Major League Soccer has confirmed that Minnesota United will become the league’s 23rd franchise, with the team set to begin playing in 2018. The team currently plays in U.S. soccer’s second tier, the North American Soccer League, and beat off competition from a rival bid put forward by the Minnesota Vikings. It now becomes the latest piece on the road to MLS commissioner Don Garber’s plans to have 24 teams in competition by 2020.
“We are proud to welcome Minnesota to Major League Soccer,” Garber said in a league statement. “The ownership group’s commitment to soccer and the community, the area’s growing millennial population and the region’s rich tradition of supporting soccer at all levels in Minnesota were key indicators that this was the right market. The passionate soccer fans in Minnesota will soon have a world-class, downtown soccer stadium that will serve as the home for the new MLS team and become a destination for marquee international sports events.”
The announcement was made at the home of the Minnesota Twins, Target Field, just a short distance from where plans are in place to build Minnesota United’s new soccer-specific stadium. Owner of the current NASL team, Dr. Bill McGuire, is joined in an investor group by the owners of the Minnesota Twins and Timberwolves, reports Sports Illustrated.
“I want to thank MLS Commissioner Don Garber and the league’s owners for helping us bring Major League Soccer to Minnesota,” McGuire said in the statement. “As a group of Minnesotans who love this state and have made a commitment to bring this vision to life, this is a momentous day that we’ve all been waiting for.”
The arrival of New York City FC and Orlando City this year means MLS now has 20 teams, with a revamped Los Angeles franchise and one in Atlanta set to commence play in 2017. Sacramento and a David Beckham-backed Miami bid are set to compete for the remaining spot.