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Garber: Sacramento leads field for MLS expansion to 28

Photo by Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports
Photo by Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports

On Thursday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber envisioned the future of the league, and it included at least 28 teams.

Speaking in downtown Sacramento, Garber explained his vision for expansion to a large crowd of Sacramento Republic FC supporters, and even Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Republic FC could be officially announced as the next expansion team within the next year, according to the Sacramento Bee. Garber also revealed cities in the running for the remaining three spots, including San Diego, Detroit, St. Louis, San Antonio and Austin.

“This is a soccer city, and frankly we don’t see that very often,” Garber said. “Sacramento is further along than any other market that we’re speaking to.”

Garber said he could see Republic FC playing in MLS by 2020, as the club currently competes in the USL. Republic FC won the USL championship to conclude its debut season in 2014.

On Wednesday, Republic FC revealed new renderings for its proposed MLS stadium.

MLS currently has 20 teams, but Atlanta United FC, Los Angeles FC, Minnesota United FC and a David Beckham-backed team in Miami are all set to begin play in the coming years.

What do you think of this development? Which cities do you think MLS should expand to next?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. With respect to the question “Was anyone left out of this years HOF” as it pertains to the USWNT,
    I would need to know who is already in. For sure, Michelle Akers should be at the head of those
    who have been inducted. And many from the 99 team. Also, does anyone know how long a
    player had to be retired before they are eligible for the HOF??

  2. So are we talking about a 40-game season (2 in-conference, 1 out of conference)? Maybe that will finally force MLS to shrink the bloated playoff system.

  3. When will the expansion to the MLS end? I’m all for it growing, but I’m curious if it will just keep continuining to grow until there are 50 MLS teams. KInda will become a circus if we stick with the American playoffs system and not move to promotion relegation

    • 28 teams is still smaller than the big four leagues (nfl, nba…). I don’t think those leagues are thinking about getting all that much bigger.

  4. Pro/rel will happen in my opinion but not for a while. There are easily 40 markets that will be able to support a team so two 20 team divisions with 2 up 2 down or 3 up 3 down. Pro/rel is not a “foreign” concept to soccer fans. This assumes Garber will have moved on by the time this happens.

    • This has nothing to do with Garber. If the owners don’t want pro/rel, it doesn’t matter who the commissioner is. Ain’t going to happen.

      • All the commissioner needs to do is come and say, “let’s start talking about this, how it could be done, etc.” Then the media would change their tone.

        Try to use your imagination. Forget the owners for one second, we know their arguments. Why don’t YOU, as a fan, want promotion and relegation ?

      • “All the commissioner needs to do is come and say, “let’s start talking about this, how it could be done, etc.” Then the media would change their tone.

        Try to use your imagination. Forget the owners for one second, we know their arguments. Why don’t YOU, as a fan, want promotion and relegation ?”

        Why don’t I, as a fan, want pro/rel? Because I can be a hard core fan of the sport without wanting pro/rel, especially in a country where the sport is still not entrenched enough for pro/rel to work. The only way pro/rel happens is if lower division soccer becomes far more popular than it is now. In addition, MLS must become strong enough to be able to support a second division and share marketing and revenue with MLS2 clubs. For that to happen, TV ratings have to grow exponentially. As it is, ratings are minuscule. There may come a day when pro/rel is feasible, but we’re talking decades down the line when lower division soccer is on much more solid ground and the popularity of the sport is much greater than it is.

        I grew up in a country where pro/rel is the norm. I’ve seen enough clubs fall off the radar or go into financial ruin trying to compete. The result? Young players get benched in order to try and simply avoid going down to a lower division, meaning player development and tactics suffer. What makes you think pro/rel will be such a boon to the sport in the U.S.? I just don’t see it, at least not at this point in time. Perhaps in a few more decades, but right now? No way. I’ve been following U.S. soccer since 1990 and I don’t want to return to a time when there was no viable professional league other than indoor soccer. I can live without pro/rel for the time being while I enjoy the continued growth of our top league.

  5. Sacramento actually led the field for 24 but that’s none of my business.

    Seriously though, MLS is Sacramento will be as big as it is in Portland.

  6. I wish the NFL…oops MLS would identify their expansion markets already so that the NASL can continue to grow and introduce promotion/relegation already.

    Given the size of the USA there are over 100 cities that can support top level soccer….why shut them all out of the promise of playing in the top division in the country? Leicester City anyone? Pro/rel is the best system for soccer fans, but not for the MLS owners that want a monopoly on top level soccer in order to protect their economic interests.

    • Lol you people and pro rel it’s like hearing Trump talk about building a wall, sounds good in theory but we know it’s never going to happen.

    • And in response to your tried-and-tested idea you’ll be bluntly told it will “never happen” in the United States because P-R is a foreign concept for the typical American sports fan, and will result in extremely upset owners. Typically it is the MLS owners, their commissioner (who is to blame for not opening up the dialog), their coaches, or the pandering section of the media, who think in such rigid, fatalist terms. People who say that are completely lacking in imagination. Owners can be replaced, a generation of suits will be forgotten, and like you said, this country’s fans could support 100 teams easily in a proper pyramid setup.

      In a strictly soccer sense, expansion will dilute the talent pool whereas connecting the soccer pyramid will enhance it. For me this is undeniable and logical. Explore the issue further in all its facets – certain inquisitive under-appreciated journalists have done this – and you’ll find, MLS is stunting the growth of American soccer with their short-term business interests.

      • Make it (a p/r league system) profitable for the owners and things would change quickly. Think Stan Kronke would care if his Rapids got relegated but MLS1 & MLS2 had twice as much revenue…in a single entity ownership model p/r should be easy to find implement. The only issue is the folks in charge lack vision

      • Exactly, no vision. Revenue will have a better chance of doubling AFTER implementing tiers. And Stan Kroenke – who’s a majority owner of a club operating within such a system – won’t be around for as long as MLS and its fans will, I don’t think.

      • Just imagine if the NBA had a pro and relegation system, we could possibly field the best basketball team on earth seeing that the current system is not working.

      • Fine points on pro/rel connecting the soccer pyramid here in the US and obviously the financial interests that stunt progression of all leagues here. I do think pro/rel would definitely add more intrigue at the bottom side of the table(s) but I’d love for the MLS to keep the playoffs at the same time.

        There’s an opportunity for the MLS to keep it’s american flavor (March Madness, NFL Playoffs..etc) to the league that would help separate itself from all the other leagues. Also, with all the expansion in the MLS, it’ll be interesting how they schedule so many games so that each team plays one another twice or do they limit games and utilize the ole’ MLB intra-league matchups during certain times of the year? Do they take the teams in East – West and then further to regional subdivisions? If so, do they go NFL and say the winner of each division gets a spot in the playoffs (drama!)? And can I say Wiiiiild caaaard playoffs?!? More drama! All interesting aspects to think about once MLS gets to 28 teams… then 32 teams… then pro-rel? Or are there too many questions I just posed and are they too blasphemous for soccer?

        Only time will tell but as I stated before, MLS has an opportunity to separate itself (american style) and it might be a fun write up here at SBI that poses some of these directional possibilities for the league.

  7. “and a David Beckham-backed”

    No need for that. If we’re reading about expansion on a soccer blog, we know Becks is running point in mia.
    -mamba out

    • Agreed, but not a bad idea to allow smaller markets to prove themselves over the years first.wish they made all teams prove themselves at the lower level first.

      • Hard to argue that point Beto- definitely ideal. I suppose my comment is prompted by admiration for what Sacremento has done, contextual w/ some of the other expansion choices. But……… I am a realist and do understand there are a variety of types of team’s and situations…. regional needs for the league. Ultimately, this fact and the vast spectrum that is the US will help balance and flavor the league, promote rivalries, add spice and drama to the script. ex: Gaudi glitzy metro v. underdog, grass roots blue collar. Instant gratification/Big time high $ free agent v. steady hardwork/development…… East v West….. suburban v urban and so forth.

      • Yeah, I don’t get the hurry, the lower divisions should be a proving ground and we should give them several years to show it’s not an initial boom followed by bust, or a fluke. We take surer things and limit our risks. Let the minors take the risks.

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