It’s a slow time for soccer news. This week between Christmas and New Year's Day is a black hole to which the news goes to die. Yet there is still stuff to talk about in Kansas City soccer and more so in a wider sense. Let’s get to it.
MLS Expansion Update
Back in 2021, MLS Commissioner Don Garber had focused the Major League Soccer expansion on three cities: Las Vegas, Nevada, San Diego, California and Phoenix, Arizona. Let’s briefly update all three cities.
Just before Christmas, Luca Bendoni of Transfermarkt is reporting that the San Diego Loyal of the USL Championship will make the jump to MLS.
Landon Donovan's San Diego Loyal will go to the MLS in 2024, coming from the USL. Been told MLS commissioner has approved it. It's time! ⌛️ ✅️ pic.twitter.com/hka29cMfsZ— Luca Bendoni (@LucaBendoni) December 23, 2022
There are no other reports out there to substantiate this move and that timeline seems aggressive. Over the years, San Diego has been in and out of discussions. Over five years ago there were talks of sharing a stadium with San Diego State University’s football team. That obviously didn’t happen at the time, but that stadium, Snapdragon Stadium, has since been built. That could potentially be their home and it’s something to watch.
There are other indications that San Diego may have the lead though.
If San Diego is in, does that mean Vegas is out? Not necessarily, as I’d expect MLS to easily expand to at least 32 teams but being the 30th team could take a hit. During last year’s State of the League, Don Garber said it was safe to assume that Las Vegas was the front runner to be the 30th team. In the 2022 State of the League, Garber said San Diego is “probably closer than ever before,” so it would seem a lot changed in a year.
One potential owner of a Las Vegas MLS team is owner of the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights, Bill Foley. The chance of him owning a team seems to be out the window. Speaking to the BBC about an MLS team, Foley said:
“I’ve looked at it, I’ve examined it, and I was pretty serious about it.”
“The MLS, unfortunately, requires a stadium to be built and, in the United States, that is costing $600-700 [million],” he said.
“The franchise fee itself, I think, is $300m so you are into it for a billion dollars before you have a team.
“I thought Bournemouth was a bargain. I’m buying a Premier League team that already has a stadium, already has players and I can improve it. I don’t see us being involved in the MLS. I’m just not that interested.”
Obviously, a Premier League team comes with a huge wage budget too, particularly compared to MLS, but if the start-up costs are so high, it's bound to be a deterrent to some. MLS may have finally started to price themselves out of expansion after Charlotte FC leaped in line and paid significantly more ($325 million) than the next team.
As for the third city, there isn’t really any news for Phoenix. They’ve often been in rounds of discussion and are the fifth largest city in the United States, but the heat, as in Vegas, is something to overcome. Back in July of 2022, when Phoenix Rising appointed a new Governor, Bill Kraus, he said he couldn’t legally “comment on MLS and Phoenix Rising.”
Garber has previously said he expects an announcement in the first quarter of 2023, but they’ve missed targets in the past. If San Diego is the team and if they are coming in 2024, it has to be announced very soon.
Addie McCain Leaves KC Current
In Kansas City soccer news, the Kansas City Current and midfielder Addie McCain “have agreed to mutually part ways.” After the roster moves were announced in mid-November the team was said to be negotiating with McCain, but instead they put her through the waiver wire which runs today.
Addie was a 2nd round pick in 2021, 17th overall. She only had three starts and 231 minutes in league play last year. With the recently announced contracts for Kate Del Fava and the outside signing of forward Mimmi Larsson, the roster was looking quite full with 22 players already signed and eight draft picks looming in January. The climb for playing time was likely only going to get steeper for McCain, particularly with the free agent additions of midfielders Morgan Gautrat and Vanessa DiBernardo.
Looking back at my predictions going into the offseason, I feel pretty good about the calls I made. I had suspected McCain could end up on the chopping block and ultimately, she ended up not returning. Of all the other options, only Desiree Scott still remains unsigned. Otherwise, I either correctly predicted who would stay and go, with the exception of Kristen Edmonds being offered a deal (as I said they should), but Edmonds deciding to go elsewhere signing with NJ/NY Gotham.
Best of luck to Addie, wherever she ends up.
- Sporting Kansas City’s top five goals of 2022. Erik Thommy is number one for me all day. Not just his ridiculous finish, but that build up and final ball from Espinoza!
- An interesting graphic for World Cup searches versus Big 4 searches while the competition was going on (explanation in the Reddit thread). Missouri scored lower than Kansas, likely because the NFL still rules here with the Kansas City Chiefs.
- The top 10 kits in America’s lower leagues. There are some wild ones in here. Heck, here are 11-22 too, just for fun. Plus, this actually includes some teams from the US Soccer pyramid that you may have heard of. (And because this sent me down a rabbit hole, here are the top ones from 2021 and 2020).
- And let the kit leaks begin. The New England Revolution’s 2023 away kit is fun. I always like a good sash. Simple, but effective. There aren’t a ton of leaks overall, but they are all rounded up here along with the known 2023 kits. As a reminder, Sporting KC get a new primary kit this season as the Hoops 3.0 is gone with the State Line (2.0?) sticking around one more season.