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Montreal to join MLS in 2012 as 19th team

Montreal will join Major League Soccer as its 19th team in 2012, and commissioner Don Garber hopes to add a second New York club as early as 2013.

Montreal was announced at a news conference Friday and will be owned by the Saputo family, which runs the Montreal Impact of the U.S. Soccer Federation D-2 Pro League. It will play primarily in Saputo Stadium, which opened two years ago and is to undergo about $22 million in renovations. Its capacity will increase from 13,000 to 20,000.

Some games will be in Olympic Stadium, the home of the Montreal Expos from 1977-04. Olympic Stadium, which holds more than 50,000, will host an exhibition between the Impact and AC Milan on June 2.

“It opens up a whole new market in French-speaking Canada, which is important as we position ourselves as a global sports league,” Garber told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “There is a whole secondary market here in Canada, particularly in Quebec, represented by the French-speaking population.”

MLS currently has 16 teams. Portland and Vancouver, B.C., were announced in March 2009 as expansion teams for 2011. Toronto FC started play in 2007.

Montreal will pay a $40 million expansion fee, up from $35 million each for Portland and Vancouver.

“I think the rivalry between Montreal and Toronto will be absolutely fantastic,” Impact chairman Joey Saputo said.

With the Red Bulls moving into a new stadium this year in Harrison, N.J., Garber said he hopes to have a team in the New York metropolitan area next.

ADDED TIME

The Portland Timbers, who will join MLS in 2011, have interviewed former Chicago Fire coach Denis Hamlett and Houston Dynamo assistant John Spencer for their head coaching job, The Oregonian reported. ... After review, FC Dallas defenseman Jair Benitez was suspended one game and fined $250 by MLS for an incident Wednesday with Houston’s Dominic Odura.

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