On an afternoon when MLS Commissioner Don Garber
had to dole out some bad news with the announcement that
MLS had bought out the owners of Chivas USA, supporters in five markets had reason to feel good as he gave them a shout-out as expansion targets.
New York City FC and Orlando City are
joining MLS in 2015, and MLS has given David Beckham
's group the green light in Miami, leaving only two expansion spots up for grabs as MLS approaches its goal
of expanding to 24 teams by 2020.
Atlanta has been tipped as the third of three expansion cities in MLS's venture into the Southeast, and Garber said the league was "bullish" about the
Atlanta effort that centers around Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank
's plans for a new downtown stadium that would be configured for soccer. The Mexico-Nigeria friendly
on March 5 is expected to draw a record crowd.
Garber was particularly effusive about the Minnesota, another market in which an NFL club, the Vikings, is designing a stadium with soccer in mind. A second effort in the Twin Cities is centered
around building a soccer-specific stadium next to Target Field, the Twins' baseball park located in downtown Minneapolis.
“That opportunity is one that we're excited about as we
believe we need more teams in the Midwest,” Garber said. “I think if Minneapolis as a market that can continue to show the support that they've had for the NASL club [Minnesota United FC]
and if they continuing to make progress on a number of different stadium opportunities, there's a real opportunity there.”
Garber also singled out Sacramento, San Antonio and San
Diego as markets where there are opportunities.