Word on Wednesday that Vancouver will receive a Major League Soccer expansion franchise came as no surprise. But what is supposedly transpiring in Portland, Ore. is, at least to me.
According to reports, plans are under way there for a Friday announcement that Portland will receive the second of the two 2011 franchise – instead of St. Louis. Although the official “no comment” is the word of the day so far, it’s reported that the league has reserved several rooms at a Portland hotel for league officials who will be there for the announcement.
If all this pans out, it will leave Jeff Cooper’s St. Louis Soccer United group – which has worked feverishly for a team – out in the cold. Again.
There are plans for a sparkling soccer stadium near Collinsville and St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch has flexed its muscle in the expansion process. But despite having had all its ducks in a row for a while now, SLSU may be told to wait – once more – for a possible team.
Bear in mind that nothing official has happened yet. But if Portland indeed gets the next expansion team, it brings up several questions – for Cooper’s group as well as questions about the league.
Does SLSU keep up the good fight and strive for a team in the next round? Or should St. Louis instead pull back a bit and go for a team in the second-tier United Soccer league with a somewhat smaller-scaled soccer stadium in Collinsville with the idea of moving “up” to the MLS later and adding on to the stadium?
But before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to see what happens. If St. louis gets a team, fantastic. But if it’s left out this round, the best thing the city and its supporters can do is work harder, support the St. Louis Athletica when the Women’s Professional Soccer team makes its debut next month, and show MLS that the city deserves a team.
Cooper’s still hard at work and I expect him to remain in that mode. The man deserves the praise and heartfelt gratitude of St. Louis soccer fans for all his efforts.