The big news this week in MLS' future is the announcement of Orlando City as the league's 21st team. They'll begin play in 2015 along with New York City FC, which require some shifting of conferences and possibly changes in the schedule format. The announcement comes directly off the heels of Orlando City Counsel voting to build a soccer specific stadium downtown.
"We are proud and excited to welcome Orlando to Major League Soccer," Commissioner Garber said. "From the success of the Orlando City Soccer Club, to the incredible fan support and passion in the community, this is a new market that really excites us. We have great confidence in Flávio Augusto da Silva, Phil Rawlins and the rest of the Orlando City ownership group. They love this sport, our League and this city. And thanks to the commitment of ownership, the City of Orlando and Orange County, Orlando City will soon have a spectacular new stadium that will provide fans and the entire community with a truly unique downtown sporting experience."
Moving into Orlando reflects MLS' current model for team placement. Like the Portland Timbers or Sporting Kansas City's new stadium, the idea is to place soccer specific venues in central locations where traditions can go beyond the stadium itself and bleed into the community. This isn't unique to MLS. After decades of an "if you build it they will come" approach to civic stadium building, the trend has become "build it where they are so they're already there".
Fox Soccer takes a look at what Orlando City has to do to make the whole MLS thing happen. First up is getting that stadium built, but there have also been promises of a big name Designated Player to take advantage of the Brazilian and British ex-pat populations in Orlando. Kaka is the name which keeps popping up, but he's been linked to MLS for a long time now.
New York City FC is the other lock for 2015, and now the focus turns to whether Beckham can get his group together in time. The deadline for him to exercise his discount option is December 31st, according to Sports Illustrated. He'll get that Miami franchise at a quarter of what Manchester City are paying, and if he has people like LeBron James considering coming on board it shouldn't take too long to raise the capital.
The issue isn't just getting the money together for the team, but MLS wants a soccer specific stadium as well. Garber is looking at Miami as a 2017 or '18 entry, so there's plenty of time for stadium construction after putting together the investors group.
The SI article also points to next Summer's All Star Game as the point when the MLS board of governors will get together and decide upon realignment. The assumed move is that the Houston Dynamo will move over to the Western Conference bringing the West to ten teams with the East at eleven.