Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. TALKING SOCCER IN ORLANDO
Orlando City were officially unveiled as the 21st MLS franchise on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday, the main people involved began their media tour. First up was owner Flávio Augusto da Silva, who not only plans to bring Brazilians to his team, but wants to help internationalize the league. Then it was club president Phil Rawlins, who has written an open letter to thank fans for their support and expects the team’s new stadium to have the most intense atmosphere in the league. Both men were in agreement that Adrian Heath is the man to lead the team going forward, but Rawlins adds that they will be searching for an experienced technical director. The team will also be getting a revamped logo ahead of their MLS debut.
2. MIAMI NEXT?
Where should MLS go next? That’s the topic covered on this week’s March to the Match podcast. The MLS Commissioner himself has been talking about what it takes for a successful expansion club and notes he imagines MLS in Miami by 2017 or 2018.
3. PERMIT PLEASE
Juan Agudelo’s move to English side Stoke City has hit a serious hurdle after the New England striker was denied a work permit. However, that doesn’t mean Agudelo won’t be on the move, as there are still plenty of options available to him.
4. BIGGEST SIGNING OF ALL TIME?
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment president Tim Leiweke made a few big-name signings during his days with the LA Galaxy, but he reportedly told an audience gathered in the Ontario Chamber of Commerce that TFC would make the biggest signing in MLS history within the next 30 days. No comment yet from the team.
5. CREW ACQUISITIONS
The Columbus Crew roster is starting to take shape. The Crew announced on Wednesday that they have hired Asher Mendelsohn as their new director of soccer operations and Josh Wolff would be leaving D.C. United to become Gregg Berhalter’s new assistant coach. On the field, The Columbus Dispatch says that the team has signed Waylon Francis, although a club official has told MLSsoccer.com that the Crew are not ready to announce any such move.
6. NARROWING THE FIELD
On Wednesday, MLS announced the finalists for its end of season awards. You can view the full list here but some of the highlights include Mike Petke, Jason Kreis and Caleb Porter for Coach of the Year, along with Robbie Keane, Marco Di Vaio and Mike Magee for MVP, a choice Landon Donovan doesn’t feel is up for debate.
7. MVT -- MOST VALUABLE TEAM
For the first time since 2008, Forbes has released a list of the most valuable teams in MLS. The list includes an overall valuation, the amount of revenue each team generates along with operating income. Some of the figure on display may surprise you.
8. RAPID PROGRESS
This year, the Colorado Rapids made the playoffs, signed their first Designated Player, increased attendance again and have two players nominated for Rookie of the Year. Not a bad year at all, but what do the Rapids need to do next? According to team president Tim Hinchey, securing a jersey sponsor is a “top priority” with Hinchey noting, “I lose sleep over it. To me, that’s the next evident thing that we’ve arrived.”
9. ANOTHER SOUNDER STAYING PUT
Following the news that Osvaldo Alonso is staying with the Seattle Sounders, Brad Evans became the second player in as many days to re-sign with the club. For Evans, “My goal was to stay in Seattle, and I’m very excited to continue my career here.” Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer notes that “re-signing Brad was a major priority for us.”
10. LOOKING FOR GOALS
If the Portland Timbers want to make the MLS Cup final, they’ll need to win by at least two goals against Real Salt Lake on Sunday. Jack Jewsbury has been in this situation before, back in 2004 with the Kansas City Wizards, and the Timbers midfielder sees a number of similarities between his current and former sides. In the Eastern Conference Championship, both sides need a goal so, with that in mind, should Sporting Kansas City give Claudio Bieler the start?
11. RED BULLS AND SKY BLUES
Just one day after news broke of the Houston Dynamo exploring the option to run their own NWSL franchise, it seems another potential partnership is off the table, with Sky Blue FC reportedly rejecting the New York Red Bulls offer to incorporate the club under its Red Bull umbrella.
12. RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE
The Vancouver Whitecaps are still searching for a new coach to replace Martin Rennie, but could a solution in the form of the ’Caps assistant coach Carl Robinson have been right under their nose this whole time? According to The Province, there are plenty of reasons to say yes. What about FC Dallas? BigDSoccer.com looks at some of the more likely candidates for that job (plus Jason Kreis).
13. SALARIES AND COMPENSATION
When Sami Khedira went down injured during Germany’s friendly with Italy last Friday it was a huge blow to Real Madrid. Although, thanks to FIFA’s club protection program, not one which will affect their bank balance. The program will see FIFA pay Khedira’s wages for the period in which he is injured, which the folks at Business of Soccer work out at amounting to roughly $22,171 per day. That led to this question: What kind of compensation would MLS-based US national team players be in line for if they got injured?
14. WHAT DO MEXICO NEED TO DO NOW?
After possibly the worst year in the country’s soccer history, Mexico still made it to the World Cup. FoxSoccer.com, however, points out there is still plenty of work to do and tough questions to answer before next summer’s tournament.
15. ONES TO WATCH
The MLS SuperDraft may be two months away but, with the NCAA Tournament starting on Thursday, it’s time for the first mock draft. While this is all guess work, if nothing else, it should give you an idea of some players to keep an eye on during the tournament.
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