Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. ANOTHER PIATTI
The Montreal Impact have once again been linked with a move for a player named Piatti. This time it’s Ignacio Piatti (above left) rather than Pablo, but sources suggest that the Argentine attacking midfielder is set to join the Impact in June. Piatti currently plays for San Lorenzo and would become a Designated Player upon his move to Montreal. However, the Impact already have one new player ready to go now, as Sunday’s game against the Seattle Sounders saw Heath Pearce log his first minutes in Quebec. As such, here are 10 things you might want to know about the club's new left back.
2. BECKHAM'S BIG PLAN
Following leaked images of the proposed new Miami stadium on Monday, David Beckham and his group came out and made the news official. The stadium would provide a 25,000-seat expandable arena for the new Miami-based MLS team, it would be privately funded and, in perhaps the most Miami move ever, the new stadium would apparently also have a nightclub open year round. According to one Beckham aide, “It is David’s passion to bring an unparalleled soccer experience to Miami.” There is still some opposition to the proposed stadium, but Beckham is looking forward to the challenge of winning them over.
3. FLY WITH US
MLS has another new sponsor, as Etihad Airways has been officially announced as the league's official airline partner. Etihad also sponsor Manchester City, who just happen to be the owners of New York City FC, as well as a number of other sporting interests. However, Etihad's interest may not stop with the league, as according to the same report, a jersey sponsorship deal could also be reached with MLS’ 20th franchise in the coming months.
4. TIME FOR A NEW CREW?
After 15 years with the Columbus Crew, Mark McCullers has resigned from his position as team president. McCullers will remain on staff until April 30, but all decision-making powers have passed to owner Anthony Precourt, who now begins the hunt for a new president, someone who, in the words of Precourt himself, will be “more of a business-orientated executive.”
5. RATINGS ARE IN FOR TFC
Jermain Defoe goals are likely to continue stealing the headlines but, after two solid displays, Michael Bradley has proven himself an incredibly important part of this new Toronto FC team as well and his commitment will quickly endear him to the TFC faithful. Gilberto also made an impressive debut on Saturday, and there's evidence that Toronto’s project is working after TSN’s Saturday broadcast of TFC’s game against D.C. United drew the network's highest ratings for a Canadian MLS broadcast in English.
6. HERE’S TO YOU, MR. ROBINSON
The Vancouver Whitecaps remain unbeaten so far this season and not only are there a number of new faces on the field, their style of play has changed as well. A big part of that is down to the club’s new head coach, Carl Robinson who, having worked under the previous coach as an assistant, already had a good idea what things he would change with the team, even before he was actually given the job.
7. GREEN LIGHT
In a remarkably quick turnaround, Julian Green’s request for a onetime switch of allegiance has been approved by FIFA. This means that Green is now eligible to play for the US national team immediately and, after Bayern Munich already approved their young player traveling to the US for the Mexico game, it's likely he'll make his USMNT debut in Phoenix on April 2.
8. A MAN OF TWO WORLDS
“If you had the chance to play potentially for a World Cup team, would you say no?” That’s the question posed by Steven Beitashour, who, eligible to play for both the US and Iran, said yes to the latter and now finds himself on the verge of making his first trip to the World Cup. An opportunity that, at 27 years old, would prove too much to turn down for almost any player, no matter the country involved.
Having conceded three penalties in two games, Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter is clear perturbed: “We need to limit those critical errors.” Yet the positive for the Timbers is that they haven’t given up any goals from open play in those two games, and as Porter notes, “I think that’s certainly an anomaly, to have three PKs.” Indeed, giving up two in the same game alone is certainly a rarity.
10. CRIME FREE
Sports fans around the world are no strangers to seeing the biggest stars getting themselves in trouble with the law. It happens with the other sports across the US and all around the world. Yet MLS has a relatively good history when it comes to its stars behaving. The folks at Dynamo Theory examine some of the possible reasons.
11. TURF WAR
Not only are the New England Revolution still winless this season, they’re still goalless as well. Granted, we’re only three games into the new year, but the stats don’t bode well for them. In other news, Gillette stadium is set to install a new artificial turf this year. Meanwhile, could Shalrie Joseph be on his way back? The club expects to make a decision on their former player sometime in the next week or so.
12. STADIUMS UPDATES
Good news for D.C. United fans (kind of) as a recent survey conducted among the City’s mayoral candidates reveals that they aren’t actually opposed to the club's new venue itself, just the current plan to get it. While that may seem like the same thing at the moment, it does at least leave the club room to maneuver. With Toronto FC’s expansion plan currently under consideration by the Ontario government, the Canadian club is also facing similar issues.
13. MCDONALD ON THE MOVE
It seems that Brandon McDonald has found a new club, as a report from Sweden suggests the center back is set to join Ljungskile SK, a Swedish second-division side. McDonald enjoyed a banner 2012 with D.C. United but had a far more tumultuous 2013, which saw him traded from the capital to Real Salt Lake and then, having failed to break into the RSL squad, his option was declined at the end of the season.
14. SWITCHING SIDES
With New York City FC set to enter MLS next season, the hope for many will be that they and the New York Red Bulls can develop a great sporting rivalry, not just between the teams but among the fans as well. To that end, it seems we’ve already got our first defector, as one former Red Bulls supporter has made clear his new allegiance.
15. HELP FROM HOUSTON
On Monday, the Houston Dynamo announced three of the players they will be sending to USL PRO affiliate the Pittsburgh Riverhounds this season, with Anthony Arena, Jason Johnson and, most interestingly, Bryan Salazar, all joining the lower-division side to start the year.
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