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Newest Teams in the MLS

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MLS is one of the fastest-growing professional soccer leagues in the world, and it continues to expand rapidly. In the past few years, MLS has added several new teams, making it a more diverse and inclusive league.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the five newest teams in MLS as of 2023: St. Louis City SC, Charlotte FC, Austin FC, Inter Miami CF, and Nashville SC. We will provide some background information about each team, including their key players, staff, and impact on their local communities.

St. Louis City SC

St. Louis City SC

Joined: 2023

St. Louis City SC is the newest team in MLS and joined for the 2023 season.

The team’s ownership group is led by Carolyn Kindle Betz, who is the president of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Enterprise Holdings. Kindle Betz is also the granddaughter of Enterprise founder Jack Taylor, and is the first female owner of a major professional soccer team in the United States.

St. Louis City SC’s home stadium is St. Louis CITY Stadium, which is currently under construction in the Downtown West neighborhood of St. Louis. The stadium will have a capacity of 22,500 and will be one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in MLS, with features like augmented reality and interactive displays.

Off the field, St. Louis City SC has been actively involved in promoting soccer and sports in the St. Louis area. The team has partnered with several local organizations, including the St. Louis Blues and the St. Louis Cardinals, to promote youth soccer and improve access to sports for underprivileged children. St. Louis City SC has also worked closely with the St. Louis Public Schools to promote sports and physical education in schools.

One of the biggest challenges facing St. Louis City SC in its early years is building a strong fanbase. The team is competing with several other major sports teams in the St. Louis area, including the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues. To build its fanbase, St. Louis City SC has been actively engaging with fans through various community events and initiatives, including fan meet-and-greets, watch parties, and youth soccer clinics.

St. Louis City SC has also been active on social media, using platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to connect with fans and promote the team. The team has also launched several initiatives to encourage fans to attend games, including discounted ticket packages and special events like “Opening Night” and “Hispanic Heritage Night.”

The team made quite an impact in their first ever MLS season, winning the Western Conference regular season (the first expansion team ever to win their conference on the first attempt), and qualifying for the playoffs. They also managed to pack out their arena all season long, so their attempts at building a fan base can only be described as a resounding success.

Charlotte FC

Charlotte FC

Joined: 2022

Charlotte FC is one of the newest teams in MLS, having joined the league in December 2021 ready for their first season in 2022. The team is owned by David Tepper, who is also the owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Charlotte FC’s home stadium is Bank of America Stadium, which has a capacity of 75,525 and is one of the largest stadiums in the league.

In its first year, Charlotte FC made a big impact on the league. The team made several strategic signings, including Colombian forward Sergio Ruiz and Brazilian midfielder Benji Michel. Charlotte FC also hired a talented coaching staff, led by head coach Christian Lattanzio after another coach got off to a bit of a false start. Despite taking the reigns after a bad start, Lattanzio led the team to an 8-10-2 record, keeping them in playoff contention until the final week of the season. He got them there the season after.

Charlotte FC’s ownership group has also been actively involved in promoting soccer and sports in the Charlotte area. The team has partnered with several local organizations, including the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, to promote youth soccer and improve access to sports for underprivileged children. Charlotte FC has also worked closely with the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce to promote diversity and inclusion in sports.

In terms of building a fan base, the team was competing with several other major sports teams in the Charlotte area, including the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, and Charlotte Checkers. This could be seen as a positive or a negative depending on how many fans would cross over, but Charlotte FC regularly attract around 35,000 fans to their home games, so they must be doing something right. Through various community events and initiatives, including fan meet-and-greets, watch parties, and youth soccer clinics, they have managed to find plenty of support.

Their start in MLS wasn’t the strongest, finishing 9th in their first two seasons, but a middle of the table finish is respectable for a brand new team, and shows promise for the future.

Austin FC

Austin FC

Joined: 2021

Austin FC is joined MLS in 2021. They were founded by investor-operator Anthony Precourt, who was also the former owner of the Columbus Crew. In 2018, Precourt announced that he would be relocating the Crew to Austin, a move that was met with some resistance from fans and local politicians in Columbus, and the two teams were eventually kept separate.

One of the key figures at Austin FC is head coach Josh Wolff, who previously served as an assistant coach with the U.S. Men’s National Team and the Columbus Crew. Wolff has a wealth of experience both as a player and coach, having played for the U.S. Men’s National Team and in MLS with the Chicago Fire, Kansas City Wizards, and D.C. United.

Austin FC’s home stadium, Q2 Stadium, is located in North Austin and has a capacity of 20,500. The stadium is also home to the Austin Bold FC, a USL Championship team. Q2 Stadium features several unique design elements, including a grand entryway, a large video board, and a rooftop deck with views of downtown Austin.

Austin FC isn’t the only sports team in the area, with several others such as the Texas Longhorns, Austin Spurs, and Round Rock Express all fighting for attention from sports fans. There was clearly enough demand for more though, since the stadium is sold out every game. The fact that soccer is so different from traditional US sports has probably had something to do with it.

They haven’t exactly set the MLS on fire since they joined, but a 2nd place finish in the Western Conference in their second season wasn’t bad, although their form has been erratic.

Inter Miami CF

Inter Miami CF

Joined: 2020

Inter Miami CF is owned by a group of investors led by former soccer star David Beckham. The team played its first game in March 2020.

Other than Beckham, one of the biggest names associated with Inter Miami CF at the start of their journey is former Argentine international and Juventus ace, Gonzalo Higuain. Higuain joined the team in September 2020, and brought the team some much needed attention not to mention being their top scorer for two seasons.

Phil Neville is another big footballing name associated with the club, as a head coach, although his tenure was not a long one. Neville emphasized the importance of building a strong team culture and also worked to develop a cohesive playing style that emphasized possession and attacking play. It didn’t translate into silverware though, and he left in 2023.

Inconsistency on the field was a familiar story for Miami in their early years in MLS. The team finished its inaugural season with a record of 7-13-3 and missed the playoffs. In 2021, the team got off to a slow start and struggled to find consistency throughout the season, finishing with a record of 9-14-9. It’s was similar the few seasons after too.

Despite these early challenges, Inter Miami CF has continued to make strategic moves to improve the team. The arrival of possibly the best footballer to have ever played the game, Lionel Messi, in 2024 (plus Luis Suarez) set the team alight, so 2024 was a much better season.

Inter Miami CF’s home stadium is DRV PNK Stadium, which has a capacity of 18,000. The stadium is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and was originally built as a training facility for Inter Miami CF’s academy teams. The stadium was expanded and upgraded to meet MLS standards ahead of the team’s inaugural season.

Inter Miami CF has also worked closely with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools to promote sports and physical education in schools.

Nashville SC

Nashville SC

Joined: 2020

Nashville SC played its first MLS game in March 2020, after transferring across from the United Soccer League, so it was already a fully formed club and had been since 2018. Nashville SC’s home stadium is Nissan Stadium, which has a capacity of over 69,000 and is shared with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

In its first year in MLS, Nashville SC had a solid debut season, finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference with a record of 8-8-7. The team was led by long term head coach Gary Smith, who previously won an MLS Cup as the head coach of the Colorado Rapids in 2010. Smith emphasized the importance of building a strong team culture and worked to develop a hard-working, disciplined playing style.

Nashville SC has also made some strategic signings since joining MLS. The team signed Costa Rican defender Randall Leal from Deportivo Saprissa, as well as German attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar from Br√łndby. Both quickly became important players for Nashville SC, contributing both defensively and offensively.

Off the field, Nashville SC has partnered with several local organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of Middle Tennessee and the Nashville Soccer United, to promote youth soccer and improve access to sports for underprivileged children. Nashville SC has also worked closely with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to promote sports and physical education in schools.

Although they don’t get anywhere close to selling out the 69,000 seat arena in which they play, Nashville’s average attendance has been improving over the years, slowly but surely, and is on par with many of the other clubs in the league.