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Soccer Commissioner: Cincinnati Deserves An MLS Team

Tana Weingartner
MLS Commissioner Don Garber raises an "MLS 2 CINCY" scarf during a town hall about FC Cincinnati.

Major League Soccer's top official is praising Cincinnati and its newest sports team FC Cincinnati. Commissioner Don Garber toured the city and met with civic and business leaders ahead of a town hall Tuesday with fans. The top question on fans' minds? When will FC Cincinnati move up to the country's top soccer league?

"It started today," Garber says. "(FC Cincinnati) had one great year. We and they need to continue to work together and figure out what their future is going to be and how that future can fit into our expansion plans."

However, Garber adds, "There is no specific timeline."

The commissioner says the league has been surprised and impressed by FC Cincinnati and its reception in the city.

"Cincinnati deserves an MLS team," he says.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Don Garber speaks to fans as FC Cincinnati GM Jeff Berding, owner Carl Lindner III, and coach John Harkes look on.

Despite the league's desire for soccer-specific stadiums downtown, he says FC Cincinnati's home field at UC's Nippert isn't a deal-maker or a deal-breaker.

"I think there's a lot of decisions that need to be made over a very long period of time to figure out what their long-term solution is for what they want their MLS expansion bid to look like."

Major League Soccer (MLS) plans to add four teams by 2018. Three of those spots have been announced, but Cincinnati fans at the town hall encouraged Garber to make Cincinnati the fourth. The spot will almost certainly go to Miami, a city Garber says MLS has been working on for a decade. He says it's a strategic market for the league as a gateway to South America.

FC Cincinnati has a better chance looking further out. Garber has said the league could reach 28 teams by 2020.

Listen to MLS Commissioner Don Garber's full media interview following Tuesday's town hall.