Location by location, MLS commissioner Don Garber's response to expansion questions
Despite Orlando City SC and New York City FC already cementing their places in MLS in 2015 and a David Beckham-owned team in Miami likely to join soon after, MLS expansion remains as hot-button issue as ever.
That much was apparent during an hour-long Q&A session that league commissioner Don Garber held Tuesday with the 2014 season set to kick off on Saturday. Garber took questions from fans and journalists, over social media and the phone, with the expansion theme prevalent throughout.
"There will be a time, and that time is probably sooner as opposed to later, when we don't have expansion questions," Garber said. "The league will be fully expanded. That's probably years from now. ... People care about it now because it's part of the evolution of our league and of our business."
Until that time does come, the questions will keep on coming. Instead of siphoning through Garber's longer-winded answers regarding specific cities and states, here's a quick-hitting rundown of his responses:
MINNEAPOLIS: "Minneapolis is on the short list."
ATLANTA: "We're getting close." Acknowledged that the league has held talks with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank since 2008.
CLEVELAND: Question: "Will there ever be MLS in Cleveland?" Garber: "Ever is a long time." Acknowledged talks about a team there "many years ago" but nothing as of late. "What I would say to folks that are living in Cincinnati, the folks that are living in Dayton, folks that are living in Cleveland: Support the [Columbus] Crew."
DETROIT: "We know that there's some interest. There hasn't been any discussions. Not sure it's on the short list, but you never know."
NORTH CAROLINA: "North Carolina is a market we've always looked around it. ... We'll monitor it. We've said we need to get south of Washington D.C. ... Who knows. Further expansion, but not sure Carolina is coming any time soon."
SACRAMENTO: "I would encourage every fan in that market, support the [new USL Pro side Sacramento] Republic, get behind it, build that team, build that brand, show that there's a real appetite north of San Jose for professional high-level soccer, and we'll see what happens."
AUSTIN AND SAN ANTONIO: "It's premature for both markets. .... Expanding in Texas is something that is likely to happen. Where that happens, when that happens is still to be seen."
The league maintains that it wants to be at 24 teams by 2020, though there is no guarantee that will be the stopping point. That leaves two cities beyond Orlando, New York City and Miami to fill the void. Based on Garber's comments on Tuesday -- which have been in line with what he has said recently -- it would appear that Atlanta and Minneapolis have the inside track. Garber's entire Q&A session can be seen here.