MLS says San Diego, Las Vegas top candidates for 30th team

With Opening Day approaching Saturday, MLS commissioner Don Garber expressed hope of picking a 30th team by the end of the year and defended an expanded playoff format.

NEW YORK — NEW YORK (AP) — With Opening Day approaching on Saturday, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber expressed hope of picking a 30th team by the end of the year, defending an expanded playoff format in which 18 of 29 clubs will make the create postseason.

On Wednesday during a launch event at the league’s new television studio being built alongside Apple TV, Garber said he was relieved MLS avoided the difficulties faced by other sports citing the potential bankruptcy of regional sports network Bally Sports of the Sinclair Sports Group.

MLS has nearly tripled in size since 2004 when it was a 10-team league. St. Louis, the 29th team, begins play in Austin on Saturday.

“We need more teams. The 30th team will come sometime soon. Hopefully we’ll want to announce that by the end of the year,” Garber said. “We say we’ll stop at 30, but the other big leagues are bigger than that. I never say never in Major League Soccer. There are many other markets that offer opportunities for us. I think San Diego and Las Vegas are the most likely opportunities for 30.”

He mentioned Detroit; Phoenix; Sacramento, California; and Tampa, Florida for additional expansion opportunities.

Garber defended the playoff format announced a day earlier, where 62% of teams make the postseason. In other US sports, 14 out of 32 teams make the playoffs in the NFL, 12 out of 30 in Major League Baseball, 16 out of 30 in the NBA, and 16 out of 32 in the NHL.

MLS played a mix of two-leg and single-elimination rounds from 2003 to 2018, then went into knockout competition for the last four years. The league is transitioning to single-game wildcard matchups and a best-of-three round — most recently in 2002. The playoffs return to a knockout contest for the final eight.

There will be a maximum of 33 games, up from 13 last year.

“We worked really hard to find the right format. We’re playing in North America and we know how important the playoffs are for fueling up the second half of the season,” Garber said. “We wanted more games. … If that works, we’ll have it forever. If it doesn’t work, we will continue to develop it.”

Garber hopes MLS season ticket holders will have priority access to tickets to the 2026 World Cup, which the United States will host along with Mexico and Canada. No decisions were made about ticketing.

“It appears that by purchasing season tickets, whether for Major League Soccer or the NWSL or the various other smaller leagues, as a supporter of the game you should be able to have direct or more direct access to tickets to any tournament, whether it’s US soccer games or Copa America-like tournaments or the World Cup,” he said.

Garber was speaking at a 6,000-square-foot television studio in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem neighborhood that will host television show coverage from Apple TV, a 10-year deal announced last June. All MLS games will be streamed by Apple starting this weekend.

“It would be unfair to say that we were prescient and expected a dramatic change from at least one company, but we knew the market was moving from local to direct-to-consumer,” Garber said. “Due to the changing dynamics at the local level, the quality of our broadcasts has been so inconsistent. And that for five years. I’m glad we’re in the position we’re in.” MLS says San Diego, Las Vegas top candidates for 30th team

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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