Minnesota United's group has inside track for MLS expansion, reports say

A prospective ownership group for an MLS expansion team in Minneapolis headed by Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire has the inside track on becoming MLS' 23rd team, according to multiple reports.

American Soccer Now reported on Wednesday that McGuire's consortium -- which includes the Pohlad family, owners of Major League Baseball's Twins, as well as Glen Taylor, owner of the NBA's Timberwolves -- is the preferred bidder for a Minnesota team, as opposed to a competing bid headed by the Wilf family, owners of the NFL's Vikings.

Minnesota United currently play in the second-tier North American Soccer League.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune indicated that the NASL club has received a letter from MLS indicating that its bid is preferred over the one from the Vikings. One of the contingencies is that McGuire's group must come up with a viable stadium plan, but the group has an option to buy land in the city's Farmer's Market area.

The website Northern Pitch reported earlier on Thursday that Minnesota United received "written support" from MLS as it relates to the club's pursuit of a site for a new stadium.

McGuire and Minnesota United team president Nick Rogers attended an event for the club's supporters earlier this month. According to a source that was present, McGuire told those assembled, "We have saved you from having to worry about your team playing on a plastic pitch."

He later added: "You will be very excited about the news you hear shortly."

Spokespersons for Minnesota United as well as the Vikings declined to comment.

MLS is on record as stating that the current round of expansion will see the number of teams increased to 24 by 2020. The league is currently at 20 teams, with an additional two clubs -- Atlanta and Los Angeles Football Club -- scheduled to begin play in 2017. That leaves two more slots, with McGuire's group now believed to be at the front of the line.

Sacramento, Miami, San Antonio, and St. Louis have also expressed interest in being the 24th team, with Miami's bid hamstrung by the lack of a stadium plan, but Sacramento is also being given serious consideration, while San Antonio has the support of the Mexican Football Federation.

MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche said via email that, "We have conducted expansion meetings with representatives from Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Sacramento and visited all three markets during the last six months.

We have also met with representatives from San Antonio and St. Louis. We recently announced that Las Vegas is no longer being considered for this round of expansion.

"We remain on track to announce the next MLS expansion market in the next 30-45 days. No specific date for an expansion announcement has been set."