Seven MLS Expansion candidates revealed

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Seven cities that have applied for Major League Soccer expansion teams were revealed on Monday afternoon. Here are the cities vying for the two expansion slots expected to be filled by 2011:

That’s the same seven cities identified this morning by a variety of reports. The most surprising omission is New York, which many believed would be a favorite for the next round of expansion, with New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon reportedly fronting a potential bid. You have to wonder if the recent struggles of the American economy forced the Mets to focus on their new baseball stadium and put plans for a soccer team on hold. Looks like all the soccer fans in Queens waiting for a team will have to wait a few more years.

Also absent from the list is Las Vegas, which always looked like a long shot and seemed less likely after reports surfaced that the prospective ownership group was looking into buying a piece of the Columbus Crew.

Now that this is the official list of candidates, which city do you think is the front-runner? Portland, St. Louis and Montreal are receiving the most buzz as being complete bids, but the FC Barcelona-backed bid for a Miami team shouldn’t be ignored.

With New York out of the mix, my picks to be chosen are Portland and Montreal, with Atlanta a long-shot I would put some money on if I could.

Here are the completely unofficial SBI odds on the seven expansion candidates:

  • Portland…….3/1
  • Montreal…….3/1
  • St. Louis…….6/1
  • Miami……….15/1
  • Vancouver…..20/1
  • Atlanta………25/1
  • Ottawa………100/1

Share your thoughts on the expansion candidates below.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Expansion. Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Seven MLS Expansion candidates revealed

  1. Chrös says:

    Again, I think it has to come down to two of these three: Montreal, St. Louis and Portland.

    The other bids are only alive because they are in big cities or have a big-money backer. As a soccer fan, these three would all be better supported and as of right now all have plans for a true stadium, so that’s where I hope MLS goes.

  2. PCFC says:

    Portland

    Montreal

    St. Louis

    So did Wilpon give up…or did they put the team bid on hold????

  3. Nicolas says:

    I think Montreal in the eastern conference would add a quality team and city to the MLS. Plus there would be a rivalry with Toronto!

  4. CACuzcatlan says:

    If Vancouver can secure the stadium, I have no doubt they’ll be in.

  5. galaxyfanz says:

    as much as i understand the push for Miami and the cachet Barcelona would bring, with the way our season is played, unless they have an indoor stadium, who wants to play in the summer in miami. and what about sunday games at noon. UUUGGGG. I think right now the best teams are Portland and St. Louis. I like Montreal but Canada should wait in favor of improving US. Canada should get their own league, or wait a little bit longer. Just my 0.02 cents.

  6. Danny says:

    Portland is #1 right now and if Barca is really interested I think MLS will fall all over Miami.

  7. MetroFlip73 says:

    It’s gonna be MTL, PDX or STL. I think Montreal is automatic due to stadium in place, ownership group in place, $$$ in place (Saputo has a boat load of $$$).

    It’s between PDX and STL for the other spot.

  8. Richard says:

    Well since St. Louis is a big soccer city, I’m sure it will get it. I don’t think Portland will get one so soon, I’m sure they will wait to see how the sounders do. Miami looks like it could wrap this one up.

    Once again the Mets let me down :-(

  9. pleasedontyellatmeforpostingthis says:

    Portland

    Montreal

    And as much as I want St. Louis in there, I just can’t do it with the Wizards so close by. They should have just moved to STL instead of getting a new stadium deal and further shaming the MLS with their terrible attendance and equally terrible supporter’s group. Nothing personal, KC fans. The same can be said about Dallas and Columbus, in my opinion. Even San Jose to some extent.

  10. Furball says:

    Ives, you are a good man. I take back all I have said in earlier sections. Portland and Montreal are the best selections as far as fan bases and having the stadiums closest to being acceptable. St. Louis is intriguing, but I know that the economy in the area is really looking bleak. Atlanta and Miami I believe shouldn’t be considered as I just don’t think soccer can survive in the south. Vancouver is a personal favorite, but I worry about them having a stadium ready. I still think that giving San Jose their team back was risky without having a stadium deal locked up.

  11. John says:

    I get that it makes sense for the league to expand–increase exposure, make a bigger TV audience, expand the number of slots and academies. But basically it means 4 more years of expansion.

    Let me put that into practical matters. Let’s suppose the RedBulls protect: Angel, Stammler, Rojas, Conway, Parke, Pietravallo, Richards, van den Bergh, Cichero, Mendes and Goldwaite (basically the starting lineup–more or less). That means the team exposes…Kandi, Borman, Cepero, Mbuta, Sassano. And then the same thing happens the year after. And the year after that. Except that same years (if there are TWO expansion teams), than a team could lose two players. I’m not trying to argue that the RedBulls are full of talent or that the team will protect exactly the 11 I’ve listed…maybe they’ll protect Kandji and expose Richards for instance. But basically for the next 4 years, every team is likely to lose their 12th best player. And you’ve got to figure that a lot of the young, cheap players on the RedBulls (like Kandji, Mbuta, Cepero, Borman, Sassano) would be attractive and the team probably can’t protect more than 3 of them without exposing guys like Richards and Stammler. So I intellectually get the value of expansion. But 6 consecutive years of expansion in MLS are just going to result in teams with a little depth having to start over each season.

  12. Richard, UK says:

    I’m with Portland and Montreal, but feel it’s a shame that St. Louis keeps getting knocked back. I wouldn’t mind St. Louis or Vancouver getting in either.

    I’m not liking Miami or Atlanta. Ottawa could work, but the SSS would be in the sticks, right? It could’ve worked with a downtown stadium, I’m sure.

  13. Blake says:

    I live in Florida, but still…Miami is an awful, awful choice. St. Louis and Montreal seem pretty deserving, Portland could be slick, but we’ll see, and I’d like Atlanta for proximity’s sake.

  14. John says:

    There are five USL Cities in there, along with St. Louis and Ottawa.

    I would not be surprised to see all of these cities in MLS in 10-15 years (maybe not Ottawa), along with the second NYC team. That’d be what, 24 teams?

  15. gerald says:

    If I had to pick 2 it would be Portand and Montreal with St. Louis a close third

  16. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    How you like them chestnuts, Queens!

    Oh, this is like a free Christmas.

    There are some people in MetroLand feeling really silly right now.

  17. kpugs says:

    I’m pulling for St. Louis, best of luck to them. It was soccer city USA for so long, I hope they get a club.

  18. Ethan says:

    Ives (or anyone else),

    Geography will no doubt influence which teams are picked. Will the conference designation influence which teams are picked, and when will we find out which cities get the teams?

    As is, there are two West options: Vancouver and Portland.

    St. Louis is generally considered “east,” but they are really medial.

    The rest are east.

    So is it either Vancouver, Portland, or (St. Louis) and Montreal, Ottawa, Atlanta, Miami, or (St. Louis)?

  19. Adam M. says:

    St. Louis WILL be one of the picks, mark it down. Miami should be the other one, because of the market size, demographics, and the Barca connection. As for Portland, I think MLS would be wise to give Seattle some breathing room before it puts another side in the Pacific Northwest. Further expansion into Canada should be out-of-the question for now. Atlanta is intriguing, but not above Miami or St. Louis.

    As for the lack of New York, the creation of another team there is inevitable. If the Wilpon’s won’t do it, someone else will step up soon.

  20. Blake says:

    If Barca Miami happens, they should have to play a match against Chivas USA in which only the winner gets to stay in MLS. And tie. So that we aren’t subjected to this nonsense anymore. As evidenced by this expansion rush, there are more than enough willing owners that aren’t other countries’ soccer teams.

  21. alex says:

    I’d have to agree with what some others have said.

    If vancouver can somehow get the wheels on it’s downtown stadium going it’s a far superior bid to Mtl.

    Only problem being the east/west balance of the league.

  22. lassidawg says:

    I don’t think decision on Portland has anything to do with Seattle, if it did I am sure they would be in. 16K plus season tickets I think shows they aren’t waiting to see the results. Much like Portland doesn’t like Seattle I don’t like Portland, but I think they would support a team better than most in the MLS.

    As I said earlier the biggest question will be size of the city and if the stadium is good enough.

    I hope Portland gets a team, because it would b nice to be able to drive to a road game that is less than 3 hours away depending on the day. :)

  23. lassidawg says:

    One think I forgot Seattle doesn’t need space from Portland, it is 3 hours from Seattle. I can say won’t be driving south o watch the Blazers, and know they won’t drve North to watchthe Sounders.

  24. Joamiq says:

    I hope that MLS is one day strong enough that it can have teams in all of these cities. Eh, except maybe Ottawa.

  25. Joamiq says:

    Faux Fur & Soccer Shirts, who are you gloating to? No one in MetroLand was clamoring for a team in Queens.

  26. Andrew says:

    Just a guess, but I don’t see the league clamoring to go to Portland like everyone else does. There will already be teams relatively nearby in Seattle and San Jose. I would think the league would want to have at least one team in the unrepresented Southeast, so I would bet on either Atlanta or Miami. I think the other team would be either Montreal or St. Louis, probably St. Louis.

  27. RK says:

    So happy to see no NYC2.

  28. luis says:

    IVES,

    did you hear that LA NORTE was thrown out of there usual section during the USA game? Not for not having tickets in that section (they did, in fact were sold fraudulent tickets by dc united) but thrown out in favor of soccer moms. They were not given any options in fact just sent to the upper deck. SO MUCH for the USSF allowing there local fans base with a strong hispanic culture to cheer for there team. I guess the USSF now wants to choose who should cheer for them and who should not. I guess singing and drumming is to much for these baseball fans to endure

    USSF blows

    my us team deserves better.

  29. lakaix15 says:

    with the mls with 14 right now, and will be 16 with 8 and …. there is no way it will be one sided….

    my east pick – Montreal

    my west pick – PORTLAND

    others will have to wait….

  30. John says:

    Just move KC to St. Louis and save them the trouble of getting an expansion team. One less dead weight club in the league is a benefit to all.

  31. lakaix15 says:

    sorry 8 and 8 by 2010*

  32. Ossington Mental Youth says:

    Top 3 seem good/reasonable to me.

    Too bad Van cant get their ish (re: Stadium) together, i wouldnt count them out of the running yet but Portland and St Louis do look good (especially as they are american cities).

  33. Etucker says:

    Toronto FC has done so well that I think Montreal is the top contender.

    However, I would love to see MLS go back to Miami with its large Latino population that is soccer crazy. The Barcelona backing would also be good – I think having different owners is the next step for the league.

  34. chris says:

    Easy way to solve the limited slots problem. Move KC to SL. Rebrand Chivas and move them to Portland. Move 2 dead franchise to 2 cities that will support them. Give the 2 expansion slots to Vancouver and Montreal. Both will be in geographic areas with rivalries and both will support teams very well. Forget Ottowa, its too small. Forget Atlanta and Miami. Both are horrible sports towns.

  35. Ossington Mental Youth says:

    Wondering whether these USL teams (if they come up) will bring current USL rosters… I can see Montreal and Van do it, provided they are of a reasonable age, both have performed well this year… Also it doesnt hurt that they will be canadian therefore they cant really take that many american players from the other MLS teams in expansion drafts…

  36. Sterlinho says:

    Why does everyone think that Portland is too close to Seattle? The only reason Washingtonians go to Portland is for the tax free shopping. The same and only reason I went to New Jersey when I lived in New York. Portland is 3 and half hours away from Seattle if you don’t hit traffic. It’s no closer than teams in Boston, NY/NJ, Philly and DC. You can drive to all of them in one day. So get your geography right before you start talking about too many teams on the west coast. The Northwest has been deprived of MLS and it’s finally our turn. GO PORTLAND & VANCOUVER!!!!!

    -Barca Miami would be cool too…but I guess that would answer what team Henry would go to.

  37. Kevin says:

    I have lived in St. Louis for 4+ years and boy do they deserve a team here. Cooper has been ready to get this thing rolling for a year and a half now. We could have already had the stadium built if we had gotten the okay. I don’t understand why the league doubts the ownership group so much. Of course, if they keep bumping us back and jacking up the expansion fee, then maybe we will never get a team (sarcasm).

    But seriously, St. Louis has an amazing soccer tradition. We have one of the best college teams in the nation with SLU (currently ranked 15th), which gets thousands of fans at games. A pro team in a soccer stadium would really draw the fans.

    One other thing to consider is St. Louis is a breeding ground for potential USMNT talent. Having a team here, rather than in Montreal, would fuel even more youth interest in soccer. An MLS team could potentially pull kids who would end up playing football/basketball/etc. to a soccer lifestyle. And that’s exactly what we need in this country to develop a world-class national team: the best athletes we have to offer playing soccer. Think of guys like Terrell Owens, Chris Paul, or Chase Utley unleashing their athletic fury on a soccer field instead of in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Just one more benefit to having a team based in a U.S.

    youth soccer hotbed.

    To learn more about St. Louis and the MLS, go to:

    http://www.stlouissoccerunited.com

  38. JL says:

    THis may sound crazy, especially with two teams coming before these two…but what if MLS says 2 in 11 and then another 2 in 12? Roll with the two USL teams Portland and Vancouver first, since they can pull up a few players, then add Atlanta and Miami allowing for what, 20 teams to be available for the expansion draft.

  39. Realist says:

    LOL @ NYC2 and the Bourough Boys!!

  40. Carlos says:

    If St. Louis is actually awarded an expansion team, I think the MLS will have already known that the Missouri state tax credit vote did not turnout favorably for the Kansas City Wizards new stadium plan proposal and thus their new stadium is dead. There is no way this emerging and developing league needs 2 teams in Missouri. I do see the Wizards relocating in the near future and I see them moving to New York City under the ownership of Fred Wilpon’s New York Mets.

    For the other expansion team, Miami is a no brainer as this league needs teams in big destination cities to attract the top talent and TV ratings. No offense to Portland, but I just can’t see the likes of Del Piero, Ronaldinho, Henry, Rafa Marquez, Nakamura, etc. wanting to play in Oregon no matter what kind of fan support. To speak nothing of the TV market.

    Later down the road, I would like to see teams in Vancouver & Las Vegas and then a stop on expansion – 20 teams is enough.

  41. Richard says:

    for the record, i’m not the same Richard that posted before…

    lol, im kinda the opposite – YES to Portland, MAYBE/PROBABLY to St Louis and ROFLMAOLOLOLHAHAGOCRY at NYC2

    how could there be another team in this area just a year after RBA is built and will “rejuvenate” soccer here… kinda dumb if anyone really expected a 2011 bid… they’ll get in the next one…

    17. Portland

    18. Montreal/St. Louis

    19. Montreal/St. Louis

    20. NYC

  42. Miami v.s. LA!

    Already a hot rivalry before Miami even exists, good stuff! With the developing tie-ins with European teams, I think the Miami / Barca team could be a real interesting development.

    That said, Portland would be an excellent choice as the West Coast is more and more a hotbed of great, high level soccer. You need a “network effect”, and with sports that means geographic proximity matters.

    Portland FTW!

  43. EP says:

    Someone (Andrew?) mentioned Portland has teams nearby (Seattle, San Jose). Well the MLS Earthquakes in San Jose are a team worth following, but it is a bit of a drive from Portland … 667 miles according to Google Maps! link to tinyurl.com

    But whats a 10 hour drive to watch 90 minutes of soccer? :-)

  44. Tom says:

    Portland, St. Louis, and Atlanta will have teams in 2011. 3 teams eh? Because Chivas USA just won’t be around then – CD Guadalajara will sell them to a U.S. based group which will relocate them.

  45. Andrew says:

    I realize that the teams on the East Coast are a lot closer to one another than San Jose and Seattle are to Portland, but I am speculating that MLS will think the West Coast is well-enough represented and the Southeast is not. I could be wrong.

  46. kswiss says:

    What, no love for Louisiana?!

  47. George (section 138) says:

    I agree with the first 2 ‘guesses” completely Ives. Although Vancouver would be great to spread the Canadian interest to the west, Seattle would be way too close for that part of the US and Canada to have 2 teams so close. Montreal and Portland would be good fan bases. The only thing I wonder about Portland is if they would be able to retrofit the minor league park they play in now or if we would have a San Jose situation with a sub-par stadium until funding/location is found. BARCA is a STUPID idea….we all see how Chivas USA worked out…they will be lucky to stay in LA through all this expansion and not just move to a strong candidate who does not win any of these expansion slots.

  48. kco says:

    Well, guess Queens, Long Island, and the rest of NY will have to get their ass up to Red Bull Stadium and cheer for their local club (or not).

    Portland has the support, hope the stadium works out (then again, Seattle got a club without a proper stadium)

    As a KCitian I would love to see StL, but Miami+Barca is an interesting proposition (Barca=Sex Appeal) and Montreal has been a popular pick and a natural rival for TFC (that would be a cold playoff match). Atlanta would become the “South’s Club of Choice” which has potential long term but does Atlanta really have the fans to support a MLS club properly?

    Should be a fun next few months.

  49. kco says:

    “CD Guadalajara will sell them to a U.S. based group which will relocate them.” – Tom

    Hope you’re right. With SJ back the LAG has their California Classico so who needs Chivas?

  50. Just wondering says:

    Since Ottawa and St. Louis are the two cities which do not have a USL team, should they get the spots … assuming their proposals meet the minimum criteria … so that there is no cannabalization in those leagues? That said, it will be hard to pass on a quality offer from FC Barcelona.

  51. Chrös says:

    Carlos,

    The St. Louis team would actually be based in Illinois, just across the Mississippi River, and I believe funding is in place and ground would be broken as soon as MLS gives them a team.

  52. furball says:

    My biggest objection to Barca is that 1. They want a team in Miami, and 2. We need owners whose main priority is to field a quality product and put all of their energies to make that happen. We have seen with Chivas USA that they don’t use all of the resources and that Chivas USA is not the ownerships No. 1 priority. They still have not added a big name DP. In fact they traded their chance for Armando Guerva! Just like Barca Miami would not be Juan LaPorta’s No.1.

  53. Tim says:

    Put money on one of either Miami or Atlanta. Both are huge media markets and in an area of the country that isnt represented by MLS. As for the second slot, I think St. Louis has been made to wait long enough but it will probably come down to the specifics of each cities ownership and stadium plan.

  54. DGinLA says:

    I agree with the post of sending the wizards to STL. KC just wasn’t meant to have soccer. And don’t be surprised if Ottawa Senator FC becomes a reality. They’ve got money and a plan and Garber’s dumb enough to do it. Chivas USA is proof of that and look how that’s turning out.

  55. Ian says:

    I continue to believe that St. Louis needs a team, for basically the same reasons that Kevin mentioned (kudos, to you sir). Not only does SLU have usually draw a lot of fans (even during down years) but our youth club system is one of the best and could definitely fit right in as a youth system for an MLS franchise. Cooper has been working at this for quite a while now, and with the WPS team also starting up, they could share the venue and market for each other. I mean, what more do we have to do?

  56. ck says:

    If MLS can get the TV deal with rights in Canada, expect Montreal and Vancouver. Garber was up in Canuckia working on it a month of so ago. I don’t know where the cities rank in terms of market size (I’m not looking it up this morning), but Miami, Montreal, Atlanta, and Vancouver are bigger than the rest (I believe so, could be wrong).

    Personally I’d like to see Montreal, Saputo didn’t have the $$ to come in to the league by himself and got the Gillette family on board, so that’s pretty big. Vancouver is doing great things with their development program and MLS is all about their development programs now, so there is another ready made group.

    Atlanta, I’m iffy on, just because it’s atlanta. Although their USL1 team did have (a couple years ago) the 2nd highest amount of sponsorship revenue of any soccer team in the US. They were second behind Metrostars (I think it was 3-4 years ago). So there seems to be money there, just need a stadium.

    If MLS did put teams in Atlanta/Miami, what would they do for scheduling? Would they actually use their brains and not play at noon on a July/August day? Hell even at 7pm it’s hot, but just no more early games in these locations!!! I know TV dictates a lot of it. I’ve taken up enough space on here, sorry!

  57. WILLY says:

    GREAT DAY FOR SOCCER FANS IN MIAMI.

  58. Bill says:

    I think a big financial gap is tv contract in Canada. With only 1 team, there will never (or hardly likely) be a national tv contract there.

    Montreal and Vancouver will provide them the ‘foot print’ to garnish a tv deal..revenue, sponsors..etc

    I would bet the farm as those two being the expansion plans.

    Portland is a super city – I lived there for 2 years and Timbers fans are fun. But, USA in nw is covered..portland is a ‘nice to have’.

    St. Louis is not getting this if only because middle-america isn’t drawing great crowds – KC and Columbus for example.

    Atlanta is interesting – again ‘foot print’ issue and Atlanta is a mega-city (or predicted to be one in 10 years). With they come to games in 95 degs? (that’s May/June conditions in Hotlanta)

    Ottawa has too much canadian competion and is a ‘small market’ – I don’t ever see it happening (the columbus of the north? but, columbus happened)

    Miami is the fly in the ointment – how can Barca + Miami big bucks not get a franchise?

    I say 3 teams – Vancouver, Montreal and Miami!

  59. Chrös says:

    After reading all of these I think the teams we will get are St. Louis and Montreal. Both have stadium deals in place and just overall have the best plans. Also, if you remember a few weeks ago Garber told Luis Arroyave that he wanted a team in St. Louis.

    The two next best plans would be in Portland and Vancouver, but I think the argument against putting two or three teams in the Pacific Northwest within three or four years is valid. It’s hard to take one without the other, and I really don’t think that with this expansion plan that we can add two teams up there.

    Clearly in terms of the business aspect of the league would be the Miami or else Atlanta deals, but neither has the merit that the above four do. As far as we know, neither has any true plan in place that will for sure get a stadium, and both have an unproven fan base. At some point, eventually, MLS will have to put a team in that area. When you have quality bids with stadiums attached like St. Louis, Montreal, Portland and Vancouver, however, you can’t bypass them for a bigger market/richer owner who doesn’t meet the other requirements.

    Finally, the whole discussion of moving Kansas City to St. Louis is pretty naive. Sure, that’d be ideal, but it’s not very easy to move a team, especially a team whose owners are dedicated to making it work in that city, and especially when the city you would move it to is a rival city. I’m pretty sure Kansas City’s owners only bought the team two or three years ago, and the only way I could see them selling it to Cooper and St. Louis is if KC can’t get a stadium deal passed. It’s hard to figure out exactly, but based on Wikipedia it sounds like they are building that stadium in Bannister Mall already.

  60. Alex says:

    Here’s the part that i don’t get…Can some please explain it to me…

    1) Isn’t it true that St.Louis has some very big investor problems? As far as i understood it, St.Louis has a consortium of money backers, and the main guy was having money problems regarding not only the franchise fee but also portions of the stadium financing???

    2) As for Portland, isn’t it true that the ownership group and the city of Portland are at major odds with each other and are NOT on the same page regarding money and stadium??

  61. Brokenbil says:

    I’m sticking with Montreal and Vancouver as the next two MLS cities. The strength of the USL-1 franchises in those markets cannot be ignored.

    I’m glad Las Vegas and New York aren’t in the mix. I haven’t seen the wisdom in those bids yet. Besides, the seven submitted bids offer more than enough viable options. I don’t see Ottawa having any chance though.

    To “Just wondering”: Ottawa and St. Louis have USL teams in the PDL.

  62. paul says:

    St louis didn’t support their NASL team and have no USL team so who needs another Kansas City with poor attendance. Montreal and Portland or Vancouver should be in

  63. Mr. Fish says:

    Not that the Timbers Army isn’t wonderful, and that Portland isn’t a great soccer market, but I think it’ll be Montreal and Miami.

    Montreal’s deep pocketed-owners, spanking new stadium, and rivalry with Toronto makes a world of sense. With three Canadian cities bidding, one is certain to make it.

    As for Miami, don’t discount MLS’ desire to link up with one of the world’s great clubs, legitimizing the league. The prospect of an MLS Cup in South Florida is extremely attractive, as well as the city’s natural link with Latin America. You know the Barca folks are serious about putting a footprint in the US beyond playing friendlies and selling shirts, and the weak dollar makes Barca’s investment easier.

  64. Busdriver says:

    I don’t understand the case for Portland. Is seems sketchy at best. There are a lot of “ifs” in the deal. Ives, can you please elaborate on why you are so high on Portland? (Maybe I missed it, my bad) I think that when Vancouver and Montreal get their stadiums together (maybe not this go around for Vancouver) that is the way to go.

  65. martha in miami says:

    Ives and all you doubters come visit and within 24 hrs., I will have you falling love with futbol in Miami! Great article front pg. Mia. Herald by the dynamic Michelle Kaufmann, quoting the ever delightful Ray Hudson. He will convince you!

  66. dcstrange says:

    Personally I hope STL will be at least one of the teams, being from Southern Indiana it is not always easy to catch a game. Chicago and Columbus would be the closet, but those arent fun drives at all. Either Portland or Montreal would both be good choices, just so Toronto or the Sounders will have a rival.