MLS has said its goal is to expand to twenty teams by 2012, adding Philly this year for sixteen and Portland and Vancouver next year for eighteen. The question still looms: who will be the last two expansion teams?
There are a fair number of options:
- Atlanta - Currently, there are no MLS teams in the southeast, so many of these cities are in that region of the continent. Some would argue against Florida teams, since we already had the failed teams in Tampa Bay and Miami. Atlanta is the biggest metro area in the Southeast that isn't Miami.
- Birmingham - The mayor of Birmingham, AL has stated his desire to bring an MLS side to the city. While the obvious downside is that it's a very small city in an area that's not traditionally soccer-friendly, the upside is that an MLS Birmingham team would have a monopoly over the local pro sports market there.
- Detroit - Detroit is a big market that's never been tapped for MLS. It is Detroit though, so the economy isn't exactly booming for potential merchandise sales.
- Miami - Yes, Miami Fusion FC already failed in South Florida. But Major League Soccer has grown exponentially since the team disbanded in 2001. Plus there's already a successful minor league team there, Miami FC.
- Montreal - This is the biggest no-brainer to me. Some Americans don't like the idea of having three Canadian teams, but I think it's stupid to ignore great potential markets. Montreal also already has a great minor league team, the Montreal Impact. They're the only non-MLS side to compete in the Canadian Championship (to determine Canada's entry into the CONCACAF Champions League), along with Toronto FC and 2011 MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps FC. It just makes sense to upgrade the Impact to Major League status.
- New York - Rumor has it that the owner of the New York Mets wants to create a second New York MLS team and bring it to Queens. NYC is a huge market, but the Red Bulls aren't exactly selling out all their games yet...
- Ottawa - The city of Ottawa has campaigned increasingly for an MLS side. At first glance, one would think that if MLS were to add a third Canadian team, they'd go to Montreal first. But if you've ever been to Quebec, the Montreal Canadiens are on French Canadians' minds every single day, and the Ottawa Senators don't have nearly as strong a hold on the Ottawa sports market.
- St. Louis - St. Louis is another common-sense candidate for an MLS team--but is Kansas City too close? Probably not. I guess we'll find out.
SBN doesn't let me create a poll with the ability to choose two options, so just pick your top choice.