This article comes to us courtesy of All Things Footy. Three of the seven writers think San Antonio should be MLS’ 20th franchise
Picking up from where we left off on Friday, the All Things Footy staff is here to finally declare where we think Major League Soccer is going to go with their 20th franchise. If you haven’t been keeping up with the series, you can read all of All Things Footy’s posts on MLS team 20 right here. On Friday, we voted on which writers did the best jobs with their pitches. Today, we’re making our final conclusions, taking into account both the pitches that were made and our previous knowledge on the subject. Here are the staff’s final conclusions on where MLS should go with team #20.

Ben Schneider

1) Charlotte
2) Rochester (yeah, some Ithaca bias here)
3) Atlanta

Melissa Wiley

1) New York – They have a big enough market and instead of RedBull turning into the Real Madrid of MLS with all their superstars, they could spread the talent wealth. Plus, having a New York derby could make for some fine entertainment. Although, why we call this NY2 when NY1 is technically in NJ is beyond me…

2) South Florida – A great market and a major tourist spot, not to mention there are like 50 European footballers vacationing there at any given time. This proves it has the draw for players who want to try their hand (or foot) at MLS. Also, the fangirl in me likes the idea of lots of ballers in speedos. Weather is an issue especially during hurricane season. This is an away game a lot of people would travel to.

3) Charlotte/Atlanta – These two are basically a tie because I think there needs to be a team in that geographic region, Miami excluded because it’s “isolated.” DC is technically considered “The South” but it’s the southern most team which leaves 1500+ miles for a team. Atlanta’s market is huge, NC has more of a soccer culture.

Ted Meyer

1) Charlotte – I like the promise of this market. Great soccer support and not much competition from other team sports. With the success of the UNC and Duke soccer programs, and the growing Hispanic community, NC has big promise. Charlotte has all the makings of being a great small market team, much like Salt Lake is now. Also it helps plug up the huge hole left by the dissolving Florida teams in the South. It doesn’t completely take care of it of course, but it is a start.
2) Atlanta – Much like Charlotte, this allows MLS to help fill the void in the South. The biggest benefit of Atlanta, other than geography, is that it’s a massive market. The big problems are of course the varying competing teams, the Atlanta Braves and Falcons control most of the attention in the area. There would have to be a massive marketing move to get fans to watch an Atlanta MLS team. However, if a team is successful in growing there it could go a long way to making MLS a true national league in America.
3) New York – As much as I think that MLS needs to return to the South, the draw of a second New York team is significant. Their are two teams in Los Angeles and Garber clearly wants two in New York. Two successful New York teams would do wonders for the league. However, a lot has to happen to convince people to support a second New York team, when the current one receives minimal coverage. Maybe an a big New York rivalry could change that.

Tom Hayden
1) Charlotte – Ultimately, I think that between their pitch and the fact that it is such a great soccer community, they are the ultimate answer. Plus, it would give DC United a Southern rival to go along with the teams along the East Coast.
2) Rochester – Screw the fact they are a small market, they are passionate about soccer there, and even though their attendance has dipped a bit the past few years, an MLS infusion could be just what the doctor ordered.
3) San Antonio – I think San Antonio would be an awesome place for soccer. They have a huge Hispanic population, great attractions for road fans, and what seems like a fanbase hungry for a team.

Matt Conroy
Having read through the entire Team 20 series, I was most struck by the fact that there was not a single candidate that stood out as a can’t miss MLS market. Given the wave of expansion in recent years and the potential dilution of the the North American talent pool, I am beginning to wonder if expansion to 20 teams is even advisable at this stage. Of course there are a few cities – St. Louis and Minneapolis stand out in this regard – that were not covered but conceivably could support a team, under the right conditions. Taking all that into account, if I were forced to pick three cities I would choose the following:

1) New York – Plenty of natural rivalries, potential of Wilpon involvement, Cosmos return, commissioner would work like hell to make it succeed

2) Atlanta – Could be a magnet team for soccer fans across the Southeast

3) Charlotte – Huge participation in youth and college soccer in the Carolinas

Steve Stoehr

1) Atlanta – I feel that in order to be a truly national league, MLS needs a presence in the Southeast. Atlanta has a huge coalition of affluent businessmen and potential owners looking to bring a team to the city and the possibility of a massive multicultural fanbase. There’s been prior interest in the area as well, with Arthur Blank supposedly having expressed interest in bringing an MLS franchise to the ATL in the last few years. Furthermore, Atlanta has already constructed two soccer-specific stadiums (for the Silverbacks and the Beat) and until recently proved that they can run and support an active D2 team. Rebranding and using the Silverbacks as a flagship would probably be the best approach, and would possibly tap into the biggest TV market not currently in MLS.

2) Ottawa – I generally wouldn’t be all about putting yet ANOTHER team in America’s Hat, but I’ve been on the bandwagon of Ottawa or Hamilton for quite some time and Ottawa might be the best fit. Toronto proved to MLS that Canadians are starved for a sport to distract them when hockey isn’t in season, and their fanbases are fervent, colorful and a brilliant reflection on the league. Montreal will be joining MLS in 2012 and the Impact, currently a USSF D-2 team, have routinely had ticket sales higher than several MLS sides (read: Dallas). Other than the Senators, Ottawa doesn’t have any high-level professional sports teams and it represents a large untapped population that MLS really can’t afford to ignore.

3) San Antonio – A few months ago, I read about the Crocketeers and their efforts to bring MLS to San Antonio and their passionate support won me over. San Antonio was nearly considered a prime location once before – bad politics screwed them in the end, but by all accounts the current mayor is a soccer fan (or at least recognizes the potential of an MLS team), meaning that there’s no time like the present to get things moving. Beyond that, it’s also pragmatic due to the lack of sports competition. Much like Ottawa, San Antonio features only one other major sports team (the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA) and represents a big untapped media market opposite basketball season. At first glance, San Antonio might seem like a strange choice but it makes a lot more sense once you examine the possibilities.

Kevin McCauley

1) New York – This one is not a pick of personal preference, but of what I think MLS will do. Simply put, Don Garber has his heart set on a team in the city proper. While the Wilpons’ money has dried up a bit as a result of the Bernie Madoff scandal, The Don will find another way to get them involved in a team to get a SSS built on the land they own in Queens. This is happening. There’s no use fighting it.

2) Charlotte – The lack of competition from a baseball team in the summer, the growing population, the availability of land in good locations, and the great freeways and public transportation system make Charlotte a great candidate for a team. Add to that a population that is diverse and affluent, plus high levels of youth participation, and you have a virtual no-brainer. If MLS is expanding to 24 or even 22 teams, Charlotte should be one of them.

3) San Antonio – My knowledge of the area is minimal, but the pitch that was submitted to us along with the fantastic support of the Crocketeers have sold me. No disrespect to the Borough Boys, Miami Ultras, or any of the other supporters groups trying to bring MLS to their locale, but these guys seem to be absolutely unparalleled. Add to their support the fact that there is virtually no competition for peoples’ dollars and attention, and you have a recipe for success.

It’s very interesting that while the staff’s opinions on what pitches were best was fairly consistent, the staff’s positions on where MLS should go next are considerably more varied. While three of the staffers have NYC as #1, a couple others are very much opposed to the idea. While we certainly have no influence over the thoughts of The Don, we hope that over the course of this series we’ve been able to open your eyes to what the expansion possibilities are for MLS. Ultimately, ATF is slightly more of a normative blog than a positive blog. MSM does a good enough job of reporting the news. The positive, or what is. We’re more about the normative, or what should be, and we hope that we’ve either changed your mind or further educated you about what should be when it comes to the expansion of MLS.

Reprinted with permission.