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Which cities will be home to the four new MLS expansion franchises?

Aug 1, 2013, 9:30 AM EST

NASL NASL

After Don Garber’s comments at half time of the MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City last night, the soccer landscape in North America will change drastically over the next five to seven years.

Bring it on.

MLS’ Commissioner confirmed on Wednesday that Major League Soccer will expand to 24 teams by the year 2020. Giving hope to thousands of fans across North America that their city will be home to one of MLS’ new franchises.

Garber’s comments have been welcomed with open arms by the US soccer community. And speculation is rife, as always, as to where these next franchises will pop up.

According to the following comments from the MLS Commish, the teams will help spread MLS’ reach to the whole of the US. So expect more teams in the Midwest and Southeast regions.

(MORE: Garber plans to expand to 24 teams by 2020)

“As MLS enters a period of accelerated growth, the addition of new teams will allow us to expand our geographic coverage, grow our fan base and help us achieve our vision of being among the best leagues in the world by 2022.”

So with that “geographic coverage” in mind, let’s split up potential MLS expansion cities into regions and analyze which city could come out on top.

SOUTHEAST

Miami: With David Beckham involved in a potential franchise in Miami, this deal should get pushed through and I expect MIA to be one of two new franchises in Florida. The infrastructure will be there, the soccer fans are there but getting them all to support one team proved difficult in the past. Can it succeed this time?

Orlando: Brett Lashbrook is on board for a reason, MLS will come to Orlando very soon. Two of the four new MLS franchises look set for Florida, but Orlando have some hurdles to jump in order to get their new stadium built in time. With local business and the mayor at loggerheads, will MLS arrive in Miami before Orlando? USL Pro outfit Orlando City are pretty confident though and after a great Open Cup run and big crowds, they should be.

Atlanta: A city that has long been earmarked for an expansion franchise, the Atlanta Silverbacks of NASL have a sparkling new soccer complex that can be expanded. Owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank, has proposed a soccer team coming to the newly developed Falcons stadium in downtown ATL. If it could be similar to the way BC Place is adapted for the Whitecaps, that would be pretty awesome.

source:

Will MLS be head over heels for Orlando?

MIDWEST

Oklahoma City: In terms of soccer in the Midwest, OKC is embracing the world’s sport like no other. Over the past month, USL Pro and NASL have set up rival franchises in the city as they aim to bring MLS to town one day. The support for both teams will be analyzed over the coming years and Oklahoma would certainly be an interesting option for MLS expansion.

St. Louis: There is no professional soccer team in St. Louis, and there are no plans for one either. But that doesn’t mean there are no soccer fans in STL. Oh no. We saw a huge crowd of over 48,000 pack Busch Stadium when Manchester City and Chelsea visited earlier this summer for a friendly and the sports mad town could definitely have some awesome rivalries with Chicago and Kansas City. Why not St. Louis?

Minneapolis: Minnesota United, Minnesota Stars and all the other name changes it has gone through, the Twin Cities have long been home to second and third-tier soccer teams. Can it make the jump up to MLS? A possible stadium link up with the Vikings has been mooted, but will there be enough fans to fill a 20,000 plus soccer-specific stadium week in, week out?

Indianapolis: Chelsea play Inter Milan at the Lucas Oil Stadium later today and the Indy Eleven franchise will start NASL play next season. Indy is definitely becoming a soccer obsessed city. The MLS SuperDraft was there in January and this town would also provide a great link between the East coast and the cities of Chicago and KC.

Detroit: Plans for a new downtown soccer stadium are close to being submitted in Detroit, as soccer fans in the Motor City have been causing quite a stir for sometime. A NPSL side, Detroit City, regularly attracts over 5,000 fans and the atmosphere created for a minor-league soccer team is incredible. A dark horse for MLS expansion?

WEST

Sacramento: Preki is now in charge, and something tells me the former USMNT and MLS legend wouldn’t be involved with the Californian team unless something huge was on the horizon. Ambitious plans have already been unveiled for the Sacramento Republic. Can they back that up in their USL Pro debut season next year?

San Antonio: The sparkling gem that is Toyota Field has become the jewel in NASL’s stadium crown. With a 8,000 capacity that can be expanded, soccer is a big deal in the Texas city. Rivalries with Dallas and Houston would be massive for the league and the Scorpions are one of NASL’s best run outfits. Potential.

Phoenix: At the moment the Arizona city has a USL Pro in its first season of play, but could it grow into an MLS franchise? Perhaps not. Although crowd numbers have been decent in its inaugural year, it is hard to see cities such as San Antonio ans Sacramento not jumping ahead of Phoenix out west.

Where else? Obviously there are plenty of other cities not on this list, (Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville and Las Vegas to name a few) so where should MLS look to expand?

There are plenty of worthy regions across the US and Canada. Tell us where you think they should be.

  1. danielofthedale - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    I think this post has proven with the comments that now that Landon is securely back in he National Team picture MLS expansion is the most buzzed about topic in the in American Soccerverse right now and by a wide margin. I think it is great for the league that there is such a palatable buzz all over the nation about MLS expansion.

    • kombayn - Aug 12, 2013 at 6:25 PM

      I think Chivas USA is going to relocate to Miami once MLS forces a sell of the team. The Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel piece is a black-eye that MLS doesn’t need nor an owner with his ridiculous stance on only having players of Mexican decent. After that I think Detroit, Orlando, Sacramento & San Antonio will get the next franchises. Then you have two conferences and four divisions

      EASTERN CONFERENCE

      Atlantic Division:
      D.C. United
      Miami FC
      New York City FC
      Orlando City SC
      Philadelphia Union
      Red Bull New York

      Central Division:
      Chicago Fire
      Columbus Crew
      Detroit City FC
      Montreal Impact
      New England Revolution
      Toronto FC

      WESTERN CONFERENCE

      Midwest Division:
      Colorado Rapids
      Dallas FC
      Houston Dynamo
      Real Salt Lake
      San Antonio Scorpions
      Sporting KC

      Pacific Division:
      LA Galaxy
      Portland Timbers
      Sacramento Republic
      San Jose Earthquakes
      Seattle Sounders
      Vancouver Whitecaps

      MLS wants soccer-specific stadiums or ones that can turn a profit for the teams. TV revenue will come no matter what especially with that type of expansion. The best part for MLS is to create rivalries and make sure teams are close to each other. Fox Sports & NBC Sports will pay big money in 2015 to secure the rights to MLS, you can see ESPN is slowly moving away from picking up major

  2. griffinjohn - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:25 AM

    Every one has good arguments regarding “their” city or favoriye city but the reality is TV will drive the four expansion cities. MLS has a deal coming up after 2014, the timing is perfect to announce expansion and secure a beneficial deal in terms of money and consistent windows of national telecasts. The next deal won’t break the bank but it will lay the groundwork for future TV deals especially if MLS pays attention to these network bidders who will have their own ideas on favored expansion cities and how those expansion cities combined with current teams will drive ratings long-term.

  3. footballer4ever - Aug 3, 2013 at 1:55 AM

    @griffinjohn

    You hit it right on the head. The keyword to the next phase of expansion is : TV Revenue Football Clubs..

    For Example, Portland FC is a refreshing club’s success which has helped the league’s profile, but realistically Portland is not a big tv market; Therefore, MLS wants to move into the third phase of a league’s growth, 1. Survival, 2. Stability 3. TV REVENUE GROWTH. If MLS decides to sit comfortably on their butts with what they’ve accomplished, then that same comfort will eventually be its demise. It’s no secret that every US league’s success or survival is determined by the TV revenue.

  4. hildezero - Aug 4, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    I have never hears of that team, the Blast. That being said, Phoenix, Detroit, Orlando, and Miami all deserve a team. Phoenix has got to have a team, because it’s a big metro area and it’s a very deserving city for a soccer franchise.

    • justinnezich - Aug 12, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      Phoenix should already have a team definately

    • sockercraze18 - Aug 25, 2013 at 1:09 AM

      I agree

    • babatundew - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      They need a retractable roof for any stadium they build because it gets too hot there in the summer

  5. babatundew - Aug 4, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    Has everyone forgotten San Diego? Or is Chivas USA planning to move there?

    • sdbeisbol - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      Long live the Sockers!!! (in MLS that is lol)

    • justinnezich - Aug 12, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      San Diego Flash. They need a stadium though bad. I can see this team with Warren Barton coachin it and eric wynalda helping it, become a force and eventually become a mls or NASL team if they merge, and San diego is what, the 7th largest city in the US, of course and probably the most popular city in the US for soccer. This is a no brainer to become a mls team or nasl team if they merge

  6. hildezero - Aug 4, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    How does MLS have a lack of quality, seriously?!

    • babatundew - Aug 4, 2013 at 11:07 PM

      Compare it to the top 5 European leagues (EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1)

  7. hildezero - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:39 AM

    You think the MLS is boring? Lol! Why are you trying to compare to the leagues that you mentioned? You don’t know sh*t about soccer if you think like that. I bet you’re a Euro snob American with no pride and low self-esteem, huh?

  8. mikeevergreen - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    I think 24 by 20 is a little low. I think it’ll be 26.

  9. chevy14man - Aug 6, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Atlanta keeps getting bandied about as the de facto expansion city for the Southeast (I put Florida in a category of its own since it’s a completely different animal in my book), but the only real advantage it has on Raleigh is the massive difference in population. Raleigh has the better grassroots system in CASL and the better collegiate soccer programs in UNC/ Duke/ NC State. And as a percentage of the total MSA population, the Railhawks have far better numbers in the Triangle than the Silverbacks do in Atlanta.

    Given the chance, an MLS franchise in Raleigh would surpass even the Hurricanes to become the regions’ most popular pro sports team. People in the Triangle are that soccer crazed. I have a hard time seeing any other pro sports franchise in Atlanta surpassing the Braves, who have been the favorite sons of that city for decades. The Atlanta MLS franchise would take years to even have a chance at becoming the most popular team in that city, if ever.

    All of this being said, 5.4 million people are a lot more than 1.2 million people, and that population advantage is a massive card in Atlanta’s hands. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s the only real advantage they have. The soccer infrastructure is far better in Raleigh, and if it were as large an MSA as Atlanta is, Raleigh would blow Atlanta out of the water.

    My guess is that Atlanta gets a franchise now, and then Raleigh’s comes along in 10-15 years.

  10. stevmjohnson - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:46 AM

    I personally hope that after the additional 4 clubs brings expansion to an end in the first division MLS. For scheduling purposes and being able to cover the nation 24 clubs is more than enough. In addition is also means the league has to address the Chivas USA problem.

    First I start with the Chivas USA problem, because this will have an effect on the locations for the additional 4 clubs. The very first thing that happens here, as hard a decision it may be, the league must take control of this team from Vergara and buy him out. This is the only way they will be able to fix the situtation. This I hope happens at the end of the current season. The fans chivas hate him, and he is an embassement to all the owner/investor groups. You are only as strong as your weakiest link. If the league has any chance of becoming one the top four leagues in world by 2022, Vergara must go. Even if it means the league runs the team till a owner/investor is found. Then they have a chance for a new start.

    For the new start a huge decision must be made for the good of the game and not pride. Do you reband leaving them in Los Angeles, pushing for an soccer specific stadium to be built which is a must for survival or do you bite the bullet and pull up strakes and relocate to a well deserving city. Having lived for many year in So Cal and knowing the politics in LA. A new stadium would clearly take many many years. So do you wait and hope out of pride or do you do the right thing for the good of the game. I do the right thing and relocate, but not to relocate for the sake of relocation.

    Since the league is now in a position to run the club, logic would tell me to move the club to St. Louis the heart of soccer in the U.S. But you may ask why move to a city which has no ownership group waiting with open arms. This is a very important market in the grand plan of things. For growth in the development of homegrown talent and the history of the game in the this country; this would be coming home to our roots for the good of the game. We know that the support from the fan is there; also I believe, move them and they will come, (the owner/investors).

    So now with the relocation and rebrand for Chivas USA in St. Louis this gives us a much different look at the map. So now we have voids in the Southeast and the West. It seems for rivalary sake things go better in three’s. So to fill the voids in the map they should put 3 clubs in the Southeast and one club in the West.

    With this in mind and knowing that both Florida cities seems to be a foregone conclusion that gives you both Orlando and Miami, as clubs #21 and #22.

    This leaves us with two slots remaining, one east and one west. For the west, I like the idea of Oklahoma City, but believe that Sacramento with be the ulimate choice. And for the east let’s face it it, this decision also comes with location and size of the TV market in Atlanta. So, there you go in review.

    Relocation of Chivas USA to St. Louis in 2015. (This comes following the expiration of the lease with AEG at StubHub Center in 2014).

    #21 – Orlando (2015)
    #22 – Miami (2016)
    #23 – Atlanta (2017)
    #24 – Sacramento (2018)

    • justinnezich - Aug 12, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      Atlanta no chance. They won’t support soccer in atlanta, they barely draw 2 k fans now on avg. Atlanta already lost the thrashers, atlanta is where freaknik is at. It’s the black NYC, They love football and basketball. Braves do well with suburbia fans. No chance for soccer and hockey. I have a teammate who is black from college and is from atlanta and lives there now,he laughed at me when I talked about atlanta getting a soccer team in atlanta

  11. justinnezich - Aug 12, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    The 6 expansion teams should be. 1. San Diego Flash
    2. Minnesota FC
    3. Miami FC
    4.NY Cosmos, can single handedly be the biggest drawing team in the US. .5. Phoenix
    6. St Louis

    The 4 that probably will be
    1. Miami
    2. Sacramento
    3. Orlando
    4, San Antonio

  12. justinnezich - Aug 12, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I would also think that Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Charlotte and Raleigh would be better choices for a team than Atlanta. Atlanta, nashville and memphis just wont support soccer on a big time scale. Period

    • howaboutsomefact - Sep 16, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      Yeah, your comments are completely wrong. Here are actual attendance averages (2013) from professional soccer teams. http://www.kenn.com/the_blog/?p=5572

      Atlanta (NASL) – 5003
      Raleigh (NSAL) – 4676
      Charlotte (USL Pro) – 807
      Tampa Bay (USL Pro) – 471

  13. sockercraze18 - Aug 25, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    I think they should give their expansion teams to
    1. Orlando City FC
    2. Motor City FC
    3. Miami Fusion
    4. Las Vegas Jacks
    5. Oklahoma City FC
    Other Notable Teams To Come In The Future ( 2028, perhaps )
    1. NY Jackals FC
    2. Atlanta FC
    3. Jacksonville Jailers
    4. Indianapolis FC
    5. Albuquerque FC
    6. Baltimore City Lightning
    Eastern Conference:
    Atlantic-
    New York Red Bull
    New York Jackals FC
    New England Revolution
    Baltimore City Lightning
    Philadelphia Union
    Great Lakes-
    Motor City FC
    Columbus Crew
    Chicago Fire
    Montreal Impact
    Indianapolis FC
    Southeast-
    Orlando City FC
    Atlanta FC
    D.C United
    Jacksonville Jailers
    Miami Fusion
    Western
    Pacific-
    LA Galaxy
    Seattle Sounders
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Chivas U. S. A
    Portland Timbers
    Mountain-
    Colorado Rapids
    Real Salt Lake
    Albuquerque FC
    Las Vegas Jacks
    Vancouver Whitecaps FC
    Midwest-
    FC Dallas
    Houston Dynamo
    Toronto FC
    Oklahoma City FC
    Sporting Kansas City

  14. sockercraze18 - Aug 25, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    I think they should give their expansion teams to
    1. Orlando City FC
    2. Motor City FC
    3. Miami Fusion
    4. Las Vegas Jacks
    5. Oklahoma City FC
    Other Notable Teams To Come In The Future ( 2028, perhaps )
    1. NY Jackals FC
    2. Atlanta FC
    3. Jacksonville Jailers
    4. Indianapolis FC
    5. Albuquerque FC
    6. Baltimore City Lightning
    Eastern Conference:
    Atlantic-
    New York Red Bull
    New York Jackals FC
    New England Revolution
    Baltimore City Lightning
    Philadelphia Union
    Great Lakes-
    Motor City FC
    Columbus Crew
    Chicago Fire
    Montreal Impact
    Indianapolis FC
    Southeast-
    Orlando City FC
    Atlanta FC
    D.C United
    Jacksonville Jailers
    Miami Fusion
    Western
    Pacific-
    LA Galaxy
    Seattle Sounders
    San Jose Earthquakes
    San Diego Starfish
    Portland Timbers
    Mountain-
    Colorado Rapids
    Real Salt Lake
    Albuquerque FC
    Las Vegas Jacks
    Vancouver Whitecaps FC
    Midwest-
    FC Dallas
    Houston Dynamo
    Toronto FC
    Oklahoma City FC
    Sporting Kansas City

  15. babatundew - Nov 26, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Why has San Diego been overlooked recently? It’s a better option than at least half of the cities listed.

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