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MLS Expansion: Miami delays continue; plus, what do the players think?

How are things looking on the road to 28?

MLS: All-Star Press Conference Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

MLS is expanding over the next few years. Los Angeles FC will open play next year along with a 24th team in 2019 that we think will be in Miami, but aren’t sure since they still can’t quite figure out where the money’s coming from, so yeah, things could be going better down there.

But what about the announcement teams 25 and 26? I asked commissioner Don Garber whether that timeline’s changed during halftime of Sunday’s match between Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls.

We’ll pick teams 25 and 26 by the end of the year. That’s our goal and it’s not something we’re even married to. Teams 27 and 28 will be sometime after that.

So no news there. However, it sounds like Garber left the door open for any potential hiccups regarding bids for the 12 candidate cities, so we’ll see if things get pushed back. But for now, the end-of-year timeline for 25 and 26 seems fairly firm at this point.

By the way, The Blue Testament, SBN’s Sporting Kansas City blog, has an excellent and frequently updated breakdown of the expansion battle (including expansion city power rankings!). I’m a little surprised that North Carolina FC isn’t higher up on the list, and my opinion is that it will be either them or Charlotte that gets MLS (if anyone) in N.C. (not both), and North Carolina FC’s candidacy is in much better shape right now. San Diego and Sacramento seem to be sitting pretty right now at the top. San Diego’s bid got a boost as Landon Donovan announced that he was joining their ownership group.

What caught my eye is that the Miami bid looks to be spinning its wheels a little bit. However, Garber is still stating that Miami will be team #24 despite the silence coming from South Florida.

“Miami is slated to be our 24th team,” Garber said when pressed about whether Miami was still in the fold...“We’re going to continue to work with David Beckham and see if we can make some progress there.”

The Curbed article says that a funding announcement was supposed to come out late last year, then was pushed back to yesterday, and has been pushed back to some date that nobody knows. Tick-tock, Miami.

Speaking of expansion, ESPN did an anonymous poll of 140 players across MLS (everyone except NYCFC participated) and released the results this morning. One of the topics: whether the league should stop at 24 clubs, expand to 28 clubs and stop (which is Garber’s plan) or keep going beyond that. A quarter of the players polled said that they’d like to see the league halt at 24 (after the addition of LAFC and - we think - Miami), while 19% said 28 is sufficient. Four percent want to see more than 32 teams. One player in particular just wants to go hog-wild with this whole expansion thing.

"I'd like to see 70 top-class teams. Why not? Every state should have a team, and the big cities should have two."