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Blue Notes: MLS Expansion Update for San Diego, Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Tampa

Plus, adidas and MLS renew their apparel deal and all our favorite Sporting KC commentators find new jobs!

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Sunset over Tampa Bay Florida explodes into color
Sunset over Tampa Bay Florida explodes into color.
Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

There is just so much happening around the soccer world, particularly American and Kansas City soccer, let’s hit the topics you may have missed.

MLS Expansion - 30th Team by End of 2023

Major League Soccer had been expanding at a breakneck pace. In recent years they’ve added teams in Charlotte, Austin, Miami, Nashville, Cincinnati and a second LA team (LAFC). In 2023 St. Louis City SC will kick off. They will be the league’s 29th team.

MLS had hoped to announce their 30th team over the last couple of years. Most recently, they had given themselves a first quarter of 2022 deadline, but as you can see, that didn’t happen. Now Commissioner Don Garber is saying hopefully “by the end of the year” of 2023.

The leading candidates according to Garber? San Diego, California and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Overall, though, it hasn’t changed much since the last major update in December where San Diego was the front runner, Vegas took a hit when their projected owner bought Bournemouth in the Premier League and dropped out of the race of him buying a team for MLS.

One other interesting point, and one we’ve always knew was coming, is MLS is open to the possibility of going past 30 teams. Of course they are with expansion fees like the ones we’ve seen recently. For his money, Peter Vermes said years ago they could go to 40 teams.

“...we say we’re going to stop at 30 [teams] but the other major leagues are larger than that,” said Garber. “I don’t ever say never. In Major League Soccer, there are many other markets that are opportunities for us.”

Garber specifically mentioned the cities of Detroit, Michigan, Phoenix, Arizona and Tampa, Florida. It’s been a long time since we heard Detroit or Tampa mentioned and takes me back to MLS Expansion updates from years past.

Additionally, Sacramento isn’t out of the mix. You may remember they were an announced expansion team before their owner, Ron Burkle, failed to sign his expansion agreement. Obviously, they need to find a new owner to have a chance.

adidas Reportedly Pays $830 million to MLS

If you were hoping for another kit maker other than adidas in MLS, prepare to be disappointed. A multi-year extension has been agreed to that extends from MLS does to MLS Next Pro and MLS Next.

While I wouldn’t mind clubs being able to make their own deals, it’s just soooo much money for the league (as Chad Reynolds told the Shades of Blue podcast). Plus, it’s not like switching to Nike guarantees good kits, because they have plenty of bad onestoo.

Side note: the guy who says “the World Cup is now bigger than the Super Bowl,” clearly is an expert considering how long that’s been true. Now? Come on man!

Nate Bukaty Joins Apple TV

After it felt like they had announced everyone, Nate Bukaty finally got the call to be a play-by-play guy for Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass. It sounds like it’ll be in addition to the work he was already doing for Fox.

For the opening weekend, Nate gets the FS1 broadcast with former KC Wizard, Tony Meola. Funnily enough, it seems Apple TV will have their own teams call this game too.

Update: Listening to Nate on the Border Patrol and the FOX games will be called from a studio and the Apple games will be called on site.

Aly Trost Martin Joins the SKC Radio Broadcast

With the news that Nate is moving over to Apple TV, that opened a spot on the home Sporting Kansas City radio broadcast. That spot will be filled by former The Blue Testament writer and on-screen personality, Aly Trost Martin.

Returning as the color commentator is Jacob “The Answer” Peterson. With the new Apple TV MLS Season Pass, all the Sporting KC home matches will have the option to listen to Aly and Jake instead of whoever is calling the game on Apple (right now, only the home team’s radio broadcast is available).

It’ll be funny if it’s Nate or former SKC man Callum Williams calling the Apple broadcast and forcing us to choose.

Congrats to everyone, as it seems like it worked out really well all around.

Quick Notes

  • The building of St. Louis City SC. (Thanks Farmhand for the link.)
  • Kei Kamara was traded from CF Montreal to the Chicago Fire for $250k in GAM. It’ll be his 10th MLS team (11 if you count being drafted and dealt from FC Cincinnati).