MLS to Discuss Expansion This Week, but No Timetable on Decision

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MLS will reportedly discuss expansion at meetings this week, but league officials are not saying when a decision on future teams could be made.

MLS will field 26 teams in 2020 with the additions of Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC, with the league slated to have 29 teams by the start of the 2022 campaign, following the arrival of Austin FC in 2021 and clubs in St. Louis and Sacramento in 2022. All previous indications have been that MLS is taking a break before announcing a 30th team, but the league still has a few strong contenders in the mix–including Charlotte, backed by an effort from Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper that recently drew praise from MLS commissioner Don Garber; Las Vegas; and Phoenix.

Expansion will reportedly be a topic at Board of Governors meetings this week, as an MLS official has said that several potential expansion markets will be discussed. However, with MLS emphasizing that the discussions will not yield any immediate announcements and not offering any hints of when a decision could occur, it will likely be some time before any future expansion markets are finalized. More from WCNC NBC Charlotte:

Major League Soccer will discuss an expansion plan – including a possible Charlotte team – this Thursday during a meeting in New York City, an MLS spokesperson confirmed to WCNC NBC Charlotte.

“Multiple potential expansion markets, including Charlotte, will be discussed at the league’s Board of Governors meetings,” the spokesperson said….

A final announcement is not expected Thursday with the league cautioning, “Any announcement of a future MLS expansion club will take place in the city of the new team.”

No such announcement has been publicly scheduled.

Although MLS has a few intriguing options in the mix, there are still some issues that remain unsettled among the markets that could jump into the mix for a team. In the long run, there are enough contenders in the mix that a case could be made for a 32-team league, though the league might focus in the immediate future on zeroing in on its options for the 30th club. The fact that expansion will be discussed this week shows that it is still part of the league’s vision, but it might take some time for that translate into an announcement on any future teams.

Image courtesy Carolina Panthers.

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