Local soccer podcaster and friend of the site Jeremy Lance reported that Major League Soccer would vote on the expansion proposal of FC Cincinnati today during their Board of Governor’s meeting in Los Angeles. I wanted to take a stab at what potential outcomes FC Cincinnati fans could hear from the league over the next few hours or over the upcoming weeks. Check out my thoughts and leave your comments below.
YES in 2019
This is the scenario I am selfishly rooting for. By several accounts, Nippert Stadium has been signed off by the league as a suitable temporary venue pending the completion of the West End stadium site. While not an optimal time to set up your entire soccer operations (academy, second team, scouting, etc.) no other club in the United States is ready to jump to MLS in the short term (sorry Nashville). The league is at an imbalance of teams with eleven teams in the Eastern Conference and twelve in the West. FCC could bring the East to twelve and allow Columbus to sort their situation out before adding Nashville and Miami in the future.
I’m not sure if MLS wants to rush Cincinnati into the league but as it stands FCC would have been provided a similar length of time to that of Minnesota United. The Loons were announced as an expansion team in 2015 with a 2018 planned launch. MLS then moved them forward to 2017 with Atlanta United at an announcement on August 19, 2016. FC Cincinnati has been preparing since late last Fall for MLS entry so a bid now could probably be handled.
YES in 2020
A 2020 debut would coincide with the inclusion of Miami and possibly Nashville SC into the league. While this timeframe gives FC Cincinnati more time to “get up to speed”, I’m not sure the league would want to have three teams enter in the same year as this could put an additional strain on the player pool. It could also take away from the shiny new toy that is David Beckham United.
A small part of the reason why it may not be wise to bring in three teams in 2020 is the expiration of the MLS collective bargaining agreement in January 2020. The league could look to avoid bringing on too many teams while having to worry about a work stoppage in the league. Add in having three teams in an expansion draft, super draft and using other league mechanisms, it could be a headache not everyone wants.
No “Not Yet”
Let’s be honest if the report of MLS voting on expansion was true, would the league really let it go to a vote or allow FCC to go this far if it wasn’t comfortable granting admission to the club? For the sake of argument, say today’s vote doesn’t pass and FCC is told that the league appreciates the progress but has not made a decision. I put this under the “Not Yet” category.
There are many reasons why this could happen. MLS could choose to wait and see how the Columbus Crews SC situation plays out. Is Austin, TX ready for the Crew or can the Crew even leave due to legal issues? Does the league even want the possibility of two teams in Ohio?
The league could also choose to wait and see how Sacramento develops. There have been rumors that MLS would prefer to admit the two current USL clubs together. Republic FC is still searching for a high-dollar owner and the league could wait until mid-Summer to admit them together in possibly 2021?
I think this scenario does have limitations though. According to several memorandums of understanding, the city, county, and state require action by December 31st of this year to allow the release of funds. Can MLS tell these many government entities “no thanks”? I don’t think so.
No “Not Ever”
While anything is possible, I don’t think MLS would have allowed FCC to progress this far down the road with providing a stadium plan if they weren’t prepared to admit them. For this scenario to occur there must be some backroom dealings with owners in other cities that would overshadow Cincinnati. This scenario would have huge repercussions on other bidding cities that may not want to spend any political capital they have getting a deal done. I just don’t see this happening, but we’ve been wrong before.