MLS commissioner Don Garber updates league's expansion process

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U.S. soccer fans will be in for a treat when MLS opens its 2017 season.

Two new squads -- Minnesota United and Atlanta United -- wil play their inaugural seasons next year, bringing the league's total number of teams up to 22.

In 2018, Los Angeles FC is expected to be ready for action and an Orlando squad could join the league by then, too.

However, MLS commissioner Don Garber said he hopes to have 28 teams by the 2020 season. According to an article, Garber said North America is entering a golden age for soccer and the league plans to take advantage:

"There is tremendous interest in professional soccer across the United States and Canada," commissioner Garber said. "Since announcing plans to expand to 28 clubs late last year, many potential ownership groups have contacted us, and numerous public officials have stated their desire to bring an MLS expansion team to their city.

"We look forward to reviewing expansion applications in the coming months and conducting formal meetings in 2017 with possible team owners."

Cities that want one of the four new teams must have their applications in by Jan. 31, 2017. Teams 25 and 26 will be announced before the end of 2017 and teams 27 and 28 will be named at a later date.

At the moment, the favorites to land the next two teams are St. Louis and Sacramento, as both cities are closest to satisfying the league's expansion criteria.

Other cities in the mix are Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Criteria for landing an expansion team includes geographic location, strong fan support and committed ownership. The league's five-person expansion committee, made up of five MLS owners, will evaluate the expansion applications.

MLS Eastern Conference
MLS Western Conference
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