MLS has named Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento as the finalists for two expansion teams to be announced next month.
The league confirmed Wednesday that the four prospective markets will make formal presentations to the MLS expansion committee and commissioner Don Garber on Dec. 6. The MLS Board of Governors will meet Dec. 14 in New York City to continue expansion discussions, with the league's next two franchises to be announced before the end of the year.
"The leaders of the Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento MLS expansion ownership groups have bold visions and innovative plans for their clubs, stadiums and their involvement in their respective communities," Garber said in a news release.
"We are pleased these highly respected business and sports leaders have been so determined to bring Major League Soccer to their cities. We have been greatly encouraged by the progress that all four of these groups have made and we are looking forward to their presentations."
Los Angeles FC will enter MLS as the league's 23rd team next season, following the introduction of Atlanta United and Minnesota United in 2017. The league has given tentative approval to David Beckham's long-gestating Miami franchise, under the condition that ownership secure a deal for a soccer-specific stadium, though some doubt remains as to whether it will ever happen.
The league plans to reach 28 clubs in the coming years, with two further teams to be announced following this round of expansion.
Wednesday's announcement narrows the field from the 12 markets that submitted bids in January, with Charlotte, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg ruled out. Those markets do, however, remain in contention for the next round of expansion.
In addition, Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt has expressed interest in moving his franchise to Austin, Texas, for the 2019 season unless the club can secure a new downtown stadium.