Which Cities are Next up For MLS Expansion?

A new team will join Major League Soccer for the 2023 season. 

St. Louis City SC becomes the 14th team in the Western Conference, while the Eastern Conference has 15. This marks the seventh consecutive season in which the MLS has added a team, dating to 2016.

Following is a look at the newest team in MLS, as well as an analysis of whether the league is growing too large.

  % Chance 1000 $1250 150 $200 3000 $500
Austin FC 64.89% -185 -205 -188 -200
Draw 22.22% +320 +330 +280 +350
Saint Louis City SC 15.38% +450 +450 +550 +500
Austin FC -1 41.67% +140
Draw (SAI +1) 26.67% +275
Saint Louis City SC +1 42.11% +138
Over 2.5 58.82% -143
Under 2.5 47.62% +110
Austin FC -1 51.95% -108
Saint Louis City SC +1 51.95% -108
Austin FC -1
Saint Louis City SC +1

St. Louis is a Soccer Giant

Soccer has been played at various levels in the St. Louis area for more than a century. The St. Louis Soccer League, founded in 1907, was North America’s only professional soccer league at the time. 

St. Louis City plays Austin in its February debut. The team came into existence in 2019 and will play its home matches at the Citypark, which opened in November ahead of the arrival of MLS. The stadium, built next to Union Station, has a capacity of 22,500.

This year will be the first since 1977 that a club from greater St. Louis has played in the top tier of a U.S. soccer league. The St. Louis Stars played in the defunct North American Soccer League from 1968-77.

St. Louis City is led by former New York Red Bulls assistant coach Bradley Carnell, and the most notable player on the roster is former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki. 

St. Louis City 2 is the franchise’s reserve team. It began play in the 2022 season.

Check out: Gambling.com’s MLS Picks, Predictions, Analysis

Is the MLS Getting Too Large?

Top European leagues like the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga all have 20 teams, more than either conference in MLS. 

As the league grows, so do its popularity, finances and global attraction. As a result, the league can never become “too big.” But there have been some problems with its growth.

Sacramento Republic was intended to join St. Louis City in MLS in 2023, but its bid was placed on hold because an investor pulled out. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has since suggested that the next round of expansion bring the league to 32 teams. 

It’s also worth noting that the league is only in its second growth phase, which began in 2015, and St. Louis City had to pay $200 million just to get into MLS. It’s set to get more expensive to join the league as time passes, a barrier to potential expansion teams.

Twenty-one states are represented in the MLS. Some that lack top-tier teams have shown the ability to support one potentially. New Mexico United regularly reaches its crowd capacity of 13,500, while Phoenix Rising FC gets huge crowds at Phoenix Rising Soccer Stadium, which has a capacity of 10,000. 

In the end, it’s all about finances. Even the incredible wealth of David Beckham was not enough to get Inter Miami into MLS by itself; he needed the assistance of billionaire brothers Jorge and Jose Mas.

Other states have seen failed expansion efforts as well. Garber was eager to get an expansion team in Detroit in 2020. The ownership group bidding to do so failed to build a soccer-specific stadium and lost out on the bid. The Tampa Bay Rowdies are another successful team in the USL Championship that has failed to enter the MLS. Louisville City FC also failed in its bid.

The next-most-likely city for a team in MLS is Las Vegas. Phoenix Rising is getting closer, but the bid seems entirely dependent on an agreement with Goldman Sachs to secure funding for a 20,000-seat stadium. The final most likely candidate is San Diego, whose ownership group includes MLS legend, Landon Donovan.

February 25th4:30pm Home Draw Away
Nashville SCNSC +110 +250 +260
New York City FCNYC
February 25th7:30pm Home Draw Away
Charlotte FCCHA +115 +260 +220
New England RevolutionNE
February 25th7:30pm Home Draw Away
FC CincinnatiCIN -160 +320 +400
Houston DynamoHOU
February 25th7:30pm Home Draw Away
Atlanta United FCATL -185 +340 +475
San Jose EarthquakesSJ
February 25th7:30pm Home Draw Away
DC UnitedDC +130 +260 +195
Toronto FCTOR
February 25th7:30pm Home Draw Away
Orlando City SCORL +138 +240 +220
New York Red BullsNY
February 25th7:30pm Home Draw Away
Inter Miami CFMIA +155 +240 +170
CF MontrealMON
February 25th7:30pm Home Draw Away
Philadelphia UnionPHI -141 +290 +425
Columbus CrewCLB
February 25th8:30pm Home Draw Away
FC DallasDAL -125 +270 +350
Minnesota United FCMIN
February 25th8:30pm Home Draw Away
Austin FCATX -185 +350 +550
Saint Louis City SCSAI
February 25th9:30pm Home Draw Away
Los Angeles GalaxyLAG +175 +280 +140
Los Angeles FCLAN
February 25th10:30pm Home Draw Away
Vancouver Whitecaps FCVAN +135 +240 +200
Real Salt LakeRSL
February 25th10:30pm Home Draw Away
Portland TimbersPOR +100 +280 +260
Sporting Kansas CitySKC
February 26th8:00pm Home Draw Away
Seattle SoundersSEA -120 +275 +320
Colorado RapidsCOL

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