Archive for the ‘MLS’ Category

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Miami – David Beckham is set to learn next month whether his long-gestating plans for a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami will come to fruition, it was reported on Friday.
The Miami Herald said the Miami-Dade County Commission would rule on June 6 whether or not to approve the transfer of a three-acre site valued at $9 million that is key to a proposed stadium project.

If the county declines to approve the land transfer, Beckham’s hopes of launching an MLS team in Miami in time for the 2021 season will be plunged into fresh uncertainty.

“This is, frankly, I believe, our last opportunity here for Miami to have Major League Soccer,” Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez told the Herald.

Beckham’s consortium needs the land sale to go through in order to build a 25,000-seat stadium on a nine-acre site in Miami’s Overtown district. The group has already purchased adjacent parcels of land.

Beckham announced in 2014 that he intended to bring a team to the South Florida city, exercising an option he had to create a new franchise.

But the former England, Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder has faced problems finding a stadium deal, failing with bids for three other potential locations amid local opposition.

Major League Soccer chiefs, meanwhile, have warned Beckham’s group that the clock is ticking on their franchise plans and that the league will not grant an open-ended time-frame to get the new expansion team off the ground.

Members of the Beckham consortium made a presentation to residents of Overtown on Wednesday to outline their plans for the site.

Tim Leiweke, who is handling negotiations for the group, admitted the consortium had faced “issues.”

“We have had bumps in the road,” he said, adding that no public money would be used for the stadium project.

Although the proposed stadium would not open until 2021, Leiweke said the new team could launch before that by playing at the Marlins Park baseball ground or the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium.

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New York – New York City FC manager Patrick Vieira is impressed by the steadily improving standards in Major League Soccer and believes champion Seattle would not disgrace themselves if it played in France.

“It’s hard to compare the MLS with Europe because the league is only 20 years old,” former France captain Vieira told AFP.

“But there is an identity that is developing gradually. If Seattle played in Ligue 1 it wouldn’t be ridiculous,” he added.

Vieira is in his second season in charge at New York and he is hoping to build on the success of his first year, when he steered the team to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

New York boasted one of the most potent attacks in MLS last season but was eventually made to pay for defensive frailty, getting knocked out by losing 7-0 on aggregate during the playoffs against Toronto FC.

However, Vieira maintained that he would not compromise on his commitment to an attacking style of play.

“No. I’ve always liked the forward-based game,” the former Arsenal and Juventus midfielder said when asked if he envisaged a more defensive style this season.

“I’ve always been a fan of teams that score a lot of goals. I’ve been in teams where the coaches were pretty defensive, but on the whole, what was important to me was knowing in which direction I wanted the team to go,” he added.

With Frank Lampard now retired, Vieira said he was looking to World Cup winners Andrea Pirlo and David Villa to provide leadership on and off the pitch.

“We are talking about two guys who have won the World Cup, the European Championship, the Champions League – they know how to win,” Vieira said. “I asked them to really get involved on and off the pitch. They are great at role – they never hesitate to to talk with the younger players to give advice. They always have a point of view which is positive for the team.”

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New York City FC striker David Villa has come to the defense of Major League Soccer.

A relatively young league founded in compliance with the United States’ 1994 World Cup bid, MLS has attracted criticism since its birth from American fans of traditional continental sports and worldwide observers who disparage the league’s level of play.

Villa doesn’t think that condemnation is warranted, and few would know better than the Spanish World Cup winner. He spent 15 years in arguably the world’s best league in Spain with clubs such as Valencia and Barcelona before he moved to the North American top flight in 2014.

“I don’t think there is anyone that can come to the MLS for one, two, three months and talk badly about the league,” Villa told CNN’s Matias Grez.

While Villa has enjoyed success in MLS – pairing 63 appearances with 41 goals for the team that plies its trade at Yankees Stadium – others with similar backgrounds haven’t been as fortunate.

Since David Beckham started the trend of Designated Players who have capped off European careers with MLS tenures, for every Villa there’s been a name like Mista, Rafa Marquez, or ex-NYCFC mate Frank Lampard that hasn’t found the league as straightforward as perhaps expected.

As MLS moves past its characterisation as a retirement home for players beyond their best, the quality of play improves, and with it, the pedigree of the league’s stars.

A generation of past-their-prime Designated Players including Claudio Reyna and Denilson is being crowded out by emerging stars like Atlanta United‘s Miguel Almiron and Sporting Kansas City‘s Gerso Fernandes.

Throw in names like Toronto FC goal machine Sebastian Giovinco and LA Galaxy attacker Giovani Dos Santos, and MLS is rife with talents spending their best years in the North American top tier.

“All these comments from people that talk badly about it, without a doubt it’s because they haven’t analyzed the league,” Villa said.

The reigning MVP and two-time All-Star may be nearing the twilight of a decorated career, but while he’s in the MLS, Villa reckons the league merits some plaudits.

“I’ve been here, I’ve seen the league for a long time, and it deserves respect from everybody for how good it is.”

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The void left by the San Diego Chargers could soon be (partially) filled with the arrival of Major League Soccer.

On Monday, private investors revealed plans to bring an MLS team to San Diego with hopes of developing a new stadium which would likely be shared with San Diego State.

Plans to bring soccer to the area were announced shortly after the Chargers confirmed they were moving to Los Angeles after over 50 years in San Diego.

However, Nick Stone, a member of the investors group, looks at the NFL team’s departure as an opportunity to introduce the world’s most popular sport to the area.

“There are a lot of people that were disappointed with that (the Chargers’ move) and understandably so,” Stone said, according to The Associated Press. “But we think this is a really, really interesting time to look at the opportunity to bring soccer to San Diego. It’s a very logical market for that.

“We can bring what is the world’s most popular sport, and the fastest growing sport in the U.S.,” Stone said. “One door closed but a really great door opened.”

(Courtesy: NBC 7)

The investors, who will look to obtain city council approval first, will have until Jan. 31 to submit an application for an MLS franchise.

According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune, attempts to bring the team to San Diego and constructing a joint-use soccer venue, which is expected to seat up to 30,000, will cost the investors group $500 million.

He adds that part of the proposal could see the venue expand in capacity to accommodate a possible bid to bring an NFL team back to the city.

The proposal, which doesn’t call for the use of taxpayer money, would lead to the demolition of Qualcomm Stadium – the former home of the Chargers and current site where San Diego State is contractually obligated to play until 2020 – and purchase of the surrounding land around the current building before construction of the new stadium begins.

“This is an exciting concept that could welcome Major League Soccer to San Diego without public subsidy, provide a home for Aztecs football and create a long-awaited river park,” San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “I look forward to seeing the final plan.”

If all goes to plan, San Diego should have a soccer team by the 2020 season.

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Orlando City captain Kaka says he wants to stay with the Lions beyond his current contract, which is set to expire at the end of the 2017 MLS season, telling reporters that reports of a departure are “something that’s a mistake.”

The Brazilian icon joined the club in its inaugural 2015 campaign and has been a mainstay in the team since, and affirmed to supporters his intent to remain with Orlando City beyond 2017, if possible.

“(It’s) a misunderstanding because I am very happy here,” Kaka told reporters on Tuesday, as quoted by MLSsoccer. “I had a three-year contract, so this is the last year under this contract, but my idea is to stay here.

“Of course, we never know what can happen at the end of the season or during the season, but my idea for now is to stay in Orlando and stay in the league.”

The former AC Milan, Real Madrid, and Sao Paulo star joined Orlando at the request of his good friend and club owner Flavio Augusto da Silva and has made MLS his home, going on to make 52 appearances with the Lions.

He has notched eight goals and recorded 17 assists, helping Orlando ease through the growing pains that come with early expansion years in the league.

Where other big-name star players have eased into already-established sides, Kaka says his experience hasn’t been spoiled by a lack of playoffs or by the tumultuous nature of a club still figuring itself out. In fact, he’s quite content.

“I am very happy with this experience,” Kaka said. “The professional part, my personal life, and everything I could learn from the country, from the city, from the culture here.”

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UCLA winger Abu Danladi is quite highly touted and boasts the added bonus of having signed a Generation Adidas contract, a combination that made him too lucrative an option for expansion outfit Minnesota United to pass up Friday with the first overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.

The 21-year-old Ghanaian made 42 appearances over three seasons with UCLA, scoring 18 goals and recording 18 assists in that time. Last season, Danladi scored seven goals and recorded two assists in only 11 appearances, as his season was cut short by injury.

The versatile forward/winger joins a Minnesota United team coming into MLS for its inaugural season, and will compete with Femi Hollinger-Janzen and Christian Ramirez up top or Miguel Ibarra and Johan Venegas out wide.

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In a SuperDraft filled with attacking talent, expansion outfit Atlanta United opted to reinforce its defensive ranks instead, selecting Syracuse center-back Miles Robinson second overall in the 2017 affair on a Generation Adidas deal.

The 19-year-old, standing 6-foot-2, brings with him 42 appearances over the course of two years at Syracuse, where he scored eight goals (four in each season).

Robinson made 17 appearances last season with Syracuse and has played with the U.S. Under-20 men’s national team, too. He joins an Atlanta United squad looking for defensive options, as head coach Gerardo Martino looks to circumvent the trials of the club’s inaugural MLS campaign.

He’ll compete for a spot in the Atlanta back line with veteran center-back Michael Parkhurst, former FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd, and the likes of Mikey Ambrose and Greg Garza.