The goal to shift the focus from Europe towards the North American continent remains on the mind of the league’s organisers. Over the years, the league has gradually become one of the most popular leagues globally.
San Diego FC is expected to become the 30th MLS Expansion team. The club could debut in 2025, meaning there would be no expansion team 2024.
Here’s the list of MLS Expansion teams from 1996 to 2024
1. St. Louis City SC (2023)
St. Louis City, SC, is an expansion franchise scheduled to play in 2023. The MLS chiefs turned down the club’s initial bid because it lacked many areas as stipulated in the requirements for any team.
Approval date: On August 20, 2019, it was announced the league had approved St. Louis as the league’s 28th franchise. The club was initially scheduled to play in the league from the 2022 season.
2. Charlotte FC – (2022)
Charlotte Football Club is the newest team to debut in the league in the 2022 season.
Based in North Carolina, the club was awarded the expansion franchise on December 17, 2019.
3. Austin FC – (2021)
Austin FC became the 27th team in Major League Soccer when it debuted in 2021.
Austin Football Club, based in Austin, competes in Major League Soccer as a member of the Western Conference. The club was founded in 2018.
Austin FC is the only Texas-based professional soccer team in the MLS since Austin Aztex FC moved to Orlando in 2008 and eventually became Orlando City Soccer Club.
4. Nashville SC – (2020)
Nashville SC, based in Nashville, Tennessee, began to play in the league in 2020 as a member of the Eastern Conference.
The club was awarded the MLS franchise to continue the USL club of the same name.
Three years after the board met to raise funds for the stadium, the group unveiled their plans for a $275 million stadium and redevelopment.
5. Inter Miami CF – (2020)
The club currently competes in the MLS as a member of the Eastern Conference. The club, led by former Los Angeles Galaxy forward and Manchester United legend David Beckham, was officially awarded an MLS slot after a long wait.
Since Miami Fusion folded following the 2001 season, Miami has been without an MLS team, which could have ignited the renewed interest of MLS MLS commissioner Don Garber.
However, when the idea of David Beckham’s interest in an MLS franchise team, the league body held discussions that included Miami as a target.
6. FC Cincinnati – (2019)
FC Cincinnati, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, began to play the MLS as a member of the Eastern Conference.
In 2018, the MLS awarded an expansion franchise to Cincinnati, and in 2019, the club began to play in the league.
7. Los Angeles FC – (2018)
Since Chivas USA, owned by Mexican soccer giants Chivas Guadalajara, was dissolved, Los Angeles was left with a single team in the MLS.
In October 2014, plans for replacing the already defunct Chivas USA slot in the league were revealed two months after the dissolution was officially confirmed.
A year later, the idea was made into a working plan with an official name that shows the city’s true identity.
8. Minnesota United FC – (2017)
Since its formation, Minnesota has had no professional soccer team in Major League Soccer.
On April 16, 2014, the league announced it would award an expansion slot to Minnesota, and play was expected to begin in 2016.
Minnesota United officially began to play in the Major League Soccer in 2017 as a member of the Western Conference.
9. Atlanta United FC – (2017)
Atlanta United currently competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member of the Eastern Conference as an expansion team.
Atlanta United began to play as an MLS expansion team in 2017 and is the first Atalanta-based club in the league.
The club initially submitted a bid for an expansion franchise in 2008. In 2014, it was announced that MLS had awarded an expansion franchise to the club owners.
10. Orlando City SC – (2015)
In 2008, Austin Aztex FC moved to Orlando and eventually became Orlando City Soccer Club. In 2010, Orlando City SC announced its intentions to join Major League Soccer.
In November 2019, it was officially confirmed the approval of Orlando City SC’s bid to be part of the MLS, and in 2015, the club began to play in the league.
11. New York City FC – (2015)
Manchester City owners City Football Group and Yankee Global Enterprises own New York City FC.
The club competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference. The club debuted in Major League Soccer in 2015.
It was announced that the league’s 20th team could be situated in New York, thereby increasing the number of units in the New York area since the New York Red Bulls was the only team competing at the highest level of soccer in the country.
In 2013, the official announcement for the award of the expansion slot to City Football Group and Yankee Global Enterprises was announced.
Chivas USA Dissolution
Following the 2014 MLS season, Chivas USA was dissolved after the MLS bought the franchise from the original owners, Chivas Guadalajara of the Mexican Liga MX.
With the dissolution already confirmed, a new team in Los Angeles FC was initiated.
12. CF Montréal, formerly Montreal Impact – (2012)
CF Montréal became the third Canadian soccer team after Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps to join the MLS franchise.
In a bid to further expand to other Canadian cities following successful moves in Toronto and Vancouver, the Major League Soccer board considered the city the next destination.
The club currently competes in the MLS as a member of the Eastern Conference as CF Montréal, although it was registered initially as Montreal Impact. CF Montréal began to play in 2012.
13. Portland Timbers – (2011)
Portland Timbers’s intentions to join the league in 2008 were fruitful, as it was only a matter of time before the final appointment was made.
To further push for approval by the MLS board, the club owners quickly renovated PGE Park.
Three years after the plans for an expansion were made, the club finally debuted the league in 2011.
14. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – (2011)
Vancouver Whitecaps became the second Canadian soccer team to be admitted.
Led by local businessman Greg Kerfoot, the bid for an expansion franchise in Vancouver was lauded by the league’s commissioner as one of the best he’d ever seen.
In 2009, it was officially confirmed the decision to award the franchise slot to the team.
15. Philadelphia Union – (2010)
With Major League Soccer gradually becoming a significant force in the country, it became a concern the absence of a professional soccer team in Philadelphia, the largest metropolitan area.
On February 28, 2008, the league officially announced that a franchise would be awarded to Philadelphia.
In 2009, the new franchise team was named after the metropolitan area, and in 2010, the club began playing in 2010 as an expansion team.
Philadelphia Union competes in the MLS as a member of the Eastern Conference.
16. Seattle Sounders FC – (2019)
The fan buzz for a soccer team in Seattle pushed for the creation of Seattle Sounders.
The MLS awarded the franchise to Seattle, and following the push for a franchise in the city, the club was named after it.
The Sounders, based in Phoenix, began to play in the league in 2009 as an MLS expansion team competing as a member of the Western Conference.
The club could have been part of the MLS inaugural season, but it was not included. Thistle may not be unrelated to the presence of the old American Professional Soccer League side Sounders, which thwarted establishing an MLS team in Seattle.
17. San Jose Earthquakes – (2008)
San Jose Earthquakes were among the original MLS founders who went on hiatus then as San Jose Clash.
Following the club’s revival under new ownership in 2007, it was approved as an expansion team that began to play in 2008.
18. Toronto FC – (2007)
As part of plans to expand the new soccer franchise to Canadian cities, Major League Soccer announced the approval of an expansion franchise in Toronto to Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
The approval was justified following the heavy investment by the Toronto City Council, which had previously approved $9.8 million in funding for a $62.8-million stadium.
The rest of the funding for the new soccer-specific stadium was from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the federal government, and the provincial government.
Toronto FC competes in the MLS as a member of the Eastern Conference.
19. Houston Dynamo – (2006)
San Jose Clash was forced to go on hiatus due to the failure on their part to provide a soccer-specific stadium as part of the requirements set by the MLS.
This led to the transition to an expansion team in Houston, which began to play as Houston Dynamo.
The club played its first season in the league in 2006 as a member of the Western Conference.
20. Chivas USA – (2005)
It was announced the decision to expand the MLS further and also increased the number of teams from the Los Angeles area based on the demand to grow US soccer in general.
The MLS awarded the new franchise to Chivas USA, partly owned by Mexican soccer club Chivas Guadalajara owner Jorge Vergara in 2014.
The team began to play in the league in 2005 as a member of the Western Conference until its dissolution in 2014.
21. Real Salt Lake – (2005)
As part of plans to further strengthen Major League Soccer following the gains recorded by the US Men’s National Team in the FIFA World Cup hosted in the country, more teams were projected, which included Salt Lake City.
Real Salt Lake was established in 2004 and was awarded the franchise slot for the following season. The club debuted in Major League Soccer in 2004.
The Major League Soccer expanded to include two new teams, bringing the total number of units to twelve.
23. Chicago Fire FC (1998), formerly Chicago Fire SC
Chicago Fire FC was the first MLS expansion team to play in 1998.
22. Miami Fusion – (1998)
Miami Fusion and Chicago Fire FC were the first two MLS expansion teams. The club, however, folded after four seasons in the league.
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