MLS expansion deal good as done: Major League Soccer about to announce Miami as franchise No. 22

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If there is a worse kept secret around Major League Soccer, someone will have to point it out to us. At this point, it’s only a surprise if Major League Soccer does not announce Miami expansion on Wednesday.

Here’s the latest as Major League Soccer aggressive expansion push continues, as as the league dives into South Florida for a second go-round: (An under-funded Miami team, playing up the road in in Fort Lauderdale, came and went in MLS more than a decade back.)

The Miami Herald reported Monday that Beckham has exercised his heavily discounted MLS expansion option, which was always a centerpiece in this deal. This isn’t really newsy news, just more of a technical point, but an important one, that this thing has been legally consummated. The deal does, according to the Herald’s story, remain contingent on Beckham and his ownership group finalizing plans on a privately-funded stadium.

Some good reporting in the Herald story details on Beckham’s plans around Miami this week, Tuesday receptions with Miami city leaders, a planned press conference for Wednesday morning, etc.

And now pretty much everyone is reporting that Beckham will take part in the press conference, which MLS commissioner Don Garber will also attend.

So, is there any mystery left here?

Besides, we’ve been talking about this thing since December. No, wait, check that … since October! No, wait … for darn near a year now.

According to the Miami Herald story, negotiations are ongoing for potential stadium sites for a 25,000-seat stadium, including splashy waterfront lot at PortMiami.

Beckham and his group of investors will pay just $25 million for the franchise; that rate was worked into Beckham’s original agreement with league back in 2007. And it’s quite a discount considering New York City FC’s group paid $100 million to join up just last summer. It cost Montreal owners $40 million to come aboard three years ago, and Columbus Crew (a much smaller, less glamorous market) changed hands for a reported $60 million last summer.

This will be franchise No. 22 – a little weird considering Major League Soccer is about to launch its 19th season with 19 teams. New York City FC and the Orlando City Lions are signed up to come aboard in 2015.

This report says the team could begin passing and trapping in MLS as early as 2016, while others have indicated 2017 would be the start date. Given the history of Major League Soccer grounds and the hoops that must be jumped to get these facilities off the ground, put your money on the back half of that window.

Podolski goes out with super goal; Germany tops England

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The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.

But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Scotland 1-1 Canada

Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.

Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.

Germany 1-0 England

Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.

The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.

Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.

Elsewhere
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India

McClean to wear No. 5 in honor of deceased ex-teammate

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James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.

McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.

He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.

NASL side to broadcast all its matches on Twitter

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It’s fair to expect the San Francisco Deltas to be trendsetters in tech given their location and pedigree, and the first-year NASL club is doing just that.

The Deltas announced Wednesday that all of their home matches will be broadcast live on Twitter — in English, Spanish, and Portuguese — making them the first North American pro club to broadcast all of their matches on social media.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Twitter senior executive Josh McFarland had previously named as one of the investors in the Deltas, which makes the announcement even more natural. Other investors include tech execs from around the Silicon Valley.

Zlatan: Guardiola falling out “still drives me”

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Time heals all wounds, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic can still feel the scars from his falling out with Pep Guardiola.

The megawatt personalities saw their relationship deteriorate at Barcelona, with Ibrahimovic loaned to AC Milan one year after scoring 21 goals in 45 matches for Guardiola and the Blaugranas.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs Honduras? ]

Ibrahimovic never played for Barca again, and now has a chance to stare down Man City’s Guardiola in a Manchester Derby which could alter the Top Four fortunes of both sides. And he’s still powered by Pep.

From The Guardian, quoting a Sky Sports Italia interview:

“The problem wasn’t with me, it was with him, and he never came to terms with it. I don’t know what his problem was with me. It is something that drives me, gives me adrenaline and extra motivation. It is normal after what has happened. I’m using it as a positive, not negative.”

United visits City at the Etihad Stadium on April 27, and Ibrahimovic will be extra motivated (if that’s possible for the Swede, who seemingly would be fired up to beat someone in arcade bubble hockey).