MLS will add four more teams by 2020, the league announced on Wednesday. With New York City FC poised to become the league's 20th team in 2015, that means MLS will eventually boast at least 24 teams, making it the largest top-division in the world. MLS Commissioner Don Garber first made the announcement at halftime of the MLS All-Star Game, but an official release soon followed.
"The strength, passion and vision of the MLS ownership group is the foundation behind the success of our league," Garber said in the release. "We look forward to adding new partners with the same commitment to the sport and love of the game. As MLS enters a period of accelerated growth, the addition of new teams will allow us to expand our geographic coverage, grow our fan base and help us achieve our vision of being among the best leagues in the world by 2022."
There is no shortage of cities that have expressed interest in being among those teams, with Orlando currently in the process of gaining funding for a new soccer-specific stadium. The latest rumors have also suggested that Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure is deep in negotiations with David Beckham to bring a team to Miami.
Among the other cities to openly court MLS in recent months are Detroit, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Sacramento and Oklahoma City.
The league also said the keys to joining MLS's ranks are:
- Committed and engaged ownership;
- A comprehensive stadium plan;
- Demonstrated fan support for professional soccer in the market;
- Support from sponsors, television partners and other constituents;
- Geographic location;
- A strategic business plan for the launch and successful operation of the club.