Which Cities are Next up For MLS Expansion?

Which Cities are Next up For MLS Expansion?

A new team will join Major League Soccer for the 2023 season. 

St. Louis City SC becomes the 14th team in the Western Conference, while the Eastern Conference has 15. This marks the seventh consecutive season in which the MLS has added a team, dating to 2016.

Following is a look at the newest team in MLS, as well as an analysis of whether the league is growing too large.

St. Louis is a Soccer Giant

Soccer has been played at various levels in the St. Louis area for more than a century. The St. Louis Soccer League, founded in 1907, was North America’s only professional soccer league at the time. 

St. Louis City plays Austin in its February debut. The team came into existence in 2019 and will play its home matches at the Citypark, which opened in November ahead of the arrival of MLS. The stadium, built next to Union Station, has a capacity of 22,500.

This year will be the first since 1977 that a club from greater St. Louis has played in the top tier of a U.S. soccer league. The St. Louis Stars played in the defunct North American Soccer League from 1968-77.

St. Louis City is led by former New York Red Bulls assistant coach Bradley Carnell, and the most notable player on the roster is former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki. 

St. Louis City 2 is the franchise’s reserve team. It began play in the 2022 season.

Check out: Gambling.com's MLS Picks, Predictions, Analysis

Is the MLS Getting Too Large?

Top European leagues like the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga all have 20 teams, more than either conference in MLS. 

As the league grows, so do its popularity, finances and global attraction. As a result, the league can never become "too big." But there have been some problems with its growth.

Sacramento Republic was intended to join St. Louis City in MLS in 2023, but its bid was placed on hold because an investor pulled out. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has since suggested that the next round of expansion bring the league to 32 teams. 

It’s also worth noting that the league is only in its second growth phase, which began in 2015, and St. Louis City had to pay $200 million just to get into MLS. It’s set to get more expensive to join the league as time passes, a barrier to potential expansion teams.

Twenty-one states are represented in the MLS. Some that lack top-tier teams have shown the ability to support one potentially. New Mexico United regularly reaches its crowd capacity of 13,500, while Phoenix Rising FC gets huge crowds at Phoenix Rising Soccer Stadium, which has a capacity of 10,000. 

In the end, it’s all about finances. Even the incredible wealth of David Beckham was not enough to get Inter Miami into MLS by itself; he needed the assistance of billionaire brothers Jorge and Jose Mas.

Other states have seen failed expansion efforts as well. Garber was eager to get an expansion team in Detroit in 2020. The ownership group bidding to do so failed to build a soccer-specific stadium and lost out on the bid. The Tampa Bay Rowdies are another successful team in the USL Championship that has failed to enter the MLS. Louisville City FC also failed in its bid.

The next-most-likely city for a team in MLS is Las Vegas. Phoenix Rising is getting closer, but the bid seems entirely dependent on an agreement with Goldman Sachs to secure funding for a 20,000-seat stadium. The final most likely candidate is San Diego, whose ownership group includes MLS legend, Landon Donovan.

Major League Soccer Odds
April 1st 7:30pmHomeDrawAway
Atlanta United FC Atlanta United FC ATL
+105 BetMGM +250 BetMGM +260 Bet365
New York Red Bulls New York Red Bulls NY
April 1st 7:30pmHomeDrawAway
Philadelphia Union Philadelphia Union PHI
-167 Bet365 +300 BetMGM +425 BetMGM
Sporting Kansas City Sporting Kansas City SKC
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Toronto FC Toronto FC TOR
+105 BetMGM +260 BetMGM +250 Bet365
Charlotte FC Charlotte FC CHA
April 1st 7:30pmHomeDrawAway
FC Cincinnati FC Cincinnati CIN
-140 BetMGM +295 DraftKings +375 Bet365
Inter Miami CF Inter Miami CF MIA
April 1st 7:30pmHomeDrawAway
New England Revolution New England Revolution NE
+115 BetMGM +260 Bet365 +230 DraftKings
New York City FC New York City FC NYC
April 1st 7:30pmHomeDrawAway
Columbus Crew Columbus Crew CLB
-110 BetMGM +260 BetMGM +300 Bet365
Real Salt Lake Real Salt Lake RSL
April 1st 7:30pmHomeDrawAway
Orlando City SC Orlando City SC ORL
+145 Bet365 +240 Bet365 +180 BetMGM
Nashville SC Nashville SC NSC
April 1st 7:30pmHomeDrawAway
Los Angeles Galaxy Los Angeles Galaxy LAG
+110 BetMGM +250 BetMGM +225 Bet365
Seattle Sounders Seattle Sounders SEA
April 1st 8:30pmHomeDrawAway
Chicago Fire Chicago Fire CHI
-120 BetMGM +275 Bet365 +320 Bet365
DC United DC United DC
April 1st 8:30pmHomeDrawAway
FC Dallas FC Dallas DAL
-150 BetMGM +295 DraftKings +400 Bet365
Portland Timbers Portland Timbers POR
April 1st 8:30pmHomeDrawAway
Saint Louis City SC Saint Louis City SC SAI
-125 Bet365 +275 BetMGM +320 Bet365
Minnesota United FC Minnesota United FC MIN
April 1st 9:30pmHomeDrawAway
Colorado Rapids Colorado Rapids COL
+220 Bet365 +260 Bet365 +115 BetMGM
Los Angeles FC Los Angeles FC LAN
April 1st 10:30pmHomeDrawAway
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Vancouver Whitecaps FC VAN
+115 Bet365 +250 BetMGM +225 Bet365
CF Montreal CF Montreal MON
April 1st 10:30pmHomeDrawAway
San Jose Earthquakes San Jose Earthquakes SJ
-120 BetMGM +275 Bet365 +320 Bet365
Houston Dynamo Houston Dynamo HOU