Word has leaked out on the internet the Atlanta plans on joining MLS as an expansion franchise in 2017, which will bring MLS to twenty-two teams after New York City and Orlando CIty join the top-flight American soccer league in 2015. That's three of the five teams needed to bring MLS to a 24 team league by 2020, and it makes the timeline for that process a little clearer.
Done and done! Atlanta MLS announcement April 16th. Worth the 10 hour drive and much-needed reunion with my friends! pic.twitter.com/d67wxo6vUG— Chandrima Chatterjee (@chandrimatweets) April 12, 2014
When New York City and Orlando City enter MLS next year, there will need to be some reshuffling to keep the conferences even. The Western Conference currently stands at nine teams, and will likely take one of the Eastern Conference's teams. The Houston Dynamo were in the Western Conference until 2011, and they're most likely candidate to swap leagues.
It's likely MLS will have a year of stability in 2016, with the Miami plans contingent on getting a stadium built. If 2017 is Atlanta's plan with a stadium plan and ownership group in place, it's likely Miami is further down the line.
The 2017 entry of Atlanta would have to come with another Eastern Conference team flipping. Perhaps Sporting Kansas City, who were last in the Western Conference a decade ago. Hopefully the final two teams before the 2020 goal will include one for the Western Conference, perhaps Sacramento or San Antonio.
No Words! pic.twitter.com/wa4BxUbLe9— John Parker (@John_adidasitp) April 11, 2014