According to a report by SI.com’s Brian Straus, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is on the verge of signing a deal to bring Major League Soccer to Atlanta. The report says the deal will be signed and announced next week, bringing the number of MLS teams to 22 — not counting the David Beckham-led franchise in Miami that is still searching for a stadium deal.

Assuming Miami ever takes the field, there would be one spot left in the original “24 teams by 2020” plan that MLS has bandied about. According to a league source mentioned in Straus’ report, the front-runner for the final spot is Minneapolis.

It is worth noting that the construction timeline for the new Falcons stadium is already behind the new Vikings stadium. Atlanta is scheduled to open their new football palace in 2017; Minnesota, meanwhile, is still slated for a fall 2016 opening.

As always, the same questions about a potential MLS franchise in the Upper Midwest remain: Who would own the team, the Vikings ownership group or Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire? If McGuire, where would the team play?

SoccerCentric: startribune.com/sports