Phoenix finally on MLS list for possible professional soccer expansion team
PHOENIX — It’s been a long time coming, but Phoenix is finally on Major League Soccer’s list of possible expansion cities, it was announced Thursday.
In a press release, Phoenix Rising FC — one of two professional soccer teams in the Valley — said the league had requested the team submit an application for an expansion franchise.
“Being invited to submit an MLS expansion team application is an honor,” Berke Bakay, governor of Phoenix Rising, said in the release.
MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott said the Valley of the Sun has been on the league’s radar for an expansion for years.
“In fact, we visited Phoenix and toured potential stadium sites 13 years ago, including the site recently secured by Phoenix Rising FC within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in south Scottsdale.”
Abbott was referring to Phoenix Rising’s new stadium complex that was announced late last year.
Phoenix will battle it out with at least nine other cities for the two MLS expansion franchises that are expected to be awarded later this year. The other cities being considered are Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Diego and Tampa Bay.
The team would begin MLS play in 2020 should Phoenix win one of the expansion slots.
The possibility of an MLS franchise in the Arizona desert has been rumored for years, especially given the success and popularity of major international tournament and friendly matches played in the Phoenix area.
Phoenix Rising currently plays in the United Soccer League, which was recently awarded Division 2 status by U.S. Soccer.
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