The expansion of Major League Soccer has occurred several times since the league began play in 1996. Major League Soccer was established as the top level of professional soccer in the United States in 1993 with 10 teams and began play in 1996. It has expanded several times since 1998 into new markets across the United States, and since 2006, into Canada.
MLS is currently at 20 teams, and the league plans to expand to 24 teams by 2020. The league plans to add its 21st and 22nd teams in 2017 – Atlanta United FC and Minnesota. Additionally, MLS plans to add Los Angeles FC in 2018 and a Miami team, pending a finalized stadium plan.
Expanding and establishing a bigger national footprint is seen as essential to securing television rights fees needed to reach MLS’s stated goal of becoming one of the top leagues in the world by 2022.
Major League Soccer considers several criteria when determining where to award expansion franchises:
- Owners that are committed to MLS and have the financial wherewithal to invest in a team.
- A stadium or approved plans for a stadium (preferably a soccer-specific stadium) that allows the team to control revenue streams such as parking and concessions.
- The size of the market of the metropolitan area, and an established local fan base.
Source: WIKI MLS