The Vancouver Whitecaps, fresh off their 2nd USL-1 Championship in 3 years has officially made their bid for an MLS franchise, the 17th or 18th team in the league. Seven teams have applied for the 2 spots, these include, Vancouver, Portland, St. Louis, Montreal, Ottawa, Miami and Atlanta and the 'Caps have a great chance of succeeding in picking up one of the two, but there are some problems. The league is likely going to grant a team in the east and one in the west in order to keep the league even. Which means it really comes down to Vancouver versus Portland and St. Louis, who would be considered a Western team.
Of the three western based teams, Portland's bid has the possibility of a stadium that can be played in now, and will be renovated, with real grass. The problem in Portland is whether or not the MLS wants the team playing in a multi-sport facility. St. Louis is in need of a stadium, and a question still looms about whether or not the financial backing is all there, since it's a mystery on who the other backers are. In Vancouver, the Steve Nash is the start power, Mallett is the connection to the league having helped the MLS set up a deal with Yahoo and Kerfoot is the main money man. Which of those 3 seem the strongest? Vancouver is definitely the powerhouse out of the three, but could that be one of the problems that Vancouver faces?
The 'Caps are the frontrunner out west, but many claim that Montreal is also a frontrunner in the east, but rumblings out of the MLS office is that they don't want to have two Canadian teams joining the league in the same year. One reason is that is because the MLS and Toronto are already having some problems with the broadcasting rights. No one is the USA wants to see TFC play and Toronto currently don't have a national TV in Canada, which may be fixed if another Canadian team joins the fray. The other problem is that in their 2nd season, TFC have shown very limited success on the field. They continue to struggle and are once again one of the worst teams in the league (Luckily for them expansion squad San Jose is just as terrible and the Beckham experiment seems to have failed on the field in L.A.) and that fear is that another Canadian team would be just as bad. The final problem Vancouver face is that they have been consistent in having about 4,500 fans at home games, but they have struggled to really build it beyond that. Would 18,000 people be interested in seeing the Whitecaps play week in week out in Vancouver in season 1? Yes... after season 1, not likely.
The decision will be made at the end of the year or early in 2009. Whatever the decision, here's hoping that a Canadian team gets the call and has all the support that Toronto F.C. have off the pitch... but with some success on the pitch.
written by Tyler Green