Archive for the ‘MLS’ Category

Berlin – Bayern Munich announced on Tuesday a partnership deal with Major League Soccer team FC Dallas in their bid to expand into North America.

Bayern, who already have an office in New York, say twinning with Dallas is to help both clubs develop players and coaching methods.

“As part of our international strategy, we opened an office in the US in 2014,” said Bayern’s head of international strategy, Joerg Wacker, in a statement.

“Right from the beginning, we wanted to be more in touch with our fans while supporting the development of football in the United States.

“The promotion of young players is the focus here.

“FC Dallas stands for excellent youth work and is the ideal partner for us.”

A group of FC Dallas players visited Bayern’s academy in Munich last December.

“The primary goal is to build a youth academy and club of world-class excellence,” said Dallas’ CEO Clark Hunt.

“A partnership with one of the world’s most successful clubs is a significant step in that direction.”

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Miami – David Beckham has finally achieved his goal of bringing Major League Soccer to Miami, but the prospect of a stadium without parking that drives up housing costs in a low-income neighborhood is no hit with residents.

The former England captain and glitzy star of storied Champions League teams was formally awarded an MLS franchise on Monday, but key details remain up in the air, such as its name and logo and when it will debut.

For the 25,000-seat stadium, the investor group led by Beckham has acquired land in an area called Overtown, a working-class district between downtown and Little Havana.

They still need to buy one more piece of land, but for now the deal is held up in court by a lawsuit. The investors are confident they will prevail.

“Our 24th team now is in Miami. The stadium is in the Overtown site,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said.

One problem is that Miami is already choked with traffic and the stadium will not have its own parking lots.

And people in the neighborhood fear housing costs that are already rising will force them to move away as they keep going up.

“We are largely overwhelmed by the larger forces in the community that are out there. Our voices are not being heard sufficiently,” said Ernest Martin, a member of the Miami River Commission, an association of people living near the waterway.

Martin was especially critical of the lack of parking.

But Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Monday that although the stadium itself will have no on-site parking, there are plenty of big lots two to three blocks from the planned arena.

He also pointed to public transport, but people in Miami love their cars.

The problem of rising housing costs comes with gentrification. Overtown is a black-majority neighborhood of some 13,000 people, and 24 percent of the residents earn less than $10,000 a year, well below the poverty level.

Worried about rent

“This has been a low-income housing area for many years,” Martin told AFP at his home along the river.

“Ultimately, the big increase in rent for the area will cause Overtown to become a more select area for residential users,” he added.

The barren lot of land where the stadium is supposed to go up is surrounded by a fence on which neighbors have hung a sign that reads “No to the stadium.”

Nearby are modest apartment buildings and a few shops. At a corner liquor store, the cashier tends to customers from behind bulletproof glass. The storefront is protected by iron bars.

Douglas Romero, a 27-year-old resident of Overtown, told AFP that this year his rent has already gone from $1,050 a month to $1,200.

“I’m a little worried, you know,” Romero said, holding his four-year-old son.

“The prices of rent have been going up lately, starting in January. The only thing would be, if prices go up, you know, everybody looks to move. Everybody looks for somewhere else.”

Second time lucky?

It isn’t even the city’s first tryst with MLS.

Its first team, Miami Fusion, made their debut in 1998 but only played for four seasons before being cut from the league after the 2001 campaign amid low ticket sales and the lowest revenues of any team in the competition.

Football in America is nowhere near as popular as baseball, basketball, or American football. But Beckham and his fellow investors are counting on the cultural diversity of Miami – with its large Hispanic and Caribbean populations – to attract fans.

And not all in the neighborhood are against the newcomers: “Him bringing the stadium here … it’s wonderful,” said Cedric Dixon, 52. “It’s excitement. It’s changing Miami.”

Landscaper Williams Charlie is skeptical that the new stadium can bring jobs, but says “we need a soccer team” nonetheless.

“Beckham knows what he’s doing. I’ll go right to the game – if they don’t move us out.”

One sign of how deeply opposed some are is the emergence of a Facebook group against the stadium which publishes scary videos of football-related violence as a way of warning against the dangers of hooligans.

“It’s not a done deal!” is the slogan of the Overtown Spring Garden Community Collective.

This is true: the proposed sale of the last piece of land needed is being held up by a millionaire named Bruce Matheson, who argues the county had no right to cede the first lot without opening it up to bidding.

He lost his first battle in court but has lodged an appeal.

Mayor Gimenez, meanwhile, remains bullish. “We are very confident that we are going to win the lawsuit,” he told reporters.

David Beckham finally founded a club.

On Monday, Major League Soccer awarded an expansion team to Miami. The announcement was made at an event in the city’s Adrienne Arsht Center, and featured the club’s ownership group, who have an agreement in place to build a world-class soccer stadium.

According to the Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman and Douglas Hanks, the team is scheduled to begin play in 2020, probably at a temporary site until the permanent stadium is ready in 2021. The team name, logo, and colours will be rolled out in the next few months, with hints that black and white will be part of the colour scheme.

The ownership group includes:

  • David Beckham, former MLS player
  • Marcelo Claure, chief executive officer of Sprint
  • Jorge and Jose Mas, Miami-based leaders of Telemas, a telecommunications and construction giant
  • Masayoshi Son, founder and chief executive officer of SoftBank
  • Simon Fuller, entertainment entrepreneur and manager

“It is with tremendous pride that we welcome Miami to Major League Soccer,” Don Garber, MLS commissioner, said. “With David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and Jose Mas, Masayoshi Son, and Simon Fuller leading the way, we know the right people are in place and the time is right for Miami to become a great Major League Soccer city. This ownership is committed to bringing Miami the elite-level soccer team, stadium, and fan experience it richly deserves. We look forward to work(ing) with the entire organisation and successful launch for Miami’s MLS club.”

Beckham joined the LA Galaxy in 2007, securing a spot in his contract to own a club in MLS after his playing career. England‘s former captain exercised the option to own an expansion team in 2014, and the ownership group finalised the stadium plan in 2016.

“Our mission to bring an MLS club to Miami is now complete, and we are deeply satisfied, grateful, and excited,” Beckham, the first former MLS footballer to own a team in the league, declared. “Our pledge to our fans in Miami and around the world is simple: your team will always strive to make you proud, our stadium will be a place that you cherish visiting, and our impact in the community and on South Florida’s youth will run deep.”

The team will play in a privately developed, 25,000-seat, state-of-the-art stadium in Miami’s urban core. The arena will be designed by Populous, a global architecture firm that created MLS stadiums in Houston, Kansas City, and Colorado. There are also plans to build a privately developed training centre and academy focused on developing local footballers.

Soccer in Nashville, Tenn. will be sung to a top-division tune as MLS commissioner Don Garber announced Wednesday the league is bringing its 24th franchise to Music City.

Led by an investment group consisting of Ingram Industries Inc. chairman John R. Ingram, Minnesota Vikings owners Mark, Zygi, and Leonard Wilf, and the Turner Family, the team will play in a new 27,500-seat stadium built at The Fairgrounds Nashville.

“Nashville is a rising city with a passionate soccer fan base, a dedicated ownership group, and civic leaders that truly believe in this sport,” Garber said in the announcement. “Nashville continues its ascent as one of America’s most dynamic communities, with its incredible energy and creativity. For us, that makes it a perfect place for MLS expansion.”

MLS selected Nashville out of 12 candidates, which was whittled down to four at the start of the month. The league is expected to select a second team from that four to complete this latest round of expansion. While the two teams were originally slated to begin in 2020, the league hasn’t confirmed Nashville’s start date.

Los Angeles FC is set to kick off in 2018, the latest expansion franchise in the league’s rapidly-growing canvas of outfits; MLS recently added Atlanta Unitedand Minnesota United in 2017, with the former enjoying wild success and the latter starting off slowly but picking up steam through the year.

Nashville will hope to replicate the successes of its southeastern peers in Atlanta and Orlando City, who boast tremendous attendance and support; Garber pointed to a turnout of more than 47,000 in Nashville during a U.S. men’s national team match against Panama as a clear sign of interest in the sport.

Furthermore, a state-record 56,232 fans were in attendance for a friendly between Manchester City and Tottenham at Nissan Stadium in July.

Ingram said it was a “landmark day for Nashville and for all of the loyal and ardent soccer advocates” in the state, while mayor Megan Barry added that the franchise is “another cap for Nashville and will only add to the growing economic environment in Tennessee.”

Miami – English football icon David Beckham has a new trio of partners in his bid to bring a Major League Soccer club to Miami.

The league said Thursday it had approved the addition to Beckham’s ownership group of Jorge and Jose Mas, leaders of telecommunications giant MasTec, and Japanese entrepreneur and SoftBank founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son.

Beckham, Sprint chief executive and Brightstar founder Marcelo Claure and entertainment entrepreneur and manager Simon Fuller were all already part of the consortium which has been battling to secure a stadium site.

The group edged closer toward its goal earlier this year after securing a land deal for a proposed stadium project.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber acknowledged earlier this month that the Miami franchise project was “the most complicated situation in any market that we’ve experienced” citing Miami’s local political structure and it’s fast-changing real estate environment.

Jorge and Jose Mas are Miami natives and two of the most prominent business executives in the city, bringing a local presence to the ownership group that Garber said he believed would benefit the project.

Miami is currently slated to be the 24th MLS team, following the launch in 2018 of the Los Angeles Football Club, the 23rd club.

MLS chiefs will announce the 25th and 26th expansion teams before the end of the year form a shortlist of four candidates — Detroit, Cincinnati, Nashville and Sacramento.

However, Garber admitted this month that with approval of Beckham’s Miami club still in limbo, one of the two new expansion franchises chosen this month could be bumped up the pecking order and be launched as the 24th team.

Los Angeles – Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said Friday the league remained determined to launch a team in Miami but acknowledged the task had been the toughest challenge of his 18-year reign.

Garber told reporters on the eve of Saturday’s MLS Cup final in Toronto that he was confident the long-awaited arrival of an MLS team in the Florida metropolis would happen eventually.

English football icon David Beckham heads a consortium hoping to launch a Miami team, and has been battling to secure a site for a stadium despite local opposition.

The group inched towards its goal earlier this year after securing a land deal for a proposed stadium project.

“It is the most complicated situation in any market that we’ve experienced at least in my 18 years,” Garber told reporters, citing Miami’s fast-changing real-estate environment and local political structure.

Finding a local owner to join Beckham’s group was also crucial, Garber said.

“We’ve been working hard on trying to find a local owner for David Beckham. I feel confident that it will come together,” he said. “I continue to say that we want Miami in the league.

“It’s a large market, it’s a gateway city, there are a lot of values to having a team down there. I remain confident we will get something done.”

Miami is currently slated to be the 24th MLS team following the launch in 2018 of Los Angeles Football Club, the 23rd team.

MLS chiefs will announce the 25th and 26th expansion teams before the end of the year from a shortlist of four candidates – Detroit, Cincinnati, Nashville and Sacramento.

However Garber admitted it was possible that one of the two new expansion franchises chosen this month could be bumped up the pecking order and take Miami’s place as the 24th team.

“It’s conceivable. It’s conceivable that could happen,” Garber said.

Not even the fantastic Stefan Frei could keep Toronto FC from fulfilling its mission.

A lightning-quick counter-attack in the second half of Saturday’s MLS Cup final inspired the goal that finally broke the Seattle Sounders‘ resistance, inciting feral celebrations among the thousands of nervous, shivering, and long-suffering TFC supporters at BMO Field.

Jozy Altidore – who battled an ankle injury just to play in this match – beat the previously impenetrable Frei to lead Toronto to a 2-0 victory and the first MLS Cup in franchise history. Victor Vazquez added an insurance marker in stoppage time to secure TFC’s triumph.

It capped off a historic season in which Toronto finished with a league-record 69 points, the Supporters’ Shield, and the Canadian Championship.

Twelve years after its inception, Toronto also became the first Canadian team to take the MLS crown and the only one in league history to claim a domestic treble.

At first, it seemed the MLS Cup final would play out just as it did last year. The Sounders won the 2016 title thanks to Frei’s heroics, and the Swiss-born goalkeeper was equal to every one of TFC’s efforts in the first half. Frei made saves of both the routine and extraordinary variety to keep the home side at bay.

The Sounders struggled to get anything going in the opposite third, even with a healthy Clint Dempsey in the lineup.

But in the second half, the Reds showed a killer instinct they didn’t have last December, pouncing on a turnover in their end. Sebastian Giovinco released Altidore with a perfect pass, and the burly American striker – whose looping header was denied by Frei in extra time of last year’s heart-stopper – redeemed himself on the ensuing breakaway.

Prior to the opener, Seattle’s defence hadn’t been breached in 607 minutes of action, a shutout streak dating back to Oct. 1. It had been hoping to become the fourth team in league history to win back-to-back championships. But the Sounders couldn’t produce enough offence to score a goal. Toronto outshot Seattle 22-7.

Despite switching from a back-three to a conventional four-man defence, TFC was sharp in its own end as well. Michael Bradley dropped into deeper positions to alleviate pressure, and intervened at crucial moments. No one on the pitch completed more than Bradley’s six tackles and four interceptions, and his six clearances kept TFC clean at the back.

Bradley, Giovinco, and Altidore all arrived in Toronto with the singular goal of turning around a failing franchise that struggled to stay out of last place.

On Saturday, they achieved that objective.