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Expansion? Miami? MLS says “Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along.”

Mar 5, 2013, 7:30 AM EDT

Stadium site has been picked in Downtown Miami, will this make a big difference to attract fans? Stadium site has been picked in Downtown Miami, will this make a big difference to attract fans?

Major League Soccer attempted to tamp down the little brush fire of South Florida expansion speculation before it grew into something less controllable.

As you read through the statement from commissioner Don Garber’s office, here are three things to keep in mind.

These things come up all the time, generally originating from local newspapers, where a city official has talked up interest of getting a chip in the Major League Soccer game. In this case, the originating point was Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, who understands quite a bit more about how all this works than local reporters.

That said, these generally lead nowhere. Just a little more than 90 days back, MLS was walloped on the side of the head with this one, where Tampa business interests dreamed up a $400 million stadium proposal and attached news of it to MLS interest.

League officials, in Los Angeles at the time for MLS Cup, assured me they knew absolutely nothing about this. Sure enough, we’ve heard nothing of it since.

(MORE: Slicing through the clutter of MLS expansion talk)

It’s New York. League officials continue to tell us that No. 20 will be in New York. At some point, we should probably believe them. (Although wondering otherwise will continue to be a fascinating pastime, I’m sure.)

The gist of Major League Soccer’s statement on the matter, through an MLS spokesperson:

We have not had any formal discussions with RSE Ventures. We remain focused on securing a 20th team for Major League Soccer in New York, but we do believe we will have an MLS team in the Southeast at some point.

“As it relates specifically to potential Florida markets, we have had ongoing discussions with Orlando City SC about expansion in Central Florida, and we know that South Florida is one of the most passionate soccer markets in North America.”

  1. overtherepermanently - Mar 5, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    Can we be 75%+ certain at this point that Orlando City will move up to MLS as #21 once their stadium situation is sorted out?

    • Steve Davis - Mar 5, 2013 at 9:49 AM

      No. Not at all. It’s about committed ownership with the right amount of financial staying power. I’m not saying the Orlando group doesn’t have deep enough pockets … just saying that it remains to be seen.

  2. listerineman - Mar 5, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Miami would make so much sense. More sense then any other city in the US. All the south america folks love soccer.

    • joeyt360 - Mar 5, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      And just as or maybe even more important, a lot of the star players looking for glamorous or fun places to play cite Miami as where they would like to go. I tend to think a Miami team is probably a matter of time. . . but that matter of time may not be any time all that soon.

  3. brad9000 - Mar 5, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Florida is not the real southeast. It may be the literal southeastern corner of the U.S. but putting a team in Florida (especially central or south Florida) does not solve the problem of having a massive part of the country, where soccer is pretty popular, without an MLS team within any kind of reasonable travel distance. Is there really no viable interest in a city like Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, etc…?

  4. joeyt360 - Mar 5, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    I wouldn’t be too shocked it the rumor was a plant. The Dolphins are looking for a stadium reno, to include a roof, and have touted “international soccer” as one of the uses that would help justify that. A rumor about an MLS club, even if it’s quickly dismissed, can feed that impression.

  5. jashton11 - Mar 5, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    That may be the first time the word “passionate” has been used to describe fans of any sport in South Florida.

    Seriously, though, I’d love to have a team down here. I’d definitely head to a few games a year.

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