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Garber: 20 MLS teams by 2012 is NOT a lock

DonGarber (GettyImages)

When MLS commissioner Don Garber mentioned that Major League Soccer would look to add two more expansion teams by 2012, bringing the league to 20 teams, MLS fans were left wondering whether MLS wasn't going too fast in its expansion plans.

The league may not be moving quite that fast.

Garber clarified the comment he made at Vancouver's MLS expansion announcement on Wednesday, saying on Thursday that the league is not locked into a plan to add two more expansion teams in 2012.

"We've not said 20 by 2012, we're saying that we have to decide what we are going to do in the next round (of expansion)," Garber told SBI on Thursday night. "That next round would come no earlier than 2012, but we've got a lot of work to do to figure out when those next two teams come in, where they should be, where they should be geographically located and how we will manage the player pool."

While 2012 may not be a lock, MLS is keeping the possibility of 2012 expansion open at least in part to keep the losing 2011 bids engaged and interested in continuing their pushes for expansion. Whether teams 19 and 20 join in 2012 remains to be seen, but it is evident that MLS officials are aware of the challenges that expanding to 20 teams so quickly would present.

Given the early success in Seattle, and the promising reactions to expansion teams in Vancouver and Portland, MLS may find itself with a crop of expansion candidates eager to join MLS as soon as possible, which could force the league to add two more teams in 2012.

What do you think MLS should do? Should the league expand to 20 teams by 2012 or should MLS hold off a year or two in order to let the talent pool be replenished? Do you think MLS should stop at 18 teams?

Which did you choose, and why? Share your thoughts on Major League Soccer's expansion plans beyond 2011 in the comments section below.


  1. yeah i say if there can be more teams why shouldn’t there be. people keep going on about how they want soccer to be more popular in america as a professional sport. so my point is if you look at all the other professional sports leagues in america what do they all have?; a lot of teams. the least i think is nhl which has thirty teams and it isnt even all that popular compared to the nfl and mlb. and we’re freakin out cuz were going to have 20 teams (oh no!). the more teams there are, the more people that are exposed to it so the more popular it will become.

    Also if people are seriously worried about lacking the talent pool they need to get their heads checked cuz there are a crapload of youth players that are all pretty talented just here in st. louis let alone the whole country and surrounding countries. there shouldnt be much of a problem in that area.

    Overall continuing expansion is a good idea. yes it could wait untill 2013 or 14 but hey the sooner the better.

  2. Also, there aren’t enough teams in middle America. My concern is that MLS is becoming a league only located on the rich Atlantic and Pacific coasts. No Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Detroit, St. Louis, Omaha, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati or Oklahoma City. MLS should add some teams in the heartland. Also increase the size of the goal by a few inches to increase scoring!

  3. Garber is an excellent comissioner and saved the league. Milwaukee should be a candidate for expansion. The Milwaukee Wave is the oldest continuously operating soccer club in the US. This idea about talent drain is utter nonsense. Eventually the league should have 30 teams. Only then will it be taken seriously as a “major league” in America. There are way too many ties in MLS. Reinstate overtime to break a few of those ties!

  4. All this expansion talk is great, but one issue I would like to hear more about is the dissolution of the USL. It seems like MLS is taking the best USL teams, and in what state does that leave USL. Are there financial feasibility issues? I’d hate to lose a strong US soccer developer.

    Will USL die eventually? MLS-2 sounds great, but would be difficult to envision.

  5. Ya know, it’s completely unlike for many reason, but I have belief we can make it work here in Atlanta. A great place to start woould be the Silverbacks, unfortunately nobody knew about them except the people going and people who decided the traffic wasn’t worth it to see a second teir team. The next best place to show some enthusiasm is this Milan-America game at the Georgia Dome. Get out and support the sport first (isn’t that a whole lot of the St. Louis talk is about?). Lastly, I think a grassroots type movement seems great. I’ma start the website as soon as I can figure all that out.

    Join me!

    MLS Atlanta 20-Whatever-we-don’t-care-as-long-as-we-get-a-team!!!!!

  6. 18 may be a bridge to far, and 20 is a bridge to nowhere.
    KC and Chivas are in trouble. Chivas could move to San Diego, and KC to
    St. Louis.

  7. Increase the cap, get rid of the draft and implement an academy system with free education. Trying to use the NCAA to develop players is a folly.

  8. I’m for a 20 team max (18 would be better).

    Let’s keep a balanced schedule and ensure ever team gets every other team at home. That’s how you build rivalries.

    The future of expansion beyond 20 teams will have to be (I hope) an MLS-2. Lock in the 20 for X amount of years, and start up MLS-2 in the meantime. MLS-2 franchises can be had for a smaller investment. Places like Rochester and Virginia Beach should get teams. Miami can rejoin. Ditto Tampa Bay.

    Of course, Garber will screw it up, of that, I have no doubt.


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