Beckham, MLS Commish Don Garber and Mayor of Miami-Dade County get the deal done.

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)

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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.

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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?

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-2 Orlando City SC (video)

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 15:  David Villa #7 of New York City FC tries to keep the ball as Scott Caldwell #6 of New England Revolution defends during the inaugural game of the New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on March 15, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City.The New York City FC defeated the New England Revolution 2-0.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
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The game in 100 words (or less): “It’s not how many times you get knocked down; it’s how many times you get back up.” If that is indeed the way the world works, New York City FC will be given every opportunity to prove themselves again and again and again. When they’re not losing 7-0 to their rivals, they’re blowing two-goal leads (and the simplest of chances to go 3-0 up — check out the videos below for more on that) inside the final 20 minutes at home a week later. Orlando City SC have made a habit of scoring stoppage-time goals this season (Sunday’s 94th-minute equalizer in the Bronx was their fifth), so you’ll have to excuse all of us who wholeheartedly expected NYCFC to snatch this 2-2 draw from the jaws of victory. With the draw, NYCFC remain fourth in the Eastern Conference, a point back of the New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact for second and third, while Orlando City inch to level on points with sixth-place Toronto FC.

[ MORE: USMNT 4-0 Bolivia | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

42′ — Brilliant heads home not long before halftime — Everything seemed fine for NYCFC

66′ — Pirlo’s beautiful ball sets Villa up for 2-0 — Class. Pure class from everyone involved. Everything is fine.

70′ — Villa sends his PK effort sky high — What more can you say? Everything is still probably fine.

72′ — Baptista fires low to make it 2-1 — Villa left the door wide open, and Julio Baptista was quick to walk right through two minutes later. Everything is less fine.

90+4′ — Molino heads home with no time left — As soon as Villa missed the penalty, it was always going to end like this. Nothing is fine.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: David Villa (for a variety of reasons)

Goalscorers: Brilliant (42′), Villa (66′), Baptista (72′), Molino (90+4′)

Klinsmann excited about USMNT’s promising youngsters ahead of Copa America

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29:  Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States Men's National Team watches his team play against Guatemala during the FIFA 2018  World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The United States defeated Guatemala 4-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The U.S. national team’s last 135 minutes of game time — the final 45 minutes of a 1-0 victory over Ecuador, followed by Saturday’s 4-0 dismantling of Bolivia here at Children’s Mercy Park — have supporters across the country harboring unfamiliar feelings these days: cautious optimism ahead of this week’s 2016 Copa America Centenario.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

It’s the best three-half stretch Jurgen Klinsmann’s side has enjoyed (against top-80 opposition, according FIFA world rankings) since … well, come to think of it, I’m not really sure when. In the last 24 months, the Yanks have lost away to Guatemala, drawn away to Trinidad & Tobago, lost the CONCACAF Cup to Mexico on home soil, finished fourth at the Gold Cup on home soil, and wrapped up 2014 with just one win in their last eight games of the calendar year, including three of four World Cup fixtures.

(When you write it all out like that, it sounds really bad. It’s been really bad.)

Yet, here stands the USMNT, five days from kicking off the centennial edition of Copa America, and a few pieces are beginning to fall into place for Klinsmann and Co. I waxed poetically about Saturday’s victory and all the positives it highlighted.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | BC | D ]

Listening to Klinsmann and a handful of players speak after the game, there was a similar sense of confidence among the men on the field that a workable, sustainable formula had indeed been realized.

“The atmosphere is really good,” the 1990 World Cup-winning German said. “Fine-tuning elements, every training session helps you. I think no team will come into Copa America 100 percent or perfectly prepared. … It’s a bit tricky.”

[ MORE: Ranking Copa America contenders — what are USMNT’s chances? ]

Perhaps no player on the USMNT’s Copa America roster has come further under Klinsmann’s tutelage, and in such a short period of time, than striker Bobby Wood, who has scored all five of his international goals inside the last five months and on Saturday assisted on Gyasi Zardes’s strike for a 3-0 lead with a quality cut-back cross from the end line — Wood, speaking after the game:

“I think as a team, we’re pretty confident,” Wood said. “We wanted to continue growing as a team with each game before the tournament. With these results, I think we did a good job to be confident going into the Colombia game. … I actually think two games ago, we were still pretty confident. Maybe the outside is putting pressure on us, but as a team inside the locker room, we’re pretty confident to do well. I think everyone is pretty hungry for Copa to start.”

It’s the USMNT’s current crop of youngsters like Wood, the 23-year-old now-Hamburg man, that gives American fans hope beyond Copa America with an eye toward the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The average age of the scorers of the USMNT’s last eight goals: 23 years old. No one is more excited by that progression than Klinsmann, who raved about Christian Pulisic after the 17-year-old became the youngest goalscorer in USMNT history on Saturday.

“What is wonderful to see is the growth of [the young] players over these last one or two years — how they improved their game, how they’re becoming more adult[-like], obviously stronger physically, but also becoming more confident,” he said of players like Wood, Zardes, DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks, among others. “This is a process. The process is never-ending, but the first couple of years when you grow, it’s a big learning curve. How far this process takes us into Copa America, we’ll take it one step at a time. We put the pieces together the best way that we get the right results.

“I think over the next couple of weeks, they will definitely get their opportunities to play minutes, leave an impression, and to push more and more the established players toward the edge, which is their job. It will be a very intense and interesting next couple of weeks.”

 

Tens of thousands welcomed Real Madrid home after Champions League final

Real Madrid bus (Photo credit: Real Madrid / Twitter: @realmadrid)
Photo credit: Real Madrid / Twitter: @realmadrid
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MADRID (AP) Tens of thousands of fans endured the rain to greet Real Madrid players as they returned home early Sunday from their triumph in the Champions League final.

[ MORE: Real top Atleti on penalty kicks — Ronaldo the hero again ]

Many waited all night after celebrating the team’s win over crosstown rival Atletico Madrid in a penalty shootout on Saturday in Milan.

The players arrived in Madrid at about 6 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) and traveled on an open bus to the club’s traditional celebration spot, the Plaza de Cibeles, where an estimated 30,000 supporters welcomed the team.

Players carried the Champions League trophy atop the bus, constantly showing it to the cheering fans. The word “Campeones” and “11” were displayed prominently on the bus, in reference to the club’s 11th European title.

[ MORE: Ronaldo — “Our team showed more experience” ]

Team captain Sergio Ramos, who scored Madrid’s goal in regulation time at the San Siro, took the walkway set up over the plaza’s fountain and draped the statue of the goddess Cybele with the club’s scarf and flag, then lifted the trophy high above the famous figure.

A huge video screen was set up at the plaza to allow fans to watch the final, and the party began right after Cristiano Ronaldo converted the final penalty kick in the shootout to give the club its second European title in three seasons. Light shows and music entertained the fans through the night.

Atletico Madrid supporters, who again were denied the opportunity to celebrate the title, had gathered at a different viewing spot to watch the final.

[ MORE: Bale — “We deserve it” ]

There were no reports of major incidents between fans of the rival clubs.

Real Madrid said “almost 80,000” fans watched Saturday’s final at the team’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where four huge screens were placed at midfield. The title celebration at the stadium included confetti thrown into the air as “We are the champions” played through loudspeakers.

The team will meet with the mayor of Madrid later on Sunday and again will parade through city streets.

The title celebrations will culminate at night at the Bernabeu.

Marek Hamsik absolutely smashes goal in Slovakia’s upset of Germany (video)

TRNAVA, SLOVAKIA - MARCH 25:  Marek Hamsik of Slovakia runs with the ball during the international friendly match between Slovakia and Latvia held at Stadion Antona Malatinskeho on March 25, 2016 in Trnava, Slovakia.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images
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Marek Hamsik hit a ball with such momentous force that we’re not sure it rotated more than three full turns on its 20-yard flight into the goal.

The Slovakia star’s goal equalized a friendly with Germany at 1, and Repre went on to hammer the reigning World Cup champs by a 3-1 score.

[ USMNT-BOLIVIA: Recap3 things | Player ratings ]

I mean, really, what a hit. Bernd Leno had little hope of touching it.