A potential MLS experiment – that has little chance of success

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I really like the concept and the spirit behind Simon Borg’s ideas on creating a destination viewing event around some holiday for Major League Soccer.

It’s a great notion to kick around. Fact is, it doesn’t hurt MLS to experiment with marketing concepts and ideas. There is little harm in testing an idea, then working it a little to see what deliverables might come.

SuperLiga is a great example. The made-from-nothing annual series that formerly pitted Mexican teams against MLS teams had a place. It was a swell idea.

Unfortunately, SuperLiga lost its purpose when CONCACAF Champions League developed into its current incarnation. So SuperLiga went away … and the fact that it came and went has left absolutely no scarring on MLS or domestic soccer.

Now, back to this notion of taking some holiday and linking it to a big MLS destination viewing day. It would be similar to, as Borg says in the piece at MLSSoccer.com, the way the “English Premier League has Boxing Day. The NFL owns Thanksgiving. The NBA has taken over Christmas Day.”

Thing is, it will never work in MLS.

Those three “events” work because those holidays share two common links: Generally speaking, families gather and stay at home during those particular holidays. And because they are smack in the middle of winter, people are usually inside, near televisions.

(And because at some point, everyone is exhausted from family, family drama, in-law tension, children screaming, etc., there’s usually a point where everyone wants to “turn off” already and not think about a darn thing. “Hey, isn’t there a game on?”)

So Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, 4th of July, these are all very different holidays. They are mostly built around outdoor activities.

Halloween? That’s about kids and trick or treat, or about big kids dressing up in crazy threads and doing a lot of things not associated with sitting around the 1020 dpi.

Black Friday? That’s the one that might have some legs.

Even there, however, Major League Soccer’s national imprint just isn’t substantial enough at this point to deliver any real traction, numbers that would make a network notice.

Like I said, applause for trying; and I suppose it never hurts to try. But color me pretty skeptical on this one.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

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The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.