Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber has outlined the process of selecting the next two teams as part of the league's expansion efforts. Currently the league has 20 active teams. Two teams, Atlanta United and Minnesota United, will join the league in 2017 as teams 21 and 22, respectively. Team 23 will be Los Angeles FC and they will join in 2018. The stop-start Miami franchise is said to be 'making progress' and is expected to be the 24th team in the league.
So the search for teams 25 and 26 begins in 2017 with the search for teams 27 and 28 to be announced at a future date. The deadline for any potential new markets to submit their applications will be January 31, 2017. Who are those markets you ask? Right now there are 10 groups who have displayed some level of interest in ownership of an MLS team. Those markets are Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, and Tampa/St. Petersburg.
These owners will need to make sure their finances are in order as the expansion fees are now $150 million and could exceed the $300 million mark when you include stadiums and youth academy structures. For perspective at the league's growth the Seattle Sounders had to pay a measly $30 million for their expansion franchise fee in 2007. When you consider they won the 2016 MLS Cup it seems like a small price to pay. Atlanta United paid around $70 million for their entrance fee. They have been pretty aggressive in their preparation for their inaugural season and are setting the bar for the level of committment that is come to be expected of any new owner groups. FourFourTwo's Paul Tenorio calls Atlanta United a game-changer.
Early favorites in the running appear to be Sacramento and St. Louis. It is hard to argue with those two on paper. I wouldn't be surprised to see a city like San Antonio or even Detroit take one of the spots. Detroit's proposed stadium was already featured by Major League Soccer below.