After Miami’s entry to MLS, big question remains: where will the stadium be?

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Following the glamorous unveiling of David Beckham’s new Major League Soccer franchise in Miami on Wednesday, one huge stumbling block lies in front of the powerful and wealth group bringing top-flight soccer back to South Florida…

Where will the team play?

The questions from members at the press conference announcing MLS’ 22nd team weren’t exactly the most hard hitting you’ll ever come across, but there was some talk about intentions to build a new soccer-specific stadium (SSS) in downtown Miami.

But Beckham, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Mayor of Miami-Dade county Carlos Jimenez all gave off the impression that a stadium deal is quite a long way off. But Beckham revealed that it will be in downtown Miami.

That’s crucial.

“We can’t build a stadium in two weeks. This is obviously going to take time,” Beckham explained. “The next major thing is getting the right partners and getting the right investors. We want to build a stadium in Miami, the City of Miami and the people of Miami deserve a stadium they are proud of. They deserve a stadium that is in a great place. No, we can’t build a stadium in six months. But once we have the site and once we work with the mayor and his commissioner and the people of Miami, we will be very quickly hopefully.”

(Official: Beckham announces Miami will be Major League Soccer’s 22nd franchise)

Stadium site has been picked in Downtown Miami, will this make a big difference to attract fans?

With talk of Beckham planning to finalize MLS’ newest franchise for months, it seems the issue of where the stadium would be has held things up. Considerably. Following the previous issues in the South Florida sports landscape, as the Miami Marlins had huge issues with the $2.4 billion worth of public funding given to them by Miami-Dade county and controversy dragging on for years, this is not an easy place to work with local officials.

However Mayor Jimenez is extremely committed to the stadium project.

“We don’t only want to create an iconic stadium, we want to create a great public space,” Jimenez said.  “We want it to become an additional amenity to what is happening downtown. If you come back here in five years, you won’t even recognize this place. That stadium needs to be part of the fabric of Miami and we can accomplish together. And it will be something that we will both be proud of now and into the future and something that will be left for our children and our grandchildren.”

(MORE: MLS back in Miami – Where does it rate on the league’s glamour scale?)

So Becks and his wealthy consortium, including the likes of Miami Heat superstar LeBron James, Beckham’s long-time PR agent Simon Fuller and Bolivian Businessman Marcelo Claure, are pumping in the money themselves to build the stadium.

“We don’t want public funding. We will fund the stadium ourselves,” Beckham announced. “It’s something that we’ve worked very hard to get to this stage.”

So, that’s a promising step as the funds are in place to build the stadium and no additional cost will be put on the Miami-Dade county. However in terms of timeline, we should see Miami arriving into MLS for the 2017 season (again that wasn’t confirmed at the press conference) so they better get a shift on with building this spectacular stadium.

Click to enlarge: Point A is where Beckham held the press conference, it is likely the stadium may be at Watson Island to the East or Bayfront Park to the South.

(MORE: What They Said – Important quotes from Beckham’s MLS in Miami announcement)

But what about a specific location?

Reports out of Miami — long-time soccer reporter Michelle Kauffman has been detailing this project since the get-go has this expansive piece on the topic — suggest that the search for a stadium site for Beckham’s MLS franchise are wide-ranging and complicated.

From building a stadium near Miami Beach, using space next to SunLife Stadium, on college campuses or having it situated in neighboring towns and cities, the options have been numerous for Beckham’s people to unravel. But after the former LA Galaxy star stated the Mayor and his commissioners plan for the stadium to be built downtown, here are three likely options:

  • Watson IslandThink of PNC Park or AT&T Park, and you will see something very similar here with one of the most spectacular views from any stadium in the USA. This island is on one of the main causeways from downtown Miami to Miami beach, is home to the Miami yacht club and would be a spectacular venue. Space is tight, but if they are dreaming of creating a legacy, this could be it.
  • Bayfront ParkThis area is extremely close to where the announcement was made on Wednesday and is right by the water in downtown MIA. In the past many other stadiums have been planned in this area but fallen down due to lack of space. But if there’s only going to be a 25-30,000 SSS in this area, it could work extremely well. Plus the American Airlines Arena, home of the NBA’s Miami Heat, is just across the street.
  • Miami World Center The old site of Miami Arena is due to be regenerated with new shops, bars, restaurants and an entirely new transport hub in the next few years. This area is smack bang in the middle of downtown Miami and a soccer stadium would be the key part of the jigsaw to help this part of town become a focal point once again.

One last word from Beckham on the SSS, as he revealed that it would indeed be downtown and he aims to create a stadium that is easily accessible for fans in the heart of Miami.

“The Commissioner, the board, the Mayor has promised we will be downtown. It is important that we are in this part of the city, [Perez Art Museum in the eastern half of Miami’s central area, just across the water from Miami beach]. I have seen what the Miami Heat they have done and the arena they have created. Soccer fans love to commute and love to walk to games, it is a community. I have seen what it is like in Seattle, the passion and the fans, the way it is there. I know we are going to have that here.”

But where exactly will it be, David?

Southgate praises rising star, possible no. 1 Pickford

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With fewer than three months to the start of the 2018 World Cup, the majority of Gareth Southgate‘s England squad has largely sorted itself over the course of the current Premier League season.

[ MORE: New USMNT kits for 2018 World Cup ]

With everyone healthy and available — a big ask, granted — the likes of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Danny Rose, Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane practically pick themselves for the starting 11, with Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy having secured significant roles off the bench.

One position, however, which remains far from set in stone is the man in goal. Joe Hart has long since fallen from his former place as the cemented no. 1, meanwhile Jack Butland and Fraser Forster failed to make the most of their sporadic chances over the course of the last couple years.

[ MORE: France blow a lead, lose to Colombia; England top Holland ]

Enter: Jordan Pickford, who started and played all 90 minutes — and massively impressed Southgate — in the Three Lions’ 1-0 victory over Holland. Southgate singled out the 24-year-old Everton goalkeeper for praise following the game, remarking that Pickford’s ability to start the process of playing the ball out of the back “allows [England] to play in a different way” — quotes from BT Sport:

“He transferred what we know he can do into an important game, a game away from home, so that was good for him.

“I think (it was) not the test that we faced in November (friendlies against Germany and Brazil) in terms of the pressure on our defense and the experience of the players.

“But, nevertheless, I think that’s 11 clean sheets from our 16 games and that gives us a good base to build from.”

“I think it allows you to play in a different way. There are moments where the goalkeeper or a defender can come and put the ball into the stand or play it forward hopefully.

“But if you can play with composure and play through and out of pressure then it (eases) off the opposition in terms of their pressure and eventually they stop running and you have more time in different areas of the field. The profile of all of that defense and goalkeeper allowed us to do that.”

Don’t look now, but this appears to be the most settled and established England side heading into a major tournament… well, probably in my lifetime. What if England are good — or, worse — really good?

Like clockwork, top goalkeepers criticize new World Cup ball

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It’s a tradition as old as time — the union of top goalkeepers from all over the world, no matter the continent from which they hail, complaining about the new ball to be used at the upcoming World Cup.

[ MORE: New USMNT kits for 2018 World Cup ]

By the end of this summer’s tournament in Russia, you’ll reflexively twitch every time you hear the words “Telstar 18.” Goalkeepers will tell you that it’s designed to deceive them, to boost goalscoring numbers during major tournaments.

Below you’ll find the critical, but restrained so as not to offend, assessments of goalkeepers David De Gea (Spain’s no. 1), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany’s no. 1b) and Pepe Reina (De Gea’s wily backup) — quotes from FourFourTwo:

“It’s really strange. It could have been made a lot better.”

“The ball could be better; it moves a lot. But I think we’re just going to have to get used to working with it — and try to get to grips with it as quickly as possible before the World Cup starts. We’ve got no other option.”

“They should change it. There’s still time.”

[ MORE: France blow a lead, lose to Colombia; England top Holland ]

Unsurprisingly, top attacking stars — those who presumably stand to benefit from a ball that unpredictably moves on goalkeepers — have given their seal of approval for Telstar 18.

MLS (afternoon) roundup: NYCFC come back vs. NE; FCD, POR stalemate

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Ismael Tajouri scored two goals and Sean Johnson had five saves to help New York City FC play the New England Revolution to a 2-2 draw Saturday.

The 23-year-old Tajouri, who has appeared in four MLS games, has three goals in the last two matches while filling in for the injured David Villa.

Yangel Herrera threaded a pass between two defenders to Tajouri, who turned and blasted a rising left-footer into the net to cap the scoring in the 76th minute.

Diego Fagundez bent a shot from well outside the box off the post to give New England (1-1-1) a 1-0 lead in the 11th. Tajouri tied it early in the second half, first-timing a cross from Saad Abdul-Salaam past a diving Matt Turner from near the penalty spot and Juan Agudelo’s header in the 63rd put the Revolution back in front. Cristian Penilla played a perfect cross from the left side to Agudelo who finished from the top of the 6-yard box.

NYCFC (4-0-0) is off to its best start in history and has won a franchise-record five in a row, dating to the 2017 playoffs.

FRISCO, Texas (AP) Roland Lamah scored his third goal in two games and Jimmy Maurer had a career-high five saves in FC Dallas’ 1-1 tie with the Portland Timbers on Saturday.

Lamah, who had two goals and an assists in FC Dallas’ 3-0 win over Seattle on Sunday, opened the scoring in the 36th minute. Jacori Hayes evaded two defenders and then tapped it to Lamah, who rolled a left-footer past a diving Jake Gleeson into the net from the top of the penalty arc.

Sebastian Blanco side-netted a left-footer from the top of the box to tie it in the 47th.

FC Dallas (1-0-2) is unbeaten in its last nine home matches.

Lawrence Olum, who was shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior in the 44th minute, drew a red for a hand ball in the 75th for Portland (0-2-1).

Report: PSG pressing Conte to leave Chelsea this summer

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First, Paris Saint-Germain (reportedly) wanted Mauricio Pochettino; then it was (reportedly) Diego Simeone; now it’s Antonio Conte who’s (you guessed it — reportedly) been targeted for, and pitched, an exit from Chelsea this summer.

[ MORE: Conte, Pirlo could spearhead Italy managerial team ]

According to a report from the Guardian, PSG executives have held talks with Conte’s agent in recent days and/or weeks, as the winners of four of the last five Ligue 1 titles prepare to move on from current manager Unai Emery this summer.

The belief in the French capital is that Conte, who’s made no bones about his frustrations at Chelsea dating back to last summer, would be a far more realistic target for that reason. According to the report, PSG are willing to offer Conte an annual salary in the neighborhood of $14 million. The Italian is currently paid nearly $13.5 million per year at Chelsea.

Conte has been at odds with the Chelsea hierarchy, largely, over the lack of funds made available to him to rebuild the squad in the transfer market.

“I have great ambition but I don’t have money for Chelsea. The club knows very well what is my idea, what is my ambition. That is very clear. When you decide to work with this type of coach, you must understand that you take a coach with great ambition. Not a loser but a winner. And that ambition must always be shared.”

[ MORE: Man City, Man United reportedly chasing Neymar ]

Talks are said to have been “positive” between Conte’s representative and PSG.

PSG’s motivation to fire Emery stems from the Spaniard’s failure to impress in European competition — two round-of-16 exits from the Champions League, one either side of the massive spending spree of last summer which resulted in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe moving to the Parc des Princes.