MLS expansion teams: Charlotte FC debuts in 2022, St. Louis and Las Vegas next

Major League Soccer has grown steadily for years, and it continues as the 2022 season kicks off.

At least one new team has joined the league every year since 2017. Since 2005, 18 teams have signed up, and all but four seasons during that time (2008, 2013, 2014, and 2016) have not seen expansion. field.

Charlotte FC are next in line, to make their league debut as the upcoming campaign begins with a road game at DC United on Saturday February 26 before returning south for the opener at home against the LA Galaxy on March 5.

But MLS is not done growing yet. There are plans to add teams beyond the upcoming 2022 season, with more to come.

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Charlotte FC set to make club debut

The newest MLS club to debut will do so on February 26, as Carolina side Charlotte FC bow out of Major League Soccer.

With Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper at the helm, former Internacional manager Miguel Angel Ramirez is the man in charge on the pitch. The relatively inexperienced Spaniard has an equally inexperienced squad, with Austria international Christian Fuchs being the only truly recognizable name on the list.

With an ongoing work list, it will be difficult for Charlotte to fight, but that will ultimately be decided on the pitch.

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Saint Louis next, followed by Las Vegas?

With Charlotte almost above the front row, there’s one city guaranteed to come on board with another hoping it’s not too far behind.

St. Louis City SC is already confirmed to join in 2023, with former New York Red Bulls assistant Bradley Carnell already hired to take charge of the team on the pitch.

To continue the league’s expansion efforts to reach 30 teams, there is an open courtship between MLS and a team in Las Vegas, and although this has been public knowledge for some time, the MLS commissioner , Don Garber, said nothing was official yet.

“It’s not fair to say that Vegas is almost done,” Garber said, speaking to the media on Feb. 23. “Expansion deals are complicated in any market. To go somewhere that requires a football-specific stadium, you have to make sure everything is aligned. Everything has to be aligned with the community, the fan base and politically. We are making a lot of progress. We hope to finalize something in the first third of the year.”

The effort in Las Vegas is led by Montana-born billionaire Wes Edens, who is the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and also the majority shareholder of Premier League club Aston Villa.

MORE: How MLS clubs fare in the CONCACAF Champions League

Growth issues from expansion in Austin, Cincinnati and Miami

It’s a tough road to competitive status for new clubs, and it shows for the four teams that have joined over the past two seasons.

While Nashville SC have emerged as contenders since joining in 2020, Austin FC, FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami have had their fair share of struggles. Last season, Austin FC finished 12th in the 13-team Western Conference in its first campaign, while Inter Miami finished 11th in the Eastern Conference and Cincinnati completed the bottom of the Eastern Conference in 14th. square.

While Atlanta United (2017) and LAFC (2018) were immediate contenders led by experienced managers like Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino and Bob Bradley, that’s not an easy thing to do. Despite all its success, Nashville made the playoffs in each of its first two seasons, finishing third in the East last season, but even it didn’t go past the conference playoff semifinals.

It remains to be seen how Charlotte will fare in her first season, but it will likely be a while before she can topple the established powers that inhabit the Eastern Conference.

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