Major League Soccer's plans for expansion now include Cincinnati.
The North American top flight's goal of swelling to 28 sides is one team nearer to fruition after commissioner Don Garber announced Monday that Cincinnati has been awarded an expansion franchise.
Second-tier USL side FC Cincinnati will now vault into the MLS with plans for the 2019 season. FC Cincinnati currently plays in Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati, though plans are in place to build a new ground in the Ohio city's west end.
With Nashville, Miami, and now Cincinnati awarded franchises in the last few months, MLS is two clubs short of reaching Garber's goal of 28. Minnesota and Atlanta both kicked off their maiden MLS campaigns last season. Nashville, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Sacramento were four of 12 applicant cities in the running for two spots.
Amid talk of the Columbus Crew's move to Austin, Texas, next season, Garber was asked during Monday's announcement if Cincinnati's introduction would create a rivalry with the club roughly 100 miles to the northeast. "It's hard for me to say what I expect, but I will say, that there's no doubt Columbus and Cincinnati would be great rivals together," Garber conceded. "But we've got work to do to see what our future is in Columbus."
FC Cincinnati has been one of the USL's success stories, regularly drawing 20,000 fans to Nippert Stadium.