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MLS commissioner Don Garber hopes to add three new clubs

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As the popularity of soccer continues to grow in America, Major League Soccer wants to take advantage of it.

Therefore, commissioner Don Garber is overseeing a massive expansion of the league - from the 20 teams that played in the 2016 season to 26 squads by 2020.

Atlanta and Minnesota are expected to have teams competing in 2017 and another Los Angeles team is expected to debut in 2018. From there, Garber hopes to have teams in St. Louis, San Diego and Miami by 2020.

However, the league faces a major challenge in St. Louis, where an $80 million request for public funding was dropped by the city council before it even reached voters. Garber told ESPN.com that was an unexpected setback, but he still believes something can be worked out in the city:

"We were engaging in lots of productive conversations with a number of different political folks in the city, and we were pretty confident we had a good plan. That being said, the expansion prospect owners have met with the governor and had a number of good discussions. I have not yet been able to catch up with them to get a sense of how it went, but I remain hopeful."

New Missouri governor Eric Greitens has vowed to veto any stadium funding proposal that comes across his desk, so Garber and other MLS officials have their work cutout for them if they want to put a squad in the Midwest city.

Both the San Diego and St. Louis markets are important to Garber and the MLS, as both cities recently lost NFL squads to Los Angeles:

"We have spent a lot of time down there [in San Diego]," Garber said. "There is a good group that's come together. We know the investor prospects well, and I've been there quietly. I'll be down there for the U.S. game, and I think it would be a great MLS city.

"I think MLS has a better chance of succeeding in markets when a big major league team leaves. It's less competition and I think fans are looking for something else to attach themselves to. We saw that in Seattle. We're hoping for that in St. Louis, and we hope San Diego falls in that category."

Though the Miami expansion is official, the league will name the other two expansion cities later this year. St. Louis and San Diego are the favorites, but if St. Louis can't come to an agreement on a stadium deal, the league may have to look elsewhere.

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