MLS announced its support for future expansion to 28 clubs, with a process and timeline to be unveiled at a later date, after Saturday's Major League Soccer Board of Governors meeting in Columbus.
The league’s owners also announced their support for the proposed stadium location in Miami for a future expansion team owned by David Beckham and his partners. In addition, MLS announced six competition and scheduling updates.
MLS’ current expansion plans call for 24 teams by 2020. Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minnesota will join the league during the next three years, with Miami taking one step closer on Saturday to becoming the 24th team. In addition, MLS has engaged in discussions with multiple markets and potential owners regarding future expansion.
“There is no shortage of demand for MLS expansion teams, and we believe the opportunity exists to grow beyond our current plans,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “During the next few months, we will evaluate the possibility of growing the league to 28 teams and establish a process and timeline should we decide on further expansion.”
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“We are very supportive of Miami Beckham United’s plans to build a soccer stadium in the City of Miami's Overtown neighborhood,” said Garber. “Their vision for a world-class venue within the urban core that is accessible by mass transportation is impressive, and we believe it will be an important part of the continued revitalization of the area. We look forward to working with David and his partners to finalize plans to bring Major League Soccer to Miami.”
Competition and scheduling updates
Copa América Centenario break – MLS will take a two-week break during the 2016 season for the Copa América Centenario tournament (June 2 – June 14).
Video replay update – The MLS Board of Governors was provided an update on possible real-time video review at the meeting and will continue to evaluate a plan for the future.
Decision Day matches at same time – All matches during the final weekend of the 2016 regular season will be played on the same day and in the same time slot.
New policy for All-Star players unable to compete in game - If a player is unable to play in the AT&T MLS All-Star Game, that player will be prohibited from playing in his next MLS match. In the event a player is declared medically fit for his match immediately following the All-Star Game, he will be precluded from playing in such match, but will receive “credit” for playing in such match for bonuses and option triggers.
New match postponement policy – In the event a match is abandoned at any point prior to its conclusion, it will be postponed, rather than cancelled and/or final. In the event the game is abandoned at any point, any remaining time will be completed the following day or as soon as practical. MLS’ previous policy stated that in the event a match was abandoned in or after the 76th minute (i.e. 75:00 on the official game clock), the result and all statistics would stand.
Hydration breaks at lower temperature – The mandatory threshold for hydration breaks (aka “cooling breaks”) in 2016 will be 82 Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT). The previous WBGT index was at the threshold of 89.6. At 82 WBGT, hydration breaks would have occurred in 12 MLS matches during the 2015 season, 10 more than what occurred at 89.6 WGBT.
Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) – In addition, Major League Soccer’s owners discussed Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) for the 2016 season and beyond. More details regarding TAM will be announced in the near future.