We don’t know exactly when, but Major League Soccer is back in Miami. Just over 12 years after the contraction of MLS’ original South Florida team, the Fusion, the league announced Wednesday morning that its 22nd team, one owned by David Beckham, will join the league….at some point.
No time frame was given, as everything hinges on negotiations for a stadium site (Beckham said during the presser that they won’t be looking for public funding). With Orlando and New York City FC joining in 2015, the league will be at 21 teams. While a symmetrical 22 would be great, it seems highly unlikely for 2015 and more likely for 2016 at the earliest. (Beckham even joked, “Obviously, we can’t build a stadium in two weeks,” even though that’s what Sacramento is apparently planning to do for its USL Pro team.)
Here’s a look at how long MLS’ previous 13 expansion clubs took from their official announcement to their first league match:
|#||Announced||Team||Came From?||1st Game||Days|
|18||3/20/2009||Portland||USL First Division||3/19/2011||729|
|17||3/18/2009||Vancouver||USL First Division||3/19/2011||731|
|15||11/13/2007||Seattle||USL First Division||3/19/2009||492|
|14||7/18/2007||San Jose II||Expansion||4/3/2008||260|
|#Later contracted along with Tampa Bay|
The “from scratch” expansion teams have had an average of about 400 days from announcement to first kick. The “promoted” teams from lower divisions have had about 619 days.
Beckham, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez seemed optimistic that negotiations could go fairly quickly (and when you’re not asking for public money, I guess it helps). How quickly, we’ll see. It’s a funny game.