Talking about David Beckham, Miami and potentially shifting tides in MLS expansion

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Is the push and pull of MLS franchise No. 20 about to take a southerly turn?

Very interesting stuff today from soccer sleuth Steven Goff at his Soccer Insider blog, where the Washington Post reporter says David Beckham’s long-whispered connections to a Miami expansion effort may be collecting momentum.

There’s no real news other than Goff’s sources hinting more at work here than the vaguely sourced embers in the media air around last December.

Goff is Goff, and he knows how to vet his own sources. So when the veteran soccer scribe says this thing could soon gain speed, you can trust there is weight behind it.

Beckham’s original MLS deal came with rights to purchase an MLS team, as we know. All his marketing muscle and the big Beckham machine can not only apply pressure in the right places, but it will look attractive to MLS in many ways, too.

But the league is committed to “NYC 2,” as it’s being called – a second club for the New York area, one that will actually play in New York (rather than New Jersey, where the Red Bulls call home). Then there is Orlando, a real darling among some expansion proponents for its aggressive efforts to insert itself in the MLS game.

(MORE: Orlando one step closer to MLS dream)

Major League Soccer desperately needs an imprint in the American southeast. Lots of good sports fans in Georgia, Florida and thereabouts couldn’t spell MLS if you spotted them two letters. Generally speaking, the league has alarmingly little awareness in markets with no club nearby. It’s a problem, and the MLS deciders know so.

While Orlando’s aggressive courtship might feel good – Who doesn’t like being desired, after all? – Brand Beckham could easily bully its way past Orlando’s more grass roots effort.

Or, MLS could go all in for Florida once again and add two clubs in the Sunshine State.

I mean, two MLS teams in Florida? Sure! What could possible go wrong?

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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League Cup wrap: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET