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

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Get your flip flops, sun hats and soccer shirts ready, David Beckham’s MLS franchise in Miami is now a reality.

On Wednesday alongside Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and Mayor of Miami-Dade County Carlos A. Jimenez, Beckham announced that the league’s 22nd franchise will be based in Miami.

“I am thrilled to announce that David Beckham has exercised his option to purchase an MLS expansion team and we are so excited to he has selected Miami for his new club,” Garber announced. “David had lots of cities across the U.S. and Canada to choose from, he picked Miami because he believes in this city. It is perhaps one of the most diverse and international cities in the entire world and people here love this sport. Together, we have no doubt that this will be an very successful MLS team.”

After months of intense speculation, the former England, Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy midfielder has officially set up the league’s newest franchise, as MLS is willing to give soccer in South Florida another go.

The new franchise will apparently cost Beckham just over $20 million to set up, which is a significant discount on the usual expansion fee of around $100 million that we’ve seen in recent years as Portland, Montreal, Vancouver and Orlando have entered the league.

(MORE: How would Beckham’s MLS franchise in Miami be any different this time around?)

Beckham then gave more reaction as to why he picked Miami to start his own franchise and become an owner in MLS.

“Why Miami?… Why not? For me, I wanted to create a team that we can start from scratch,” Beckham explained. “There was a team here 10 years ago and unfortunately they folded but going forward, I wanted to create a team that can be very personal. I want to make it my own team. I have great partners. Miami is a vibrant city with a lot of passion. I know this city is ready for football, soccer, this time around. I’ve always said throughout my career, whether there’s challenges or not, I need to work hard.”

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

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

Of course we’ve been here before, as in 2001 the Miami Fusion were shut down, along with Florida’s other former MLS team the Tampa Bay Mutiny, and since then top-flight domestic soccer has been non-existent in the Sunshine State.

But with Beckham’s financial clout and star power, along with those of other investors including Miami Heat basketball superstar LeBron James and Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure, expect Becks and co. to do it big in MIA.

The option to own his own MLS franchise was inserted into Beckham’s original contract with LA when he first arrived Stateside in 2007, and now the former England national team captain has exercised his option to put money, time and effort back into the league he was so influential in helping to grow over the past five years.

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

Also announced were rough details of the plans to bring a soccer-specific stadium to central Miami, as Beckham and his partners continue to hammer out a plan for a 25,000 seater stadium along the Miami waterfront.

“For it to be successful we will need a world class soccer stadium to serve as its home venue. It will show the rest of the world we can have one of the great soccer stadiums in the world,” Commissioner Garber said. “If we are successful this facility will be a showcase of everything that is so special about this city. Starting today David and his partners in the league will work closely with Mayor Jimenez and the Miami commissioner to find a project that makes sense MLS, David’s team and our fans. So that we can finalize our plan after many years to be back in this great city.”

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

source: Reuters
Beckham spoke passionately about why he chose to put his MLS franchise in Miami.

Beckham will now continue to work hard behind the scenes to ready Miami for their entry into MLS, and at the end of the historic announcement Becks addressed the crowd for one final time.

“I want to thank the fans and the media for coming down here to Miami on a big day for myself and everyone that has been working very hard with this project. Thank you very much for your support, I hear your concerns and issues and all that you have to throw at me.” Beckham said.

“I’m looking forward to working with you and having a successful relationship in the years to come. Thanks to the people of Miami for making my family and friends feel so welcome. It means so much that we have your support.”

MORE: Who’s left? With Miami confirmed, MLS down to two expansion slots

VIDEO: Relive how MLS’ last Miami side excelled in 2001, then got shut down)

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

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

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

AP Photo/Armando Franca
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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia