09.11.2019 01:59 h

Charlotte top contender for new MLS club - Garber

Charlotte, North Carolina, is the frontrunner to get Major League Soccer's 30th franchise, MLS commissioner Don Garber said Friday.

Garber, delivering his annual state of the league address in Seattle two days before the Sounders face Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final, said Phoenix and Las Vegas are also still in the running, with an announcement likely in the next few months.

"Charlotte has done a lot of work to really move their bid to the front of the line," Garber said, praising the efforts of David Tepper, owner of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, in the bid.

Tepper has been pushing for an MLS expansion franchise since the league announced in April that it would expand to 30 teams.

St. Louis, Missouri, and Sacramento, California were selected this year as the 28th and 29th teams. Both paid expansion fees of $200 million.

Twenty-four teams played in MLS this season, including first-year club FC Cincinnati.

David Beckham's Inter Miami and a new team in Nashville, Tennessee, are set to debut in 2020 with a club in Austin, Texas, scheduled to open in 2021.

St. Louis and Sacramento are slated to kick off in 2022.

MLS launched in 1996 with 10 US teams and now features three Canadian sides as well as clubs in most major US markets.