A lot of other people are writing about MLS expansion (one of my favorites is The Significance of the Frontier in MLS History which looks at expansion in a before 2010 and after 2010 context). Since I wrote up my MLS Expansion Dreams post, a couple of things have happened. How do they affect what I’d like to see? Let’s find out.
I wanted to see Vancouver get an MLS team first (and really, for the Whitecaps to move up from the USL1. It’s looking more and more like San Jose is going to be the team instead. I think this is a bit of a shame, as California already has two MLS teams (along with a bunch of USL 1,2, and PDL teams). Not that I don’t want San Jose to get a team, I’d just like to see it happeh later.
I’d listed Seattle and Montreal as my choices here. Seattle would renew it’s rivalry with Vancouver (if that happened), and Montreal would join an interesting rivalry with Toronto and Vancouver.
Seattle does seem to be on the short list, but there’s not a lot of clarity about how it might happen. There is at least some talk of the Sounders becoming part of the MLS franchise. If that happens, I really hope that Washington gets a new USL1 team, either in Spokane or Tacoma (though both cities have PDL teams).
Montreal, I don’t see anyone else talking about this (except for a brief mention in the ‘Frontier’ article linked above), and I think that’s too bad. The Impact have been at the top of the USL1 for the last several years, they play good looking soccer, and have a good-looking SSS being built. I do wonder if the MLS rule requiring national players would have to be adjusted to allow three MLS Canadian teams though (even two might be a stretch).
I was hoping for Philadelphia and Portland as the two expansion teams here. I really think bringing the Timbers up to join the Sounders (and maybe the Whitecaps) would be the best option in the west. A brand new team in Philadelphia would round things out in the east.
My last set of expansion was to bring back two familiar faces, San Jose and the New York Cosmos. While reality might beat me to the punch with San Jose, I still hope the Cosmos make it eventually. If San Jose does land a team early, maybe Vancouver could fill this slot or perhaps a team from the Midwest or Southeast would be a better fit.
Just some notes
I tried to keep the two divisions balanced, but I’d really like to see the divisions dropped and a single table created. I’d also like to see both the USL1 and USL2 fleshed out. I think 20 teams in the MLS, 24 in the USL1, and 30 in the USL2 would be great.
I realize that I’ve dropped a bunch of cities that are in the running—St. Louis, Phoenix, and Las vegas leap immediately to mind. Of these, the only city I’d look at putting an MLS team into would be St. Louis. Even then, I’d rather move an existing team (cough Kansas City cough) than expand.