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Phoenix, San Diego heavily in MLS expansion race

Don Garber

Don Garber, Major League Soccer


The reality of rounding out a 28-team Major League Soccer could be closer than we think, and commissioner Don Garber gave a slight indication of a few cities that appear to be in the final mix to become teams 27 and 28.

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With FC Cincinnati, Nashville SC and David Beckham’s Miami club set to join MLS over the next two seasons, MLS will near its capacity, which has previously been stated to be capped at 28 clubs.

The biggest question remains; which cities will be granted the final two spots in MLS?

When speaking to the media on Monday ahead of Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game against Juventus, Garber suggested that three cities are firmly in the mix for the two expansion slots.

“We’ve had some interesting conversations with Phoenix of late,” Garber said. “We’re tracking very closely with our friends in San Diego and they have a key vote coming up in the fall. The Sacramento bidders will be here, they’ve come to the last number of big MLS events. They remain encouraged on finalizing their capital structure.”

Phoenix Rising has quickly made a name for itself in USL with player/owner Didier Drogba among the main reasons why the club has succeeded so quickly.

Meanwhile, San Diego would become the fourth MLS side to be based in California if selected, as the bid is led by San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler and also features support from former U.S. Men’s National Team star Landon Donovan.

The San Diego bid is not affiliated with 1904 FC, which had planned to debut in NASL in 2018, and features a star-studded ownership group that includes Eden Hazard, Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye.

The California capital of Sacramento remains firmly in the mix as well, after failing to beat out Nashville and Cincinnati, however, they’ll have another heated battle with both Phoenix and San Diego, as well as potentially Detroit, Charlotte and Las Vegas.