Take a look at the “About Major League Soccer” list at the end of the article: MLS is expanding to Philadelphia and no one told me? They’re quadrilateraling and no one told me?!? (The WNBA really needs to get on the ball here!)
MLS already has 16 teams as of 2010 – the addition of Philly will re-balance the conferences at 8 apiece – and will add two more later, as will be announced either later this year or early next, which is insane. You might want to think about breaking them up into divisions within the conferences at this point, certainly once you hit 20.
So with Philly, Atlanta becomes the largest Nielsen market without an MLS team, and – ta da! – Atlanta is one of the teams on the short list of potential expansion candidates. (Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver are among the others? Is soccer THAT big in Canada?) Detroit is the largest 2000-definition metro area without an MLS team (followed by Atlanta) and is next on the list of Nielsen markets, but isn’t on the short list to get a team. Instead, it’s Miami (repeating a bad experience and leapfrogging fellow-Florida-bad-experiencer Tampa, along with Phoenix and the Twin Cities, on the Nielsen market list)… along with St. Louis and Portland, the #21 and #22 media markets respectively?!? It’s not even as small as #31-33 KC, Columbus and Salt Lake, but… they really are going for soccer markets, and I didn’t even think St. Louis was that big on soccer. Maybe they’ve seen Wizards viewership numbers.
St. Louis is #18 on the metro areas list but, in addition to all the ones above except Tampa, leapfrogs Cleveland (who pays attention to Columbus just like in hockey) and San Diego (weren’t they supposed to get Chivas USA at one point?), and Cleveland, Orlando, and Sacramento on the markets list (the latter two are stepbrothers to larger nearby markets everywhere except the NBA anyway – but then again, so is Portland). On the metro areas list Portland also leapfrogs Tampa and Pittsburgh (who’s right behind it on the markets list).
(Worth noting: Most of the cities on the list would also be in the Eastern Conference, necessitating Kansas City to move West. Portland and Vancouver are the only exceptions.)