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MLS expecting expansion announcement in 45 days

Don Garber 9

Photo by Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports


ORLANDO, Fla. — While the two newest Major League Soccer expansion clubs were busy battling it out in a sold-out Citrus Bowl, MLS commissioner Don Garber shed some light on when the league would announce the next step in expansion.

Garber said Sunday that the league is set to make an expansion announcement within the next 45 days. MLS has had a stated goal of moving to 24 teams by the end of the decade, and will move to 22 in 2017 when clubs in Atlanta and Los Angeles begin playing.

Which cities out of Miami, Sacramento, Minnesota and San Antonio will join the league afterwards is currently unknown, but an answer as to who will fill at least one of the two highly-coveted spots will be provided soon.

“At the draft we said we’d have something done within six months and I think we’re down to probably 45 days,” said Garber during expansion clubs Orlando City and New York City FC’s 1-1 draw. “…There are a lot of strong candidates. I think all of them are strong. Every city has put together a bid. The more they see what’s happening here, the more excitement is building, the more value is created for fans and for municipalities. So we’re confident that the next round will be announced soon.”

Out of the four cities in the running, Miami is the one that has long been linked with earning a franchise. David Beckham chose to exercise his discounted expansion option on the South Florida metropolis in 2014, but has run into difficulties with securing suitable land for a soccer-specific stadium.

A recent vote by the Miami-Dade County commission has approved offering Beckham and his group of investors some land near Marlins Park, but it remains unclear if they will take the deal given their preference for a downtown location.

Garber, for his part, did not indicate one way or the other what will happen with Miami.

“He’s working hard on getting his stadium plan in place,” said Garber. “There’s a lot of noise coming out of there lately. I’m going to reiterate: We love the city of Miami and we think there’s a lot of cool things happening there that represent many of the core values of what our league is about.

“We’d like to see something happen, but if we don’t make progress on the stadium I think he would agree it’s hard to move forward, but they’re feeling pretty confident. I just saw some news the other day.”

Regardless of what happens with Miami, MLS might not stop at 24 teams. While some think that the league should not grow beyond that number, there seems to be the possibility of the league expanding past it after 2020.

“What happens after that, I don’t know,” said Garber. “I probably won’t be the guy leading the charge here, but we’re very focused on 24 teams by the end of the decade.”


  1. The next two teams will be Minnesota & San Antonio!

    I let the NASL do my market research for me!

    That’s how I keep costs down!

    I am brilliant!

  2. There are some cities that merit teams. For me, it’s utterly bizarre that there is no team in San Diego, and that the city is rarely mentioned. Sacramento has had a great run, but I bet something similar could have been done with an investment in San Diego. Anyway, here’s my point:

    MLS is struggling now with the 34 game calendar to manage other competitions, and already has issues with the FIFA calendar. With 24 teams, you can do a basically balanced (within the conference) schedule. 22 home and home games in conference, and 12 against the other conference. That way every team plays each other at least once.

    If you go beyond 24 teams, you are faced with only bad choices. Either have to get away from that kind of a balanced schedule, or you have to add in a bunch of more games. In the first case, you have to chose between losing the home and home series within the conference, or you have to give up playing each team in the other conference once a year. If you add in games, the question is when? The weather won’t allow for extending the season in Canada, the midwest or the northeast. Teams will have to have a spring home. Either that, or you have to have 2 games a week, which is killer, especially given how thin most MLS teams’ rosters are. The only way I can see to go to a longer regular season is to get rid of the MLS playoffs, but the league will never go for that option.

    No matter how tempting it is to expand beyond 24, it will be the wrong move.

  3. Here’s the solution. Give Miami a USL franchise. Let them play at FIU or whatever temporary stadium they want to play in. Let them build a fan base. Let them prove that they deserve to be in MLS. While they’re building support in the community, they can figure out their permanent stadium plans. What’s wrong with that? Oh yeah, nobody will support them and they’ll realize that Miami doesn’t deserve a team after all.

    • +1 instead they spent the last two years going to Heat games and trying to smooze up the mayor of Miami all with a ton of bad press. could have started a USL team and proven their value, assuming there is any, to the city over time ala Orlando.

  4. i would be surprised if its anything different than Miami and Sacramento.

    Miami – i wouldn’t vote for it but its got potential. The amount of time Garber brings it up and talks about it I would be shocked to hear him pull the plug on that one

    Sacramento – nobody deserves it more. idk the schedule on the rail yard redevelopment but i would guess that 2018 or 19 should be fine and this team/city will be ready before that.

    It will be interesting to see how NASL & USL capitalize on MLS passing, for the moment?, on San Antonio, Indy, Minn, Carolina, St Louis, Nashville, Las Vegas, others. As well as possibly co-existing in Atlanta and the FL-Miami area.

  5. The weekly tv calendar is AWESOME. Hopefully that is a game changer.

    Now, with this next round of expansion, they can add another time slot with a Monday night game, which could lead to another big tv contract.

    Say what you will about Garber, but this is all looking fairly brilliant to me.

    The concerns for me as the league continues to take off are the dilution of talent (I think not a big deal since the league is still in it’s growth phase), and the talent level growing at such a rate that makes it hard for young Americans to break in (this runs counter to my first concern and will hopefully be resolved by the development of the youth academies and better overall development of youth players).

    • People like to talk smack about Garber but it’s hard to argue with results. And I don’t think the Chivas experiment could’ve turned out any better than how it did. Galaxy vs. LAFC is going to turn into a REALLY big rivalry!

    • “how many clubs are winding up on the west coast” – what are you talking about? NYCFC, Orlando, and Atlanta are all east coast, and LA2 is a replacement for Chivas.

      • Come on guys, Sacramento??? Really? I’m surprised they could keep the kings, they are way too small of a market. What are you guys going to ask for next, a team in Bakersfield? The team should go to Minneapolis.

  6. I was in Sacramento on business a week ago and it is amazing how much support the Republic has in that town. It will be a crying shame and highway robbery if they don’t get a team when they have done everything right. I saw support in restaurants and other places I went, along with the Kings. Really hope they get a team.

      • your ignorant statement belies your inability to grasp what is happening in sacramento and miami….. sacramento outdraws 11 of the current mls teams in attendance and cubans in miami don’t give a squat about football (soccer) as for the frozen north, they care more about hockey and american football than they do soccer….

  7. Would like to see Sac and MN or San Antonio.
    Those are the best markets to replicate Orlando, Portland, Seattle .

    MLS 2.0 needs fanatic fan bases. Let 3.0 be L.A. 2 and Miami. When those ownership groups are ready to wow and make it worth it. ATL will be interesting..
    I would rather add an IN in the 2.0 and saved ATL.

  8. It’ll be Minnesota United, their owner strongly hinted to this and was wearing an MLS scarf at their last supports meeting (think that’s what it was). I’d be happy if they announced SAC to as its a ready made MLS team. I’d be shocked if we didn’t have at least 22 teams by 2020. These two, Miami and San Antonio. Wouldn’t be shocked if it was 24. Also think MLS is strategically putting the hammer to NASL with the USL partnership and taking their best teams.

    • NASL will be division 3 in 10 years and MLS/USL will eventually have a limited pro/rel system in place by year 15 or 20. At least that’s my prediction

    • I’m not so sure about Minnesota. The United/Twins group has no stadium to play in since the new Vikings stadium, the Vikings owners were given exclusive rights to an MLS team. The United/Twins group was recently told by the state legislature that there was not appetite for any funding of a $150 mil stadium. So unless the United/Twins group can privately build a stadium, I just don’t see how they can make an MLS team work unless they partner with the Vikings.

    • That should be the policy for this league going forward. It still remains to be seen how NYCFC will do as a team with no history and no stadium in a very crowded sports market. I fully recognize NYCFC and ATL’s accomplishments in selling season tickets, and they’re to be commended. I wish ’em a ton of luck. I just see a ton of excitement around Orlando City, and huge amount of potential in Sacramento, and think quasi-promotion is the best method for success in this league (also see Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Montreal).

      • The south needs to care about soccer more before they deserve any more teams. In my opinion there shouldn’t even be an expansion team in Atlanta, aka the worst sports city in America.


        From above article:
        Here are the announced attendances for soccer games at the Dome since 2009:

        March 5, 2014: Mexico vs. Nigeria, 68,212

        2013: Gold Cup, 54,229

        2009: Mexico vs. Venezuela, 51,115

        2011: Mexico vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, 50,507

        2009: Club America vs. A.C. Milan, 50,306

        2010: Club America vs. Manchester City, 33,271

        The [2014] game is believed to have the second-highest attendance of the 53 international friendlies played on Wednesday. Only England’s match against Denmark at London’s Wembley Stadium sold more tickets (68,573).

      • Is there a direct correlation to USMNT support (or people coming out to view the opponent) to supporting an actual MLS club?

      • Old School, if you’d use your brain you’d know i never mentioned the support of the USMNT. none of the games listed above featured the USMNT….. please read, sir

      • Relax with the hostility. I’m not even sure why you took it as such.

        My question was general, but if we keep it to specifically Mexico: can you provide any relevance to comparing a national team attendance to that of a potential expansion club pre or post?

      • I have lived in Atlanta for ten years. There is some truth in both your statements, albeit the conclusions are based on the following stereotypes: Locals are mostly transplants, and therefore indifferent. And most attendees are overwhelmingly Mexican, hence your almanac numbers.

      • And what do all those games have in common? If your answer was Mexico than you are correct. Mexicans go to Mexican games regardless of where it’s at. IMO this has nothing to do whatsoever with MLS’s ability to draw a crowd.

      • you’ve missed the point. people were saying that just because there is a large hispanic population doesn’t mean they’d go to soccer matches, thus i used facts to show that they in fact go to games. if i had demographic numbers for the Atl Silverbacks games i could further prove it. but since i personally go to the Silverbacks park every week and see the people attending games i also know that there is a large hispanic population that wants to watch games. the correlation between hispanics going to games and MLS drawing a crow in a potential expansion city is pretty obvious. MLS wants to see the city supporting whatever soccer clubs are there and then can project sales numbers etc to decide where to put a team (many other factors are involved but local attendance is part of it)

      • @slowleftarm

        Yes Atlanta shouldn’t have a team especially since they will ONLY have 25k season ticket holders in 2017.

      • What has Charlotte, Nashville and Birmingham done? You’d be better off in Tampa or Jacksonville – maybe even Raleigh.

      • though we (ATL) are not technically a USL or NASL team being promoted, we do have a large fan base with our NASL team. we also have a VERY large mexican population which has shown huge support for the Silverbacks and largely has been responsible for our high pre-sale numbers for the MLS 2017 team. these things plus the size of our entertainment market paved the way for our MLS expansion team– Arthur Blank’s deep pockets helped as well, lol.

        rather than a rule forcing expansion to come from lower leagues, I’d rather in the next five or so getting a pro/rel system. could even start with just one team going up and down to slow the change until all three leagues get stable. the MLS is/should/have been giving money to the lower leagues to reach this goal. IMHO…..

      • Who gives a #$%^ about a large mexican population. Theres large mexican populations everywhere! The fact is they do not buy season tickets or luxury boxes. Getting tired of people saying this!

      • you’re missing the point. perhaps i should have said the percentage of Hispanics in ATL is quickly rising (+72% from 2000-2010, per Census). This growth is evident in many things, one of which has been the recent soccer attendance numbers; largely by Mexicans and other Hispanics. as an Atlantan i can personally attest to this.

        “The fact is they do not buy season tickets or luxury boxes”

        wow u win the covert racist award…..

        I’m sorry you’re so annoyed by people speaking about populations etc…. you should try to relax…….

      • Racist?
        Get over yourself dude.
        Hispanic population percentages has nothing to do with an MLS team’s success. Just ask Chivas USA, the Miami Fusion and the Tampa Mutiny.

      • This was totally racist. It wasn’t even covert, it was overt. Points of Depression: (1) dude said it in the first place, (2) only one person calls him out on it, (3) two people supply backlash.

      • saying hispanics don’t buy season tickets or luxury boxes isn’t covert racism? lol. was there a need to distinguish the type of seats they would or would not buy? he could have just said ” they won’t go to games” but he instead chose to say they wouldn’t (read:couldn’t afford) higher priced tickets (i.e. season tickets and luxury boxes).

      • You miss the point!

        Even if you had Hispanics buying half the luxury boxes and a large percentage of season tickets, the potential income would pale in comparison for the Spanish language television rights a club could count on in a market with a large Hispanic population.

        with this in mind. Sacramento, Miami will be the 23rd and 24th clubs.

        I think part of the business model for the MLS is to capture a larger percentage of viewers in the existing markets or at least capture a respectable (if small)percentage of viewers in a huge TV market.
        Miami is the 5th largest TV market in the US, and the percentage of Hispanic viewers is also very high. Sacramento has the huge Hispanic populations of the San Joaquin Valley and a young upscale market in the Sacramento-Davis region. All good demographics, to capitalize on.

        That’s why I think the MLS will expand past 24, to include markets in the South, Large cities like San Diego and maybe even a few cities with USL/NASL teams but only those with rabid fan bases.

      • I am glad that all races and ethnicities love soccer and the game needs to be promoted to all people, not just one specific group. I’m a white guy who happens to love the game. Don’t forget about me 🙂

      • No you’re missing the point bottlecaps.
        Ever hear of Chivas USA, the Miami Fusion or the Tampa Bay Mutiny?
        All were complete crap and they all prove you wrong.

      • What do the anti-ATL people have to say about the number of season tickets that have been reserved? I know they have not been bought and that the number might be a little bit misleading, but it is still an impressive number that suggests people around the city are excited about MLS coming to town.

      • I agree ATL is a good place for MLS. I agree 19,000 STH two years before kickoff is great. I agree this team will be successful with outstanding attendance. Though none of this is due to the Hispanic population of ATL. Sure, some do come out to games but anyone who looks at a US city and says “diversity” = “a successful MLS club” is woefully mistaken. If Hispanics were buying lots of season tickets and box suites we would still have Chivas USA the Fusion and the Mutiny. But they didn’t and they all folded. No one said anyone could not afford anything. Their allegiance to LigaMX and the MX national team is well documented. No MLS team in Atlanta will replace that.

      • So, not being able to consistently sell out your 5k seat stadium = “huge support for the Silverbacks”? High standards.

      • that would be disappointing if Miami was announced as an expansion team. I mean, that whole announcement w/Beckham in Miami a couple of years ago was a de facto expansion announcement for Miami. The announcement in 45 days should be Sacramento.

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