(WFI) Commissioner Don Garber says Major League Soccer is focused on a stadium deal in Queens and not on the New York Cosmos.
Commissioner Don Garber discusses his plans for Queens on Saturday. (MLS)
“We’re not at all focused on them or what they’re doing,’’ he said Saturday at Red Bull Arena during a press box visit at halftime of New York versus DC United, dismissing the MLS designs of the resurrected Cosmos ahead of their return to the North American Soccer League later this year.
Cosmos CEO Seamus O’Brien announced plans last month for a $400 million stadium in Belmont Park, which conflicts with Garber’s location of choice for the second New York franchise he has long coveted.
“We continue to work towards trying to finalize an agreement with the city that will allow is to lease the ten acres of land in Flushing Meadow Park,” the commissioner said Saturday.
“It needs to get done so we can move on with our expansion plans. Unlike our last discussion, I’m not going to put any timing on that; but we’ve got to finalize our expansion plans.”
Garber also revealed the MLS is more focused than ever on Florida, possibly opening the door for Orlando City of the tier-three United Soccer Leagues to follow New York as the MLS’s 20th franchise.
“Florida has become a bit more of a priority,” he said.
“The numbers of youth players from that part of the country – there’s 70-80 million people in that part of the country – we don’t have any representation (further South) than D.C.”
Garber’s comments came as MLS enjoyed what FIFA is labeling a “historic derby day” for the league.
Eighteen of 19 teams played Saturday with seven of the nine matches featuring geographic rivals pitted against each other, including a Canadian clash during which more than 4,000 Toronto FC fans broke the visiting supporter record by traveling to Montreal to see the Reds take on the Impact.
“Collectively, all signs from this weekend indicate Major League Soccer is continuing its upward trend of developing itself as a proper top-tier professional league within the United States and Canada,” FIFA said. “And as the roots of the league’s traditions grow deeper and the ferocity of its biggest rivalries burns brighter, future derby days will continue to bring out the best of MLS and what it has to offer to the American sports market.”