Next year MLS will be adding two new franchises, Orlando City and New York City F.C. With the loss of Chivas USA, there will be a grand total of twenty franchises. This is a big step for the league. Ten years ago there were ten franchises, including the “Dallas Burn” and the “Metrostars”, and the league had lost its two Florida franchises a few years before. Since then, we’ve seen many new franchises. Before the decade is out we will be introduced to at least five teams and perhaps more.
Here’s a rundown of what the next few years will look like:
2015: Orlando City and New York City F.C. (A net gain of +1)
Next year we’ll see two MLS franchises come into the league as stated above, Orlando City and New York City F.C. While two teams are coming in, Chivas is going out, so it results in a net gain of one team. Both teams will bring some level of competitiveness to the table. Orlando City has signed Brazilian star Kaká, with a contract to a tune of $6.7 million, the largest yearly salary in MLS history.
New York City has also made waves by signing Chelsea’s Frank Lampard and Spanish footballer David Villa. It could create conflict in the New York area as the Red Bulls have been the market’s only team for some time. It will be interesting to see how their first meeting plays out.
2016: No teams yet but still plenty of chatter.
While no teams are scheduled to enter the league in 2016, there is still plenty of talk that teams could enter the league in the future. One city that has shown interest is Sacramento. They currently sport a USL Pro team, the Sacramento Republic. The team is making a push to join MLS after winning the USL Pro title.
Another city with a minor league team looking to break through is Minneapolis. Minnesota United made waves earlier in the year after Miguel Ibarra, a winger for the team, made an appearance with the USMNT in a friendly against Honduras. The team has also showed interest in becoming an MLS franchise.
Another city that is trying to attract attention is Las Vegas. Plans to construct a stadium within the city have led to speculation and hope that Sin City could be getting a soccer franchise. For many years Las Vegas has tried to attract a major sports league, and it looks like soccer could be that sport.
2017: Los Angeles F.C. and Atlanta
Almost immediately after the dissolution of Chivas USA, investors announced plans for a new Los Angeles team, entitled the “Los Angeles Football Club”. A sort of spiritual successor to Chivas USA, the group announced plans for a new team and stadium, hopefully beginning play in 2017.
Another confirmed MLS expansion squad will hail from Atlanta. The team came to fruition in April after previous bids for an Atlanta MLS team failed. The team name has not yet been decided yet.
2018 and beyond: More speculation
Beyond 2017, not much is certain about MLS expansion. It is currently unclear how many teams is the right number. David Beckham is among a group of investors hoping to bring an MLS franchise to Miami (it was included in his 2007 MLS contract that he could own a franchise with a discounted fee, with current market values floating around $100 million.), but it is unclear when that plan can be realized.
Beyond that, you can take it wherever your imagination seems fit. For now, the expansion era rolls on.