Mpls. may be close to scoring a Major League Soccer team (or not)

Commissioner Don Garber
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber speaks before unveiling the new MLS logo during an event in New York on Sept. 18. 2014.
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images 2014

With Las Vegas out of the running, it seems like Minneapolis is a big step closer to winning a Major League Soccer franchise. But that depends on how many teams the league is really considering.

Minneapolis was one of three that presented expansion bids to the league in New York in November for two franchises.

MLS commissioner Don Garber sent a letter yesterday to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman saying the league won't consider Nevada as an expansion market until after 2018. Sacramento was the third city presenting a bid.

The Las Vegas decision comes as the league is trying to fulfill its pledge to field 24 teams by the year 2020. It has 20 teams now, and is scheduled to add a team in Atlanta in 2017 and revive a failed Los Angeles club that same year.

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Garber said last year that MLS expects to make an expansion decision in the first half of this year about the two open slots. So, that leaves Sacramento and Minneapolis. Two cities. Two slots.

The math, though, isn't simple.

Soccer superstar David Beckham exercised his option to purchase an expansion franchise in Miami last year, possibly leaving just a single spot open in the league's 2020 ranks.

Beckham's bid has been beset by stadium problems; however, and it isn't clear when his team might be ready to take the field. He, his investors and Miami officials haven't been able to agree on where to put a new soccer stadium. That could make the team part of the 2020 expansion or part of yet another, later expansion.

Adding to the intrigue: Garber has also mentioned yet more possible hosts in San Antonio and St. Louis.

But the league letter to Las Vegas could still be a good sign for Minneapolis — if the league's short term plans are focused on the suitors that went to New York to make a bid in November. Two ownership groups are contending to win a Minnesota franchise: The Wilf family, which owns the Minnesota Vikings, and the owners of the state's existing pro soccer franchise, the minor league Minnesota United Football Club.

Garber said in October that he considered adding another Midwestern team "a priority."