Vancouver Whitecaps' Martin Nash, second from right (7), is congratulated by teammates after scoring on Toronto FC during a CONCACAF Champions League match July 1, 2008, at Toronto's BMO Field. ((Aaron Harris/Canadian Press))

Toronto FC doesn’t have to worry about sharing the spotlight with another Canadian team in Major League Soccer.

Not for the time being, anyway.

Toronto FC's success at the box office since joining the league in 2007 has led to speculation that MLS is looking to add another Canadian club.

Vancouver and Montreal currently have teams in United Soccer League's First Division, one level below MLS, and both cities have been discussed as possible destinations for MLS expansion clubs.

MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis admits that Canadian expansion is something that is being considered, but he cautions the league is taking its time and is no rush to add another team, in Canada or elsewhere.

"There's clearly interest and the Canadian markets would clearly be successful for an MLS team to come up here," Gazidis recently told reporters in Toronto.

"It's not a debate about quality of the ownership. It's not a debate about quality of the market. It's not a debate about the thirst for the game that exists in Canada. What we are taking a little bit of time doing is evaluating what our expansion policy should be," Gazidis added.

Launched in 1996, MLS has grown from a modest eight-team league that garnered little attention from the sports media, to a 14-team operation in 2008 that features one of the most famous athletes on the planet — David Beckham.

MLS will expand to 16 clubs with the addition of a team in Seattle (in 2009) and Philadelphia (in 2010).

Philadelphia paid a $30-million US expansion fee, and the cost for future expansion clubs is expected to grow, but Mark Abbott, who oversees all business operations for MLS, maintains that lining the league's pockets with a quick influx of cash isn’t the deciding factor when it comes to expansion.


Rohan Ricketts, right, of Toronto FC battles David Testo of Montreal Impact during a CONCACAF Champions League qualifying game on May 27, 2008, at Montreal's Saputo Stadium. ((Peter McCabe/Canadian Press))

"It's not about the money. If it were, we would have added a lot more teams by now. What it's about is finding the right market with the right ownership group," Abbott said.

Gazidis echoed Abbott's sentiments, indicating there's no timeline as to how many teams the league wants to expand by, saying that MLS is examining "how big of a league we want to be" and "taking time to make sure we get it right."

"There are a lot of people interested in major league soccer right now, not just in Canada, and the choices we make as to how we expand will be very important for us over the long-term," explained Gazidis.

One name that has been bandied about as potential owner of a expansion club is George Gillett Jr., an American businessman who owns the Montreal Canadiens.

Gillett has had talks with MLS about awarding a team to Montreal, but Gazidis declined to comment on the substance of those discussions.

He also refused to be drawn in on reports that NBA star Steve Nash, a native of Victoria, is interested in bringing an MLS team to Vancouver.

"I think Steve loves his country and would love to be involved in Canada and seeing the game develop here," Gazidis said.

"I think we're going to see him be involved in some capacity or another. What that is, I'm not going to try to define, but I'm sure he'll be involved in the game in a significant way."