MLS commissioner Don Garber will speak today in Houston


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

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.