What They Said: Important quotes from Beckham’s MLS in Miami announcement

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Three consecutive Eurythmics songs played over the live stream as the world awaited the appearance of David Beckham’s major Miami announcement on Wednesday morning, as South Florida’s “Sweet Dreams” came true.

“This is an exciting time for myself, my family, friends and partners and something that we’re looking forward to bringing to Miami,” Beckham said before Garber took the mic to make the announcement.

“What an incredibly historic day for Major League Soccer and soccer in North America and more importantly for soccer in our world because this is the first time in the modern era that an ex-athlete is joining the ranks of ownership and will become the managing partner of a professional soccer team,” Garber said.

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

Gimenez managed to avoid most of the gaffes that tend to accompany politicians talking sports, aside from a slip-up of “David Beckman” and put a great deal of emotional weight and significance into the arrival of Major League Soccer:

“Commissioner Garber, we welcome the MLS and we’re happy to be home to your 22nd franchise. David, we welcome you, your wife Victoria and your children to Miami. We share your vision of greatness. We are going to be willing partners in achieving that greatness.”

Some other important points:

STADIUM TALK: Beckham said he’s doing it himself, “We don’t want public funding. We will fund the stadium ourselves. It’s something that we’ve worked very hard to get to this stage.”

As for a timeline, Beckham said, “We can’t build a stadium in two weeks. This is obviously going to take time. The next major thing is getting the right partners and getting the right investors.”

He said it would not be six months, but “we’ll be quick.”

Gimenez mentioned that they wanted the stadium in “the right place” and “as quickly as possible.” He noted that there were five political commissioners from Miami Dade County in attendance as a “clear indication that there is political support for getting this done.”

Garber on the stadium: “If we’re successful, this facility will be an incredible showcase of what’s so beautiful about this city.”

YOUTH ACADEMY: Beckham stressed building a youth academy to provide the best in homegrown players to the club, and Gimenez played to his voting public.

“To see the true passion for soccer in Miami Dade County, you just have to visit any of the neighborhoods in our community. When you watch young people, boys and girls of all ages, playing soccer in our parks.”

He called the rebirth of MLS in Miami as “the culmination of the international city we’re becoming.”

BECKS ON WHY MIAMI? “Why not? For me, I wanted to create a team that we can start from scratch. 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.”

BECKS ON HIS TEAM CONSTRUCTION: “We will want to bring some of the best players in football to Miami. I’ve seen what it means when you bring great players into a team. I’m talking about the Heat. That’s the fortunate thing about my career, the teams I played for and with. Players are already interested in Miami.”

SUMMATION: It was a bizarre press conference right off the hop, and didn’t find normalcy once questions were passed to an excited group of media members (“Would you like to call Sir Alex Ferguson as your coach?”). But overall, Beckham showed his experience handling big press conferences and distinguished himself well.

Reports: Jonathan Dos Santos set to join Giovani on Galaxy

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Double Dos Santos DPs in Tinseltown?

That’s again the rumor out of Spain, where Jonathan Dos Santos has reportedly left Villarreal camp with permission to negotiate with the LA Galaxy.

Dos Santos would join his brother Giovani in a move which would not only increase the Galaxy’s attacking portfolio but give the club another feather in the cap as it attempts to ward off incoming Los Angeles FC in the race for the hearts of L.A. soccer supporters.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up in Gold Cup Final? ]

It would be the second time Jonathan joined his brother on a squad, and the third time the two were professional teammates. Both joined Barcelona’s academy in 2002.

Jonathan posted two goals and three assists in La Liga last season, leading the team in key passes per game with 1.3. He added a goal and an assist in UEFA Europa League play, where he also registered a hemorrhagic 2.6 giveaways per contest.

Nevertheless, there’s little doubt the younger Dos Santos brother would shine in MLS, where he could set up his brother and Romain Alessandrini to feast on defenses, and maybe even help Gyasi Zardes find his form.

How might the USMNT line up in the Gold Cup Final?

AP Photo/LM Otero
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The United States men’s national team became the favorite to win the Gold Cup when Bruce Arena called up more than 500 caps worth of experience after the group stage, but there’s one group that wasn’t improved at all by the legendary MLS coach, and that’s defense.

So while Michael Bradley and Tim Howard certainly help the unit take shape and Darlington Nagbe, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore all improve the side’s speed, passing, and creativity, no move was made to help a back line that’s done anything but thrive in this tournament.

Most of this is not Arena’s fault. John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, and Geoff Cameron were given time to focus on their European careers, and “next batch” backs Tim Ream and Timothy Chandler fit into that overseas bunch as well.

[ MORE: Palace signs Ajax CB/DCM/LB ]

That doesn’t change the fact that the easy weakness for the USMNT right now has a big chance to be exposed by opponents Jamaica, who — as funny as this sounds — are possibly a worse match-up for the Yanks than the side it upset in Mexico’s ‘B Teamers’.

While player ratings are far from the be-all, end-all, we’ve had two writers handle the Americans’ five matches of Gold Cup. Here are the ratings for the eight backs on the roster by appearance.

Jorge Villafana — 6.5, 5, 6; Omar Gonzalez — 6, 5, 7, 5; Matt Miazga — 7; Matt Besler — 7.5, 6, 8; Eric Lichaj — 5, 7; Justin Morrow — 6, 5; Graham Zusi — 6, 5.5, 4; Matt Hedges — 5, 5.

Only Besler has avoided a dud so far, and keep in mind that Arena has not subbed a back in the tournament and also loves Gonzalez.

[ WAYBACK: How U.S. lost to Jamaica in 2015 Gold Cup semi ]

Dealing with speedy Jamaica is a challenge for a group that’s looked pretty mixed up when it comes to dealing with counter attacks. This is especially challenging for one player, Matt Hedges, who is better suited for teams that want to attack through the air.

As for the midfielders and forwards, remember that Arena pulled Paul Arriola after 66 minutes in the semifinal and let Darlington Nagbe and Jordan Morris go all 90.

Considering all that, here’s how Arena may try to win the Gold Cup and put one American foot in Qatar for the 2021 Confederations Cup (That’s still happening, by the way).

Howard

Lichaj — Gonzalez — Besler — Villafana

Bradley — McCarty

Arriola — Corona — Zardes

Altidore

As a bonus, here’s how we think the subs may play out given player use in the run-up to the final. Call this between the 65-80 minute marks, and it can work with the lead or pushing for an equalizer or winner:

Howard

Lichaj — Gonzalez — Besler — Villafana

 Acosta/Pontius — Bradley — McCarty — Nagbe

Altidore — Morris

Ajax reunion at Palace as De Boer signs center back

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Crystal Palace has added much needed depth and youth to its corps of center backs with 20-year-old Ajax man Jairo Riedewald.

The left back in Ajax’s UEFA Europa League loss to Manchester United, Riedewald completed better than 92 percent of his passes in Eredivisie play. He also nabbed 2.2 interceptions per match.

[ MORE: Russia’s straw stadium ]

Fellow Palace center backs James Tompkins, Scott Dann, and Damien Delaney average age is 31.3.

Riedewald played for Palace boss Frank De Boer at Ajax. From Palace’s official site:

“He will be an excellent addition to our squad, Jairo is a young player but already has a lot of experience. I know he is looking forward to playing in the Premier League.”

Riedewald played the majority of his Eredivisie matches at center back, but has 18 appearances as a defensive midfielder and another 12 at left back.

He’s Palace’s second addition of this summer, the other being a loan of Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Chelsea.

Russian farmer’s straw stadium pokes fun at World Cup costs

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KRASNOYE, Russia (AP) Russia is desperate to control its spending on the 2018 World Cup, and a farmer might just have the answer – straw.

In a project straight out of the “Three Little Pigs” fairytale, Roman Ponomaryov has built a straw replica of the 43 billion ruble ($700 million) stadium in St. Petersburg which will host World Cup semifinals.

His arena made of 4,500 straw bales comes with tiered seating for 300 and flagpoles. It hosted its first tournament – for local teams only – last weekend using modified soccer rules.

[ VIDEO: Man United beat Real Madrid ] 

“It’s good to get people excited and create a sports atmosphere ahead of the World Cup,” Ponomaryov said in a recent interview.

The real St. Petersburg Stadium has drawn ire for its cost, corruption scandals, delays, and workers’ deaths.

Ponomaryov is a fan of the Zenit St. Petersburg club and says he modeled his straw stadium on Zenit’s new home in a gentle dig at the problems around the construction.

“It seemed pretty strange … how the cost of the stadium and its construction timeframe were increasing,” he said. Russia’s total World Cup budget is around $10.7 billion.

Zenit has accepted the straw stadium with good humor, offering Ponomaryov a ticket to a game at the real thing.

The harvest will keep him on the farm for the next few weeks, though, and he has in mind another project – organizing a Straw World Cup.