MLS Expansion: League Has Many Choices on Display


So what do you think about those MLS expansion choices now?

Being an expansion team in MLS isn’t what it used to be as NYCFC and Orlando City SC currently sit in the first two spots in the East. For the second week in a row, both expansion teams took part in a national TV game, with Orlando City SC taking on the Houston Dynamo on Friday night on Univision. I must say, I think I’m one of the few people who find the English announcers quite entertaining calling the game according to twitter.

For the second week in a row, Houston goalie Tyler Deric was putting on a show until Pedro Ribeiro pressured the goalie into a mistake as he was trying to clear the ball.  With the ball bouncing towards the net and Deric trying to ride Ribeiro to the ground as he held on tight and went for a ride, all he could do is swing wildly at the ball and wound up knocking it into the net for an own goal. The game ended 1-0 as Orlando saw the game out for their first win of the season on the road in Houston.

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NYCFC played their first home game at Yankee stadium before 43,507 fans against the New England Revolution on Sunday with the game on ESPN2. Much has been made of this New York team ever since Don Garber made it one of his top priorities for MLS. Along the way it seemed like it went from one disaster to the next. Trying to build a stadium in Queens, negotiating with the Cosmos and the $100 million dollar fee, to announcing the team was awarded to Manchester City without a Soccer Specific Stadium plan in place.  Yet on Sunday they played in front of 43,507 very enthusiastic fans. Yes there is a problem with the field, the sight lines and it’s a baseball stadium; but you can see why Don Garber thought a team in New York City proper is a must.

Go on twitter and see the banter between the Red Bull, NYCFC and oddly the Cosmos fans and you can see rivalries being born. I think a lot of fans who get up early to see games in Europe might get drawn into picking a team in New York. The U.S. Open Cup should be quite entertaining in New York this year with NYCFC added into the mix. Oh and lets not forget about the Brooklyn Italians as well.

The game was quite entertaining as David Villa sent the fans into a frenzy with a goal in the 19th minute of the game. As he ran to the sideline blowing kisses to the fans, he sure didn’t look like someone who came to MLS to start his retirement from soccer. With both teams missing good chances to score, the game changed when NYCFC rookie forward Khiry Shelton came on for Sebastian Velasquez in the 65th minute. Just a minute later he streaked down the field past the New England defense and was pulled down from behind by Jose Goncalves, who was shown a straight red card by referee Mark Geiger in the 66th minute. Momentum swung back to NYCFC as New England couldn’t finish one of their many chances and lookd dejected being down a man.

With his last substitute Jason Kreis brought on Patrick Mullins the former New England Revolution player they acquired in the expansion draft. He immediately made an impact as he was streaking down the opposite side of the field as David Villa was racing with the ball down the other side. Mullins delayed his run to get back on side and took a perfect pass from Villa and sealed the game with his first goal in a NYCFC uniform. The win gives NYCFC first place on goal differential and sent everyone home happy. Well maybe not the Supporters from New England who showed up with a large contingent.

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Winning Mentality: Orlando City Overcomes Challenges and Shines in Victory
Winning Mentality: Orlando City Overcomes Challenges and Shines in Victory /

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  • So with two games in the books for NYCFC and Orlando City SC, you might say they are both off to a good start. Orlando filled the bowl with 62,358 fans in week one and NYCFC followed it up with 43,507 a week later in New York City. The fact that it was Selection Sunday for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was even more impressive as that would have been a good excuse just ten years ago. In two weeks, 105,865 fans attended two MLS regular season games for two new teams. Each game ended with a good feeling for the home crowd and at least in week two has their teams sitting atop the standings in the East.

    In 2017 Atlanta and the team now known as LAFC enter the league. With each addition of new teams the bar has been raised in MLS on what is considered success. Sure they have signed star players; but it’s the buzz around the team that right now stands out the most. Some people believe that only a team like Orlando deserves entrance into the league as they started from USL Pro and built a following to make MLS take notice.

    Teams like NYCFC are frowned upon as some fans refer to them as plastic or just made up with very little chance of making it. I think it doesn’t matter as it comes down to the ownership and how they interact with the fan base. It wasn’t that long ago that the Kansas City franchise was rumored to be moving to Philadelphia, but a change of ownership in Kansas City and group of fans for a yet to exist team that demanded a MLS team in Philadelphia were the beginning to see both sides thrive.

    As we move forward, two more teams are still to be announced, if MLS expansion stops at 24 teams. Right now we have three strong candidates. Miami needs a stadium and they are in; Minnesota United looks to have the inside track as the league has confirmed they are in “advanced talks” with Minnesota United ownership; and Sacramento Republic FC looks like another can’t miss like Orlando City that might get shutout. A tough choice still has to be made for MLS as all three teams have promise.

    I know people hate on Miami and it’s hard to root for them as the politicians in the city leave something to be desired; but the city itself could be another great success. They already have a supporters group in place with the Southern Legion and they love to point out that the last team played in Fort Lauderdale, not Miami. It is one of the true destination cities in the U.S. and would give the South three teams in the region. Looking at 43,507 watching a team play in a market that I didn’t think needs another team and I can’t see why Miami can’t have success with David Beckham as an owner.

    Right now the only question that remains is will MLS go beyond 24 teams? Well looking at the past two weeks and the start of each team, I can’t see why not.

    Next: Abby Wambach Wise to Skip 2015 NWSL Season

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