Major League Soccer has welcomed FC Cincinnati to its ever-expanding family.
The second-division United Soccer League side made the announcement that they would be joining MLS, with MLS confirming that the club would begin play in 2019 to become the league's 24th team.
FC Cincinnati is actually the 26th announced franchise in the league, following David Beckham’s long-awaited Miami franchise and Nashville’s announcement in December.
MLS has stated previously it intends to get up to 28 teams, so the door is not yet closed on Sacramento or Detroit, the other cities in the running for expansion.
FC Cincinnati has become known for its sizable crowds and had a memorable run to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals in 2017, losing to the New York Red Bulls in extra-time after surrendering a 2-0 lead in the second half.
The franchise averaged over 21,000 fans per game in 2017.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, FCC majority owner Carl H. Lindner III and club president Jeff Berding were all on hand to make the announcement.
The club will continue under the same FC Cincinnati name when it joins MLS next season and will play at Nippert Stadium, home of the University of Cincinnati, until the club’s 21,000-seat soccer stadium in the city's West End neighborhood is completed in 2021.
“Major League Soccer is proud to introduce Cincinnati as our 26th team,” said Garber said. “The rise of Cincinnati as a passionate soccer market in recent years, coinciding with the city’s growing economy and reputation as a top destination for young professionals makes it an ideal city for our growing league. We congratulate Carl Lindner and his partners, and also the soccer fans of Cincinnati, who have passionately supported FC Cincinnati in the USL.”
Cincinnati becomes the 16th club to have joined MLS since 2005, and the league will announce which conference the club will compete in sometime in the coming months.