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)

“This game belongs to the players” Wenger downplays Guardiola success

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Arsene Wenger has stressed that Pep Guardiola has not changed the game of soccer over the last decade or so, maintaining that the players are the ones who make a team truly great.

Asked if Guardiola has “raised the bar” of managing in his time at the top, Wenger said, “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe. You have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a short number of clubs.”

[ MORE: EFL Cup final preview ]

“We, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy but this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.”

In fact, Wenger showed a twinge of jealousy at all the attention Guardiola is getting with the team blowing out the rest of the Premier League this season, referencing trophies in the recent past Arsenal has hoisted. “We are maybe underdogs but we have to believe in our quality. The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again?”

“At the end of the day, you have to be cool,” Wenger said, “because Manchester City is dominating the league in the head of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs than in the FA Cup semi-final [last season when Arsenal beat Man City].”

Deportivo wastes penalty kick, remains winless under Seedorf

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MADRID (AP) — Clarence Seedorf remained winless as Deportivo La Coruna coach after a 0-0 draw with Espanyol in the Spanish league on Friday.

Deportivo squandered chances including a second-half penalty kick taken by Lucas Perez. Its winless streak reached 10 games in all competitions.

It was the third game in a row without a victory since Seedorf took over to try to avoid relegation. Deportivo was 18th in the 20-team standings, in the relegation zone.

In addition to the missed penalty, Deportivo twice hit the posts in front of a supportive crowd at Riazor Stadium. The players left the field applauded by the local fans despite the setback.

Perez’s penalty attempt was saved by Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez in the 65th minute. Lopez, who earlier this season stopped a penalty taken by Lionel Messi, dived to his right to stop Perez’s low shot.

The match marked the Deportivo debut of veteran Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari. He played alongside Seedorf at AC Milan, and was signed this week after a trial period.

Espanyol, 15th in the standings, hasn’t won in seven matches, since it ended Barcelona’s 29-match unbeaten streak in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. Espanyol’s last league win was in January, seven rounds ago.

Barcelona defends its seven-point lead in the standings when it hosts Girona on Saturday. Second-place Atletico Madrid visits Sevilla on Sunday.

Conte says he believes in his selection regarding Willian

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Antonio Conte has lashed out at anyone questioning why Brazilian winger Willian hasn’t played regularly until recently, saying

“Do you think that I am stupid when I put Willy on the bench?” Conte fired back at reporters when he was asked about Willian’s earlier lack of playing time at his pre-match press conference ahead of Chelsea’s match on Sunday against Manchester United.

[ MORE: Heynckes squashes Lewandowski to Premier League rumors ]

“I have to try and make the best decision for the team, no? Maybe last season we won the title, or did I forget something?”

The 29-year-old has made 29 Premier League appearances, but only 13 starts. He started in the midweek Champions League match against Barcelona and not only scored Chelsea’s only goal but also proved their most incisive player, prompting questions about his selection.

“Now he is playing because he deserves to play, not because there is some regret from the past,” Conte said. “For what? If a player deserves to play, and shows me during the training session that he is on top of his form, and wants to work defensively, he plays. If not, [he will] stay on the bench, stay in the stands.”

Instead of saying he wishes Willian had played more earlier in the season, he praised himself for giving the Brazilian the start at the appropriate time.

“He is playing now and I am very happy with my choice. Willian deserved to start in the previous game, and played well. I did a fantastic choice, and I want to take credit for that.”

EFL Cup Final preview: Arsenal, Manchester City fight for different types of glory

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  • These two clubs have never met in a major Cup final
  • With a win, Arsene Wenger would become the 8th PL manager to win all 3 major English trophies
  • Sergio Agüero has scored in all of his last 4 appearances against Arsenal

For Manchester City, it’s the first step of a potentially record-setting season. For Arsenal, it’s the Gunners’ best chance at securing a trophy.

The two teams are fighting for very different levels of glory as the two meet at Wembley Stadium on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET. Manchester City, despite losing to Wigan in the FA Cup just a week ago, would still be on track for a Double this season with a win against the Gunners. Meanwhile, Arsenal is outside the Premier League top four, and – as they have done each of the past two seasons in the FA Cup – could salvage an otherwise disappointing league season with a major Cup trophy.

Both teams will be struggling with selection in certain areas. Manchester City is likely missing Raheem Sterling, who could sit out due to an unspecified muscle injury according to Pep Guardiola in his pre-match press conference, while Fabian Delph is suspended after his sending off against Wigan in the FA Cup. That means either Danilo or 21-year-old Oleksandr Zinchencko would start at wing-back. Zinchenko is the likely candidate there, having appeared in four of City’s five EFL Cup games this season so far and playing almost every minute of those four matches. Gabriel Jesus, who missed more than two months with a knee injury, could be ready to make his early return. Claudio Bravo will continue to play in goal for the domestic Cup competitions.

Arsenal, meanwhile, is without new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan who is cup-tied to his previous club Manchester United, while Alexandre Lacazette is not yet recovered from his knee injury suffered in the North London derby, and Mesut Ozil could miss out with an illness. The Gunners are likely, however, to get Aaron Ramsey back in midfield after recovering from a groin injury, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can return to the lineup after his own cup tied absence in the Europa League midweek.

What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on playing Arsenal twice in a week: “We will be happy if we win, sad if we don’t but after the game we have another match against Arsenal. We are going to try and maintain our level, but finals are different, it is not what you have done in the past.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on playing Manchester City: “Manchester City have so many players that you think you have to stop that it is better to focus on the team plan than rather than on any individual. It’s true that I always used to use this competition with a youth team. For us it’s an opportunity. We’ll play with all the regular players.” 

Prediction

Arsenal has often come up big in hotly contested Cup matches, despite poor form in the surrounding competitions, so it would not be surprising to once again see Arsene Wenger hoist a trophy on Sunday to temporarily distract the fanbase and media from larger struggles. However, picking against this Manchester City team would be selection suicide, even after their disappointment against Wigan and considering the absence of under the radar star Raheem Sterling. Manchester City wins 3-1 with a pair of late goals to sink the Gunners, with a newly healthy Gabriel Jesus providing an influential injection off the bench in the final 20 minutes. Pep Guardiola raises another trophy at the site where he won the 2011 Champions League.