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MLS & NWSL Expansion Update: San Diego, Boston, Mystery City

Plus, several Sporting Kansas City stories you won’t want to miss, including the KC Cauldron’s open letter and some slick video content.



Children's Mercy Park
Credit: Thad Bell

Journal Entries

When we at the KC Soccer Journal were The Blue Testament, we would often write stories called Blue Links or Blue Notes that rounded up stories you may have missed. Welcome to Journal Entries (title pending). Let’s get to the news!

MLS Expansion – San Diego

The expansion of the various American soccer leagues has been a pet topic of mine for years (see the deep archive of stories). It looks like the 30th team to join MLS is about to be announced and it’s likely to be San Diego, California.

According to a story in the San Diego Union Tribune, “an official announcement could come as soon as mid-May.” The ownership group is said to be led by the Sycuan Native American tribe and an Egyptian billionaire, Mohamed Mansour. The team would share a stadium with San Diego State University and the NWSL’s San Diego Wave, Snapdragon Stadium.

The fee for entry? An astonishing $500 million! That crushes the next highest fee, $325 million, from FC Charlotte owner David Tepper, which eclipsed the previous high of $200 million for St. Louis City SC. According to the latest report from Forbes, MLS club values are skyrocketing. LAFC is the first $1 billion club and Sporting Kansas City came in with a $590 million valuation.

Those teams own their own stadiums though, while San Diego would be a tenant. Or perhaps they would control the stadium under the deal, but they wouldn’t own it. They would also have to do updates, including a “$5 million to $10 million” upgrade for a visiting locker room, among other accommodations.

These bids have fallen apart before. Las Vegas was “all but done” in 2022, and now that’s not happening. As for the USL Championship’s San Diego Loyal being involved, that clearly is not the case.

The Loyal were in talks with the league, but that appears to have broken down, based on the above quotes.

“San Diego has always been my family’s home,” Loyal Chairman Andrew Vassiliadis said in a statement. “Landon [Donvan] and I will always remain committed to doing things the right way for San Diego and San Diegans. We haven’t cut corners for four years. As locals, it’s important that the community knows that the people who built our club are from here. In turn, loyalty is felt across our community, with our fans and in our supporter groups.”

NWSL Expansion – 16 Teams by 2026

We already knew the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) was headed to 15 teams. Expansion bids in Utah and the San Francisco Bay area have already been announced, with both teams set to begin play in 2024. Utah’s will be a new ownership group bringing back the Utah Royals (who folded and became the KC Current, after FC Kansas City folded and became the Royals). The San Francisco bid doesn’t have a name yet.

We also knew that Boston was likely to receive a team (the 15th team), but there has been no formal announcement or timeline. While that announcement hasn’t come, in an interview with the Washington Post, NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said, “We do expect for the 2026 season to add two more teams.”

Berman continued, “That process will begin later this calendar year, and through the process we ran in 2022 for this round of expansion, we have an incredible amount of interest from qualified investors.”

Right now, Boston remains unconfirmed, and a 16th city hasn’t been named either. As far as the cost, it rose significantly on the San Francisco bid, so like MLS, I’d guess those numbers will be that high or higher going forward.

“Even though our valuations have increased in a meaningful way to $53 million with the team we sold to the Bay Area, we’re still really early in our process in terms of our growth and where we think this league is going to be in three to five to 10 years,” Berman said.

Rumor: Chivas wants Alan Pulido, Should Sporting KC Sell?

Quick Entries

  • The KC Cauldron issued a letter to ownership, the front office, coaches and players last week. We discussed it on For the Glory KC (go listen!) but if you haven’t seen it, here it is.

  • After the Seattle Sounders, but before the US Open Cup game with the Houston Dynamo, Johnny Russell spoke with the media, and I just love his answer (and how happy he looks) talking about Jake Davis.

  • I’ve really missed the “Behind the Shield” content. Sporting KC should win more games so we get more of them.

  • Fox 4 has a nice little story on new KC Current center back Croix Soto.
  • Max Alves (who you may just know as Max), is under investigation for taking money to take a yellow card in a game. He plays for the Colorado Rapids. Here is the video of the card:

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