How Have MLS Expansion Teams Fared in 2nd Season?

How Have MLS Expansion Teams Fared in 2nd Season?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

North Carolina’s lone MLS club has made its way into the MLS playoff bracket in the franchise’s second year of existence, grabbing the ninth and final spot in the Eastern Conference field.

For their efforts, Charlotte FC will get to play the No. 8 New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night, with a shot at playing top seed Cincinnati FC in the best-of-three Round One of the MLS Cup playoffs.

There are no NC sports betting apps yet, but Charlotte FC faces +375 odds of knocking off its New Jersey-based foes on Caesars Sportsbook. The Red Bulls are -140 to win the match that kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

Now that Charlotte FC has qualified for the MLS Cup in its second season, — your source for North Carolina sports betting — wanted to see how expansion teams have finished in Year 2. Turns out, only one expansion team since 2017 has gone all the way in its second season. Here are the results of all MLS expansion teams in their first two season since Atlanta United FC won it all in 2017.

Results of MLS Expansion Teams in Second Season

YearTeamYear 1 ResultYear 2 Result
2023St, Louis City FCTBDNA
2022Charlotte FCMissed playoffsTBD
2021Austin FCMissed playoffsLost conference finals
2020Inter Miami CFMissed playoffsMissed playoffs
2020Nashville SCLost conference semis Lost conference semis
2019FC CincinnatiMissed playoffsMissed playoffs
2018LAFCLost in 1st roundLost conference finals
2017Minnesota United FCMissed playoffs Missed playoffs
2017Atlanta United FCLost in 1st round Won MLS Cup


Mixed Success for 2nd Year MLS Clubs

Since 2017, the second-year MLS clubs that qualified for the league’s postseason saw disparate fortunes once they got there. Atlanta United FC won it all in 2017 and two others lost in the Eastern Conference finals — LAFC in 2018 and Austin FC in 2021.

Of those second-year clubs, the only ones to reach the MLS Cup playoffs in consecutive seasons out of the gate were Atlanta United FC, LAFC and Nashville SC. Three others (Minnesota United FC, FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami CF) missed the MLS Cup playoffs in each of their first two seasons in the league.

Charlotte FC will look to fly alongside Atlanta United FC and LAFC, rather than Minnesota United FC and Inter Miami CF. That road to redemption begins in earnest with a road match in New Jersey, with a shot at clashing with the East’s best team on the line when Charlotte FC toes the pitch on Wednesday night. When MLS betting comes into play in the Tar Heel state next season, having the top NC sportsbook promos will be essential.



Christopher Boan is a lead writer at specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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