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History is not on new expansion team's side
by Paul Kennedy, May 22nd, 2013 5:57PM
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[MLS SPOTLIGHT] You don't think of Manchester City or the New York Yankees when the term "expansion team" pops up. They won't want to field just other team when New York City FC begins play in 2015. They'll want to win in Year 1, which is contrary to what usually happens to an expansion team. The history of MLS expansion teams isn't pathetic, but it's pretty bad.

The Chicago Fire set the bar high in 1998 when the Bob Bradley-coached team won MLS Cup, but of MLS's 10 other expansions only the Seattle Sounders have finished in the top half of the standings.

The only other expansion team to make the playoffs was the Miami Fusion in 1998 when eight of 10 teams advanced to the postseason -- and it qualified as the eighth team.

Since then, four teams have finished last or tied for last, and Real Salt Lake only finished ahead of Chivas USA -- another expansion team -- in 2005.

The implementation of the Designated Player rule has made it easier for teams to have a fighting chance to compete out of the box.

The Seattle Sounders, fourth out of 15 teams in 2009, signed established pros such as U.S. keeper Kasey Keller and Swede Freddie Ljungberg, its lone DP, and it went out and acquired highly regarded young Colombian Fredy Montero on loan.

It also helped that the Sounders were expert bottom feeders. Three players taken in the Expansion Draft -- Brad Evans, Nate Jaqua and James Riley -- ended up playing 25 or more games in 2009, and Seattle picked up Sebastien Le Toux, among others, from its USL-1 team and Oswaldo Alonso from USL-1's Charleston Battery.

MLS expansion teams, Year 1
1998 *Chicago (champion)
1998 *Miami (8th out of 10 teams)
2005 Real Salt Lake (11th out of 12 teams)
2005 Chivas USA (12th out of 12 teams)
2007 Toronto FC (13th out of 13 teams)
2008 San Jose (T-13th out of 14 teams)
2009 *Seattle (4th out of 15 teams)
2010 Philadelphia (14th out 16 teams)
2011 Portland (12th out of 18 teams)
2011 Vancouver (T-17th of 18 teams)
2012 Montreal (12th out of 19 teams)
*Made playoffs.



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