Major League Soccer has finally given the official stamp of approval for Minnesota to join the league in 2017.
MLS commissioner Don Garber and Minnesota’s ownership group, led by Bill McGuire, made the announcement Friday from CHS Field in St. Paul.
In March of 2015 Minnesota was announced as an expansion team, but details like when the team would begin play, what name the club would play under and where they would initially play remained unknown. Minnesota will retain the name of the NASL franchise, Minnesota United FC, and join the already announced Atlanta United to give MLS 22 teams for the 2017 season.
Minnesota will play in the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium in its first year. Barring some final political barriers, the team will eventually have its own stadium in St. Paul. The Star Tribune reported the team expects to get that final approval.
Support for an expansion team in Minnesota began when McGuire’s Minnesota United FC had success in the North American Soccer League. The club has averaged around 9,000 fans per game since the NASL’s fall 2014 season.
In addition to keeping the same name as the NASL team, the popular loon logo remains.
From a local perspective, Minnesota gives another regional opponent for the Chicago Fire although Minnesota will play in the Western Conference with Atlanta joining in the Eastern Conference also in 2017.
As for other MLS expansion news and rumors, SI’s Brian Straus gave an update on other expansion teams coming. Straus reported that Los Angeles FC is scheduled for 2018, David Beckham’s Miami team could be close behind and Sacramento, St. Louis and Detroit are the leaders for spots 25-28.