Major League Soccer 2019 season kicks off with another expansion club

Major League Soccer will kick off the 2019 season on March 2nd as the marathon North American soccer league plays for the 24th year. The new season will see MLS debut another new club as FC Cincinnati joins the league. The club will become the 24th in the American and Canadian top-flight. MLS viewers can visit the best betting websites for news and offers all season long. However, Cincinnati won’t be the last franchise to join the league as three more clubs are waiting in the wings. Those other sides – Nashville FC, Austin FC, and Inter Miami – will join down the line. But with a new club, what can MLS fans expect in 2019?

Who is FC Cincinnati?

In May 2018, MLS awarded FC Cincinnati an expansion place in the league. Due to MLS not allowing promotion and relegation, at least not yet, the league has added teams over the last 24 years through expansion.

Cincinnati are not a brand-new club like others before them. They were originally formed in 2016 and played in the United Soccer League. Cincinnati quickly grew a rapid local following and set attendance records drawing over 25,000 fans to home games. Only three MLS teams averaged over 25,000 fans per home match in 2018, so adding Cincinnati was a no-brainer.  Fans of the orange and blue can visit for up to the minute deals on games.

In July 2016, just months after playing their first game, Cincinnati played English Premier League side Crystal Palace in a friendly that attracted over 35,000 fans. The city is ready for MLS, but is the league ready for the club?

MLS and Its Rapid Expansion

MLS debuted in 1996 with 10 teams. Two seasons later, it had added two more clubs taking the count to 12. Yet, the American audience wasn’t interested in soccer and due to financial problems, the league reverted back to 10 teams in the early 2000s after Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion were disbanded.

The league had a lot of critics in the early years due to MLS being “Americanised”. Fortunately, those American mechanisations – at least some – have been phased out over time.

In the last 15 years, MLS has been hellbent on expansion and adding teams across the United States and Canada. In 2005, Chivas USA (now defunct) and Real Salt Lake both joined the league.

When MLS kicks off the 2019 season in March, it will have doubled its number of teams in less than two decades. One MLS coach even recently said the league is targeting a ridiculous 40 teams. Is it good for American soccer? Not at all.

Is MLS Hurting American Soccer?

While more people are now exposed to soccer in the U.S. and Canada, there is no doubt the overall quality of the league and American national team isn’t improving. By adding expansion franchises, especially too quickly, the talent pool is drained. Players’ stats look better during eras of heavy expansion due to poor opposing talent. This gives a skewed view of a player’s worth and contributions.

The U.S.A.’s 2002 World Cup team featured a golden generation of players. Many of those players helped start MLS. Due to the lack of MLS teams from 1996 to 2002, the best players in the league were playing against one another in every game. Training sessions were played against quality teammates. Everyone got better. The U.S. made it to the World Cup 2002 quarterfinals, and if Torsten Frings’ hand ball on the goal line had been called, may have made the semi-finals.

Since rapid MLS expansion began in 2006, Team USA have been eliminated in the group stage (2006), made the round of 16 (2010 and 2014), and failed to qualify for the tournament (2018).

The continued expansion of the league is diluting MLS and its talent pool. But adding teams won’t stop unless American and Canadian interest in soccer begins to decline.

Major League Soccer 2019 season kicks off with another expansion club

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