Major League Soccer eyes further expansion to 28 teams in future
Expansion was on the mind of Major League Soccer owners at Saturday's Board of Governors meeting.
MLS owners announced support for expansion to 28 teams, with the process and timeline will be unveiled at a later date.
The league's current expansion plans call for 24 teams by 2020, with Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minnesota joining in the next three years and Miami taking a step to becoming the 24th team.
That will already make MLS the largest top-flight league in the world, but MLS commissioner Don Garber said he hopes to make the league even bigger.
"There is no shortage of demand for MLS expansion teams and we believe the opportunity exists to grow beyond our current plans," Garber said in a statement. "We will evaluate how to grow the league to 28 teams and establish a process and timeline for future expansion."
The expansion announcement comes as good news for USL side Sacramento Republic, who have checked all the boxes in terms of a stadium plan and investors.
St. Louis, San Antonio, Detroit, and San Diego have all been mentioned as expansion candidates as well.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
- McIntyre: Cole not in L.A. for the beaches
- Rapids add Conor Doyle from D.C. United
- Altidore seeks to make 2016 his best year
- Parkhurst: Road to MLS Cup starts now
- McBride: Miazga to Chelsea a positive
- FC TV: Fernando Torres moving to MLS?
- Transfers: Latest MLS player moves
MLS also backed the proposed stadium location in Miami for a future expansion team owned by David Beckham and his partners.
Beckham's group announced plans on Friday to locate the stadium in Miami's Overtown neighborhood.
"We are very supportive of Miami Beckham United's plans to locate their stadium in the City of Miami's Overtown neighborhood," said Garber. "Their vision for a world-class venue within the urban core that is accessible by mass transportation is impressive, and we believe it will be an important part of the continued revitalization of the area. We look forward to working with David and his partners to finalize plans to bring Major League Soccer to Miami."
The news will likely see Miami enter the league as the 24th team at a date that is still to determined.
Atlanta United is slated to begin play in 2017, with Los Angeles FC set to start a year later. Minnesota United will join the league in either 2017 or 2018.
MLS also made series of other announcements, including:
- Further investment in club squads, including utilizing Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) for the 2016 season and beyond
- A two-week break during the 2016 seasons for the Copa America Centenario tournament from June 2-14
- All matches during the final weekend of the 2016 regular season will be played on the same day and in the same time slot
- A proposal for possible real-time video review
- The equivalent of a one-game suspension for any player selected to the All-Star Game who is unable to play, even for medical purposes
- Abandoned games will be postponed until the next day, rather than cancelled or counted as completed
- Lower thresholds for water breaks in 2016, down to 82 Wet Bulb Globe Temperature from 89.6