Notes from today’s big announcement on MLS, NYCFC the Yankees and the rest

  • MLS officials thought they were preciously close in negotiations with New York City suits on league plan to develop a 25,000-seat facility in Queens, just east of Manhattan. The facility, at a price tag of around $350 million, would be attached to the park which is already home to the Mets’ Citi Field and to the National Tennis Center, where tennis’ U.S. Open plays out annually. It has recently bogged down and now … well, we’ll need time to see how today’s massive news impacts everything.
  • We are all getting some social media driven whiff of how Manchester United fans will not support the new club due to its attachments with the Red Devils chief rival. You know, in a city of more than 8 million, that’s unlikely to make much of a dent.
  • Major League Soccer has been quite careful to keep expenses in check, to keep from wandering down the destructive lanes the old North American Soccer League imprudently chose. So far, so good … although there has long been push from the AEG ownership corners to go bigger. Always bigger. Now, due to the involvement of free-spending Manchester City and the Yankees – who have always defined “free spending” in American sports – and due to David Beckham’s potential arrival into the MLS fray, you have to wonder if the lean to “go big” is becoming some kind of unstoppable force?

(MORE: Manchester City and Yankees will own new MLS expansion club)

  • I cannot possibly imagine this is good for the Cosmos, a club working hard to make an impact in domestic soccer from its lower place on the totem pole, in the second tier of the U.S. pro soccer structure. The upstart club is scheduled to launch its inaugural season in the North American Soccer League later this year.
  • As’s Grant Wahl points out in this piece, we’ve known for some time that Manchester City and owner Sheikh Mansour were interested in sinking some of their abundant oil money into MLS. The surprise today was the Yankees.
  • Yes, having more high-profile franchises in MLS will add further pressure on existing franchises to get their messy houses in order, mostly as it relates to facility development but also to essential ownership structure. Yes, we are looking at you Chivas USA, D.C. United and New England Revolution.
  • Clearly, some team in the 10-team Eastern Conference will need to move to the West, which currently has just nine teams. Which one?

(MORE: Why MLS was so focused on New York as the 20th market)

(MORE: Implications of the ‘sister-club’ relationship between City and NYCFC)


“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.