- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On April 27, 2010
- 31 Comments
- MLS Expansion
A lot of my readers seem to ask the same question to me, “who will be the 20th club in MLS?” With the thought that Montreal is all but a shoe-in for the 19th finding who will be the 20th club won’t be very easy. Sure MLS commissioner Don Garber has stated he wants to head back South to either Florida or Atlanta but why not find the best market that fits the league?
I’ve given it more thought since Garber’s comments over going back to Florida or Atlanta for the 20th club and I thought where exactly is the best place for MLS to go to here? If you look at it with their recent rounds of expansion to Toronto, Seattle, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Portland and likely now Montreal the league has tapped into some serious sports (and soccer) markets.
But pull out a map of the country and find the next best market after that and its tough. No one market is better than the next on paper. Each has a flaw, some have more than others. I’m taking Canada out of the picture here as I do see three being enough, the league will likely never expand beyond three up there and its not a knock on the Canucks its just more my opinion than anything else on the matter.
So in the US there are plenty of good markets, but none are great. Lots of markets have no potential ownership group which let’s face it is the biggest thing to have. But some do have fans that are begging for a team. We know what the Sons of Ben did for Philadelphia and I believe another group like that could very well help get a city a team when it is all said and done.
The Sons of Ben have given supporter groups around the country a template of how to actively get a club started from nothing. It took them a few years to get something done but as they grew so did the bid in Philadelphia.
So which markets have a decent to strong support group in place? (Note: forgive me right now if I forget your city here, its nothing against your town but just a fact that I didn’t write them up here doesn’t mean all that much) Let’s see.
Obviously this is a market the league wants to be back in or else Garber wouldn’t continue to say Florida each time he talks expansion. And by Florida I’m sure he means Miami (but yes Tampa is a good option as well). For something to happen the big supporter’s group down there the Miami Ultras need to step up to the plate like the Sons of Ben did in Philadelphia. Its not just saying you want a club but its showing you want one. Great thing the S.O.B. did was to help drive the idea of a club in the city and state. Once both saw there was a desire for a club it helped gain steam to get a stadium deal in place.
We know Miami is a tough sports market. It is for all of its professional sports, which is why the supporter’s groups like the Ultras will need to be louder in their call for a club. Hype a potential club and the current USSF Division II club like never before.
This city may have what most on this list lack right now, a potential rich owner in Arthur Blank. Thing is Blank will have to be a driving force behind this expansion bid. Unless my Google skills are lacking I have lots of trouble finding any sort of supporter’s group for this city. There was the Westside 109 group but aside from that I couldn’t find all that much about them.
I know deep down the league would love nothing more than to add another club in New York City. Not New Jersey but in the city. The Borough Boys have been working hard these last couple years to do just that, get a club. While they have may more hoops to jump through in terms of getting a stadium and a good owner I wouldn’t be at all shocked to see them end up with a club before it is all said and done. They’re basing a lot of things off the Sons of Ben and if it worked for them why not the Borough Boys?
This city nearly got a club a few years back. But some issues with the Alamo Dome and the city pulling the plug on the deal pretty much killed this city from getting a club. I still find this to be one of the better markets for the league to go to down the road. Having three teams in Texas would be huge and as Jason Davis pointed out this morning as of 2009 they have a supporter’s group in place that is ready to work for getting a club. The Crocketteers are their name and maybe just maybe they have a shot at getting a club of their own. They are new to the supporter’s game but just from reading up about their ideas and thoughts make me believe in their city’s potential even more.
The idea of a club in the valley of the sun may not be one some folks like but the potential market is there, as are some fans. MLS Phoenix Rising is a local supporter’s group that has been in place for a few years now. They may not appear as active (at least on their website) but it does show that there is solid support in that city.
Yes everyone still wants a club in this city as much as I do but honestly the only way I see it happening anytime soon is if someone other than Jeff Cooper steps up to the plate and gets it done. I think Cooper is probably a bit burnt out anyways from dealing with MLS. I’m sure the supporters there aren’t though. Eads Brigade is the main group in the Gateway City that still wants a MLS club. They’re small in numbers right now but once the new club AC St. Louis takes off in the second division like I think it will they’ll grow in numbers.