Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017 | 2 a.m.
In the near future, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman says she wants to see professional soccer played downtown — a vision city officials are pursuing.
"We are going to have an expansion team," declared Goodman on Tuesday from the Strip View Pavilion at the Thomas and Mack Center regarding the city's efforts to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Las Vegas.
Turning to Mexican national soccer team coach Juan Carlos Osorio sitting next to her, she joked, "I wouldn't steal you from anywhere, but you never know."
Osorio would be a prominent hire to front the still-hypothetical Vegas team, but on this day he was only in town to promote Mexico's game against Iceland on Feb. 8 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The game, which will feature the 18th and the 21st best teams in the world, according to FIFA rankings, will be the first time Mexico sends its senior team to the valley in an event that is sure to receive national and international TV attention.
And if Las Vegas is indicative of most major cities where "El Tri," as the Mexican team is affectionally called, has played, it will be a sellout crowd overwhelmingly favoring the south-of-the-border outfit.
A team official said its U.S. games garner ticket sales from an average of 30 states.
“I know the jam of the crowd will be enormous and exciting. And you have our heartfelt support," Goodman said, assuring Osorio and Santiago Baños, the team's director. "We are so excited.”
Las Vegas' bid to be chosen by the MLS as an expansion city collapsed in 2015, in part due to timing, Goodman said. But locals are ready to embrace a club, she added, citing multiple surveys conducted around the city.
Goodman said officials have again approached the MLS to say "we're back in the market."
The league is aware of the interest and is closely monitoring the city's February Mayor's Cup, which is set to draw close to 600 teams from 27 U.S. states and 12 countries, to see how much that interest transcends. "I think the young people in our community and surrounding states are really turning to more involvement in youth soccer to prepare for professional lives in soccer."
Having a soccer infrastructure with a stadium and a team would facilitate the city to host teams like that of Mexico in the future, Goodman said. As it is, Goodman and the Mexican federation appeared to agree there would be efforts to bring the team back on a yearly basis.
"We are aware that Mrs. Goodman is committed to the sport's growth and doing everything possible" to bring a team to the city, Baños said. "It fills us with pride and motivation and we have the door open to help contribute to cities like Las Vegas to accomplish that."
Flanked by Baños and Osorio, Goodman's smile grew wider when she was handed a green jersey. Stitched on the front of the Adidas shirt: the crest of the Mexican national soccer team — ironed on the back was the mayor's last name and No. 777.
In return, Goodman gave them her famed "good luck mayor's chip."
Tickets for the game are available at unlvtickets.com or at any La Bonita Supermarket location from $29 to $154.