Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2010 Seeding Formula: November 2007 update

The new FIFA rankings are out for November. Now that the qualifying groups are known, I'll only include 32 teams that could potentially qualify. Like for instance, if 3 of the top 13 UEFA teams in the FIFA rankings are in the same group, then I would exclude the lowest ranked one. However, that didn't occur this month. Teams listed here will always be the best ones in the rankings that could qualify, not the ones that lead the standings.

Next month's FIFA rankings will be very important. It's the first month of the three that get locked into place for the rankings half of the formula. It looks like England's disappoint at not getting into Euro 2008 could have further effects. They've slipped in the FIFA rankings, and will out on points in the at the tournament as well. If the other teams stay ahead of them, then they possibly could miss out on a World Cup seed.

Top 7 teams seeded

(South Africa automatically seeded as hosts)

Total WC FIFA Change
1 Brazil 60.3 29.3 31 0.0
2 Germany 58.3 30.3 28 0.0
3 Italy 57.3 27.3 30 0.0
4 Spain 54.3 25.3 29 2.0
5 Argentina 53.0 21.0 32 0.0
6 France 49.3 23.3 26 -3.0
7 England 47.3 26.3 21 -1.0
7 Portugal 47.3 22.3 25 0.0

9 Netherlands 38.7 14.7 24 -2.0
10 Mexico 37.3 19.3 18 0.0
11 Czech 33.0 6.0 27 3.0
12 Croatia 32.0 9.0 23 0.0
13 USA 28.7 13.7 15 0.0
14 Turkey 27.0 10.0 17 N/A
15 Paraguay 24.7 11.7 13 2.0
16 Japan 22.8 13.3 9.5 -0.5
17 Greece 22.0 0.0 22 3.0
18 South Korea 20.7 15.7 5 0.0
19 Romania 20.0 0.0 20 -1.0
20 Scotland 19.0 0.0 19 -1.0
21 Nigeria 16.7 2.7 14 0.0
22 Colombia 16.0 0.0 16 4.0
23 Senegal 15.7 8.7 7 0.0
24 Australia 15.3 11.3 4 1.5
25 Cameroon 15.0 3.0 12 -1.0
26 Cote d'Ivoire 14.0 6.0 8 0.0
27 Uruguay 13.7 2.7 11 -5.0
28 Iran 11.3 5.3 6 0.0
29 Saudi Arabia 10.0 8.0 2 -0.5
30 Guinea 9.5 0.0 9.5 0.5
31 South Africa 4.0 3.0 1 0.0
32 Honduras 3.0 0.0 3 N/A

To discuss this on Bigsoccer, and for an FAQ on these rankings and links to previous editions, see this link.

Mock Draw

(England and Portugal are currently tied for the final seed. I decided to use England because their World Cup performance, aka the half of the formula that is set in stone, is higher)

Pot 1: Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain
Pot 2: Croatia, Czech, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Turkey
Pot 3: Cameroon, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria, Paraguay, Senegal, Uruguay
Pot 4: Australia, Honduras, Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, USA

Group A: South Africa, Croatia, Colombia, Mexico
Group B: Brazil, Greece, Cote d'Ivoire, USA
Group C: France, Romania, Senegal, Japan
Group D: Spain, Portugal, Guinea, Honduras
Group E: Argentina, Czech, Cameroon, Australia
Group F: Italy, Scotland, Uruguay, Iran
Group G: Germany, Turkey, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia
Group H: England, Netherlands, Paraguay, Korea Republic

2007 Player Debuts

Updating last year's post, here's a look at the guys who made their MLS debut this year. There were 113 of them this year, the third highest total ever. That brings the total to 1,119 players who have played a competitive game for an MLS team.

Debuts By Year

1996 241
1997 80
1998 93
1999 62
2000 75
2001 63
2002 54
2003 68
2004 63
2005 120
2006 87
2007 113

Total 1,119

No surprise that the three expansion years rank 1-2-3 after the first season, and that post-contraction saw the lowest total of new players.

Non-Regular Season Players

Of the 1,119, a total of 22 have not played in an MLS regular season game. One of those played in the playoffs (McKinley Tennyson) but almost all the others played in the Open Cup. This list has expanded greatly this eason due to MLS teams sending out more reserves (and playing for it), and fully half of that 22 are from the past year only. For example, the Houston Dynamo sent out five players to play at Charleston who didn't get in another match.

Talent Breakdown

Which of the new players were foreigners and which were rookies? I'm planning to go back and list both for each season so the foreign talent added can easily be compared. However, it's not that simple. There's also a third category: players who were on MLS rosters the previous year but didn't get playing time. They aren't officially considered rookies. And what about the case of players who come from the USL? Rather than worry about all that, I'm just going to break it down into two categories: Drafted & Outside.

This is the new MLS talent for 2007:


1 Ashe, Corey 2007 SD
2 Banner, Mike 2007 SD
3 Boyens, Andrew 2007 SD
4 Burse, Ray 2006 SD
5 Byrne, Bryan 2007 SD
6 Caccavale, Sal 2007 Supp
7 Chabala, Mike 2006 SD
8 Colaluca, Nico 2007 SD
9 Cristman, Adam 2007 SD
10 Cummings, Omar 2007 SD
11 Cunliffe, John 2007 SD
12 Curtin, Jeff 2006 SD
13 Dello-Russo, Michael 2006 SD
14 Edu, Maurico 2007 SD
15 Evans, Brad 2007 SD
16 Findley, Robbie 2007 SD
17 Flood, Gary 2007 Supp
18 Hamilton, Anthony 2007 Supp
19 Harden, Ty 2007 SD
20 Harrington, Michael 2007 SD
21 Harvey, Jordan 2006 Supp
22 Hashimoto, Duke 2006 SD
23 Hatzke, Nick 2007 Supp
24 Hayden, John Michael 2007 SD
25 Helton, Kyle 2007 SD
26 Hemming, Tyler 2007 Supp
27 Hohlbein, Aaron 2007 Supp
28 Junge, Ryan 2007 Supp
29 Kimura, Kosuke 2007 Supp
30 Kirby, Dustin 2007 Supp
31 Kpene, Guy-Roland 2007 Supp
32 LaBrocca, Nick 2007 SD
33 Loftus, Chris 2007 Supp
34 Moloi, Mpho 2006 Supp
35 Monteiro, Jerson 2007 SD
36 Morsink, Kurt 2007 SD
37 North, Brad 2007 SD
38 Richards, Dane 2007 SD
39 Russolillo, Jordan 2006 SD
40 Seitz, Chris 2007 SD
41 Solorzano, Erasmo 2007 Supp
42 Soumare, Bakary 2007 SD
43 Telesford, Osei 2007 Supp
44 Thompson, Wells 2007 SD
45 Tudela, Josh 2007 SD
46 Ubiparipovic, Sinisa 2007 SD
47 Ustruck, Erik 2007 Supp
48 Wagner, Blake 2006 SD
49 Wallace, Anthony 2007 SD
50 Zayner, Jed 2006 SD

So all the 2006 players here aren't considered rookies for this past season. Only 27/52 Superdraft picks played this year, including 11/13 in the first round. Arguez and Igwe were the two that didn't. However, that's a lot better that the Supplemental draft: only 14/52 played.

Stephen Keel was signed in 2005 and waited almost two full years to make his debut for the Rapids; that has to be an MLS record. He did play on loan for Seattle, though.


1 Addlery, Nicholas
2 Angel, Juan Pablo
3 Beckham, David
4 Blanco, Cuauhtemoc
5 Braz, Adam
6 Brennan, Jim
7 Brown, Roberto
8 Canizalez, Miguel
9 Casey, Conor
10 Caso, Mike
11 Colombano, Eloy
12 Conde, Wilman
13 Denilson
14 Dichio, Danny
15 Djekanovic, Srdjan
16 Doe, Francis
17 Emilio, Luciano
18 Espindola, Fabian
19 Flores, Jorge (2)
20 Fred
21 Gala, Gabe
22 Galindo, Maykel
23 Harmse, Kevin
24 Keel, Stephen
25 Kipre, Jean-Martial
26 Lancos, Chris
27 Lombardo, Andrea
28 Mansally, Abdoulie
29 Mantilla, Matias
30 Marinelli, Carlos
31 Melo, Joey
32 Menezes, Bruno
33 Merlin, Laurent
34 Moffat, Adam
35 Monsalve, David
36 Morales, Javier
37 Mupier, Mira
38 Nyassi, Sainey
39 Oka, Arsene
40 Oliveira, Willian
41 Osorno, Daniel
42 Pavon, Carlos
43 Peterson, Andrew
44 Pozniak, Chris
45 Randolph, Mike
46 Reda, Marco
47 Reyna, Claudio
48 Reynolds, Sam
49 Ricardinho
50 Ricchetti, Pablo
51 Robinson, Carl
52 Rogers, Robbie
53 Samuel, Collin
54 Schelotto, Guillermo Barros
55 Sesay, Israel
56 Stamatopoulos, Kenny
57 Tejada, Luis
58 Toja, Juan
59 Wanchope, Paulo
60 Waterreus, Ronald
61 Welsh, Andy
62 Xavier, Abel
63 Yinka Casal, Kasali

Obviously, all these players aren't foreign, and a couple of them are even rookies. The rookies would include Flores and Sesay, and several of the others, especially the Canadians. Interesting note about Flores: it's the second time in MLS history that the same name has been used by two players. There was a Jorge Flores who played for Dallas from 1996-8. The other name is Chris Brown, the less famous version only played one game for Dallas in 1998 (although he was actually Chris Brown #1).

Regarding foreign talent, obviously it's better than ever before. The post contraction years meant only a handful of new talent arrived each year. But this year, I would say the top ten foreigners would beat out any other year except maybe the first. Just imagine if every one had lived up to their potential! 2000 was pretty good too (Stoitchkov, Molnar, Matthaus, Valencia, Diallo), the first year of Garber's reign.

Anyway, of these 63 "outsiders," 16 come from South America vs 8 from Europe. There's also 8 from Africa and 20 from CONCACAF, not including 11 Americans. Other than Canada, the biggest nationality was Argentina (7) followed by Brazil (6), after that 3 apiece by Colombia and England.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

World Cup Draw Preview

After tomorrow's events in South Africa (to me the single most exciting day in qualifying), we'll know who the USA will likely be playing as well as the full slate of games worldwide. First let me direct you to this article on FIFA's site, which has links to PDFs that fully lay out the specifics for each confederation. Now let's take a look at the CONCACAF draw.

The USA will join qualifying once CONCACAF's first round is complete, and the number of teams remaining is reduced from 35 to 24. If all the seeded teams win in that first round, then our possible opponents will be one of the following teams:

Dominican Rep.
El Salvador
St. Kitts
St. Lucia
St. Vincent

El Salvador is obviously the team to avoid here. Why are they not in the top 12, and Guyana somehow is? That's due to seeding teams based on FIFA rankings, which really hasn't made anything better. See my thoughts on the seeding and Guyana here.

While we should beat all of these teams easily, there are some that would be harder than others. The best draw we could get here would be the Bahamas or St. Lucia, with Antigua and D.R. right behind.

A win there brings us to the semifinal stage, which is also being drawn on Sunday. Here are the pots:

A-Costa Rica, Mexico, USA
B-Honduras, Panama, Trinidad
C-Canada, Cuba, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica

We'll get one team from pot B and two from pot C. Honduras is the team to avoid in pot B, and probably the draw in general. Given the current turmoil, I'd take Trinidad over Panama. For pot C, due to the hostile environment I'd prefer to avoid Guatemala. Canada and Jamaica are more talented than the other three teams, so I think our best draw would be two from Cuba, Guyana, and Haiti. Given the political situation, let's hope for the last two there. I also think that Canada would be harder than Jamaica because of the rivalry between the teams stemming from the Gold Cup.

So here's my picks for the hardest and easiest draws for the United States:


Round of 24: El Salvador
Semifinals: Canada, Guatemala, Honduras


Round of 24: Bahamas
Semifinals: Guyana, Haiti, Trinidad

Now, what about the other confederations? Well, the most important regions to watch in qualifying from our perspective are Europe and South America. There are only about ten superpowers in this sport, and they all hail from those two continents. Every one of those great teams that doesn't qualify gives us a better shot at winning the 2010 World Cup. The other confederations don't really matter as there aren't great differences in quality among the top teams.

Despite the huge odds against winning it all, we still want to do as well as possible and that's why this draw is so important. South America's qualifying system is the fairest one possible, and Argentina/Brazil will always qualify so there's little drama. So that leaves us with UEFA, where there's a decent chance of one or more very good teams missing out. England just was eliminated from Euro 2008, and the Netherlands missed out in 2002. It can happen, especially thanks to their qualifying system. That's why American fans should be especially interested in what happens there.

The European draw can results in groups that vary greatly in difficulty. England is now in the second pot which is key. We should want them to be grouped with France, Germany, or Italy, and not just for the great games that will result. Only one team from each group can qualify directly, so if two of the top teams are in one group, you're guaranteed at the least that one of them will have to go through the playoffs, and anything can happen over two games. Even better this time, one second place team won't advance at all.

We also should want the worst seeded teams (Croatia, Greece) to get the easiest teams in the other pots, so the best teams have it as tough as possible. While the USA has only the longest shot to be a top seed in 2010, a good performance there (quarterfinals) would help us for 2014. Not having those top teams in the final tournament would help us build towards winning a future World Cup.

For the full list of UEFA pots, see here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Coaches Better the Second Time Around?

The recent firings of Bruce Arena and Frank Yallop made me think about an old Bigsoccer thread that I once referenced on this blog, which referred to how coaches performed with the second team they coached compared with the first. I thought I'd revisit that here today.

In MLS history, there have been 13 men to take the reigns of two or more teams. Counting PPG in all competitions (with shootouts counted as draws), only twice has a coach actually done better with the second team. And even that is not as impressive as it sounds; one of the two men is Fernando Clavijo, who's had a losing record with both teams. With the Rapids, he's only been 0.02 PPG better than with the Revs and could possibly still end up worse now that he's somehow kept his job.

The other man is Dominic Kinnear, which really shouldn't count. Even he isn't too much better thanks to San Jose's 2005 season.

Two other current coaches are in their second run. Sigi Schmid is almost a certainly to end up worse with the Crew than with the Galaxy, while Mo Johnston could possibly end up better. However, that would take a few good years.

I don't think this info is too meaningful, but it's fun to look at.

The year represents the coach's first season with that team.

First team vs second team

(PPG, all competitions)

DC 1996 Arena, Bruce 1.883
NY 2006 Arena, Bruce 1.250

CHI 1998 Bradley, Bob 1.736
NY 2003 Bradley, Bob 1.350

NE 2000 Clavijo, Fernando 1.253
COL 2005 Clavijo, Fernando 1.274

TB 1998 Hankinson, Tim 1.400
COL 2001 Hankinson, Tim 1.248

MIA 2000 Hudson, Ray 1.730
DC 2002 Hudson, Ray 1.258

NY 2005 Johnston, Mo 1.353
TOR 2007 Johnston, Mo 0.833

SJ 2004 Kinnear, Dominic 1.589
HOU 2006 Kinnear, Dominic 1.634

NY 1998 Mondelo, Alfonso 1.294
TB 2001 Mondelo, Alfonso 0.588

LA 1996 Osiander, Lothar 1.480
SJ 1999 Osiander, Lothar 1.105

TB 1996 Rongen, Thomas 1.763
NE 1997 Rongen, Thomas 1.066

LA 1999 Schmid, Sigi 1.710
CLB 2006 Schmid, Sigi 1.123

SJ 2001 Yallop, Frank 1.713
LA 2006 Yallop, Frank 1.444

LA 1997 Zambrano, Octavio 1.910
NY 2000 Zambrano, Octavio 1.523

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Expansion Draft Analysis

It's tomorrow, as the drama doesn't stop in MLS just because the season's over. First of all, let's take a look at this interesting rule:

"If San Jose selects a Developmental Player it must offer him a Senior Roster position and he must be on San Jose's Senior Roster as of Roster Compliance Date."

If that was in effect last year, I wasn't aware of it. With only 18 senior roster spots and 10 picks, they're going to have to pick guys that can contribute right away. Click here for the entire list of rules.

Despite the way his season turned out, I felt that Mo Johnston did a masterful job in the draft last year. He called teams' bluffs and picked players with an eye on trading them, guys who were exposed for reasons besides talent. He took Nate Jaqua who was expected to go to Europe, and Jason Kreis who RSL thought would be safe to expose. Overall, if you look at the talent he recieved in trades for his 10 expansion picks (none of which are still on the roster BTW), he looks pretty smart. Check it out:

Expansion draft 2006 picks:

1 Paulo Nagamura
2 Danny O'Rourke
3 Jose Cancela
4 Adrian Serioux
5 Nate Jaqua
6 Rod Dyachenko
7 Jason Kreis
8 Tim Regan
9 Ritchie Kotschau
10 Will Hesmer

Through all the trades afterwards, Toronto received the following (also giving up a 2007 second rounder):

Three allocations (two partial)
Edson Buddle
Ronnie O'Brien
Two 2008 1st round picks
Temporary YI spot through 2009

Now due to injuries and the quality of the guys Johnston brought in, this doesn't look too impressive, but it really is. He had all the tools to be successful this year and next. Of course, his hands were tied due to the roster restrictions as well. And he probably would've been better keeping a few guys, but oh well.

San Jose is unlikely to get a bunch of international stars, so the allocations won't be needed. Frank Yallop will likely be looking for talent that he's familiar with and like mentioned above, can contribute immediately.

Team by team breakdown

MLS released the players available, but didn't mention who was protected and exempt. That might not be totally necessary for this preview, but I'm a details guy. I spent some time on Wikipedia last night creating this page for the draft, which you can look at to see every team's exact situation.

Use that page to understand my analysis below. Click here to see a pdf of the salaries.


Hernandez seems the most likely to be a first team player, and he's cheap ($45k). Perez and Zotinca would both be around $70k, although the salary cap rising means that the average senior roster player will now earn $120k or so. I don't know if Nunez would be a Yallop-type of player, but it's hard to pass up a 22 year old with talent and experience. It's easier to find quality defenders in this draft than players like Nunez. I obviously can't see him wanting Merlin after passing him up in the preseason.

Most likely picks: Hernandez, Nunez


Guerrero's exclusion on the unprotected list was unexpected, until you see his high salary. Busch is a cheap backup keeper, and SJ is likely to get at least one keeper in this draft. Jim Curtin is one of the more accomplished players available.

Most likely picks: Busch, Je.Curtin, Ji.Curtin, Thorrington


Casey makes a lot of money ($180k), but he's got a lot of talent and they'd be hard pressed to find a better forward on the free agent market. He could fill the Brian Ching role in the new Quakes, and I would take him in a heartbeat despite his struggles. They have to take a few chances if they want to be successful in year one. Couple of cheap defenders are also an option.

Most likely picks: Casey, Petke, Prideaux


Grabavoy is likely out of contract as he just completed his fourth season. Like Jaqua, you can't pass a guy like that up despite that. His rights are still worth something even if he leaves, and it's not like all 10 picks will end up making the roster. Herron is one of the better forwards available.

Most likely picks: Garey, Grabavoy, Herron


Now this is where the talent comes in. Brian Carroll seems like a no-brainer. He could start for a lot of teams in this league, certainly an expansion team. And how much does Yallop like Walker four years later? Vanney costs too much to take.

Most likely picks: B.Carroll, Dyachenko, Vanney, Walker


More talent here. Abe Thompson's a guy who's been on the verge of starting for a while now; he's shown he can score goals when given the chance. Goodson is another guy whose contract is up, while Oduro is an intriguing cheap option. Gbandi is a solid defender as well, while Yi is cheap.

Most likely picks: Gbandi, Goodson, Oduro, Pitchkolan, Thompson, Yi


Cochrane seems to be the obvious choice, although Waibel is another quality starter. Cochrane may also be another, like Wells, who could be out of contract (four year deals are handed out to rookies, so anyone who was drafted in 2004 might be one). Hard to see him leaving MLS though. Wells would be a good backup and there's also the sentimental choice of Onstad, but he probably wouldn't be around long enough to led them to a title game. So if you can't be successful right away, then he's not a good choice.

Most likely picks: Cochrane, Onstad, Waibel, Wells, Wondolowski


Not a lot here really. Hartman could start for the Earthquakes in 2008, if they want him. Burciaga is talented and is the obvious choice. Otherwise it's a bunch of young, untested guys who seem unlikely to make the senior roster.

Most likely picks: Burciaga, Hartman


Probably the most interesting pick will be this one. Who will Yallop take among his former men? Word is that Yallop was upset at some of the trades made, who knows which guys that means. Does that preclude him taking Kelly Gray? Cronin seems like an ideal backup keeper. Yallop started Tudela down the stretch and brought in Harmse. Despite Gordon playing a big role, he just doesn't seem good enough to be the choice. Martino on the other hand does have plenty of talent, or so people keep telling us. Did Yallop see enough in him? Hard decision for him here.

Most likely picks: Cronin, Gordon, Gray, Harmse, Martino, Tudela


Dorman is out of contract and so is John. Riley stands out as the guy here due to the combo of age and salary. Sims is a cheap guy who went to college in California, and just was capped by Guatemala. Could he play a major role next season?

Most likely picks: John, Riley, Sims


Quaranta seems unlikely since he was let go by the Galaxy earlier this year, while Wolyniec is an aging journeyman. Goldthwaite was drafted by the Quakes, but Vide seems to be the guy the Metros fans don't want to lose. Magee is another risky pick, because there's obviously talent there.

Most likely picks: Doe, Goldthwaite, Magee, Vide


Who to pick here? Brown could be a versatile reserve. Watson certainly will get a shot with somebody; he's already supposedly been cut by RSL. I think in a choice between those two, you'd have to go with the younger guy who could at least have a chance to be great. Probably one of the teams to lose no one.

Most likely picks: C.Brown, Forko, Watson


Wow, talk about barren. They were required to have the same restrictions on SIs as the other teams (can leave only one at most unprotected), and don't forget they have 7 of them. So as a result they have almost all of their crappy Canadian bench warmers available. Yallop may be familiar with some of them from his time as Canada coach, but that would be one of the only reasons to take somebody. Other than that you would say that they're the least likely team to have somebody picked. Those familiar available players would probably be the three defenders signed last year, although their salaries are pretty high given their performance. Boyens or Lombardo could be a cheaper option.

Most likely picks: Boyens, Braz, Pozniak, Reda


CHI Busch
CHV Nunez
CLB Grabavoy
COL Petke
DAL Thompson
DC B.Carroll
HOU Cochrane
KC Burciaga
LA Martino
NE Riley
NY (none)
RSL (none)
TOR (none)

Monday, November 19, 2007

History of MLS Expansion and Franchises

What follows is an attempt to create a history of how MLS expansion took shape throughout the years, showing which candidates were on the table at which times. There have also been five instances in the league's history where the league committed to giving cities teams only to have them taken away or the agreements fall apart at a later date.

All my sources are from reputable articles or from the commish's mouth himself. I would post the links, but it's a big list and I don't want to match them up as that would take a while (like this hasn't already).


12/17/1993 - MLS announced.

12/22/1993 - 27 cities have expressed an interest for the 12 MLS teams according to USA Today. The following list was posted on Usenet by Chris Allen.

Cities with an asterisk (*) had representatives in Las Vegas for the MLS
meetings prior to the draw:

The following cities have been visited:

Kansas City
Las Vegas*
Los Angeles*
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale
New York*
Philadelphia/New Jersey*
San Diego*
San Francisco
San Jose
St. Louis
Washington DC*

The following cities have been contacted (but not yet visited):

New Orleans
Salt Lake City
San Antonio


5/18/1994 - 22 cities submitted bids for the 12 MLS teams.

Kansas City
Los Angeles
New York
Northern NJ
Raleigh/Durham/Winston Salem
San Jose
Washington DC

6/15/1994 - First seven franchises awarded to Boston, Columbus, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York, San Jose, and Washington DC.

11/12/1994 - MLS delays first season to 1996, and will start with 10 teams instead of 12.

"Instead of the 12 teams that were originally planned for play in 1995, it
now appears that 10 will start operations next year to prepare for a 1996
season that will open in April and end in September. The Long Island
franchise will not be among the starters, and may not begin until 1998. "

Chicago and Tampa Bay are added to the league as its 8th and 9th teams.

"Other candidates are Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City,
Miami, San Diego and Tulsa."


5/24/1995 - "Eight cities have been determined: Boston/Foxborough, Chicago, Columbus, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, San Jose and Washington. Two others will be chosen from Denver, Seattle, San Diego and Tampa."

6/6/1995 - Final lineup of 10 teams for 1996 were announced. Due to apparent issues with Soldier Field, Chicago was dropped.

"Dallas, Denver and Kansas City were announced as the final franchise cities. Dallas replaced Chicago."

6/21/1996 - No clue on the specifics of the following quote, which comes from an article talking about how surprising the attendances have been since the start of the league.

"Besides attracting Bic pens and money transmitter Orlandi Valuta as sponsors since the beginning of the season, the early success has sparked 37 ``serious inquiries'' about expansion franchises and about operating the three league-operated clubs: Tampa Bay, San Jose and Dallas."

7/29/1996 - "Logan said expansion would be by two teams, with Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, San Diego and Charlotte, N.C., also in the mix."

8/16/1996 - Grahame L. Jones: "Major League Soccer is expected to announce expansion plans today calling for two teams to be added in 1998, two more in 2000 and another two in 2002, bringing the league total to 16 teams. Chicago is a prime candidate to be the first expansion city, with other candidates under consideration including Seattle, San Diego and St. Louis."

9/9/1996 - Logan: "MLS plans to expand by two teams in 1998, and plans to have 16 teams by 2004."

10/18/1996 - This comes from an online chat. MLS was again having trouble with Chicago, so that's why he says 1999 instead of 1998. See the next item for more details: Eventually it was worked out.

Logan: "There is a long list and it includes: Chicago, Charlotte, Houston, Alanta, Miami, St. Louis, San Diego, Seattle, Minneapolis and Detroit. However we will defer expansion until 1999."

11/11/1996 - Soccer America: "Expansion has been deferred because renovations to Soldier Field in Chicago will tie up that facility for at least the next three years, and the league believes it can still secure a more lucrative TV contract when the current deal expires in 1998 even without the huge Chicago market."


4/9/1997 - Expansion announced as Chicago and Miami will join the league in 1998.

12/16/1997 - Doug Logan promises Seattle an MLS team (see the letter here). "As you know, with the passage of the stadium initiative, Major League Soccer will be in Seattle beginning with the 2002 or 2003 season."

They would get a team eventually. Another quote:

"The 1997 referendum that created Qwest Field was passed on the backs of soccer fans, as Paul Allen secured more than $300 million from taxpayers by pitching the stadium as a football and soccer facility. The MLS commissioner at the time, Doug Logan, even sent letters to Sounders season-ticket holders, insinuating that if they voted for Qwest, they would get an MLS team. The referendum passed, 51 percent to 49 percent, a margin of 36,780 out of 1.6 million votes cast."


4/30/1998 - Logan: ''We've made no secret of what our long-term plans are ... to have a team in New Jersey and another team east of the East River would be our preference. We need to make agreements that make sense for us, where we can play in stadiums where we control our destiny. That includes playing on the same surface for the entire year and controlling marketing rights.''

''A second team located near mass transit could enhance what we do in the metropolitan New York area and not damage the MetroStars (fan base). We've had discussions with Shea Stadium and that could be a good solution. Shea has portions of the stands that roll and would allow for very good soccer dimensions.''

''We currently have teams in seven of the top eight media markets. We have been impressed with the television numbers in Houston on a consistent basis ... also Seattle and Portland are high on our hit parade and another team in Southern California is part of our future.''

''Regarding Southern California, there are some interesting things happening in the sports business in the region. We have had discussions for six months with the people at Disney. We've talked and at the appropriate time and place, we'll be a part of the smorgasbord out there.''


5/20/1999 - "Previously, commissioner Doug Logan has said expansion probably would occur as early as next season. He has said that in the year 2000, the league would go from its current 12 teams to 14; then two years later, in 2002, from 14 to what MLS currently considers its optimum number of franchises: 16. Now it appears that schedule may slide a little. "Expansion is looking far more probable for 2001 than 2000," Logan said recently.

"Philadelphia and Houston are at the top of the list," also mentioned are New York (Queens or Long Island) and San Diego.


7/28/2000 - Garber: "We will expand by two teams by 2002. We are targeting a second team in the New York Tri-state area as well as a second team, likely in either Philadelphia or Atlanta.

We are in active discussions with potential investors for Tampa and Dallas, as well as potential expansion in Houston, Seattle, Rochester, and Sacramento for expansion in 2004."

10/13/2000 - NY is talked about below as a sure thing for expansion, but year later Metromedia sold the team to AEG and it was dead. See here for why that never happened.

Michael Lewis w/quote from Don Garber: On potential expansion teams: New York is definite for 2002 and Stuart Subotnick , investor-operator of the MetroStars, is considering several sites between Philadelphia and Hartford. "Our goal is to have no less than four new teams by 2004. We have many other cities, including a representative from one of those cities who is here waiting for me today, who is from Milwaukee. There are many cities who we have interested investors and public supporters. Winston-Salem is one. They already have begun selling PSL's for a new stadium they hope to build. Rochester is an interested market. Houston is an interested market. Sacramento is an interested market. Seattle is a very interested market. So there are many markets for us to pick from. We have to pick the most appropriate time frame, if you will, for all those markets to fall into place. New York fell into place and hopefully Philly and Atlanta will fall into place."

12/28/2000 - Contraction brought up for the first time a year before it would actually happen:

Jeff Bradley: "Here's what we know as confirmed by multiple MLS sources. At their recent meetings at the Anschutz Ranch outside of Denver, the MLS Board of Directors began to seriously discuss trimming the league back to 10 teams for the 2001 season. The San Jose Earthquakes, Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny were all mentioned as teams that could be disbanded, with the Quakes and Fusion taking the early lead as favorites to go."


7/27/2001 - Garber: "We are currently engaged in discussions with interested groups in New York, the Philadelphia area, Houston, Rochester, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Seattle, Atlanta, Louisville and the Carolinas."


1/8/2002 - Miami and Tampa Bay contracted. Great article here by Robert Wagman talking about the potential candidates to be contracted before it actually happened, so if you weren't around then you can better understand the details behind it. Certainly the lowest point in the league's history, and expansion was the furthest thing from peoples' minds, although it was a given that 10 teams was too few.

8/2/2002 - Garber: "This weekend, we have a contingent of interested investors joining us from Tulsa, Oklahoma and Cleveland, Ohio. In the past months, we have visited several new potential new MLS markets, including Toronto, Detroit, and San Antonio. We will not be expanding the League in 2003. We are hopeful to expand in 2004, though we have no specific dates in place."


4/1/2003 - AP article: "Major Soccer League will decide by the end of the season where to place two expansion teams..."

Candidates listed:

Minneapolis-St. Paul
Oklahoma City

8/1/2003 - At the MLS vs Chivas all star game, details about the future Chivas USA were first unveiled.

Garber: "I’m also pleased to announce that we’re in very advanced discussions with Mr. Vergara, the owner of Chivas, about joining MLS as an investor-operator under the Chivas brand name. We are in the process of identifying a market for this new team and in the process of finalizing details. We are close to be in a position where we will add one of the most storied names and one of the most storied brands of soccer in North America into Major League Soccer."

11/21/2003 - Cleveland announced as second expansion team. I believe it was first mentioned by Tim Leiweke to a group of LA fans, and he apparently spoke prematurely. Turns out this announcement was premature, too.

Also, originally there was some talk of Chivas wanting to enter the league in 2004, but this formally put an end to that speculation.

"MLS Commissioner Don Garber announces that Cleveland, Ohio-based businessman Bert Wolstein has signed a letter of intent to become the investor-operator of an expansion MLS team. Also, Chivas owner Jorge Vergara has finalized an agreement with MLS, signing a letter of intent to enter the League in 2005."


5/17/2004 - Wolstein dies, and any hopes of the Cleveland expansion seemingly went with him.

Wagman: "In November, Wolstein signed a letter-of-intent for a new MLS franchise, but the bid unraveled when he was unable to find public financing in Cleveland or its suburbs for the soccer-specific stadium required of an expansion team. Therefore, it seemed unlikely Cleveland would be home to one of two MLS expansion franchises promised for the 2005 season."

Candidates mentioned for the second spot:

Oklahoma City/Tulsa
San Antonio

And, "the initial expansion targets were Philadelphia and Houston."

7/14/2004 - Salt Lake City announced as the second expansion team for 2005, coming out of nowhere. Wagman summarizes the situation and says Checketts and the city were in the right place at the right time. Seattle was also being considered seriously and reports were that it was down to the those two when the decision was made.

8/2/2004 - Surprising no one, Chivas USA announces it will play in Los Angeles. This had been uncertain for a while though, as Chicago, Houston, and San Diego were also candidates. Apparently MLS wasn't too keen on the idea of two teams in the same market at first.


4/14/2005 - Agreement reached with San Antonio for 2006 expansion team, provided goals are met.

6/9/2005 - After the mayoral election where an anti-MLS candidate was elected, San Antonio talks end. Since they were going to play in the Alamodome, it's probably a very good thing this didn't happen.

11/14/2005 - Toronto announced as expansion team, which was made official when the stadium vote passed. The U-20 championship awarded to Canada meant that they had to build a soccer stadium, so the MLS expansion was built on the back of those plans.

12/15/2005 - San Jose moves to Houston (after years of rumors), although promises are made to get a team back to the area in a few years. Few people believed it at the time.


3/20/2006 - Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J. announces plans to work with MLS to build a stadium, which would give the Philadelphia area a team. Didn't work out and MLS would look to Chester, PA instead.

8/1/2006 - KC Wizards are sold to Ongoal, which ends long-running speculation that the team could be moved.

10/6/2006 - Garber: "I will tell everyone that the interest in MLS expansion is at an all-time high. This is very different from even just a few years ago when we had to solicit potential expansion markets and owners. MLS President Mark Abbott leads our expansion efforts and discussions.

Our current goal is to have 16 teams by the end of the decade. We’ll then take a step back and put together another 5-to-10-year plan. We realize we need to add more teams to raise the profile of Major League Soccer, but it has to be done in a smart and strategic manner."

Candidates mentioned:

Las Vegas
San Diego
San Jose
Saint Louis


7/17/2007 - Garber: "There's more interest in MLS expansion than at any other time in the history of the sport in the country. Without prioritizing any one market, here is a rundown of the cities: Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego, San Antonio, St. Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Rochester, New York City, Atlanta, Miami and Las Vegas. "

7/18/2007 - It's announced that the San Jose Earthquakes will return to MLS for the 2008 season.

11/13/2007 - Seattle announced as the league's newest expansion team in 2009.

11/16/2007 - News from the state of the league address:

"Garber went on to give a breakdown of the markets that could serve as expansion sites in the future, with the league in talks with potential owners in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami, Philadelphia, Montreal, New York, Portland, Ore., St. Louis, Mo. and Vancouver."

"Although he identified Delaware County, near Philadelphia, and St. Louis as the two bids closest to being ready, he warned both they would need to have financial packages and ownership groups set by January 15, 2008 if they are to join.

The plans is to have 16 teams in 2009," Garber said. "If we are unable to confirm a 16th team by the end of the year, I would think by January 31st, we will likely make the decision to play with 15 teams in 2009."


1/31/2008 - Philly's chances of getting a team become almost a certainty.

"A major hurdle has been cleared in an effort to attract the 16th Major League Soccer club to the Philadelphia suburb of Chester. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell announced plans on Thursday for $47 million in state funding to assist in the construction of an expected 18,500-seat stadium on Chester's waterfront."

2/28/2008 - Philadelphia is officially awarded an expansion franchise. They were always huge favorites over Saint Louis, so it was never a surprise. Also:

"Expansion conversations continue with approximately 10 markets throughout the United States and Canada. MLS officials will continue those discussions as the League could feature as many as 18 clubs by 2011."

7/24/2008 - State of the league address. MLS announcers that two teams will be added in 2011, and 9 candidates listed for two spots.

Las Vegas
New York
St. Louis

"Garber dismissed concerns that the MLS owners would be more apt to favor U.S. expansion teams than Canadian ones."

MLS also announced a bid process, with applications taken until October 15th.

10/15/2008 - 7 cities end up submitting bids: Atlanta, Miami, Montreal, Ottawa, Portland, St. Louis and Vancouver. At this point, Montreal and Saint Louis were probably considered the favorites, with Atlanta and Ottawa as no-hopers who surprised fans by even being included. Here's what Ives had to say at the time.

11/21/2008 - Montreal is out of the race due to money problems. MLS claims they dropped out, while Joey Saputo said that they never withdrew their bid. And the ironic thing is, that $40 million expansion fee did turn out to be negotiable in the end.


1/15/2009 - Atlanta drops out, leaving five candidates for two spots. Given some of the statements made by Arthur Blank, it's unclear why they ever even submitted a bid.

By this time, Miami has risen dramatically due to Barcelona's involvement and is seen as the most likely of the five to get a team.

3/3/2009 - And just like that, Miami drops out. The economy left Barcelona unwilling to support a team. So only four bids for two teams remained. In the aftermath of this, it becomes clear that Vancouver is the most likely to receive a team. In the meantime, Ottawa and Portland both are counting on getting funding deals passed. St. Louis already had a deal in place, but lacked investors.

3/11/2009 - Portland gets their stadium deal, albeit with a $15 million funding gap. It becomes apparent that they will be getting a team along with Vancouver.

3/18/2009 - Vancouver is officially announced as the league's 17th team.

3/20/2009 - Portland is officially announced as the league's 18th team.

4/10/2009 - In what is widely viewed as an idle threat to get a stadium deal passed, Garber mentions the possibility of DC United relocating if nothing gets done.

4/23/2009 - Garber: "I don’tthink we’re near the realm of over-expansion. When is enough? Probably 20 teams in four to six to eight to 10 years.”

"...19 and 20 may not come until 2018, the commissioner said."

5/8/2009 - Montreal seems to be clearly back in the picture, as Garber states: "I believe Montreal is a very viable M.L.S. market and I plan to keep in regular contact with the Saputos as we continue to develop our future expansion plans.”

6/25/2009 - Saputo announces his intentions for a Montreal team: "I'm trying to push for 2011," Saputo said. "I feel very, very comfortable that we'll be ready. We've spoken about that with the [MLS] commissioner [Don Garber], and he understands that."

However, Garber previously said that further expansion would not take place until 2012.


5/7/2010 - Montreal officially announced as the 20th team, to begin play in 2012.

August - Garber states that 20 teams is not the limit for the league, and he expects further expansion.

Also mentioned were other possibilities other than the second NY frontrunner:

"Garber said the league’s immediate priority is to add a 20th team, which he hopes will be in New York. The league remains in discussions with the Wilpons, owners of the Mets, about bringing a team to Queens. If the effort to place a team there fails, it will explore expansion in other markets such as Atlanta, Detroit, San Diego, Miami or Ottawa."

11/16/2010 - "Garber said despite the push for a second New York franchise, the league continues to have discussions about Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and San Diego." (also mentioned was Atlanta)