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Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert continue to prepare to land a Major League Soccer expansion franchise when the league announces two new cities this fall.

On Sept. 27, Gores' Palace Sports & Entertainment filed a request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the use of the name, "Motor City Soccer Club." PS&E also scooped up several domain names tied to that name, including motorcitysc.com.

This follows PS&E's filing on July 6 for the name, "Detroit City Soccer Club," and the subsequent purchase of associated web domains.

That July filing caught the Hamtramck-based Detroit City Football Club by surprise – and elicited a fair share of chuckles – for the similarity in name. Pistons spokesman Kevin Grigg said at the time the trademark filing was simple due diligence and nothing official. No team name has been decided yet because, after all, no team has been awarded to Detroit.

Gores, the billionaire owner of the Detroit Pistons, and Gilbert, the billionaire Detroit booster and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, are teaming on the MLS bid.

Detroit is one of several cities in the mix to win one of the next two expansion clubs. Also competing are: Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Indianapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; Phoenix; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Sacramento, Calif.; St. Louis; San Antonio; San Diego; and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.

Two expansion-city winners are expected to be unveiled at the MLS Cup on Dec. 9, and two more are expected to be announced at a later date. That would get MLS to 26 teams, after recent additions of Miami and Los Angeles.

Gores and Gilbert also are moving closer to securing their preferred stadium site, the failed Wayne County jail complex. There, Gores and Gilbert want to build a $1-billion mixed-use development that includes the stadium as well as high-rise buildings.

Wayne County and the city this week struck a tentative deal for a land swap that could be the first major step in awarding the failed jail site to the billionaire sports owners.

An MLS team would give downtown a fifth professional sports franchise, short walks from the Lions; Tigers; and Red Wings and Pistons in the new Little Caesars Arena.

In August, MLS commissioner Don Garber said he wasn't ranking the expansion markets, but noted, "There are four that over the last couple of months have been really very energized."

Twice during that news conference ahead of the MLS All-Star Game, he mentioned four cities by name, including Detroit, Cincinnati, Nashville and Sacramento.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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