This year the MLS will have twenty-nine teams, thanks to the edition of St. Louis City SC. The MLS has never been stronger or better, and further expansion feels inevitable. With that in mind, here are five potential cities that the MLS could expand in to in the future.
Note; In suggesting potential team names, I decided to stay away from generic names like ‘United’ and ‘City’, and go for names more in vein of the older MLS teams.
Las. Vegas, Nevada
Ten years ago this would’ve been seen as too much of a gamble (pardon the pun). But now, Vegas has proven itself to be a legitimate major league sports city. Since 2017 the city has gained an NHL team and an NFL team, Vegas is also heavily linked with the MLB as a potential relocation site for the Oakland A’s. So there’s every reason to believe that soccer could also thrive here. Thousands of tourists from all over the world visit Sin City, and with soccer being the preferred sport of most of the world, there’s an instant attraction for international fans. There is also a good local support. The USL team Las Vegas Lights has a healthy following, and as one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., Vegas will continue to become more and more appealing to the MLS. The city has the money to build a new stadium or failing that they could renovate Cashman Field, home of the Lights
Potential name; Las Vegas Lights – I don’t want to simply reuse names from the USL or folded teams, but Lights is a fa tactic name for a Las Vegas team! It can’t be topped.
San Diego, California
It feels like an inevitability that San Diego gets a team. There has been interest in bringing a team to San Diego for a long time, and the success of the NWSL team proved that the city will embrace soccer. An NWSL record crowd of 32,000 fans attended a game between San Diego Wave and Angel City last season, and there’s no reason to suggest an MLS team couldn’t attract similar numbers. Snapdragon Stadium is a bonafide MLS stadium caliber stadium, and would be a perfect host site for an MLS team – either long-term or short-term while a soccer-specific stadium is built.
Potential Name; Rayo San Diego – The San Diego Chargers were an NFL team that played in the city for nearly sixty years before unceremoniously leaving for LA. Rayo is Spanish for thunder, which has obvious connections to lightning which relates to the chargers logo. This combination of an homage to San Diego sports history and its large Spanish speaking population makes if the perfect name for a potential MLS side.
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Indianapolis is without a doubt a sports town. Home of the NFL Colts, NBA Pacers, and the world-famous Indianapolis 500. It is the 15th most populated city in the United States and has a proven track record in the USL. Indy Eleven, the Indianapolis-based USLC team are very well supported and have won the USLC once in 2016. Natural geographical rivalries against Chicago and St Louis would also be an attractive prospect for an on and off-the-field spectacle.
Potential Name; Indiana Frontrunners – It’s Indianapolis, so why not a racing pun?
In 2022, Sacramento Republic was the surprise package of American soccer, becoming the first non-MLS team to reach the Open Cup Final since 2008. There have also been attempts to bring Republic to the MLS before, they were set to become an expansion team before plans were changed in 2021. With the team being in the spotlight so much last season, perhaps there can be renewed interest in bringing Major League Soccer to the capital of California. The status and future of the proposed 21,000 Railyards stadium is key to all this, if that can be approved then the path becomes a lot clearer.
Potential Name; Sacramento Republic – There is so much name recognition across the country because of the cup run, it makes marketing sense to keep the same name should Sacramento get an MLS team.
The biggest city in America currently without an MLS team. Phoenix has teams in all four major sports and the MLS seems like a perfect next edition. Phoenix Rising, the local USLC team enjoys a healthy level of support just like Indy Eleven, and has recent success in winning the USLC regular season in 2019, finishing runners-up in the USL Cup in 2018, and reaching the final in 2020 (the final was canceled due to covid). Phoenix is the fifth most populated city in the United States, it just makes simply makes sense to put a team in the area.
Potential Name; Arizona Heat Wave – A ‘hot’ name for a desert team. Can also be shortened to the ‘Wave’ so gives the team multiple nickname options.
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