Monday, August 3, 2009

Impact look poised to join MLS

It's looking more likely that the Montreal Impact will join rivals Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer sooner rather than later.

Commissioner Don Garber said MLS and the Impact are in deep discussions to make the franchise the 19th team to join the league.

"We're pretty focused on the 19th team, [and] we've been in discussions with Montreal," he told Forbes last week.

"We've got great success in Canada. Toronto FC plays in a new stadium in downtown Toronto, every game's sold out, 15,000 people on a waiting list for season tickets.

"Montreal will probably be a market that looks like that, and joining Vancouver which comes in [2011], we'll have three teams in Canada, so that's a market that's been in deep discussions with us."

Garber added that the league wanted to add that 19th team "shortly after" the rival Whitecaps and Portland Timbers join in 2011. The newly christened Philadelphia Union will start MLS play in 2010.

Montreal was one of the front-runners to join in 2011, but the franchise pulled out when team president Joey Saputo and former Canadiens owner Geroge Gillett hesitated to pay the expansion fee. Saputo has changed his mind since then, and the Impact hope to join MLS in 2012.

Garber also told Forbes that the league will probably halt its big expansion at 20 teams for the time being, and MLS is considering adding St. Louis, Miami, Atlanta or a second team in New York for the spot.

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