With Montreal officially introduced as Major League Soccer's 19th team today, the instant question pops up: Who's No. 20?
It's a more-important-than-usual question because commissioner Don Garber has implied -- well, said -- that he sees league expansion pausing at 20, perhaps for a good long while.
So, while Portland and Vancouver's selection for 2011 was only a temporary delay for Montreal, for example, the next team introduced could be more of a long-term roadblock for all the other cities left out.
And according to this Associated Press story, it looks like the 20th MLS market might not be a new market at all.
Never miss a local story.
"Our attention is very focused on a 20th team as we speak. We'd like that team to be in New York City representing a second team in the tri-state area," Garber said. "The Red Bulls are very supportive of that and believe that rivalry will help grow the popularity of the sport in the New York metropolitan area. So we're going to work hard and try to get something done perhaps as early as 2013."
That's a surprise to me. Especially if the league plans to stick at 20 for a while, I had gotten the impression that Garber and the league would want to take one more stab at completing the nationwide footprint with a team in the Southeast: Atlanta, Miami or Tampa.
But apparently no.
Meanwhile, other decisions remain over the long- and short-term. Does the 18-team MLS of 2011 go to a 34-game schedule, or an unbalanced one? Could they go to three divisions, which would have the local appeal of a great and natural six-team West -- I-5 and Highway 99, really -- division of Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, San Jose, Chivas and Galaxy. How about at the eventual 20-team mark? Could MLS -- and it's players -- support the 38-game regular season that a balanced schedule would demand?
All interesting questions as the league begins to close in on what one day might be looked back on as the end of its formative years.