Report: FC Cincinnati Joining Major League Soccer in 2019

FC Cincinnati Joining Major League Soccer

Cincinnati, Ohio (May 24, 2018) — FC Cincinnati’s arrival in Major League Soccer may be much sooner than anticipated.

According to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus, the club is slated to join the league starting with the 2019 season. This comes as the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that a formal announcement regarding their expansion bid will take place next Tuesday.

Report: FC Cincinnati Joining Major League Soccer in 2019

With this news, the league is essentially fast-tracking Cincy’s bid to become a part of MLS. The league already announced that Nashville and Miami were joining the league, but they won’t begin play until 2020.

Developments regarding Cincinnati’s stadium situation likely precipitated this new course of action. Straus’ report indicated that the team has indeed secured a downtown site for a new facility that’s expected to be completed in 2021. The team will continue to play at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati until then.

Cincinnati was initially one of four finalists among 12 cities hoping to land an MLS franchise in the latest round of expansion. They also included Nashville, Detroit, and Sacramento with the Music City winning the first bid in large part due to an agreement to build a soccer-specific stadium. That also helped David Beckham’s long-standing Miami bid get finalized.

Attendance is another important factor in this announcement. FC Cincinnati continues to draw impressive crowds in its third season as part of USL, now the second tier on the American soccer pyramid. They led the league at the turnstiles in both of the previous two seasons and their average attendance of 23,897 in 2018 is almost twice as much as the second highest number this season.

FC Cincy’s entry means that the number of MLS franchises will stand at 26 once Nashville and Miami come on board in 2020. Commissioner Don Garber has emphasized that the league wants to eventually get to 28 teams. Straus hinted in his report that Sacramento’s chances could receive a boost if their ownership situation improves, specifically with regard to adding another big pocketed investor along with current owner Kevin Nagle.

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