By Marc Weber
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber reiterated Sunday that the Montreal Impact are the leading candidate for the league's 19th expansion franchise. Philadelphia joins in 2010 and Vancouver and Portland come on board in 2011.
"We're making progress," Garber said of his talks with Montreal, which included meetings in Seattle with an eye on 2012. "Montreal is still the leading candidate."
Garber added that the key for Montreal is getting Saputo Stadium expanded to 20,000-plus and the amenities upgraded. Then there's the franchise fee. Montreal balked at $40 million US in the last round and Vancouver and Portland ended up paying $35 million.
The league could expand to 20 teams, but would likely stop there for some time, Garber said.
Both Vancouver and Montreal played last season in the United Soccer Leagues First Division, but are in the process of forming a breakaway league with several other franchises. They are currently awaiting approval from the U.S. Soccer Federation. Once they move to MLS, both Vancouver and Montreal plan to keep a development team in a second-tier league.
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