Don Garber will remain commissioner of Major League Soccer for at least the next five years.
MLS announced Thursday afternoon that Garber signed a new, five-year contract to remain the league’s top executive through the end of the 2023 season. Garber also will keep his position as CEO of Soccer United Marketing, according to ESPN, which first reported the news.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The new deal gives MLS leadership continuity at a time of rapid growth.
Garber, 61, became commissioner in 1999, succeeding inaugural commissioner Doug Logan. He was considered for the MLS job thanks to his experience as managing director of NFL International, where he established crucial relationships with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, both of whom also helped lay the foundation to launch MLS in the mid-90s.
Garber has played a key role in helping the league find sound financial footing and expand, while also helping to improve the quality of American soccer and the game’s awareness across the country.
MLS saw both the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion fold in 2001 – less than two years into Garber’s time as top executive – and remained at 10 teams until 2005. MLS has since expanded to 24 teams, with Austin, Nashville and a new team in Miami expected to start competition in the coming years.
Ownership groups in cities across North America – from the Pacific northwest to the south and mid-Atlantic and Canada– have invested hundreds of millions of dollars launching new MLS teams.
Some of the franchises are among the most financially stable soccer outfits in the world, while 21 of the 24 currently active MLS clubs play in their own soccer-specific stadium.
Garber will be 66 by the time his new contract expires. By then, the league may contain up to 28 teams, as he’s suggested in the past.