Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. NYC2 ANNOUNCEMENT TO COME IN “4-6 WEEKS”?
The buzz surrounding NYC2 expansion plans went into overdrive on Wednesday night after Commissioner Don Garber gave an address in Toronto. The MLS commish confirmed that an announcement on the proposed 20th MLS franchise in New York City may very well be forthcoming. "We are deeply engaged with potential ownership groups and we're hopeful to be able to announce a 20th team within the next [four to six weeks]," Garber said.
2. MAN. CITY OWNERS INVOLVED? ORLANDO SWEATING BILL
Then, of course, rumors continued to circulate as fans and journalists began to dig deeper into who might be behind NYC2 and what the timescale for joining MLS might work out to. Philly soccer writer Jonathan Tannenwald claims to have been told by “multiple sources” that the owners of Manchester City are “now once again in the lead to take hold of MLS' 20th franchise.” So where does this new development leave all the other cities vying to be No. 20? Well, Orlando is hoping a bill gets passed to get help with its new stadium.
3. CCL FINAL FIRST LEG ENDS IN STALEMATE
In case you forgot, the CONCACAF Champions League final first leg happened last night. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss any goals. A stalemate 0-0 draw was played out by Mexican foes Monterrey and Santos Laguna at Estadio Corona. Monterrey have to be happy to head home without conceding. Herculez Gomez and his Santos teammates now face a tough trip to Monterrey next week, with the CCL crown on the line. What does the all-Liga MX CCL final mean for MLS? Goal.com takes a look.
4. TORONTO DOWN IMPACT, 'CAPS RALLY FOR ACC WIN
A much-changed Toronto FC downed Montreal 2-0 at BMO Field last night in the Amway Canadian Cup semifinals, as Ryan Nelsen hailed the strength of his squad in their first-leg win. “I know now that I have 22 players who can put on a Toronto shirt and play at any level,” Nelsen said. Meanwhile, in the other first leg of the ACC out West, Vancouver rallied from 2-1 down to beat FC Edmonton, 3-2, thanks to Tommy Heinemann’s last-gasp winner.
5. STEELE ON NORTHERN IRELAND’S RADAR
After scoring his first goal for the New York Red Bulls last weekend, Jonny Steele has been getting rave reviews from teammates and fans for his battling displays. Now Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is taking notice. “Jonny is now making an impact in Major League Soccer and we will continue to monitor his progress,” O'Neill said. The BBC also caught up with Steele as he showed them around the Big Apple. Chilling with a camera crew in Times Square, where did it all go wrong…
6. LABA CLOSE TO TFC MOVE?
Reports from Argentina continue to link Argentinos Juniors midfielder Matías Laba with Toronto FC. A report from the South American country has the 21-year-old joining Toronto on April 29, next Monday, and believes the deal is all but completed. The combative midfielder will certainly add bite to TFC’s engine room if he joins. One player not heading to Toronto is Kevin Davies. The Englishman released this statement yesterday, as his move to TFC fell through. Plus, Bleacher Report ranks the five players who’ve been most important to MLS’ growth so far, do you agree?
7. HOLDEN BACK AT BOLTON
After earning rave reviews while on loan at Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday, Stuart Holden has been recalled to help Bolton Wanderers’ Championship playoff push. The Trotters can keep their dream of promotion back to the EPL alive by winning their remaining two games.
8. KLINSMANN CHATS ALL THINGS USMNT
Jurgen Klinsmann met with journalists in Washington to discuss all sorts of things surrounding his squad at length. Of Holden’s return to fitness, Klinsmann said: “Stuart excites us. He is really coming back. What he really needs is games, games, games — minutes, minutes, minutes.” He said Michael Bradley is “a face we want to have as an example to a young group of players coming through.” Then he discussed how the USA’s Gold Cup roster will have a heavy MLS presence this summer.
9. KLINSMANN: “PLAYERS CLEARLY AHEAD OF DONOVAN”
The German-born coach then went on to address Landon Donovan’s situation with the USMNT, just as the LA Galaxy star looks to be rounding into form. “There are players clearly ahead of Landon Donovan right now,” Klinsmann said. “We’ll see now how he will do in the next couple of weeks and months.” So Donovan may have to wait for a chance. “There is a chemistry being developed as a group … and he hasn’t been part of that development most of the time over the last two years,” Klinsmann added.
10. EARLY NWSL CONTROVERSY FOR WAMBACH
It's early in the NWSL's season but the new women's pro league is already dealing with a major controversy. Women's world player of the year Abby Wambach apparently took a ball to the head late in a match last weekend and Slate.com's Stefan Fatsis criticizes what happens afterward, suggesting that Wambach should've done something "far more courageous than finishing the game."
11. IF YOU LOVE INFOGRAPHICS…
Staying in LA, ahead of the Galaxy’s game with Real Salt Lake this weekend, the Utah outfit released this awesome infographic detailing the history between the two clubs. It is extremely tight as both teams have recorded nine wins with six draws to go around. RSL have the slight edge in goals scored, and it promises to be an enthralling encounter at Rio Tinto on Saturday. Will Jack McBean start again for the Galaxy? The teenage striker is “not a finished product,” but he's getting the job done for now.
12. SLATE.COM HITS OUT AT UNITED STADIUM PLANS
D.C. United’s plan to use “free land” to build their proposed new stadium has angered one publication. The report from Slate.com calls for housing to be built on the proposed site at Buzzard Point instead, stating: “There are only 34 games in a Major League Soccer stadium. So D.C. United would be using this stadium for 17 days out of 365. What are we going to do the other 348 days?”
13. SUÁREZ BAN, EUROPA LEAGUE SEMIS KICK OFF
ICYMI yesterday, Luis Suaréz got a 10-game ban for his bite on Branislav Ivanovic last Sunday. Liverpool ‘keeper Pepe Reina isn’t happy about it at all. “People in England are treating him different because he is Uruguayan,” Reina said. “A 10-game ban seems to me absurd, out of proportion and unfair.” Elsewhere across the pond, Europa League semifinals begin tonight, with Chelsea taking on FC Basel (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer) and Fenerbahçe playing Benfica.
14. BLATTER ANNOUNCES FIFA MUSEUM TO BE BUILT IN ZÜRICH
This morning, Sepp Blatter announced a new FIFA museum will be built in Switzerland, with the location changing slightly from previous plans. The museum is expected to open in spring 2015 in the western half of Zürich. Blatter spoke of his delight while standing at the construction site: “Soon this will be a true meeting place for football and its millions of fans from all over the world. Today is a great day for me personally and for FIFA.”
15. "BRAZILIAN VUVUZELAS" ARE COMING TO 2014 WORLD CUP … UH-OH
So maybe FIFA will do something about this? But I doubt it. Just like everyone loved the incessant blasting of the vuvuzelas during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (you can tell I was a fan), now fans will have similar instruments at Brazil 2014 as organizers have their own version. It’s called the Caxirola, and it sounds like this. Think handheld maraca that looks like a lemon…
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