As Major League Soccer gears up for Saturday night’s massive final in Toronto, league commissioner Don Garber addressed the media in the buildup with his annual State of the League address on Friday.
Among the topics discussed were expansion, the demise of NASL and what MLS is doing to attract younger players to United States.
As it has been in the past, expansion was the biggest discussion on the docket, with Garber stating that next week will likely determine a timeline for the league’s next entries.
“As you probably know it is strategic expansion,” Garber said during Friday’s MLS State of the League address. “Following our board meeting on Thursday in New York, we will announce a process and a timeline for our next round of expansion, which will add clubs 25, 26, 27 and 28 to Major League Soccer.”
David Beckham’s Miami franchise is currently tabbed as the league’s 24th entry, following Minnesota and Atlanta in 2017 and Los Angeles FC in 2018, however, the future of Beckham’s project remains very much up in the air.
[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
In the event that Miami is passed over, there are plenty of teams waiting in the wings to claim its spot. Sacramento, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Detroit and San Diego are among the many destinations currently vying for entry into MLS, however, Sacramento and Cincinnati remain very high on the list after seeing recent success and growth in USL.
“There is a deadline on the Miami deal. I am not going to share that deadline, it is an agreement we have with David and (his business partner) Simon Fuller,” Garber said in regards to the Miami plans.
“But … we need to resolve the Miami situation so that we can go forward with our expansion plans for (expansion) teams 25-28 because they are team 24 and if they are not going to be 24 there are going to be a lot of things that need to move around and it is something we will discuss at our board meeting.”
When Garber was asked about the decline of NASL and particularly the status of the New York Cosmos and whether MLS would ever consider allowing the franchise to join, he stated that the league has no intentions of adding a third New York/New Jersey team.
“As it relates to the Cosmos, it’s a great brand,” said Garber. “We have two teams in MLS in New York. We are not going to have a third team.”
Additionally, Garber also noted that the league has no intentions of changing the MLS playoff format or adding an additional Designated Player spot for each club’s disposal. However, the commissioner did confirm that teams will see an increase of $400,000 each in target allocation money (TAM) in 2017, bringing the total per club up to $1.2 million.Follow @MattReedFutbol
Apparently 42 is the new 22. At least that is one Brazilian’s point of view.
Former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich midfielder Ze Roberto has signed a new contract with Brazilian club Palmeiras at the age of 42.
In his time in Europe, Ze Roberto won a UEFA Champions League title with Real Madrid, while also capturing various championships with Bayern, including four Bundesliga titles in his time in Germany.
Ze Roberto played a key role in Palmeiras’ Campeonato Brasileiro title in 2016 and has appeared in 53 matches for the club since joining in 2015.
“My biggest motivation has always been the project. The goals have been achieved – winning the Copa do Brasil title last year and now the Brasileirao,” Ze Roberto said in a statement.
“When I arrived, I said that I would not be coming to pass the time, but to become part of the history of this club, to see my picture in the dressing room. This has been accomplished and I am very happy.
The 42-year-old had a successful 12-year international career with his native Brazil from 1995 to 2006, which included six goals in 84 caps for the five-time World Cup champions. With the national team, Ze Roberto hoisted two Copa America titles for Brazil in 1997 and 2005.Follow @MattReedFutbol
Atlanta has already made some big splashes this offseason as the club prepares to join MLS in 2017, but the Eastern Conference side could be adding another attacker to its already deep bunch.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
According to Metro New York, Atlanta is poised to sign Jamaican international Romario Williams, who was originally drafted to MLS in 2015 by the Montreal Impact.
Williams will reportedly be exchanged for allocation money after having made just two senior appearances for the Impact since joining the club two seasons ago. The 22-year-old has spent two separate loan spells in USL with FC Montreal and more recently with the Charleston Battery.
In 2016, Williams netted 10 goals in 27 appearances for the Battery.
In addition to his club duties, Williams has represented Jamaica at the Under-17 and U-23 teams before reaching senior team in 2016.Follow @MattReedFutbol
One club will make history on Saturday night north of the border as Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders vie for their first MLS Cup title.
While both teams enter the final in fine form, PST takes a look at which players and matchups will influence the game’s outcome the most.
Osvaldo Alonso vs. Michael Bradley
It may not be the sexiest matchup in terms of watching but these two midfielders have a lot in common other than their lack of hair. In addition to his three goals and four assists during the regular season, Alonso has been the heart and soul of the Sounders midfield for several years, particularly in 2016. Meanwhile, Bradley has had a similarly strong season for TFC as he anchors the midfield.
Both teams feature strong backlines and some of the league’s top attackers, but these two players certainly provide stability in the midfield, which will be vital in the frigid conditions at BMO Field on Saturday night.
[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
Jordan Morris vs. TFC backline
The story of the Sounders in 2016 is that of a fairytale, but the one of Jordan Morris might be even more intriguing if he and his side goes on to win MLS Cup. All in one calendar year, Morris can potentially be an NCAA champion, MLS Rookie of the Year and MLS Cup champion, a feat that seems pretty incredible when considering what the Sounders have endured in 2016.
Morris will likely have his chances against the TFC, which gave away several clear-cut opportunities to the Impact in the East final, but he’ll have to capitalize for the Sounders in order for them to win it all.
Sebastian Giovinco vs. Sounders backline
It’s easier said than done to try and contain the Italian striker but that’s what the Sounders will have to do in order to hoist the title. Although the emergence of Jozy Altidore has greatly helped the TFC attack and Giovinco, in particular, so that opposition can’t solely zone in on him, Giovinco remains the top threat for the hosts. Giovinco notched 17 goals and added 15 assists in 2016, meaning he’s not only a danger in front of goal but also a worry for the Sounders when it comes to playing the role of provider.
With Altidore’s emergence as of late it makes the challenge of stopping Giovinco all the more difficult, but the Sounders will likely have to keep at least two bodies around the Italian at times in order to throw him off of his game. Otherwise it could be a very long night for the Cascadia side, who likely watched as TFC put up five goals at home against the Montreal Impact in their Eastern Conference final second leg.Follow @MattReedFutbol