MLS won’t adopt goal-line technology by 2014 – high cost to blame

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Despite Major League Soccer’s reputation as one of the world’s most tech-savvy leagues, the implementation of goal-line technology isn’t something fans will be seeing anytime soon.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber informed the Associated Press Sports Editors that the league won’t adopt goal-line technology for the 2014 season due to the exorbitant cost associated with implementing one of the four FIFA-approved systems: GoalControl-4D, Hawk-Eye, GoalRef and Cairos.

According to the AP, installation alone of GoalControl would cost approximately $260,000 per stadium and an additional $3,900 per game. The numbers have forced MLS to take a step back and contemplate what Garber calls “prioritizing how we spend our money.”

“[The cost] had us take a step back and pause and try to figure out: Is the value of having goal-line technology worth investing millions and millions and millions of dollars for the handful of moments where it’s relevant?” he said. “And our view has been that we’re going to wait and see how it works out. We certainly don’t need to be the first league that has it.”

Instead, the league will spend the next few seasons monitoring the technology to determine which source best fits MLS’ needs of balancing accuracy and success with cost. FIFA’s GoalControl-4D system, which will be used in World Cup 2014, and the Premier League’s Hawk-Eye system, which debuts next fall, are widely accepted as industry leaders at this point.

There’s no question that MLS will adopt goal-line technology at some point in the near future. Indeed, the due diligence process has been ongoing for some time now.  According to Nelson Rodriguez, vice president of competition and game operations, “Major League Soccer is a strong proponent of using technology in soccer where it enhances the game. We have met with multiple goal-line technology system manufacturers and we are carefully monitoring FIFA’s plans to implement one of them.

“As of today, the time required to purchase, receive, install and properly test the equipment precludes MLS from considering the approved system for use in our 2014 season, but we are hopeful that the system proves successful in the Confederations Cup and becomes more feasible for us in subsequent years.”

The news should not come as a major shock to MLS supporters. Taking on such high costs for an unproven product that will undoubtedly go through some growing pains in its first few years isn’t a wise investment for a streamlined, single-entity league. Holding off on immediate adoption will give the goal-line tech market time to mature, become more competitive and ultimately assure MLS a better deal on a better product.

There is, however, something depressing about the decision. For a league that champions itself on being on the forefront of the synthesis of soccer and technology, one would think MLS would be actively conjuring up means to implement the product regardless of the cost. Do they need to be first in line? No. It makes sense that a cash-flush entity like the Premier League is pioneering the movement. But there is something to being one of the early adopters.

It’s foreseeable that such a system could be implemented through sponsorship. MLS has yet to confirm or deny whether they are taking pitches from white knights looking to invest in America’s burgeoning soccer market but surely there are companies capable of shelling out a couple million in exchange for the acquisition of naming rights.

Adidas, Nike, Under Armor and Warrior all dump massive amounts of money on yearly kit sponsorships throughout the world. Even non-soccer oriented companies like Siemens, AON and Standard Chartered could look to get involved. Or, perhaps even more appropriate for a vision-based tech system, Ray Ban, Oakley or Lens Crafters could look to get in on the ground level.

Is it huge issue that MLS won’t be adopting goal-line technology by 2014? No. It’s smart to take time to allow the goal-line technology market to mature. But cost shouldn’t be the predominant reason threatening the league’s cutting edge status.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia