Major League Soccer dropped a bomb of sorts yesterday afternoon.
In a release on the official league website, it was confirmed that MLS has accepted a bid from current-NASL side Minnesota United FC to become the latest expansion side. While that in itself is great news — United are a far more attractive bid than their cross-city rivals in the Vikings — it wasn’t the biggest news in that release. That was reserved for literally the very last, sentences of the article, and it’s blown the lid off of American soccer social media since.
“Over the course of 2015, we plan to evaluate potential expansion beyond 24 clubs.”
Now that’s some MLS expansion news.
Now if I’m being totally honest, when Don Garber announced back in 2013 that the league was hoping to expand to 24 teams by 2020, very few of us in the media ever thought that twenty-four was a legitimate, hard cap. Even then, there were too many cities interested in having an MLS franchise to limit it to that number. Too, MLS would be leaving far too much money on the table by limiting themselves to just twenty different markets. Twenty-four always felt like far more a milestone than a finish line.
But that begs the question: where is the finish line for MLS when it comes to expansion?
We’re currently sitting at 20 teams in 2015, and we know we’ll have 22 in 2017 when Atlanta and LAFC join the league. With Minnesota likely to be joined by Sacramento in expansion talks, that get’s us to magical number 24. But what does that mean for city’s like San Antonio, St. Louis, and Las Vegas (please, no) all seemingly chomping at the bit? Or even more pertinent, what happens if Beckham’s Miami bid ever gets its act together?