May 07, 2010

NEW YORK, (Reuters) -- Montreal will be admitted to North America's Major League Soccer (MLS) competition from 2012, it was announced Friday.

Montreal will become the league's 19th team and the third from Canada, joining Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps, one of two news clubs starting up next season.

"We are proud to welcome Montreal, the second largest French-speaking city in the world and a multicultural metropolis whose residents are deeply passionate about the world's game, to Major League Soccer," MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

Owned by Canadian businessman Joey Saputo, Montreal currently play in a temporary second tier competition that was borne out of a feud between rival leagues.

They have been linked with a move to the MLS for a number of years but did not enter the competition in the last round of expansion when Vancouver and Portland were admitted for 2011.

The MLS is expected to add a 20th team for 2012 with several U.S. cities already expressing interest.

"I am extremely proud of the acquisition of an MLS team," Saputo said.

"This is what Montreal deserved: a great league within a great city."

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