Last week the MLS announced that they would be adding two more teams than previously planned 28. Right now, Sacramento and St. Louis are the only two being considered for the 28th spot and both have good proposals in place that they’ve already pitched to the Board of Governors. With the announcement that the MLS will continue expansion, I think both cities should be awarded a franchise and should enter the league in the same year. But the last spot is a mystery to me because I didn’t like the options of Phoenix, Detroit, and Raleigh when they made their bid for the 28th spot for various reasons. While some cities that I would like to see get teams like Charlotte and Indianapolis have been long shots. Here is the list of the three teams I think will get awarded MLS teams at the end of this expansion period.
Number 28- St. Louis
This pick isn’t because of my love of the city, it’s because of its background in the history of American soccer, the demographics of the city, and the proposed stadium. St. Louis has long heralded itself as American’s first soccer city after five players played on the USMNT in the 1950 World Cup. Since then the city’s strong Italian and Irish communities have continued to propel the game in the Gateway to the West. St. Louis has had a professional team in every soccer league in the U.S. besides the MLS and the youth foundation in the city is one of the strongest in the country. Then finally the proposed stadium seats 25,000 and sits just west of the Enterprise Center near Union Station which is a major hub for the city’s Metrolink train. This would allow Illinoisans and others from outside the city to access the stadium with more ease than where the USL team play in Fenton, Missouri. It would also serve an area of the country that doesn’t have many teams in the area to root for and would set up the I-70 Derby with Sporting Kansas City.
Number 29- Sacramento
Sacramento has shown they can support a soccer team as their current USL stadium is one of the largest in the league and it sells out on a regular basis. The city also does a good job at supporting a bad NBA team and with some MLS teams in the west having problems putting people in the stand like Dallas or Houston. Sacramento would make good business sense for the MLS and moving Sacramento Republic FC up would bring a fun atmosphere to a city trying to prove it belongs as a professional sports city. Their stadium proposal also seems to be unique and a sound proposal, as the supporter section, will have a steep incline and mirror the “Yellow Wall” in Westfalenstadion where Borussia Dortmund plays. The only thing with this proposal is the market is a bit oversaturated. California already has three teams one of them is in Northern California right down the road in San Jose. While this isn’t a problem for the NBA, the NBA is arguably the second most popular sport in the country. While I don’t any more problems with Sacramento, this is my biggest worry for about them getting a team.
Number 30- Indianapolis
I went back and forth on who I feel should get the last spot in expansion. I feel like Charlotte would also be a good place to put a team, but Indianapolis is a step closer than Charlotte in the
process of getting an MLS team as the Indiana General Assembly approved a deal to have a soccer stadium built downtown and the deal has moved to Governor Holcomb’s desk for final approval but the stadium will be privately funded. Which has become almost a requirement for teams wanting to join the MLS. Indianapolis has also built a strong fanbase in the USL and they’ve shown with the Colts and Pacers that their fanbase is strong and loyal. Like Charlotte and St. Louis, they inhabit an area of the country that doesn’t have many teams to root for in soccer and they can set up regional rivalries with Cincinnati, Nashville, and Chicago.