With its labor issues resolved, Major League Soccer is on track to decide within 45 to 60 days whether Sacramento will get an expansion team or will lose out to some other city.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber set the timetable for a decision during an interview with ESPN at a game Sunday between Orlando City SC and New York City FC. The game, a 1-1 tie played before 62,510 in Orlando, was the inaugural game for both franchises.
Garber’s statement was roughly in line with previous statements by MLS officials, who have said a decision would come sometime in the first half of 2015.
Sacramento, based largely on the popularity of minor league Sacramento Republic FC, is believed to be running neck-and-neck against Minneapolis for the final expansion spot. Garber noted that representatives from Sacramento and other cities seeking a team were at the Orlando game. Sacramento’s representative was Republic FC president and founder Warren Smith.
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A possible wild card is Miami’s status. Retired soccer legend David Beckham was tentatively awarded an MLS franchise for Miami a year ago, contingent on him building a new stadium at a location acceptable to the league. So far, Beckham has been unable to come up with a stadium deal, although Garber said Sunday that “we’re hopeful” something can materialize.
If Miami drops out, league officials have said two expansion spots possibly could open up. That would enhance Sacramento’s chances considerably.
Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.