No more Cali love

Why another MLS club in California doesn’t help soccer expand
by Herb Scribner   |   Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sacramento on the Cali map and possible MLS expansion radar

Somehow it isn’t surprising that the latest expansion news is about another California club.

News came out on Wednesday morning of Sacramento lining up an expansion bid, which, if passed and Sacramento is given a club, would make the team the fourth MLS club from California.

Sacramento getting a club would be the end of a very long path for the city, as attorney Dick Hyde, who told that “Elk Grove [in Sacramento] is probably a really good spot for soccer,” tried to get the capital city a club back in 1996 during the league’s launch. It would also aid a city that’s struggled with an 11.4 percent unemployment rate, according to a Sacramento Bee article.

While bringing in another California club would add another regional rival for the dominant and star-studded Los Angeles Galaxy, it fails to give voice to other regions of the country that deserve a club.

I’m not expressing dislike for the Sacramento expansion, because I love the idea of expansion. Adding another club to the league always has me jumping for joy. It adds another element and another fan base to the league. It’s something that’s a rarity in all other American sports. Franchises switch cities more than new teams are created in American sports leagues. So it’s cool that MLS has this continuous expansion. But the Sacramento news was a bit deflating on several levels, even if the move is years from being done and faces a lot of hurdles to come to fruition. Not only does it lead to the possibility of pushing back the New York Cosmos rebirth, but also overshadows the bright light that shines from untapped markets like Phoenix, Omaha, Las Vegas and a slew of other places where soccer can truly rise.

Soccer’s been growing across the nation, as it seemingly has or will surpass hockey as America’s fourth sport based on an article released by Fox News Latino back in March. And a part of that growth comes from the league expanding across the country as well as Canada. By adding another team to California, it limits the MLS from entering areas of the USA that don’t yet have pro soccer clubs.

Why not add a club to Phoenix, giving Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids another regional rival? Or even Las Vegas for that matter? Why not get a team in St. Louis to rival Kansas City in the heartland? These are the places I want soccer clubs. Not another one in far-flung Sacramento to rival San Jose, Chivas USA and Los Angeles.

It’s been proven that soccer can succeed in California. It’s time for someone from the Midwest to step their game up and get a club going in another untouched market. It’s time for another city to become enamored by the world’s sport like Salt Lake City did. Time to stop showing California so much love and expand the borders a little bit. Do I want to see the MLS in places like Sacramento and San Diego in the future? Of course I do. But right now, with the promise of another New York team that’ll surely bring in exposure and prominence to the league, I think it’s time to take a chance on a new market.

Time to give another city a chance to become the next “Soccer City USA”. Let’s hope some city (outside of California) rises up and makes that possible.


UMass Amherst
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FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.