Cincinnati, Ohio is the latest city to officially join MLS.
It’s been a long time coming, but MLS finally has the second of two planned expansion franchises chosen. They will begin play in 2019.
“Major League Soccer is proud to introduce Cincinnati as our 26th team,” said MLS Commissioner Garber. “The rise of Cincinnati as a passionate soccer market in recent years, coinciding with the city’s growing economy and reputation as a top destination for young professionals makes it an ideal city for our growing league. We congratulate Carl Lindner and his partners, and also the soccer fans of Cincinnati, who have passionately supported FC Cincinnati in the USL.”
Garber, along with Cincinnati mayor John Cranley, Carl Lindner III, FC Cincinnati’s managing owner and CEO, and Jeff Berding, the club’s president and general manager made the official announcement in front of an invitation-only crowd at Rhinegeist Brewery near downtown Cincinnati.
“You guys had me at ‘hello’ when I stepped off that plane 18 months ago,” Garber said. “To your incredible fans, you have shocked the world and showed us that if you have the right city and the right ownership and management and the ability to bring fans together, great things can happen, and the world has taken notice.”
Garber also took note of the team’s strong attendance performance in the USL and praised them to rising from a third division minor league club to the top-level in only three seasons of play.
FC Cincinnati has been considered a favorite to land an expansion franchise for several weeks. They beat out fellow finalists Sacramento and Detroit for the privilege of joining the league. Their candidacy was solidified when they secured a deal to build a soccer specific stadium in the West End neighborhood of the city, something Detroit was missing in their bid. They also have a wealthy and stable ownership group, which can’t be said for Sacramento.
The only real question that needed an answer at Tuesday’s announcement was when the team would start playing. MLS wanted one of the three known expansion franchises to begin play in 2019, and they determined Cincinnati was best equipped to meet that deadline.