SACRAMENTO -- FC Cincinnati confirmed Thursday that Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber will visit the city next week for a "significant announcement about the future of soccer in Cincinnati," casting doubt on Sacramento's hopes for an MLS expansion franchise.
Nashville was awarded an MLS expansion in late 2017, leaving the second expansion to be Cincinnati or Sacramento.
Sacramento's Republic FC had been considered a favorite to win the second expansion, but the city's bid was mired by investor issues after the pitch was made to the league.
Rodolfo Alvarez is a soccer-loving guy in this soccer-loving town. He knows how much Sacramento wants to be in the Major League.
He played in the Sacramento Republic FC Youth Soccer Academy and says it was an amazing experience.
"Their coaching staff is amazing. They work well with the players. It was wonderful," Alvarez told FOX40.
If Major League Soccer wasn’t satisfied with something about Sacramento, it was the money. The league reportedly wanted an investor with deeper pockets to join the ownership group.
In a statement sent Thursday, Sacramento Republic FC’s current leadership said it’s bid to make that happen is "... alive and well."
“We remain laser-focused on our objective of bringing MLS to Sacramento and the news today does not deter our efforts nor does it hurt our chances of reaching our goal. Our bid to join MLS is alive and well. We are in late-stage discussions with investors and continue to work closely with Commissioner Garber and Mayor Steinberg. We want to thank our indomitable fans for their passion and continued support of this club and this city as we work to bring this process to the finish line.”
But it’s too late for this round of MLS expansion. Nashville got the first opening and Tuesday MLS is likely to announce that Cincinnati gets the second slot.
The Cincinnati team just inked a deal for a publicly subsidized stadium.
In its first year of play, Sacramento Republic FC shattered attendance records. But in its first year of play, the Cincinnati team broke those new records for attendance set by Sacramento.
"I think the morale just makes us just want to work harder," Alvarez said. "I think this is going to encourage our players to keep trying."
Cincinnati will make 24 but MLS has said it’s looking to expand to 28 teams eventually.