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Feb 20, 2014

Atlanta among 5 sites in expansion mix

NEW YORK -- Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber says Atlanta, Minneapolis, Sacramento, San Diego and Texas sites are under consideration as expansion cites.

MLS will increase to 21 teams when New York City and Orlando, Fla., start play in 2015. A Miami team has been awarded to former Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham, but a date has not been set for it to take the field.

"We continue to work and make progress in Atlanta and we are bullish on that market,'' Garber said. "We'll continue to work hopefully with the Falcons and Arthur Blank, seeing if we can get something finalized in Atlanta.''

As for Minnesota, he said "we have been working hard with a potential ownership group in Minneapolis and that opportunity is one that we're excited about as we believe we need more teams in the Midwest.''

'I think if Minneapolis is a market that can continue to show the support that they've had for the NASL club and if we're continuing to make progress on a number of different stadium opportunities, there's a real opportunity there, and we really have a lot of respect and admiration for the ownership group.''

The league said last July it plans to reach 24 teams by 2020, and Garber spoke about additional cities Thursday during a conference call to discuss the league's purchase of Chivas USA.

Garber also mentioned Sacramento, where the United Soccer Leagues is launching the Republic to start play this year.

"There are some activities going on in northern California. There have been some discussions in southern California, in San Diego,'' he said. "There are lots and lots of opportunities that we've looked at in Texas. As you know, we've been down in San Antonio recently. So I think the league is poised for more teams in time. But we're going to be careful about ensuring that we get them into the league at the right time and when the league can handle it from a player perspective and from a resource perspective.''

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