Kick Off: MLS expansion race heats up with news in Miami, San Antonio
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. BECKHAM UNITED
David Beckham held talks with Miami-Dade officials on Tuesday as they began narrowing down potential venues for a soccer specific stadium in the city. Sadly, despite report that there was going to be an announcement next Monday confirming Beckham’s MLS franchise, this isn’t true. Instead there is likely to be a press conference next Wednesday as Beckham, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez will reportedly try to rally support for the privately funded stadium.
2. TALKING TEXAS
While Miami seems in a promising spot for the next expansion market, have the MLS top brass already turned their eye to the next potential venue? Garber headed out to San Antonio on Tuesday, where he met with city Mayor Julian Castro and San Antonio Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman to discuss the city’s potential chances of securing an expansion team.
3. IT’S COMPLICATED
The Philadelphia Union held a press conference on Tuesday to unveil their new Designated Player Maurice Edu. Taking place at the Union’s own high school, Edu revealed, “I feel like a kid again,” and explained that his main aim right now is simply to get back to enjoying the game. Manager John Hackworth talked the media through the complicated process of landing Edu, something they’ll not be looking to repeat with another new player seemingly inbound.
4. NGUYEN’S NEW DEAL
The New England Revolution have re-signed midfielder Lee Nguyen. It means 2014 will mark Nguyen’s third season with the Revs and general manager Michael Burns is thrilled: “We believe he’ll continue being a key contributor moving forward.”
5. MOVING BACKWARDS
While the club has lost some key players, the Montreal Impact still haven’t made any significant investments this off season. That’s a fact that concerns Matteo Ferrari, with the Impact’s defender being quite honest in his assessment: “I think we’re a little bit – how can I say – not as good as before.” So, with that in mind, should the Impact make a push for Marco Pappa?
6. THE DREAM TEAM
Fabián Espíndola and Eddie Johnson are two of the biggest names brought in by D.C. United so far this off season and, while Espíndola hasn’t actually signed with the club yet, he has been talking about what he hopes to achieve in a partnership with Johnson up top: “This team has a lot of championships, and I’m interested in winning another one with them.” When Espíndola refers to championships, though, he’s clearly not talking about the Supporters' Shield, which he labels a “ghost prize.”
7. IT’S DARREN’S TIME NOW
With the departure of Camilo Sanvezzo in Vancouver, this year could prove to be a huge one for Darren Mattocks. The Jamaican striker seems ready to step up, including taking responsibility for his ill-advised comments on Jamaican TV last year. Head coach Carl Robinson agrees that the whole incident is behind them now and, as Mattock acknowledges, his new opportunity is “...all up to me working hard and staying focused.”
8. SO IT BEGINS
The very first game of the MLS preseason is complete, with C.J. Sapong scoring the only goal as reigning MLS Cup Champions Sporting Kansas City came away 1-0 winners over FC Tucson. Speaking after the game, SKC head coach Peter Vermes revealed, “It was exactly what we hoped to get out of it. … I would say for the most part, the guys did a decent job.”
9. SHARING IS CARING
There was worrying news for Toronto FC fans as it was revealed on Tuesday that the CFL's Toronto Argonauts could be sold in a matter of weeks to either Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (which also owns TFC) or their chairman, Larry Tanenbaum. Either scenario would only add to the distinct possibility of the Argonaunts moving into BMO Field, which would no doubt displease soccer fans, but would also apparently mean TFC sharing their training facilities.
10. THE ONE PERCENT
Milos Kocic has spent the past five years in MLS but, at only 28-years-old, describes himself as “99 percent retired.” After spending last season with the Portland Timbers, the Serbian goalkeeper is returning to another of his former cities, Toronto, in order to open his own Goalkeeper academy.
11. THE NEW CHIVAS USA?
Are Chivas USA quietly putting together the surprise team of 2014? It certainly won’t be easy, but their new head coach was introduced to the press on Tuesday and Wilmer Cabrera spoke about some of the challenges ahead. The club has already signed some interesting players this offseason, including Adolfo Bautista, but could Augustín Pelletieri be set to join them as well?
12. A TALE OF TWO ROBBIES
Despite his offseason surgery, Robbie Keane expects to be fit in time for the Galaxy’s season opener against Real Salt Lake and, in typical Robbie Keane style, the striker bounced straight off a flight from Ireland onto the training field. Meanwhile, teammate Robbie Rogers feels he is having the best preseason of his career. With the added sharpness and added familiarity with his teammates, could we finally see the best from Rogers again?
13. IN SEARCH OF A GOOD HOME
Staying with Galaxy players, could recently released Michael Stephens be the first American player to join up with Bob Bradley at his new Norwegian club Stabæk? The midfielder will arrive in Norway on Wednesday ahead of a trial with the club. Meanwhile, Sebastian Ibeagha’s quest for a European club looks set to continue and Brek Shea has extended his stay at English Championship side Barnsley by an extra two months.
14. CANADIAN COUP?
Ahead of the summer’s World Cup, it seems Spain, the reigning world champions, are planning to play one of their final warm up matches in Washington, D.C. The opponents for such a highly sought opportunity? Rumors suggest it could very well be Canada, although other countries are said to still be in the running as well.
15. GUEST OF HONOR
It seems the US national team is also looking to add an extra friendly in its schedule around April with another game against regional rivals Mexico. With the game not falling on an official FIFA date, the team for that game would most likely be similar to the one currently in the January camp, which Mike Magee and Graham Zusi recap. While the camp has been cut down to 22 back in LA, they have a special guest joining them for the final stretch: Stuart Holden.
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