Don Garber has the expansion bug.
Despite previously voicing an intention to stop expanding and consolidate at 28 Major League Soccer teams, the league commissioner said at Friday's State of the League address in Atlanta that he believes the organization can support even more franchises.
"We will grant the 28th team and make that decision sometime in the next 12 months," Garber announced, as reported by ESPN's Jeff Carlisle and Matt Pentz. "And then we're going to have to decide whether we want to go forward, beyond 28 teams. That is a discussion that is taking place. We will begin to introduce the subject at our board meeting starting next week."
When FC Cincinnati join the Western Conference for the 2019 season, MLS will have grown to 24 outfits. David Beckham's Inter Miami project and a team hailing from Nashville are then slated to join in 2020, while Austin is expected to be unveiled as the 27th franchise when the anticipated takeover of the Columbus Crew is completed.
Garber claims he has regular interest from at least "half a dozen" cities over having an MLS franchise, but TSN's Kristian Jack revealed the commissioner's admission that he won't entertain further expansion in Canada.
"This is a big country," Garber said at the gathering in Atlanta. "I can remember when we were first looking at expansion. We came in at 12, went down to 10, and then went up to 14 in 2005. I don't know at that time that we ever thought we'd be the size we are now. So much has gone on over the last decade in this sport.
"Every time we evaluate how large we want the league (to) be, it really is in the context of the country and of the sport."