Major League Soccer isn’t coming to Indianapolis anytime soon, according to a report from Sports Illustrated soccer writer Grant Wahl.
Sacramento, Cincinnati and Nashville are finalists to land expansion clubs, Wahl said in his blog Monday. Two of those three cities will be chosen Dec. 14 at the MLS owners meeting in New York City.
The Indy Eleven are one of 12 minor-league soccer franchises bidding for one of four expansion openings in Major League Soccer.
The franchises picked next month will join the league in 2020. The other two are expected to join the league by 2022.
MLS now has 22 teams. Los Angeles is set to join the league next season and a David Beckham-led group is expected to be awarded a Miami franchise in the next few months. Those two teams are in addition to the four expansion teams.
The Indy Eleven have played in the North American Soccer League since the team’s inception in 2014. The Eleven topped the eight-team NASL in attendance this season.
Sacramento and Cincinnati play in the 30-team United Soccer League, the nation’s other—and more robust—Division II minor league. Nashville is scheduled to join the USL next season.
Cincinnati and Sacramento were among only three teams in the minor leagues that had higher attendance than the Eleven in 2017. FC Cincinnati averaged 21,696 in home attendance. Sacramento Republic FC averaged 11,569 and the Indy Eleven averaged 8,397.
“From talking to several insiders, I'm being told the two expansion teams will likely come from a group of three cities that includes Sacramento, Nashville and Cincinnati,” Wahl wrote. “Those are three soccer-crazy regions where clubs would probably do pretty well. Especially Cincy, home of FC Cincinnati of the USL. The club consistently sells out Nippert Stadium and even earned the praise of former Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew.”
Crystal Palace Football Club is a professional football club based in London that plays in the Premier League, the top tier of English soccer.
The Eleven have been considered a long shot to join MLS because the franchise has no firm plans for a new stadium in place. The team has identified land southwest of Lucas Oil Stadium for a new 20,000-seat stadium but hasn’t been able to get state lawmakers to approve a funding measure.
The team said it has a plan to raise $320 million needed to cover the expected $150 million MLS franchise fee, a new 20,000-seat downtown stadium and start-up costs for the team.