Orlando’s dream comes true, as MLS community celebrates new stadium deal

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Their will be a few sore heads in Central Florida this morning, but they won’t care… a soccer-specific stadium is coming to town.

On Tuesday evening Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the rest of the council voted in favor of funding to allow Orlando City Soccer Club to build a 18,000 seat stadium in downtown Orlando, all but sealing MLS’ 21st franchise in the process.

This is huge news.

And the soccer community across the United States of America knows it. After years of hard work since Orlando City became a USL Pro franchise three seasons ago, what many regarded as the final obstacle was approved and now the final negotiations to make Orlando MLS’ 21st franchise can be squared away.

(MORE: Orlando City all but set as 21st MLS franchise)

The stadium sparks a new era for soccer in Florida, and looks to have MLS returning to Florida to ignite the Southeast region and further expansion in Miami and Atlanta.

“We thank the Orange County and City of Orlando Board of Commissioners for their support to build a soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando,” MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement. “We also would like to thank [owners] Flavio Augusto da Silva, Phil Rawlins and their staff for their passion and commitment to bring a Major League Soccer team to Orlando.

“We look forward to working with the Orlando City SC ownership group to finalize an expansion agreement.”

Following the vote which approved $20 million worth of Orange County funding would be used for the Lions’ new stadium, an outpouring of delight erupted on Twitter and social media across U.S. soccer. Here’s a small selection of how the events played out.

First of all tension built up to the vote from Orange County that was televised, as plenty of speakers issued their support for MLS in Orlando, including the father of USMNT and Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi.

While MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott chats about the MLS benefits in Orlando prior to the vote.

A huge crowd gathered inside the County Administration building, as fans, locals and club officials began to pledge their support for MLS in Orlando.

Then, the moment of truth arrived and Orlando City celebrated a soccer specific stadium.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs shows her support for Orlando City.

Yours truly got in on the act as congratulations for Orlando City poured in from across the world.

Barclays Premier League side Stoke City, who have close financial links with Orlando and close ties to President Phil Rawlins, sent out the following message:

Steven Goff from the Washington Post revealed the deal for OC to join MLS is all but done.

Grant Wahl is looking forward to two new MLS teams in 2015.

And finally, Orlando gave a not so subtle nudge to MLS Commish Don Garber….

Garber replied with the following:

Antoine Griezmann reveals desire to play in MLS

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Antoine Griezmann is being chased by the biggest clubs in Europe and is the main attacking talent for the French national team.

He just signed a new deal with La Liga giants Atletico Madrid through the 2022 season and despite Manchester United and Barcelona, among others, linked with a move for the predatory striker, nobody really knows where the Frenchman will be beyond this season.

But which league does he want to play in, for sure? Major League Soccer. Yep. That’s right.

In his new book titled “Behind a Smile: The life of the Little Prince” Griezmann says that he wants to follow in the footsteps of his idol, David Beckham, and finish his career in MLS. Griezmann also stated his love for NBA star Derrick Rose and his admiration for David Villa, captain of NYCFC.

Given the fact that Griezmann is 26 years old, it could be some time before he arrives in MLS but maybe he will do so in time to become one of Beckham’s first handful of Designated Players at his long-awaited Miami franchise?

Given the fact that whenever he discusses a potential move to Man United he cites the cold weather as an issue against the transfer, it’s likely Griezmann would want to be in a warmer climate in MLS. His good friend from their time together at Real Sociedad, Carlos Vela, is swapping Spain for Los Angeles in a few months as LAFC’s first DP.

Take your pick, Antoine. LAFC? Miami? NYCFC? LA Galaxy? Atlanta United?

I’m sure anyone would want to sign in a few years on DP-level money if you keep scoring goals like this one last night against AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League…

USMNT move up in latest FIFA rankings

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The latest batch of FIFA World Rankings arrived on Thanksgiving Day and the U.S. men’s national team can be thankful for moving up three places.

Despite their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the managerless USMNT rose three spots to 24th in the latest rankings and are the fifth-highest ranked nation to not qualify for the World Cup.

Mexico remain the top team in CONCACAF and stay in 16th place, while the U.S. has jumped ahead of Costa Rica who fell four places to 26th.

Germany remain in top spot in the rankings, while there were no other movers in the top five with Brazil in second, Portugal third, Argentina fourth and Belgium fifth. Spain moved up two spots to sixth, while Chile is back in the top 10 despite failing to make the World Cup and Switzerland moves into eighth place.

In total, four teams in the top 20, Chile, Italy,Wales and the Netherlands, failed to reach the World Cup. Senegal are the big climbers after their World Cup qualification as they rose nine places to 23, while Sweden moved up seven spots to 18th.

Below is a look at the top 25 nations on the planet, according to FIFA, as the 2017 international season comes to a close.


1. Germany
2. Brazil
3. Portugal
4. Argentina
5. Belgium
6. Spain
7. Poland
8. Switzerland
9. France
10. Chile
11. Peru
12. Denmark
13. Colombia
14. Italy
15. England
16. Mexico
17. Croatia
18. Sweden
19. Wales
20. Netherlands
21. Uruguay
22. Iceland
23. Senegal
= 24. USA
= 24. Northern Ireland

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.