Major League Soccer

Montreal Named As 19th MLS Team

Canadian soccer got another boost in the arm last week with the news that Montreal will become the next MLS expansion team beginning play in the 2012 season.

“We are proud to welcome Montreal, the second-largest French-speaking city in the world and a multicultural metropolis whose residents are deeply passionate about the world’s game, to Major League Soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Friday.

Joey Saputo, owner of the USSF D2 Montreal Impact, will also assume ownership of the expansion team, which will play at a newly renovated Saputo Stadium. The natural-grass venue will undergo approximately US$22 million in expansion to accommodate crowds of 20,000, some 7,000 more than its current capacity.

Additionally, the new team will play a select number of games at nearby Olympic Stadium, the 66,000-seat venue that once was home to the Montreal Expos.

“I’ve always said this is no longer a question of ‘if,’ but of ‘when,'” Saputo said. “I can finally say ‘when’ is here, and it’s about time. … The arrival of MLS in Montreal is nothing short of a revolution for our city and our soccer fans.”

Montreal becomes the third Canadian team in MLS, following on the heels of Toronto FC in 2007 and the Vancouver Whitecaps, who will join the league in 2011.

With the naming of Montreal, MLS is one team short of the FIFA recommended number of 20 teams for a major league. Last year it appeared that St. Louis, with its strong tradition and history in soccer in the U.S. would get that last franchise, but now it appears that MLS will instead go with a second team in the New York area.