I don’t expect a hard news element from Don Garber’s time with the media today, but you never know. Consider this a “heads up.”
Major League Soccer’s commissioner will address soccer friendly members of the chattering class today at 1:45 p.m. at BBVA Compass Stadium.
I expect that he’ll talk about stadiums as his league’s critical growth component. I’ve already worked up some notes for him in the previous post.
I would imagine the Commish will be asked about the other key element of league evolution: expansion beyond the current 19 clubs. But, again, hard news probably isn’t going to fall. If so, it would swindle some of the spotlight from the dazzling star of this show, the 22,000-seat beauty, the current talk of Houston sports.
Here’s the current list of facilities built or re-developed for MLS clubs, with capacity and the year opened. While you study it, I’ll be on my way to Houston, where most of the important MLS movers and shakers will gather for two days of pomp and stuff ahead of tomorrow’s match (Dynamo vs. D.C. United, 4:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network.)
Crew Stadium Columbus 20,145 1999
Home Depot Center LA Galaxy 27,000 2003
FC Dallas Stadium Dallas 20,500 2005
Toyota Park Chicago 20,000 2006
DSG Park Colorado 18,000 2007
BMO Field Toronto 20,000 2007
Rio Tinto Stadium Real Salt Lake 20,200 2008
PPL Park Philadelphia 18,500 2010
Red Bull Arena New York 25,000 2010
Jeld-Wen Field* Portland 20,400 2011
Livestrong Sporting Kansas City 18,400 2011
BC Place* Vancouver 21,000 2012
BBVA Compass Houston 22,000 2012
Stade Saputo** Montreal 20,300 2012
*Renovated rather than built
** Opening in June
Roma’s Moreno happy as Mexican ambassador to Serie A
Hector Moreno knows his move to AS Roma is a big deal for him, his club, and his country.
That may seem like a bit too much aggrandization, but Moreno joins the biggest club of his accomplished European career. That club nearly ended the scudetto reign of Juventus last season, coming as close as anyone in recent history.
And he’s the first Mexican to play for Roma, a club a bit higher in the pecking order than the homes for previous El Tri members in Serie A (Carlos Salcedo went on loan to Fiorentina last season, while Miguel Layun spent time at Atalanta and Rafa Marquez played three seasons at Verona).
“I know what people expect from me, and the people in Italy will look back at Mexico as a place to find good players if I do well,” Moreno told ProSoccerTalk ahead of the club’s second Stateside match of the International Champions Cup, Tuesday versus Tottenham Hotspur at Red Bull Arena.
“Football in Mexico is lived with so much passion. It’s so important.”
What they’ve seen from the 29-year-old center back gives them every reason to be proud. Moreno has won the Eredivisie with two clubs (AZ Alkmaar and PSV Eindhoven) and was Espanyol’s Player of the Year during his first of three campaigns in La Liga.
Moreno’s offensive acumen shone through his second stint in Holland, and the center back who also plays some left back scored seven goals last season.
When Roma came calling, he had little hesitation.
“It’s something I have wanted my entire career, for an opportunity like this,” Moreno said. “It’s an amazing challenge to keep going forward in my career.”
Moreno captained El Tri in a 1-1 draw against the United States in World Cup qualifying on June 12, and the Roma signing was announced on June 13. Five days later, he was pushing Mexico over the line with a stoppage time goal against Portugal at the Confederations Cup.
Again, this was about a statement for both him and his country, especially with Mexico in pole position to finish first in CONCACAF World Cup qualification and the desire to make it past the Round of 16 for the first time in seven tournaments.
“It was a great moment and the feeling was amazing because we fought so hard and we didn’t expect to lose,” Moreno said. “It looks easy to say but with Ronaldo, Ledesma, Pepe, at the end we got a result that we deserved.
“And this will probably help the team to know where we stand because in CONCACAF qualification for World Cup we are almost there and in all due respect it’s a different quality of play than CONCACAF. You can see where you stand and what you have to improve to be on the level. It is the dream forever that we can go to the fifth game, and we can do that in Russia. We’re going to work hard and I hope we can make it.”
It may surprise some to hear that Moreno also hopes El Tri’s heated rivals in the U.S. qualify for Russia as well.
“I hope so,” Moreno quickly replies. “It would make a good tournament. They always make it through and they have such a good team. It’s always (the hope) that Mexico and U.S. can meet in the World Cup, because they have such good talent as well.”
Roma faces Spurs in New Jersey on Tuesday before a July 30 battle with Juventus at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
The versatile Brazilian defender, who can play on either flank as well as at center back, signed a five-year contract to increase City’s threadbare options at full back.
“There has been strong interest from other clubs, but it has always been my ambition to play for Pep Guardiola,” Danilo said. “As soon as I heard of his interest, I knew immediately I wanted to be a City player.”
“Football is very dynamic and it requires quality players in every position, so I think a player who can play in different positions at a good level has an advantage, and becomes very important for the team as well,” said Danilo, who is awaiting his British work permit. “I prefer just to play. I don’t have a favorite position. I am used to playing as right-back but any time I’m on the pitch in the starting 11, I’m always happy.
“He (Guardiola) told me I’m ready and that I can play in several positions, right back, left back, midfield. I just hope to help him out as he expects.”
Danilo is leaving Madrid two years after joining from Porto, having won back-to-back Champions League titles and the Spanish title once. Financial details of the transfer to City were not disclosed.
While Cahill is no stranger to captaining his side — which he did for much of last season — the honor has been bestowed upon him on a full-time basis now by manager Antonio Conte as Chelsea prepares for the 2017/18 Premier League campaign.
Conte insists though that while Cahill is the man to wear the armband going forward that the rest of the squad’s elder statesman must also take on leadership roles to help guide the club as they pursue back-to-back PL crowns.
“I think every single player must improve in this [being personalities in the dressing room] and take more responsibility because we lost big players and we need now to find these new players to create this fundamental for Chelsea. It is very important for our future success to create this base.”
With the Premier League season lurking, several of England’s top clubs are looking to put the finishing touches on their summer with quality last-minute signings.
Manchester United has been in the market for a holding midfield this transfer window, with Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic and Eric Dier of Tottenham long linked to the Red Devils, but now another name could be made available to Jose Mourinho.
Marco Verratti is reportedly growing more and more tired at PSG, and while the Italian does still wish to move to Barcelona this summer, he would be open to signing with United if the Blaugrana don’t come calling.
Chelsea could be closing in on another young Brazilian talent, and Blues will be looking to beat out Man United and others for his services.
Fluminense forward Richarlison is the player of interest, and the Blues are prepared to duel with the Red Devils and AC Milan in order to secure the 20-year-old’s signature.