Is Cincinnati poised to get a leg up in the ever-growing list of future MLS expansion cities?
In an email to The Cincinnati Enquirer, MLS Executive Vice President of Communications Dan Courtemanche wrote that the league is “impressed” with the “bold statement” FC Cincinnati made with “incredible crowds to kick off the season.”
FC Cincinnati, a first-year USL club coached by John Harkes, is averaging about 15,500 fans over their first three home games, with the team aiming for 25,000 fans for next Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. That would break the USL attendance record the club set two weeks ago when 20,497 fans packed Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati campus for their game against Louisville City.
A large, rabid fan base is certainly a key expansion ingredient. But Cincy still faces a tough road in contending with other cities jockeying for a spot in the league, including likely frontrunners Sacramento, St. Louis and Detroit.
MLS commissioner Don Garber has said that the league, after growing from 20 to 24 teams with the additions of Atlanta, Minnesota, LAFC and, very likely, Miami, will then look to expand to 28 teams starting in 2020.