Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
As David Beckham continues his search for investors in his new Miami-based MLS franchise, the latest report suggests he is turning to the owners of one of his former clubs, Paris Saint-Germain. The French super club is backed by Qatar Sports Investments, who have already spent more than $300 million on the side since taking over in 2011. However, we know who won’t be coming to Miami, as Beckham’s wife revealed the family will not be moving to the Sunshine State.
2. A DIFFERENT ROUTE FOR SKC PROSPECT
The links between Sporting Kansas City and Oklahoma City Energy continue to grow as 18-year-old SKC Academy midfielder David Leichty chose to sign for the USL PRO side. Could we see this route become more and more popular among Academy players? Staying with SKC youngsters, it seems, once again, that Erik Palmer-Brown could be on the move once he turns 18.
3. STAY THE COURSE
With Orlando City just a year away from MLS, head coach Adrian Heath will be the first to tell you that his journey up to this point has been an unusual one. The Englishman also revealed that he's turned down three previous opportunities to become an MLS head coach.
4. FINDING PROVIDENCE
Say goodbye to JELD-WEN Field. No, the Portland Timbers aren’t going anywhere, but the club held a press conference on Monday to announced that they have signed a 15-year stadium naming rights deal with Providence Health & Service, the private not-for-profit healthcare provider. The stadium will now be known as Providence Park, with Timbers owner Merritt Paulson saying it was the right time to “pass the baton.”
5. MAURICE’S MOTIVES
After making his MLS return, Maurice Edu is hoping for big things in 2014, not least of which is a chance to earn a place on the US national team. However, equally important to Edu is helping the Philadelphia Union make a return to the playoffs. The Union were also rumored to be pursuing English defender Zat Knight, rumors that Knight’s current boss has swiftly ended.
6. LOOKING FOR LABA
With Matías Laba in need of a new home, Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter revealed that Toronto FC contacted his club about a potential move. And while Berhalter “thought about it,” the two parties are not continuing discussions. Meanwhile, check out the rest of the Toronto FC team as they get in some preseason team building.
7. DEMPSEY AND THE GROUP OF DEATH
Ahead of this summer’s World Cup, US national team captain Clint Dempsey is looking forward to being part of the group of death: “If you want to go far in that competition, you’re going to have to play against good teams.” Meanwhile, there could be another young draft prospect to watch out for in a couple of years, as Jurgen Klinsmann’s son looks bound for the University of California.
8. THE RETURN OF CHELÍS
Down in Mexico, national team manager Miguel Herrera has revealed that, unsurprisingly, Javier "Chicharito" Hernández is frustrated by the lack of playing opportunities at Manchester United. Meanwhile, Liga MX just became a lot more interesting following the announcement that Chelís is heading back to work as head coach of Veracruz.
9. MADE FOR TV
Canadian sports networks TSN and RDS on Monday revealed the massive selection of MLS games they intend to show this season. TSN will air 90 matches while French-language RDS will air 30. All the games on RDS and 65 of the games on TSN will feature at least one Canadian team. Meanwhile, Toronto FC’s season opener, away to the Seattle Sounders, had its start time moved to 4:30 pm ET after being picked up for national broadcast by both NBCSN and TSN.
10. IS THIS SALGADO’S YEAR?
Three MLS seasons have passed since Omar Salgado was selected by the Vancouver Whitecaps with the first-overall pick in the 2011 SuperDraft. Injuries have played their part in curtailing his progress, and we’re still waiting for Salgado to have a breakout year. The forward is still only 20, but is 2014 finally going to be his year? As Salgado himself acknowledges, “It has to be. I have to show I can play in this league to continue.”
11. FIGHTING FIT
The start of the MLS season is less than four weeks away, but there is still plenty of work to do for teams in the preseason, not least of which involves getting the players fit and ready for 90 minutes of soccer come March 8. So, how do they go about it? The Houston Dynamo’s athletic trainer, Theron Enns, describes what goes into the process.
12. NEW HOME FOR EX-RAPID
Having made limited appearances for the Colorado Rapids, partly due to injury, Anthony Wallace was released by the club at the end of last season. However, the defender/midfielder has found a new club and will now play for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL. Back to Colorado though, Shane O’Neill is re-thinking his desire to move to midfield.
13. ALFA ROMERO
Andrés Romero will be back with the Montreal Impact for the 2014 season. After proving himself an important part of the team last year, the Canadian club was able to work out a deal with Brazilian side Tombense FC, which will see the Argentine midfielder re-join Montreal on a year-long loan.
14. YOU MAKE ME BREAKOUT
Each season in MLS, there are at least one or two players per team who have what can be considered a breakout year, the campaign during which they step up and really establish themselves on the big stage. Part of the fun is guessing who those players might be. With that in mind, Goal.com breaks down the player on each team most likely to have that season. That's particularly useful information if you’re still putting together your MLS Fantasy team.
15. THE CROWD GOES WILD
While supporters culture has come a long way since MLS began (see: Cascadia), it’s important to remember the early forbearers such as D.C. United’s La Barra Brava, the subjects of an upcoming film about the rise of the American Soccer supporter. While La Barra Brava didn't have much cause to sing about Carlos Ruiz last season, he certainly received a hero’s welcome on his return to Guatemala.
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