6/4 Fire and MLS Expansion Notes: Lindpere, Miami, Orlando
Joel Lindpere was called up to the Estonian National Team where the midfielder will face Trinidad and Tobago on June 7, and Kyrgyzstan on June 11. Lindpere will be unavailable for the Fire’s regular season home match against the Portland Timbers on June 8, and the U.S. Open Cup match in which the team hosts the Columbus Crew on June 12.
The Fire’s home crowd of 14,546 brought their average attendance up to 12,514 and was their first game of the year that outdrew the average attendance of the Portland Thorns FC, a women’s club owned by the Portland Timbers.
It was reported on Sunday that David Beckham was looking to exercise his $25 million option to own an MLS expansion team, working with Marcelo Claure and targeting Miami, Florida. New reports have circulated, though based upon anonymous sources, that a deal to bring two new teams into the league is past its early stages.
Here is a rundown of all information that has been reported, based upon what an anonymous source told ScoringThird.com.
- New franchises would be based in the Miami and Orlando markets and begin play in 2016, just a year after New York City FC joins the league.
- Miami would be owned by Beckham and Claure, while the existing Orlando City ownership group would move up, likely with the team’s branding, to MLS.
- Miami would play in FIU Stadium for its first several years, with a targeted date for a soccer-specific stadium to open being 2020. It is known that Beckham and Claure did in fact visit both FIU Stadium and Sun Life Stadium in their recent trip to Miami.
- Orlando would have a soccer-specific stadium built in time for 2016 if all goes according to plan, and Orlando City has long been working on finalizing a deal for one. A contingency plan is in place for the team to play at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.
The league had previously stated that it planned to take a step away from expansion for the time being, but perhaps Beckham’s push he has the contractual right to forced the league’s hand. At that point, it would only make sense to bring in the rival Orlando City that made a strong push for New York’s spot at the same time.
ScoringThird.com reached out to Major League Soccer after hearing from the source, and the league did provide a telling response.
“While we are pleased to see strong interest in potential Major League Soccer expansion, we do not have a specific plan yet for adding new teams. We are pleased with the recent addition of New York City FC and will be addressing future expansion in the near future.”
Therefore, whether these rumors are true or not, the league at least claims to be ready to inform the public at some point in the not-so-distant future.
Should both Miami and Orlando join the league, Atlanta and Minnesota may become the leading candidates for the next two expansion franchises given that both the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings are getting new stadiums that could be designed with soccer in mind.