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Expansion Update

Representatives for all seven groups seeking two MLS expansion clubs, including several FC Barcelona officials supporting the Miami bid, are in Los Angeles for MLS Cup events and four apparently will make presentations to the league's board of governors Friday. They are believed to be Miami, Portland, Vancouver and Ottawa. Don't read too much into it -- the Montreal, St. Louis and Atlanta folks are in regular contact with MLS -- but the league might have a better idea of the front-runners by the end of the weekend. A decision on which cities will be awarded expansion teams is expected in the first quarter of 2009.

Despite the obstacles for pro soccer -- actually, pro anything -- in South Florida, it's going to be awfully hard to say no to Barcelona's prestige and deep pockets. Agreed?

By Steve Goff  |  November 21, 2008; 3:20 AM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Next: MLS Cup Memories

Comments

Yeah that sounds right. MLS needs the $$$.

Posted by: Pedalada | November 21, 2008 6:11 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree on the Barcelona front but Ottawa. I guess it's a good thing for the league in general they too are showing interest enough to present MLS board their plan. My choice is Montreal.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | November 21, 2008 7:03 AM | Report abuse

So the reduction in roster size (and subsequent senior roster adjustment) means 1.) more money available for players 18-24 (if team salary cap stays the same of increases) and B.) The end of the Reserve League and iii.) There is no item iii.

1.) is a good thing; B.) is sad to see; iii.) must have gotten lost in the mail.

Posted by: StevanF | November 21, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

The Miami-Barca team should be a no brainer. Soccer crazed Portland would be great for league as well. I'm definitely not too crazy about the Atlanta bid... They have enough trouble supporting some of their teams.

Posted by: PHXguy | November 21, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Lots of Fans/Passion
Soccer Specific Stadium

I don't want Barca's brand in MLS, they are big enough already.

Teams with North American Soccer History/Tradition are more than welcome

Posted by: Ben7LA | November 21, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Yes Miami in 2010. It will happen. Vamos Miami........
www.miamisoccerfan.com

Posted by: fcrapids25 | November 21, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm reposting an item that I posted to another thread a couple of days ago:

http://www.miamisoccerfan.com/Soccer/Questions_With_Claure.html

According to this piece, the Miami investors are adamant that they be permitted to go ahead in 2010, even if it means bumping Philly to '11. I would hope that the league (and the Philly investors) would have the good sense never to agree to that, as it would destroy their credibility in the Delaware Valley, and everywhere else for that matter. If it is that important to Miami/Barca, perhaps they should withdraw.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 21, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

No to Florida. No to Atlanta (unless Coca-Cola is deeply involved).

Yes to Vancouver, St. Louis.

Columbus 2, Red Bulls NY 0

"I've seen the bright lights of Memphis
And the Commodore Hotel
And underneath a street lamp
I met a Southern belle
Well she took me to the river, where she cast her spell
And in that Southern moonlight, she sang a song so well..."

Posted by: joedoc1 | November 21, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Eh, a lot of teams have a lot going for them (save Ottawa). If Miami didn't have Barca, they wouldn't even be in consideration.

Posted by: Reignking | November 21, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

No to Florida. No to Atlanta (unless Coca-Cola is deeply involved).

Posted by: joedoc1 | November 21, 2008 9:31 AM

How about Home Depot? Possibly the best sponsor in MLS and their founder wants a team for Atlanta. I don't discount that. Plus Pepsi are a major sponsor in MLS - "no Coke, Pepsi!"

I think that MLS should say thanks, but no thanks to Barca/Miami. The Chivas experiment has not really worked - and that's in a area far more solid than Miami for soccer attendance. MLS are fortunate to have a lot of investors queuing up, they're not as desperate for FCB cash.

I think it should be Montreal and Vancouver or Portland (torn). Then Garber should convince Arthur Blank to put MacFarlane and Chang out of their misery, buy United and put Home Depot Center II in Anacostia. How's that for a plan ;-)

Happy Friday all

Posted by: Kev29 | November 21, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Goff: Do you have any information about next year's divisional alignment? Will it be unbalanced (8+7), 3x5, or what?

Posted by: universityandpark | November 21, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Goff: Do you have any information about next year's divisional alignment? Will it be unbalanced (8+7), 3x5, or what?

Posted by: universityandpark | November 21, 2008 9:57 AM

I know a way around conference/division imbalance...

Posted by: Kev29 | November 21, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Miami has failed once. It should not be given the opportunity to fail again. The Atlanta Dixie Chickens would be a very bad name. Worse yet, is the Tennessee Lambs.

Montreal would be nice. But if the expansion is East-heavy, Philly may end up in MLS West.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 21, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Montreal would be nice. But if the expansion is East-heavy, Philly may end up in MLS West.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 21, 2008 10:03 AM

I know a way around that too... (sorry, I'm just being a bit over caffeinated)

Posted by: Kev29 | November 21, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I hope it's not all about the cash, while MIAMI would be a lot of fun to travel to for an away game I don't think any MLS franchise should be stuck in city with a history of failure to draw local fans.
Happy Friday indeed Kev29:-)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPDYfyyQ3O4&feature=related

Posted by: DadRyan | November 21, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The Miami bid is challenging, exactly because of the failed Fusion and the new group led by Barca. Ultimately, though, I think that the league should not pursue another South Florida experiment just yet.

Posted by: BaltoFan | November 21, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Just a reminder that George Mason takes on Penn tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the NCAA men's first round. The GMU football ground is just across Route 123 from the main part of the campus. If you can't make it out there, there appears to be a gametracker at the GMU Web site:

http://gomason.cstv.com/sports/m-soccer/sched/gema-m-soccer-sched.html

Posted by: universityandpark | November 21, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

MLS April-October plus Miami weather >>> Vancouver or Portland.

"No, Atlanta, No, Atlanta, No no no, Atlanta"

Posted by: OWNTF | November 21, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I would be very surprised if MLS did not invite the FC Barcelona-sponsored Miami bid into the league. The USL-1 cities (Atlanta, Montreal, Portland, Vancouver) have established regional professional soccer fan bases, but FCB is a world-wide brand. MLS wants to be known outside of North America and adding a Barcelona "sister team" is a logical next step.

Posted by: Brokenbil | November 21, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Ha! I live in Atlanta -- there is no "established regional professional soccer fan base" here. In fact, the SBacks men aren't playing next year.

Posted by: Reignking | November 21, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Like Reignking says, if there is such a well established fan base in Atl. why is their USL-1 franchise suspending operations? No Atl, No Miami.

Posted by: LWPA | November 21, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Atlanta has other positives to make up for that, but all of the other bids (except Ottawa) are very strong.

Posted by: Reignking | November 21, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Why have U.S. owners at all? Let's just lease our league to the big Euro clubs. :-)

F.C. Barcelona de Miami
(there's already a Barcelona in Guayaquil, Ecuador, though the Catalans don't own the team)

Read Madrid de Los Angeles
(the boys in white ditch any connections with unfashionable Salt Lake City and buy the Galaxy, then kick Chivas out of the HD stadium and paint it white with purple trim)

Colorado Gunners (Wenger can come over to coach once his Arsenal contract expires)

Liverpool-Montreal F.C. (unless a big French club like PSG or Lyon outbids Gillette for a franchise)

Milan Red Bulls of New York (Berlusconi buys out Red Bull so he can come to New York every other week on a junket)

Internazionale New York (not to be outdone by his city rivals, Moratti builds a brand new stadium in Queens and brings over every aging big-money Euro star that he can find)

Chelsea Chelsea FC (not to be outdone by anyone, Abramovich builds a brand new stadium in lower Manhattan, against all odds, economic plans, and common sense)

Still need teams for Man Utd, Bayern Munich, Juventus, and a few more.

Posted by: SSMD1 | November 21, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

@Kev29. Maybe you should learn to use pivot charts and other Excel functions, so you won't be limited to a single table :-)

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 21, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

So I get that Barcelona have a lot of money, but I gather that is also true of most other candidates.

For the uninformed of us, what exactly are the tangible benefits to the league of having Barcelona as an owner, vis a vis the typical MLS billionaire owner?

Posted by: Wendell_Gee | November 21, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Despite the turf field, I think Toronto has been a tremendous success and MLS would be foolish not to select one of the Canadian bids. Personally, I'd go with Montreal.

The Atlanta and Miami bids seem the riskiest to me, but both have enticing connections (Home Depot, FC Barcelona) and MLS might feel the need to put a team in the South East.

Posted by: noptov | November 21, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

@SSMD1

The United Soccer Association tried that.... 40 years ago, or do you not remember Aberdeen of Scotland cleverly disguised as the Washington Whips.

And if Canada wants so many teams, they can start their own league. Aside from Australia/New Zealand and England/Wales, I can't think of too many leagues that involve two countries.

Posted by: IamAM | November 21, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Breaking News: There's a Fat Man in the Bathtub.

NOw, as to where these teams should be located:

I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari,
Tehachapi to Tonapah....

I figure MLS won't be able to resist Barca's sex appeal. The Chivas failure isn't a relevant precedent -- since they were coming in to play in the Galaxy's own stadium. Stupid. At least locate the team on the other side of the city.

As for Portland - I'm still willin'.

I bet MLS is, too. However, if the expansion doesn't pick a real western team, the obvious candidate to move would be Columbus...unless St. Louis gets a team.

Oh Atlanta. Gotta get back to you.

Posted by: fischy | November 21, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Fischy - what is "the Chivas Failure"?

Posted by: Wendell_Gee | November 21, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I would say that the Chivas precedent is relevant for the fact that a huge, international club thought it could franchise itself in the US market. But I think they overlooked the fact that, if fans in the US are interested in Chivas, they're just going to watch the Guadalajara originals on TV. I think the same will happen in Miami. Would a Barcelona fan in South Florida be motivated to watch the FCB inspired team play live, or just be fine continuing to watch the real things on GolTV every weekend?

Posted by: Kev29 | November 21, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm not for or against any of the bids, since I don't know the facts behind them. I can say I'm highly skeptical of Miami, but if they have a downtown stadium, some sort of framework to get a couple Barca youth team players or an older guy (Gudjohnsen?), and can prove that Miami does actually care about soccer (meaning that the Fusion's problem was playing in Ft. Lauderdale), then they are a strong contender. However, thus far all I ever hear about their bid is that there's a rich Bolivian teaming up with Barcelona. Nothing about a stadium, nothing about how committed Barca actually is. Remember how much we saw Jorge Vergara and others when Chivas USA started up? Now look at them. Mendoza is the only player with any connection at all with Chivas de Guadalajara, and even that's tenuous. Vergara is never mentioned in attachment with the team. Their attendance is pathetic, and they are often discussed as a team to potentially move elsewhere. Yes, Barcelona is a bigger name with more money and weight, but what's to stop them from doing the same thing? It's easy to put on a good show to get a team; it's hard to sustain it over several years.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 21, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Wow, the other half of the potential Miami ownership sounds very full of himself. Non negotiable demands, huh? If there are seven buyers for two items, is it wise to publicly demand anything of the seller?

Plus, Miami is a horrible city for pro sports - unless you're in a clear winning season. I'd stay away. fwiw, the Marlins were dead last in MLB attendance this year.

So how about the rest?

From what I've seen and what my friends who live there tell me, any of Montreal, Portland or Vancouver would be good, especially building off of the existing team in Toronto or Seattle as the case may be.

St. Louis could be good, if it's all done well, but it might have some of the advantages (relatively lower construction and operating costs) and disadvantages (are there really enough fans) as Columbus.

Atlanta would seem to be a weak pro sports city, but the Braves aren't horrible in attendance (14th of 30 this year), and USL support is not necessarily indicative of MLS support: see Toronto.

Ottawa - is that a real bid?

PS: has anyone caught Metro Playoff Fever yet? Go Columbus, beat the MetroStars!

Posted by: CDRHoek | November 21, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

@Wendell -- actually, I think it Chivas is finally building a base, but they're still in the bottom half on attendance. They weren't matching the Galaxy even in pre-Beckham days.

I like the idea of a New York Chelsea team -- Chelsea Chelsea FC.

What if the DuPont family, or the chemical giant, invested in a stadium in NW DC -- DuPont Dupont Circle? Or the Medellin cartel could build a stadium in Howard County for Colombia Columbia? Or maybe a team in the Hampton Roads area -- Porstmouth Portsmouth FC?

Posted by: fischy | November 21, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

If Miami comes in, both Miami and Philly would start in 2010

Posted by: LAStory | November 21, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Chelsea Chelsea? Sounds like twins born in the early 1990's. What if the Panamanian boxer Roberto co-owned a team with Simon Le Bon and called it... wait for it... wait for it... wait for it.... Rio No Mas.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 21, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

We dont care what what you say about Miami. Miami will get MLS in 2010 no question about it and if you don't like it to bad. See you in 2010.

Posted by: fcrapids25 | November 21, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

BARCELONA FC - a no brainer. Not only do they have the best squad in the world, but they also have the best player development. MLS would become their seed league. Not bad for MLS, Barza or fans.

Posted by: juanma_carr | November 21, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

MLS would become their seed league.

Posted by: juanma_carr | November 21, 2008 2:01 PM

Not going to happen. Neither MLS nor FCB are really interested in a situation where Miami (or anyone) becomes a feeder club. Like Chivas USA, they'll have to exist as a regular MLS club with the FCB tie really only for financial and branding purposes.

Posted by: Kev29 | November 21, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'll know MLS is smart and in good financial standing if they can avoid creating a second division squad within their own league. Montreal and Portland are far better choices.

Posted by: MooseMcDowell | November 21, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm blown away by the success of the Toronto fans and I think they should be rewarded with a proper rival. Plus, seeing the Impact a few times on FSC, they always draw well. So, my vote goes to Montreal. It's a no-brainer

Posted by: ZidVicious | November 21, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

However, thus far all I ever hear about their bid is that there's a rich Bolivian teaming up with Barcelona. Nothing about a stadium

@Chest:

FCB Miami has a partnership with Florida International University to share their new on-campus football/soccer stadium (capacity 20,000).

http://www.fiusports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=11700&ATCLID=1554927

Posted by: SportzNut21 | November 21, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Now, having contributed that, I'd be in favor of returning to the Southeast with FCB Miami, and either Vancouver or Portland; then adding another round in 2013-14 with St. Louis and Montreal. Announce them all at the same time. This would also allow for a fairly balanced geographical expansion between East and West, with a two-conference, four-division layout for playoffs: top two in each division are seeded within their conference based on points and play off, then winners play for conference championship; conference champs play for MLS Cup. No need for wild cards. Supporters Shield would still be awarded to top regular season points winner.

DC
Montreal
New England
New York
Philadelphia

Chicago
Columbus
Miami
St. Louis
Toronto

Colorado
Dallas
Houston
Kansas City (realigned from East)
Salt Lake

Chivas USA
Los Angeles
Portland
San Jose
Seattle

28 game schedule: play home and away within the conference, single games against the other conference, alternating home and away games between the divisions each year (example: Pacific Division plays Atlantic at home and Midwest on road in even years, reversing in odd). FIFA breaks are observed!

Posted by: SportzNut21 | November 21, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

In response to SportzNut21

38 game schedule playing home and away with everyone:

MLS starts a little sooner and ends a little later & gets help scheduling (because they suck at it) and account for:

* seasonal weather differences (ie. New England during the spring/fall might play away games on the West Coast

* FIFA breaks

* Super Liga

* CONCACAF
*****************************
And after reading this, you come to the conclusion that there isn't enough time to play that many games in our current set up, then we can finally have a real conversation about one of the two topics:

1. We need to change MLS schedule to a more FIFA friendly one, just like all of Europe. If they can play in the cold weather, rain, or in some extreme cases, snow, then so can we.

2. We need to stop being such pansies and realize that as the number of teams increase, we will eventually have to fold in USL and have relegation/promotion. I am tired of people saying it will never happen! It will... but first we have to stop saying it will never happen.

Pardon this rant, but "It will never happen" is what they said about Womens' Sufferage, Civil Rights, and women & minorities becoming Senators, Sec State, Joint Chiefs, and President of the USA. And thank God it did.

Why do we always have to re-invent the wheel?

Posted by: PocketKings | November 21, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

DC
Montreal
New England
New York
Philadelphia

Chicago
Columbus
Miami
St. Louis
Toronto

Posted by: SportzNut21 | November 21, 2008 5:45 PM
__________________________________________


Shouldn't DC and Toronto be switched? In addition to general considerations of geographic compactness, don't you want a Montreal-Toronto rivalry?

Posted by: universityandpark | November 22, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

We need to stop being such pansies and realize that as the number of teams increase, we will eventually have to fold in USL and have relegation/promotion.
_________________________________________

Just who is "we"? MLS and USL are independent entities. Promotion/relegation will happen if and only if it is in the mutual interest of the two sets of owners, not because someone named "we", on the outside looking in, thinks it is a good idea in theory.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 22, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Greg Lalas and Shep Messing reported on "Extra Time" that Montreal has pulled its bid, Albert Pujols has joined the St. Louis ownership group, and that 1200 advance ticket licenses have been sold in Miami. Lalas said "It's looking more and more like Miami is going to get a team."

Posted by: Brokenbil | November 23, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

OurSports Central reports: "Following MLS Commissioner Don Garber's statements regarding Montreal's bid, the Montreal partnership group would like to bring one important rectification: Montreal did not withdrew its bid from Major League Soccer but was informed that the league did not retain its bid.

Out of respect for the Grey Cup festivities, the partnership group will not make any additional statements over the weekend."

Posted by: Brokenbil | November 23, 2008 1:25 AM | Report abuse

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