to receive MLS expansion franchises:

Who did you pick and why? Share your thoughts and selections in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. “The one question this does bring to mind is, if NYC were to get a team in Queens how many Red Bulls fan will switch loyalty to this new team? I for one would have to think about it.”

    About 85% of their fans are from New Jersey. Most of the fans living in Manhattan would also stay with the RB’s I would think. That leaves very small percentage of fans (those most likely going to 2-3 games a year) that might switch loyalty. They will probably visit RB arena during the rivalry meeting. So after all the calculation I don’t see any noticeable loss for the RB’s. With better access to the new stadium and a good DP signing they will do very well.

    As for my picks, I choose NY and STL.

    NY – No explanation necessary. Not having a soccer team inside the media capital of the world and the most diverse (and soccer-loving) city in the country is downright criminal. How they went so long without a team here is mind-boggling!

    STL – It’s probably now or never for St. Louis. They have their stadium funding ready and ownership group complete after all the hard work done by Mr. Cooper. If they aren’t picked this time (after already being passed once) I’m sure the city will pull the funding and be done with soccer for a long time. They MUST be picked for 2011. Others can wait a year or two.

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  2. It only makes sense to add Portland and Vancouver or Montreal.

    Portland – greatest fans, cool urban stadium, tradition

    Vancouver – rivalry with Sounders and Timbers

    Montreal – great fans, good team in USL, local rivalries

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  3. Vancouver and Montreal, because MLS needs the extra potential Canadian television revenue in addition to its present American TV contracts and it gives a chance for other cities in either Canada or the U.S. to take on the other USL franchises so that player development opportunities will not be compromised.

    Because 2010 is a labour contract negotiation time between the Players’ Union and MLS, wages will need to be raised at the bottom end and the overall salary cap in general so eqach MLS club has a better chance of retaining players it already has under contract. Expansion is one way that the original owners can get their original investment back from the start-up years of MLS. The TV contracts will help with the wages. US TV contracts are not up until 2014. Canadian contracts are up in 2010. Something needs to be in place and Canada is the best business option MLS has got in the short term. It’s easier to negotiate with three Canadian clubs in MLS than one at the present time.

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  4. Portland and Montreal. Both cities have proven the support needed to improve the ‘entertainment product’ of MLS. I mean these cities offer an alternative to an otherwise bland array of franchises and cookie cutter stadiums There are exceptions in MLS of course, but Montreal has the crazy French flavor, while Portland has that great grassroots fan base, 1000-2000 standing and chanting ultras. Plus they have that cool old stadium where even Pele once played. So for a sport that is as much about culture and on-field success, both of these cities bring something that cannot be bought or built. Having this kind of depth and authenticity is what MLS needs to move on to the next level.

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  5. Yes to MLS in Miami. FIU stadium is ready for you while the SSS is built at the OB site. Miami Ultras are ready to support Barca Miami. Vamos MLS Miami……

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  6. Thomas-

    Thatd be great if a) we were the size of belgium, Jamaica etc, b) we had the interest, c) Hockey didnt exist and d) the csa did their jobs. Its never going to happen. Do some research and youll see all prior attempts at Canadian soccer leagues have failed. At most we may in the future have successful USL teams that arent Montreal and Vancouver in places like Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and doubtfully Halifax. Even then there isnt the money or the interest in local business to prop these teams forward or for local communities to support them. Id LOVE to see a canadian league, itd be amazing and fantastic but at this point in time its a pipe dream.

    I do agree whole heartedly itd be great for concacaaf for Canada to compete (and we do from time to time). But that is an issue to take up with the CSA among other things.

    Soccer has never been a priority in this country, and to be honest it never will. Itd be nice to see it get some respect.

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  7. Concacaf needs a strong Canadian league to grow in relevance – is 34m really too small to support a league? I guess then Portugal, Belgium, Sweden, Greece, Australia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Jamaica, T&T, SAfrica, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Senegal etc better give up now.

    Canada has 6 metro areas with populations above 1m and 16 above 300,000, so it could easily support a serious league.

    Mexico needs the USA as a rival and USA needs Canada as a rival.

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  8. Hate to say it, but it looks like the consensus is with Portland as the leader. Sure they have a large fan base but these guys can be extremely abnoxious.

    Sounders will show them who is the best in the northwest, just you wait! So bring Portland to MLS. I will enjoy pissing on our arch rivals.

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  9. I chose Montreal and Vancouver. I think Canada presents tremendous growth potential for MLS. The success of Toronto FC makes a strong case for MLS to venture north again. Montreal and Vancouver have successful USL franchises and strong fan bases. I reject the argument that MLS should be a US-only league. MLB, the NBA, and the NHL all have Canadian teams. It hasn’t hurt the US national baseball, basketball, and hockey teams compete internationally.

    I’d chose Portland next, after that, I’m not sure. I’d say no to Miami as they already had a failed MLS franchise. Let ’em remain a USL-1 city. I can’t see Las Vegas making any sense. They don’t have a professional soccer team at any level. Ottawa and St. Louis at least have PDL squads, but jumping from Divison 4 to Division 1 seems too big a leap to me. Atlanta has a USL-1 team like Montreal, Portland, and Vancouver, so maybe they have future potential. Is Atlanta really a bad sports city? Sure, their other professional teams (Braves, Falcons, Hawks) don’t win very often, but it seems like a strong sports market to me. Another New York-based team? I don’t know. The existing MLS team in the area hasn’t lived up to its potential. (Have the Metrostars/RBNY ever won a major tournament?) Maybe if the $ is there and they get a stadium in New York instead of NJ. Otherwise, why bother.

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  10. Why in heck is Minnesota never considered for an MLS franchise. We have a Soccer specific stadium for the thunder. We may not be that glamerous, but we have an interesting geography because we could be natural opponents for Chicago, KC and Columbus, even Colorado isn’t all that far. MN fans are very loyal to their franchises, The Wild have sold out every single game they ever played, the vikings are always sold out as well. with a little time and money, MN could be a great sports franchise for the MLS!

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  11. Why in heck is Minnesota never considered for an MLS franchise. We have a Soccer specific stadium for the thunder. We may not be that glamerous, but we have an interesting geography because we could be natural opponents for Chicago, KC and Columbus, even Colorado isn’t all that far. MN fans are very loyal to their franchises, The Wild have sold out every single game they ever played, the vikings are always sold out as well. with a little time and money, MN could be a great sports franchise for the MLS!

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  12. Thanks Ossington. Btw, I have no ties to QC, but I did live there for a few months as a 4 year old when my dad did a short internship there in the early 70’s. Lots of French . . . đŸ™‚

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  13. For expansion, I voted Montreal and New York.

    But if I could be commissioner, and disregard all things currently in place, I would expand to Vancouver and Montreal, move Red Bulls to the rumored spot next to the New CitiField in Flushing Meadow as the ONLY NYC area team, and move Chivas USA to Portland.

    I think the key to MLS is having rivalry’s with teams in relatively close (as in a four hour drive) proximity. DC-PHI-NY-NE will be great rivalry games, like in the NFL, albeit on a smaller scale. Montreal-Toronto would be good. Obvisouly a Pacific Northwest tandem of Van-Sea-Por fall in line and the NoCal – SoCal thing already is in place. I discount Chivas USA as a serious player based on the way they have been branded and only a rival for LAG because they play in the GALAXY’s stadium.

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  14. HAHAHA

    Thanks BlueWhiteLion

    Honestly?

    I do think Montreal would contribute to Canadian soccer, granted it would prob be limited to Quebec and maybe bits and pieces outside of it, like near Ottawa or in some parts of the Eastcoast.

    It would bring a familiarity to canadian soccer, that one club (TFC) cant do on its own. Quebec is proud of its french culture and that alone would prompt some people to go and support what some regard as ‘their countries’ team/club, others, like hte rest of us would regard them as their regional representation.

    On the same hand Quebec is pretty insular and as a result there is alot of resentment from everyone else. Regardless of the resentment there would be national coverage of the team, even if it was a blurb.

    I do think itd bring a european flair to the league and they would have great support as well as its underrated as a town to visit (honestly the most beautiful women in North America).

    They obviously have a good structure and team (look how they are doing in the CL) and rivalry would be fierce between Toronto and Montreal, honestly possibly one of the best Derby’s in the MLS, if not North America. It would get national attention for certain because of the heated environment. I wouldnt be surprised if they brought in more african players (due to the language). They currently have alot of cats from italian backgrounds (due to the big italian community there).

    For the record i hate hate hate hate hate Montreal Impact, but it really would be a mistake to not allow them to join (should they want to). As mentioned previously they have a stadium already built which is expandable, they have a fanbase which can only grow and they have a heated rivalry which could be explosive (in a good way).

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  15. LOL Ossington, thanks for the “regional history” of Canada. Pretty hilarious. I wonder what a team in Montreal would do to expand the MLS brand popularity. I have not been a proponent of them (not against them either) but have wondered of late what a bridge to the French Connection might do for MLS. Your thoughts?

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  16. People with a truncated view of MLS history will always hate on Miami–especially if they follow the Marlins stadium saga. There is no question, if Barca wants to bring a team to Miami, they will get one, hands down, and it will be established. The Fusion were actually on a significant upswing in both numbers and success (mid-11,000’s–at Lockhart stadium which is far removed from Miami, and their talented reached semi-finals their last year.). They also got a lot of face time do to their popular coach and media quote machine: Ray Hudson. Horowitz, the owner, canned the team.

    Miami has the ability to hold a team and be successful in (I think) the 9th largest media market in the US). It is the “only” team in the SE USA. Miami is the gateway to all of Central/South America. (Some say the nice thing about Miami is its proximity to the US. đŸ™‚ )

    Same goes for the NY team. If the Mets want one, and have a stadium deal in place (that would have to be true for Miami also), they will get one. Short of that, they probably won’t.

    Other than Miami, my sentimental favorite would be St. Louis, which could anchor a strong MidWest region. But I really think it would be good to get a team closer to Seattle–either Vancouver or Portland

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  17. one last and final thing cuz its obvious people arent going to change their minds (and thats fine) but

    Xander-

    Why should your opinion be taken seriously as you openly admit that ‘never really been able to get into MLS’

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  18. HAHAHA thanks Demonjuice, looks like we are on the same track. Was thinking about the Cardiff-Swansea derby a week or two back. Woulda been scary as hell

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  19. Xander-

    The coca cola championship currently has two welsh teams and ligue 1 in france has monaco. Last time i checked Wales was its own country as was Monaco.Thats two leagues.

    Wynne was never considered for the USMNT until he played at TFC, are you saying we had no hand in it? He was at redbulls for what 2 years? A year and a half before hand?

    Canada is particularly regional, you would know this if you lived here. The west cries because its ignored, quebec cries cuz its french, the east cries cuz its got no more fish and ontario cries cuz it pays for everyone (well, not so much anymore). This is not to mention the fact that outside of the big 3 cities, there is not alot of population. There are 5.5 million people in Toronto. Thats a sixth of the population here. Ill stop there but it gives you an idea of how small Canada really is. Please dont go off on something you have no clue about.

    Im still trying to figure out your comparison of the MLS to the NHL.

    I never, by the way, said that opening expansion teams in Canada would help the US find interest in soccer, so im not sure where youre pulling that from. I certainly dont think itd hurt. As someone mentioned earlier a large part of the draw to soccer games is the vocal and energetic atmosphere which is definite in Montreal and almost definite in Vancouver. I would imagine if Vancouver played Seattle itd be riotous. Certainly dont see that in Kansas City or at Chivas games…

    Thanks for the effort tho.

    More than anything I hope they put two teams in Canada now and they are successful, just to smite you.

    xoxo OMY

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  20. How can Las Vegas not be a top pick. Medium market, tons of tourism and no competition for top level sports teams. It might even make MLS a viable bettting forum which could bring added interest.

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  21. @Xander Crews:

    The Championship springs immediately to mind.

    Cardiff City ain’t from England.

    Those crafty Welsh have figured out how to leech off the English FA! No wonder Ryan Giggs is so good! Cardiff out!!! Toronto out!!!

    I can name some more examples if you’d like… lemme know…

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  22. I just want to throw in another vote for montreal and portland (or vancouver). All of these cities would be great, have good bases of support. Montreal in particular has so much upside: many international residents, vicious rivalry with Toronto, and a unique Quebecois influence.

    More importantly, these cities, unlike Stl., Miami, NY, etc., all are without big-time summer sports.

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  23. First off, I agree there should be no MLS teams in Canada. It’s not xenophobia, it’s logic. If MLS falls under the jurisdiction of US Soccer, then why do we have a team (or teams) in Canada? The league isn’t intended to develop talent in Canada, it’s intended to develop talent in the US. If Canada wants their own league, then they need to crap or get off the pot. Is it the fault of MLS and US Soccer that Canada can’t get their crap together and put together a top-flight league but instead must subsidize off the US? Name me one other domestic league around the world that has clubs in multiple nations (here’s a hint: THERE AREN’T ANY, hence the name ‘domestic’ league). Hell, even piddly little CONCACAF nations are able to have their own domestic leagues, but Canada is incapable of their own? What a joke….

    And Ossington Mental Youth, stop with your inane ramblings about how Toronto has developed American players – that would happen regardless of where that team played. You’re just making yourself sound foolish. And don’t think it’s a regional thing, either – Toronto’s actually the closest MLS city to me. And please explain to me how having teams in Canada helps the US market…. how’s that working out for the NHL?

    Having said that….

    – expand to 20 teams, go single-table, home-and-home with each opponent (38 games)

    – schedule runs March through October, roughly one game a week

    – most importantly, NO PLAYOFFS. There’s already playoffs, that’s called the US Open Cup.

    – add teams in St. Louis, Portland, NY and Miami (provided it has the backing of FC Barcelona – otherwise, pick another city that’s not named Atlanta, which can’t support any of the pro sports teams it currently has)

    – merge with USL and move to a promotion/relegation system. Other cities interested in forming must play their way up

    – do away with the single-entity format. Let’s let each city sink or swim on their own. I’d rather have a club like Rochester that is willing to spend money and put people in the seats and a quality product on the field than some cheaply run product out of Chivas, market size be damned.

    I’ve never really been able to get into MLS, and I think it’s because the powers that be are trying too hard to make the game ‘American’ instead of bringing the game that people love to the states. It’s not broken how other countries do it, so why do we think it needs to be fixed?

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  24. wow, i botvched that editing job… apologies, my main point… relegation would make things so much easier (pipe-dream as it is right now) and sometimes old, dump stadiums can be fantastic venues for soccer.

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  25. Chivas USA moves to San Diego,

    KC moves to St Louis,

    Dallas moves to…

    NYC should get team #2,

    Portland should be given a franchise (to those commenting about their stadium; i haven’t seen it so i’m speaking blind, but as long as there is a good pitch and the stands are packed to 20,000, there’s potential for magic… sometimes especially in those old stadiums…still, i haven’t seen it so…)

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  26. Please Ives dont even get me started! How about we return our beloved Team which was disbanded in a knee jerk reaction to 9.11, splintering all our lives, coaches, players and fans. We had captured magic in a bottle w/ the supporters shield, built up the afusionado fan base despite sec. racism, and a 1.5 hr. drive. The best players, some whom I keep in touch with, myself, and I bet Ray Hudson are STILL devasted. Fly them to me for a tour, w/in 24 hrs. they will award us a team! MLS YOU OWE US!!!

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  27. I choose St. Louis and Montréal to be the next MLS cities.

    St. Louis is the biggest soccer hothouse in the United States. Its tradition and support for the game deserves to be on the biggest platform for soccer in America. And Jeff Cooper, the man fronting the bid,seems to me the kind of guy who cares a great deal about the game on all levels.

    MontrĂ©al has one of the richest men in Canada, Joey Saputo, fronting the bid. Saputo owns the USL’s MontrĂ©al Impact and he has shown to be one of the smartest soccer executives in North America, as evidence by the Impact’s presence in the CONCACAF Champions League. And they already have a stadium in place that can easily be upgraded to meet MLS standards.

    If MLS decides to add two more teams, I’d like them to be Portland and Vancouver. They both have an excellent pro soccer tradition and their presence, along with Seattle Sounders FC, would give MLS one of the most intense three way rivalries they’ve ever seen. Hopefully both cities will have their ducks all lined up by then.

    As for the others, while I see the benefits, revenue wise, for a second team in New York, I would rather wait until Red Bull New York moves into its new home in Harrison next year, sells out the building and creats a buzz before committing. Miami has fail written all over it as they had the plug pulled out of their team by the league years ago and now are trying to pin their hopes on a European club attempting to pimp their brand in the U.S. while no local investors were willing to step forward to fund a team on their own. Atlanta, Las Vegas, too sketchy to be taken seriously. And Ottawa is a newcomer with the smallest population base amongst the hopefuls. Longshot at best.

    That’s my opinion. But I’m willing to guess Don Garber and the suits at MLS see it differently. >:P

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  28. Ottawa? Haha! Why not Yellowknife? Or maybe Whitehorse.

    I chose Portland and St Louis because it seems they would have a good base for attendance and a strong tradition. I could see them being successful.

    And Miami? Didn’t they try that before?

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  29. Queens ALONE has a population bigger than any city in MLS except LA and Chicago.

    How can there not be a team in New York City?

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  30. I voted for Atlanta and Miami.

    The south needs a team. Atlanta has tons of youth soccer adn a large hispanic population. But mainly I think it should be one of these because there isn’t a team anywhere near here.

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  31. To all you Canada Haters — Please stop hating, it really isn’t in your best interest to hate on the supportors, attendance, and atmosphere GOLD Standard of the league. I’m not trying to be conceded, i’m just saying it because its true…but anyways..

    If Montreal gets in, which they will i already know for a fact that they will be chosen, Just wait and see the Derby between Toronto and Montreal!! The rest of the league hasn’t seen anything until you see that Derby!! It basically carries EUROPEAN DERBY CLASHES history with it..That Derby will be the Pinnacle of the League just mark my words!!

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  32. I went with Portland, and that was vote number 2011. MLS needs cities that support their teams well and franchises with history and authenticity. Portland is a beautiful mid sized city and will be a great counterbalance to Seattle, which are bound to be the douches of the league.

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  33. Looks like alot of folks have been drinking the Atlanta is a bad sports town Kool-Aid. Nothing could be further from the truth. MLS wants a team in the south, and Atlanta is the biggest market of the choices that doesn’t already have a team. I also suspect that of all the potential owners, Arthur Blank has the deepest pockets. Just sayin’.

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  34. Three things:

    First, it is nearly impossible to predict exactly how a team in Vegas would be supported. The only thing this town has ever had in terms of a professional, Major League sports team was the old NASL Quicksilvers which played for one year, in ’77. They averaged 7,000 a game in attendance that year (according to wikipedia the league as a whole was averaging just over 10,000). Not great stats, but not necessarily indicative of how well a team would be supported now. The Las Vegas area (including North Las Vegas, Henderson, and Boulder City) has grown tremendously (more than tripling its population by far since the early 80s). Would more come to the games? Definitely. How many more? There is no real way to predict that sort of thing. We could pretend like it is as easy as tripling the average attendance and whahlah: 21,000, but obviously that isn’t how these things work.

    Second, yes Furball, we Vegas people are nuts. So crazy that we would dare to have an outdoor stadium with real grass (which is more than able to grow lovely and green in Vegas–just in case some idiot out there can’t fathom that notion), with a retractable roof to block out the heat of the sun from the field during games. I tried to find that article I had read about there even being a proposal for AC in the stadium, but couldn’t find it, so I will back off from that claim until I do. However, remember that Vegas is not a humid place, where the heat is stifling even in the shade. A retractable roof will provide shade that will DRASTICALLY cool the stadium and field.

    Third, here is a list (feel free to block them Ives if this is against any of your policies, and sorry this was so long) of articles that might shed some light into the Vegas group’s proposal:

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2007/may/31/35-million-bet-on-pro-soccer/

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2007/jul/27/local-group-upbeat-after-mingling-with-pro-soccer-/

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2007/sep/18/vegas-runs-hard-as-soccer-town/

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2008/jul/24/las-vegas-still-running-mls-expansion/

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  35. Portland – Stadium.Fans.Rivalry w/Seattle.

    St Louis – IF the plan is good and the investor peeps are good then everything is great. Rivalry with Chicago and much-needed KC

    ——–

    Montreal – Stadium Upgrade. Owner. Fans. Rivalry with TFC and if all goes well-anyone in the league.

    NYC – Nothing until everything pans out with RBA. Seems like the Mets thing would work.

    No Miami or Atlanta for reasons already stated.

    No Las Vegas as for the most part, it is boom/bust

    Finally, I really don’t know what’s up with Vancouver. Them in the league would have a nice 3 way rivalry up therr and they have Nash, so I think that NYC should be shivering…

    Once MLS is at 20, expansion for the first division stops. Everyone else can vie for the soon-to-be MLS-2 East or West. It’ll be similar to the current MLS format as by then, MLS will become 1st place wins it all type of league which will give the Open Cup some style to it and the CCL more recognition.

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  36. St Louis is, and always has been, a big soccer town. And KC and Chicago need a regional rival. And Miami because of it’s large Hispanic community.

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  37. Michael,

    The more teams the league adds, the MORE likely it is that there will be an uneven schedule with conferences, not LESS.

    That is why FIFA mandated leagues keep their team numbers at 20, because they don’t want more than 38 league games played with international calendar, etc based on the single table format most everyone else in the world uses.

    I don’t see the MLS being able to add many more games to its 30 game regular season, especially if playoffs continue. If they go to 18 teams and went to a balanced schedule that would make 36 games, six more than now. Where would you fit those 6 games in a team’s schedule now, with all the existing conflicts? The only way around this is to divide the league into conferences and play an unbalanced schedule which keeps the number of games down.

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  38. @Michael,

    Nice point about going to a single table. I think it would be good, especially if the league expands to 18 or so teams. In America, though, I don’t think you’ll ever see a playoff done way with, regardless of whether or not we see a single table or continued conference play. It’s just too ingrained in our mindset.

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