Two of the following cities will win MLS expansion teams within the next few years. These were the seven bids submitted from groups with interest to take MLS to the following cities: Atlanta, Miami, Montreal, Ottawa, Portland, St. Louis and Vancouver.
I know not the financial backing of these particular bids. FC Barcelona is behind the Miami bid and Falcons owner Arthur Blank is supporting a bid for Atlanta, so it seems there is some pretty solid financial footing among the group.
But all things being equal, I've got to favor two cities from the rest of the pack.
I'd love to see MLS in Portland. As I've said before here on this blog, I think Portland is a great venue for soccer. The Trail Blazers enjoy quite a bit of support there but there aren't any other major pro teams there; no NHL, NFL or MLB teams. The Timbers have a passionate following that could carry over into MLS. And there is a natural rival nearby with Seattle. You think Galaxy-Chivas USA was an instant classic? Can you imagine Timbers-Sounders in MLS? I'd pay to see that.
As much as I'd like to support Atlanta, I think Montreal would be a great MLS town. Much like Portland-Seattle, there would be a natural rivalry with Toronto FC, whose fans have shown a tremendous amount of support for their club. Sure, there have been some streaming issues with the club but season ticket sales have been booming, and that's for a club who has had little success in their first two seasons. Montreal might have such a built-in fan base awaiting such a club. There could be a fertile fan base in Montreal as there was in Toronto and I don't know if I can say the same for Atlanta or Miami.
Still, I believe that Miami goes straight to the top because of Barcelona's backing. Barcelona is in good with the league and that's got to count for something. I think that is unfortunate because Miami already had their shot at MLS and failed.