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MLS commissioner Garber says FC Cincinnati is high on expansion list

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

MLS commissioner Don Garber has a list for potential expansion cities, and it seems like Cincinnati is a leading candidate.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Garber said that FC Cincinnati’s owners are high on the aforementioned expansion list and that MLS will closely monitor the team’s progress.

“They’ve just got to keep doing what they’re doing because they’re doing it really well,” said Garber. “Build their brand. Continue to expand their fan base. Continue to get embedded in their community with the civic leaders and business leaders. They have done a lot of things really well.”

Garber arrived in Cincinnati on Tuesday to inspect the market to see if an expansion team in the city would be an option in the future. The commissioner mentioned that Nippert Stadium, where the USL club currently plays, is not a viable venue for an MLS franchise.

“I think what they’ve been able to do [at Nippert] is spectacular,” Garber said. “but we do believe that our clubs will be more successful in soccer stadiums.”

However, ownership is looking into potential sites for a new stadium. Garber has previously stated that venues should be in urban settings.

FC Cincinnati, which was formed in 2015, set a few attendance records in USL this season and averaged more than 17,000 fans per game.


  1. When Minnesota was selected there was a lot of talk of the Fortune 500 companies that came with it. Don is after advertising dollars as much as he is after TV $$$.
    FC Cincinnati will bring Proctor &a Gamble with it. Don can’t pass that up. Who is Sacremanto bringing to the table?

  2. Why expand right now? If USA doesn’t make the World Cup then no one will care about soccer in America for the next 6 years. No point throwing money at a sport that runs on momentum and currently has none

  3. Enough with the expansion talk. Gerger needs to sit down and watch a couple of mls games and decide if he wants to keep on diluting the already meager talent pool.

    • As alluded to above, I think the talent and level of play will come. The best way to get there is build the fan base. College football is not the best quality.. but that’s not why its popular. Its regional. And you can watch the best players develop and there’s a whole industry of guessing which ones will make it to the next level etc..

    • r.benjamin said it too, but the money that comes from expansion will actually help rise the level of play. Another thing that will help is player development in academies. You need lots of money to get those academies running.

  4. Personally I think MLS needs to just keep on expandin’. This thought that there’s only 25 or 30 markets that could support MLS teams is preposterous; personally I think there’s 60-80 already and could be 100 or more in a decade or so if the game’s popularity continues to grow stateside.

    Keep in mind there’s no real college pyramid below MLS. Well there is, but it doesn’t occupy the same niche college football does to pro football…there may only be 32 NFL teams, but there’s also 300+ college teams under that including 128 in FCS that occupy the same niche for the NFL that the Championship, League One, League Two, etc do for the Prem.

    What that tells you is there’s a boatload of potential pro franchises…and at some point MLS is going to have to institute the same pyramid you see everywhere else. Or MLS can stop expanding…and leave the door open for a now-reeling NASL to get off the mat and solidify its position with all these unfilled niches. The Don is trying to decide between Sacremento, Cincinnati, San Antonio, St. Louis…why? Bring ’em all in, and then let pro/rel sort ’em out.

    England is a nation of 60 million people; it has almost 200 pro soccer teams.

    The USA is a nation of 380 million and has fewer than 70 at the moment. You do the math how much upside there is.

    • Why not bring em all in and have them play at the top level rather than artificially relegating some of them?

      I don’t get the need to artificially say, your team can’t win the championship.

      • I actually think you could probably do that up to about 40 teams. We’ve already got East and West divisions; essentially you could just set up what amounts to two parallel leagues that play 19 home-and-away fixtures against teams from their own conference and only see each other in competitions like the US Open Cup, the CONCACAF Champions League, and the MLS final. It’ll probably end up going that way, actually. MLS essentially services the USA, Canada, and island nations like Jamaica and T&T as far as developing their pro talent, so there’s plenty of talent to go around if you grow it.

        I think 40 teams is fine for a “top” echelon when you consider what a huge geographical area and population those 40 would service – it amounts a LOT more geography and population per team than you see in Europe, for instance, which have 20-team leagues stacked atop 20-team leagues even in small nations like Portugal (10 million people).

        The problem is, at some point after 40, you would think the cry for more exclusivity and less talent dilution would start to get overwhelming…and that’s about the point we’re going to have to seriously start considering some form of pro/rel. We’re probably still 10-15 years away from 40, but that’s one of those things that could go in a hurry too, if this exponential popularity growth soccer in the USA is currently experiencing continues. Especially when you consider there’s going to be an increasing number of very popular local grassroots team pushing for entry into the top league. How do you tell them “no”?

    • I’ve come around to the idea of 40 teams. And you said, I don’t pro/rel is really the best path right now anyway. Growth will come from the GEO rivalries. A Cascadia situation in every corner of the US. Using the college football analogy above, what pumps that as much as anything is the proximity of the teams to each other. Add in the cross opportunities of cups and maybe a home and away battle against a different opposite coast team a year and you get the gimmick aspect as well. The reason why Sacramento will work better than SJ (as an example) is the city has adopted the idea/identity of the team. The MLS should push out more / small / strong markets than the bloated huge but no good Miami markets.. (MINN/ATL?) will they be any good for the league?

  5. The Don has spoken, Tell us, please, Don Almighty, of who is worthy enough to be called MLS caliber, so they can shell out $35 mln. expansion fee, and have the privilege to join this top 10 league in the world.

    (Ahem, ‘the king is naked’ kinda situation, at this moment, there is probably only 1 player in the league -Giovinco-who can be called world class, and even he can’t make Italy’s national team)…the rest? Steeped in mediocrity

    • $35 million? LOL, that is what the Sounders paid, 7 years ago. Try $200 million.

      No wonder your post was a whining rant, you don’t know what you are talking about.

      • Expanding to no end makes no sense, and dilutes quality. Tell me of another player in the league besides Giovinco that you consider top quality…there is none(Pirlo, about 5 years ago), hence, it is a league steeped in mediocrity…no need for ad hominem…

      • “Steeped in mediocrity,” while judging by “world class” standards is not bad at all considering where this league started. Get some perspective. Giovinco, Lodeiro, Piatti, etc. — there are some really good players in the league, and it has come a long long way. And this has happened with expansion as a major reason for the growth of the financial success of the league (which in turn allows clubs to buy these types of players), so bitching about expansion is ironic when you are also whining about the quality of the players.

  6. Just wondering anyone else getting a little tired of Garber pulling all these cities chain? It first started with Sacramento. They asked what needed to be done to reach MLS status. The club and city did everything and more to check off all the boxes. Still no word on when they will be granted entrance. Now Garber’s winter 2016 tour has taken him to Saint Louis and Cincinnati. Its always the same; city and club pull out the red carpet. The Don gives the same old scripted speech about how Blank Blank FC has done a great job and the city of (fill in the blank) is a world class city with great fans. And if they keep doing everything that they have been doing then I too will drag them along just like Sacramento. Getting old.

    • Obviously they didn’t do EVERYTHING needed or they would have a team.

      I can see your point and the next step after getting to number of teams in the league just short of number of viable cities….is the league will move the team if you don’t do X. Which of course, here in Seattle, we are very familiar with.

      There are a lot of teams vying to get into MLS, it has been and will be even more, a VERY successful league. If cities are viable long term, they will get a team, to a point. It doesn’t annoy me that much. I would much rather hear that sales line, then we are viable league, really we are not folding, all is well, stay with us.

      • “Obviously they didn’t do EVERYTHING needed or they would have a team.” Well if they haven’t done everything nobody has gone on record to tell them what they still need to do. Sac Republic president has gone on the record a number of times saying as soon as we get the word shovels hit the ground for the new stadium.
        What I don’t like is that Graber is now playing cities off each other even after they have so called checked off all the boxes. How many boxes have Miami checked off? I love MLS, I’ve been following it a long time. I’m just getting old and bitter about sports leagues and teams holding cities and the people that live their hostage.

    • Just wondering anyone else getting a little tired of Garber pulling all these cities chain?

      A sizable amount of people, I imagine. Ironically, the same ones whining about transparency and honesty from our national team manager are conveniently silent on antithesis of that objective with our own domestic league.

      Then again, they probably have no interest in the league – hence the silence.

  7. On one hand, it’s a positive Miami Beckham United wasn’t mentioned by Garber. On the the other hand, I’d rather he be talking about Sacramento FC than Cincinnati FC.


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