MLS to St. Petersburg? Soccer fans will have to wait

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Major League Soccer announced Wednesday the four final cities competing for the league’s next two expansion teams.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies will not be among of the four cities.

MLS announced Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento will make formal presentations to league commissioner Don Garber on Dec. 6 in New York.

The four ownership groups were among 12 markets that submitted formal bids in January, which included the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

The league – which currently has 22 teams – plans to expand to 28. Los Angeles Football Club, which kicks off in 2018, will be the league's 23rd club, while expansion discussions continue in Miami.

The league made it clear that while only Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento are receiving consideration for the next two expansion teams, the 12 markets are under consideration for the final two expansion clubs that will be announced at a later time. Those include Charlotte, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

“This morning Major League Soccer (MLS) announced four finalists for the next two expansion teams, to be awarded this year," said Rowdies CEO Bill Edwards in a statement. "While the Rowdies were not one of the four, MLS made it clear that we remain in consideration for the expansion spots to be announced at a later date."

Edwards also had a "medical setback" that he believes put the team behind from MLS consideration this time around.

A meeting of MLS’s Board of Governors will have additional expansion discussions on Dec. 14.

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