MLS in Vancouver: Shoe-in or longshot?

A great update from Robert Wagman of SoccerTimes on Vancouver’s bid to be one of two chosen expansion franchises for Major League Soccer (MLS).

Montreal, for reasons that are still somewhat unclear, has been removed (or removed itself, depending on who you believe) from the bidding, and that opens the door for the Vancouver and Ottawa bids — at least if you believe that the MLS wants to award at least one franchise to a Canadian city.

But given the current economic climate, it seems that all bets are off. Not only is Montreal out of the running, but Miami is making new demands in its bid.

None of this is helping Vancouver, however.

According to Wagman, MLS commissioner Don Garber “indicated that Vancouver had made a solid presentation.”

“Still, Garber also issued a warning that needs to be understood. He cautioned that as much as the league would like a Canadian rival for Toronto, further expansion in Canada was not a sure thing because it might jeopardize the growth of soccer in the United States.”

“We don’t have a lot of commercial businesses in Canada today,” Garber said of league sponsorships. “The more teams we add there, the more it takes away out from growing our footprint and our television ratings in the United States.”

In other words, show us some love — and the money – if Canadian business interests and media companies want MLS to further embrace their country. Left unsaid was an impetus to act quickly or the 2011 expansion opportunity will pass.”

Of course, all of this comes on top of pre-existing concerns related to what kind of stadium an MLS version of the Whitecaps would actually play in — a renovated B.C. Place Stadium, or the long-awaited (but still in limbo) soccer-specific waterfront stadium?

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