U.S. Soccer prevails in potentially ugly lawsuit

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Circle this as a story that never became a big deal – but certainly could have been.

ChampionsWorld is a defunct promoter of a series of friendlies in the United States. In 2003 and 2004, the ChampionsWorld Series drew boffo crowds for matches involving several Euro heavyweights.

And yet, swimming in debt and facing increasing costs of staging the matches, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2005.

So ChampionsWorld LLC field suit in 2006 against U.S. Soccer, claiming essentially that the federation and MLS conspired to put the company out of business.

The case had been moving through the courts until today, when a U.S. district court issued summary judgment in favor of U.S. Soccer and MLS.

There’s plenty of background on the matter from Soccer America here. (The article is two years old but still germane.)

U.S. Soccer today issued a brief statement:

Earlier today, Judge Henry Leinenweber of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer (MLS) on each and every claim brought by ChampionsWorld, a former international games promoter.

The ruling enforced a decision in July 2011 by the Court of Arbitration of Sport that as a national association member of FIFA, U.S. Soccer has the authority to sanction and charge fees for international exhibition matches involving FIFA-affiliated clubs and teams.

Championsworld had claimed that U.S. Soccer conspired with MLS to use sanctioning policies to drive them out of business.

I am no legal expert, but the ChampionsWorld series always left me feeling a little conflicted. On the one hand, the promoters’ ability to sign up teams, secure a venue and then charge fans to watch is nothing more than free market capitalism at work. But …

Something always seemed askew. Major League Soccer investors were pouring millions of dollars to build the pro soccer market here. They were doing the daily nitty gritty in terms of grass roots awareness and daily media nourishment. So it seemed somehow improper that promoters with no real stake in the game’s overall growth were planting crops on the fields that others had so dutifully worked.

Besides, ChampionsWorld or any other promoter never had an obligation to be mindful of the MLS or U.S. Soccer properties, so conflicts were always a potential issue.

Not that U.S. Soccer nor Soccer United Marketing nor MLS needs to control everything in and around the sport domestically. But in this case, it seems only fair that U.S. Soccer or MLS have some control, or at least the ability to sanction.

The U.S. courts apparently believe so, too.

Rashford’s childhood hero played for USMNT (Take one guess)

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But can he grow a beard?

Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford is known for his darting runs and clever finishes, but he grew up begging to get between the sticks with a lot of love for an American.

“Howard was my idol. I used to have a little Tim Howard shirt.”

[ MORE: Dempsey still wants USMNT role ]

Rashford said he’d ask his youth coach to allow him to play goal so he could mimic his hero, who at the time was the Manchester United backstop and now USMNT legend.

The 20-year-old was nine when Howard left Old Trafford, but it hasn’t changed his enjoyment for tending goal. Rashford joked that he’s got to be the choice to replace David De Gea in case of a post-sub emergency.

Watch Live: Watford vs. West Ham United

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David Moyes‘ first match in charge of West Ham United sees a striker change at Vicarage Road against testy Watford (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Andy Carroll will be up top, and Andre Ayew is hurt to boot.

Marco Silva leads Watford’s hosts with Adrian Mariappa, Christian Kabasele, and Miguel Britos at the back of a 3-5-2.

LINEUPS

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenía, Cleverley, Doucouré, Zeegelaar; Hughes, Richarlison; Gray. Subs: Karnezis, Prödl, Holebas, Capoue, Pereyra, Carrillo, Okaka.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Carroll. Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Rice, Fernandes, Quina, Sakho, Martinez.

Dempsey still happy to accept USMNT role (which is good)

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Clint Dempsey is tied with Landon Donovan for the most goals in USMNT history, and seems set to continue with the side in some capacity as he threatens to stand alone in American history.

[ MLS: Steve Bruce to Miami? ]

The 34-year-old striker spoke with Steve Zakuani on the Sounders’ web site (video below) and said he’s happy to accept continued call-ups should they arrive from USSF headquarters.

From SoundersFC.com:

“We’ll see what happens,” Dempsey said.” I mean, in terms of what I’ve been able to accomplish with the national team, I’m at peace with it. It’s not really about me. It’s about a group of guys that want to be moving forward.

“If there’s an opportunity that comes where you get to play a role and try to help and I’m feeling good and I’m playing well, then yeah, you’ll never say no. But you know, if the call never comes I’m still happy, still at peace, and focused on being here and trying to make the most of the time I have left.”

There are a number of players whose national team futures should be in question, but Dempsey is in a different class. No one has debated his motor or fuel, and his engine is still there (to complete the Springsteen-esque car comparisons, he remains one of the only things that qualifiers as chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected, and steppin’ out over the line).

If anything, he plays too close to the edge. That’s not something I see as one of the Yanks’ problems right now, so perhaps Dempsey needs to be viewed like Cuauhtemoc Blanco or Carlos Ruiz as a CONCACAF guy who’s around as long as he wants to be a part of it.

I mean, shoot, if Dempsey wants to keep passing the fire to Christian Pulisic and now Weston McKennie, there are far worse ambassadors for the program. He’s the most accomplished field player in recent history, and will be able to share so much when it comes to balancing club and country.

Heck, maybe he needs to be the late era Ryan Giggs of the 2018-2022 USMNT.

Beckham reportedly wants Steve Bruce in Miami

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He’s got the same initials as South Beach, you know?

Steve Bruce is being tipped to be the first manager of David Beckham’s Miami MLS outfit, according to The Sun.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]

It’s going to be some time before Bruce would have the opportunity. The 56-year-old former Manchester United star has Aston Villa in a Football League Championship promotion push, and Miami does not even have a start date for life on an MLS pitch.

Of course, managerial life tends to be short, so there’s no guarantee Bruce will have a job at any point during the build-up to Miami in MLS. And several expansion clubs have named their coach very early in the team building process (Jason Kreis and Bob Bradley amongst others).

Bruce on MLS’ parity-driven playing field, if not as one of the big spenders, would be intriguing to watch. He’s a terrific man motivator and has the connections to combine with Beckham to make something special happen in terms of personnel.