Major League Soccer

MLS To Add Four More Teams By 2020 – Is That A Good Thing?

MLS LogoMajor League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber announced at halftime of last night’s All-Star Game that MLS plans to add another four teams by the 2020 season,

The league has been on an expansion kick, as that it not necessarily a good thing. Since 2005, MLS has added 10 clubs, plus we have New York City FC, who will begin play in 2015.

“These expansion clubs have brought new ideas that have contributed to our strategy for growing the league and the addition of new markets has expanded our geographic reach while increasing our fan base,” Garber said in a league press release.

“The strength, passion and vision of the MLS ownership group is the foundation behind the success of our league,” Garber continued. “We look forward to adding new partners with the same commitment to the sport and love of the game.

“As MLS enters a period of accelerated growth, the addition of new teams will allow us to expand our geographic coverage, grow our fan base and help us achieve our vision of being among the best leagues in the world by 2022.”

The headlines for the next year to two will be what cities will get a team. Orlando and Minneapolis have the ownership and grass roots support to become another Portland. David Beckham is guaranteed one of the four franchises and Miami is thought to be the likely destination for that. Which leaves one more, which I think will come down to Saint-Louis and New York. Saint-Louis has a rich soccer history and the rivalry with Sporting Kansas woule be terrific.

But the specter of the New York Cosmos cannot be overlooked. The Cosmos are still the most recognizable name in American soccer today, and if they can get a SSS built, New York is certainly big enough to support three soccer teams in 20,000 stadiums.

The one question not being asked is whether this quality of play will suffer from another round of expansion? With 24 teams, MLS would become the largest top-level professional soccer league in the world.

The addition of 5 teams (if you include NYC FC) means at least 125 more players. Are there really an additional 125 quality North American players who are not currently in MLS? I don’t think so and that is what concerns me about expansion.

The quality of play will suffer, widening the game between MLS and the top quality leagues that Americans can watch on TV every day. Which will make it more difficult to attract more fans to the games.

What do you think of the MLS expanding? Is it a good thing or not?