Soccer may not be catching on as quickly as Major League Soccer had hoped when it began in the 90s, but that is not stopping the league from planning to expand to 24 teams from its current number of 19.
The newest addition to the league with be New York City FC, which will join the league in 2015. The team will be the 20th team in the league and the tenth added since 2005, a torrid pace for any sports league.
No details have been given regarding the next four that will reportedly be added, but speculation is already circling around cities such as Atlanta, Miami, and the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul. When the locations are decided and the teams are added the MLS will become the largest top-flight soccer league in the world.
Part of the league’s rapid growth is the large upside that comes with owning a franchise. Teams can be bought for a fraction of the price that an owner would pay for a team in any of the other major sports, and MLS has been showing signs of growth in popularity and TV time. A growing immigrant population and the improvement of the national team are aiding this growth, as well as Americans who are warming up to the sport of their own volition.
League commissioner Don Garber is optimistic about the growth, and has even higher aspirations than merely growing at home:
“As MLS enters a period of accelerated growth, the addition of new teams will allow us to expand our geographic coverage, grow our fan base and help us achieve our vision of being among the best leagues in the world by 2022.”
Whether or not MLS can reach such heights is unpredictable at best, but with so many more teams than other major leagues it will become more likely that foreign players begin to see playing in the United States as an option. That, combined with homegrown talent, could create quite a bright future for soccer in America.