MLS Commissioner Don Garber loves the growth of his league, and he doesn’t see it slowing down any time soon.
The expansion timeline was a hot issue at his annual State of the League address thanks to the addition of FC Cincinnati for next season and Nashville, Miami, and Austin also coming aboard in the next few years. He didn’t provide a fixed timeline for the next round of expansion, but he did say team 28 would be chosen within the next year.
Garber also admitted to discussions within the league about going beyond the self-imposed limit of 28 teams that Garber set only a few years ago.
“We will grant the 28th team and make that decision in the next 12 months, there’s no rush, then we will decide if we want to go forward beyond 28 teams,” said Garber. “That’s a discussion that is taking place. We will begin to introduce the subject at our board meeting in the middle of next week. I don’t expect or anticipate an announcement coming out of that but there’s no doubt in my mind that we can support having more than 28 teams in Major League Soccer.
“No doubt in my mind.”
He doesn’t want to go too crazy, however. Strategic expansion is important and Garber wants to make sure his league doesn’t outgrow what the United States and Canada are capable of supporting.
“Every time we evaluate how large we want the league to be, it really is in the context of what we think the country can support,” he said.
Plenty of cities have been interested in expansion over the past two years. A dozen cities formally submitted bids in January of 2017 and so far two of those initial bids have been granted franchises.
Garber said there are a half-dozen still interested, but he didn’t name them. Ownership groups in Detroit, St. Louis, Sacramento, Phoenix, and San Diego have all been outspoken about their efforts to join the league recently.