Learning more about the David Beckham-Miami expansion MLS bid – and not liking it

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About once a month, we get the next IV drip of information about David Beckham and when he’ll flash his MLS discount card on an expansion franchise. Or, alternatively, someone just moves the words around and gets a few clicks out of re-circulating an old Beckham interview, without really providing any, you know, new information.

We do have a wee bit of new info today, as ESPN FC reported more about how Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross could potentially be involved. And this one made me scrunch up my face and groan audibly, a bit like I’d just discovered a nasty rash somewhere … down there.

Ross is co-founder of RSE Ventures, a sports marketing company. So part of his ownership interest, according to the ESPN FC report, has RSE “looking to provide marketing services to the investment group being put together by Beckham, and possibly provide a temporary stadium solution for the proposed team.”

It goes on to mention Sun Life Stadium as this temporary stadium solution.

Let me be the first to put this on the record: Blek!

There’s a lot here not to like. First, when I hear “sports marketing firm,” we’re never far from a bunch of power suited, corner office types getting together and impressing each other with “re-branding strategies” and big buckets of marketing hooey … all of which moves the entire project further away from what the bottom line business should be: opening a proper stadium, putting some good soccer on the field and selling tickets for people to watch it. At some point, it’s not that complicated.

Getting “sports marketing firms” involved just means more layers of money changing hands at high levels – not what MLS is about. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall any high-dollar sports marketing firms getting involved with the recent, game-changing MLS success stories. Places like Seattle, Portland, Toronto (back when they still drew fans) and Philadelphia grew outstanding audience numbers organically.

At Sporting Kansas City, a wildly successful re-launch was about local, committed, engaged owners and a lot of old fashioned hands-on “figuring it out.”

The other thing not to like is Sun Life Stadium. I’ve been, and it’s a fine, fine place for football. This is the place that has been, officially, named Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Dolphins Stadium and Land Shark Stadium. Yes, Land Shark Stadium.

On its face, I’m opposed to MLS attachment with anything ever named Land Shark Stadium. Plus, MLS has worked so hard to create stability. Meanwhile, what says “instability” like a home ground that has been under six names – including Land freakin’ Shark Stadium?

Seriously, it would be a terrible place for soccer, the next ginormous and ill-fitting Gillette Stadium or Giants Stadium waiting to happen. Hasn’t MLS covered this booby-trapped ground before? Shouldn’t we be past it? Shouldn’t we adopt an official stance of “Fool me once … and can’t get fooled again?”

I know it would be “temporary,” but if you think it’s easy to get an MLS stadium up and running, please visit the wonderful facilities that owners in New England and at D.C. United so easily created.

If this happens, and if the Miami Beckhams move into the place formerly known as Land Shark Stadium, would anybody be one bit shocked to see the club still passing, trapping and shooting there five or six years into its playing days?

Top Storylines for Premier League Week 6

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After a week of League Cup action domestically, the Premier League returns this weekend with a myriad of interesting matchups and storylines.

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s top story’s to follow:


Can Manchester City continue its torrid form?

Manchester City has finally found its groove under manager Pep Guardiola.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The club has won five successive games, the last three coming on the road while scoring a combined 19 goals. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are a terrific 1-2 punch while David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have been stars in midfield, with De Bruyne pulling the strings for Man City all season.

There’s every likelihood that Man City will continue its impressive run on Saturday. The club hosts floundering Crystal Palace, which is still adjusting to new manager Roy Hodgson.

(more…)

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

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Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

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Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

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Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

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Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.