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?

Malta captain mutes goal celebration after journalist slain

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Malta captain Andre Schembri says the car bomb slaying of a Maltese investigative journalist prompted him not to exult after scoring an historic goal.

Schembri’s temporary equalizer for Cypriot club Apollon in a 3-1 loss to Italian side Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday made him the first Maltese player to score in proper European competition – excluding qualifying.

[ PL PREVIEW: Saints vs. West Brom ]

But instead of pumping his fist or leaping in joy over the achievement, Schembri hung his head as teammates mobbed him.

Schembri wrote on Facebook on Friday, “Celebrating my goal didn’t feel right after what happened in Malta this week.”

Malta has been stunned since Monday by the slaying of Daphne Caruana Galizia, an anti-corruption reporter whose targets included Malta’s leading politicians.

“When they killed Daphne I wasn’t able to sleep for three nights,” Schembri told the ANSA news agency. “Malta is Europe, it’s not the third world. We need to be united when faced with grief like this, to say that we’re better than all of this.

“I love my country and with that goal it came naturally to me to think about a reporter’s freedom and the life of a mother of three children.”

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. West Bromwich Albion

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  • West Bromwich Albion hope to choose from goalkeepers Ben Foster (back) and Boaz Myhill (hamstring) for the trip to St Mary’s. Hal Robson-Kanu (strain), James Morrison (calf) and Oliver Burke (hamstring) will all be absent for the Baggies.
  • Southampton are again without Jeremy Pied but have no other injury concerns.
  • Of all teams to have met in at least seven different Premier League campaigns, Southampton v West Brom has the lowest goals-per-match ratio in the competition (21 in 14 matches, 1.5 per match). 
  • Dusan Tadic has been directly involved in a goal in each of his last three PL appearances against the Baggies (one goal, two assists).

Two mid-table sides meet up in the south of England as Southampton hosts West Bromwich Albion at 13:20 p.m. Saturday afternoon. (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Both teams are struggling for form heading into the match. West Brom is winless in its last seven games while Southampton has just one win in its last five, coughing up a chance to defeat Newcastle a week ago.

It’s a big boost for Southampton though that Manolo Gabbiadini is back on the scoresheet after scoring twice against Newcastle. It was Gabbiadini’s first goal since the second week of the Premier League season.

At the other end, West Brom have a worry with both of its top two goalkeepers, Ben Forster and Boaz Myhill. recovering from injuries.

What they’re saying

Southampton manager Manuel Pellegrino on his team: “The reaction of the team was really good, but we have to start from the beginning with this spirit. Sometimes you have to be patient, because at the beginning teams have more energy, they are fresher and they can press you better. I think we feel comfortable with the ball. If we are precise with the ball and with our tempo, we can create more problems – it doesn’t matter who we are playing. We know that West Brom are really strong physically, and dangerous from set plays and on the counter-attack. That’s something we’ve been working on this week. Every single week we are learning from our last few games, and I feel that my players are better prepared.”

West Bromwich manager Tony Pulis on facing Southampton: “They’re a good footballing team. Pellegrino has come in with his own ideas and the way he wants to play. From watching them in a couple of games away from St Mary’s they seem a little more relaxed. They look a little more uptight at home. But I’m sure they’ll become the team everyone knows they can be.”

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Prediction

West Bromwich doesn’t look closer to stopping its slide down the table, especially on the road. Even with Jay Rodriguez returning to his former club, Southampton should find the offense to put Tony Pulis and West Brom away. Southampton 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

Watch Live: West Ham vs. Brighton and Hove Albion

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West Ham and Brighton kick off the weekend’s Premier League action at the London Stadium on Friday afternoon. (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN an online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Both teams have just eight points from eight games, and are looking to move up in the table with a win.

Manuel Lanzini makes his second consecutive start, playing behind Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in West Ham’s 4-2-3-1 formation. On the other side, Tomer Hemed sits his final match of his three-match suspension, with Glen Murray playing atop the 4-4-1-1 Brighton formation.

LINEUPS

West Ham United: Hart; Zabaleta, Fonte, Reid, Masuaku; Kouate, Obiang; Antonio, Lanzini, Arnautovic; Chicharito Hernandez. Subs: Adrian, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Byram, Ayew, Noble, Fernandes

Brighton and Hove Albion: Ryan; Bong, Duffy, Dunk, Saltor; Izquierdo, Propper, Stephens, Knockaert; Gross; Murray. Subs: Krul, Goldson, Suttner, Schelotto, Molumby, March, Brown.

Report: FIFA considering updating international rules

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Under current FIFA rules, once a player plays a senior international competitive match, they’re cap-tied permanently to that nation. But that rule could be changing.

That’s according to a report from Reuters, which quotes CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani that FIFA could look into updating some of its nationality laws. Montagliani is the head of FIFA’s stakeholders committee.

“There are so many issues that have popped up over the years because the world is changing, immigration is changing,” Montagliani said. “There are nationality issues that pop up all over the world, in Africa, there are issues in Asia and CONCACAF, so its a good time to have a look at this and see if there are solutions, without hurting the integrity of the game.”

Changing the rules would have a big impact on nations with diverse populations or nationalities with large diasporas.

The report states the Cape Verdean FA requested relaxing the rule of cap-tying a player after playing a competitive game, if that player drops out of the player pool and likely wouldn’t be called up again. Cape Verde relies on a lot of Portugal-based and raised players with Cape Verdean heritage.

A relaxation of the rules could have an affect on U.S. Men’s National Team players as well. In theory, if Kenny Saief decided he wanted to play for Israel again, under a relaxation of the rules, and some sort of proof that a new USMNT coach wouldn’t call him up, Israel could potentially use him. In addition, players such as Cristian Roldan or Jesse Gonzalez could in theory be lost should they fall down the depth chart and other countries they’re eligible for.