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.

Kevin de Bruyne questionable for injury-laden Belgium

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Belgium, already without superstar Eden Hazard for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Greece, will now be without playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who picked up an injury in training on Friday and will miss both the match against Greece and the subsequent friendly against Russia three days later…maybe.

The Belgian National Team official Twitter account sent out a quote from manager Roberto Martinez that confirmed De Bruyne would miss the pair of matches, but the tweet was quickly deleted.

Instead, this one was pushed out in its place, correcting his availability and also updating the type of injury:

Should De Bruyne miss out, it means Belgium would likely rely heavily on Dries Mertens and Kevin Mirallas for the playmaking duties, with midfielder Radja Nainggolan potentially taking on a more attacking role as well.

Belgium and Martinez also confirmed that right-back Thomas Meunier will miss out after failing to recover from an ankle injury, while Marouane Fellaini‘s status is unknown after he was held out of Thursday’s training session.

The injury also leaves De Bruyne’s status for Manchester City up in the air, with a pair of massive games in London in quick succession after the injury break. City visits Arsenal next Sunday, followed by a hop over to Stanford Bridge on Wednesday.

Landon Donovan retires again, this time for good

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After coming out of retirement last fall to join the LA Galaxy for one more shot at an MLS Cup, Landon Donovan has once again called time on his career, saying he’s certain he will not play again.

With a number of other ventures on his plate, the USMNT all-time leading scorer is looking forward to spending his time elsewhere.

“Yeah, I’m done,” Donovan said. “I’m done. No more playing for me. I have not [gone public with it yet]. But that is definitely the case.”

Donovan scored one goal in nine games for the LA Galaxy in his comeback bid, with the club ravaged by injuries and still gunning for the Cup. However, after the season was over with a loss to Colorado in the Conference Semifinals, the Galaxy confirmed it was nothing more than a short-term stopgap.

“With Landon, when he came back, it was always going to be a short-term thing,”team president Chris Klein said to the L.A. Times in December. “He’s enjoying what he’s doing and we see we’re comfortable in the direction that we’re headed.”

In January, reports claimed Real Salt Lake had offered Donovan a Designated Player contract, but it appears he’s turned it down, and will now have time to concentrate on his other ventures. Off the field, Donovan is an analyst on Fox’s soccer coverage, is on the advisory committee for the Los Angeles 2024 Olympics bid, and has joined the ownership group attempting to bring an expansion MLS team to San Diego.

Former Spurs midfielder Paulinho scores thunderbolt for Brazil

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Brazil topped Uruguay 4-1 to move on the verge of World Cup qualification, but there was much more to the first half of this match than meets the eye.

Uruguay went ahead 1-0 on a 9th-minute penalty won and scored by Edinson Cavani, and for a moment it seemed like the home side might find its way to pull within a point of Brazil at the top of the CONMEBOL standings. That would not last very long.

[ MORE: Full roundup of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying action ]

Just 10 minutes later, a bad giveaway near the midfield stripe saw Neymar casually feed Paulinho a good 50 yards from goal. The former Spurs man took matters into his own hands, charging forward and unleashing a vicious strike that continued to rise until it ripped the chords in the top-right corner.

 

Not only was the goal a sight to behold, it was an important moment in the match. Brazil was back level at 1-1, and Paulinho would be on his way to an eventual hat-trick with a pair in the second half. Neymar scored once as well to complete the 4-1 final scoreline, and the three points for Brazil saw them remain perfect in the World Cup qualifying round as they march seven clear of Uruguay at the top of the standings.

For Paulinho, the hat-trick brings him to four goals in the World Cup qualifying round, adding to his score in the 3-0 win over Argentina. They also mark an important moment for the Chinese Super League, where Paulinho now plays, having moved from Spurs in July of 2015. Some national team coaches have left players on the outside of the squad for moving to leagues such as the Chinese League or Major League Soccer, but Paulinho has clearly been an asset to Brazil despite his club situation. In fact, in China, Paulinho has scored four goals in his four league matches for Guangzhou Evergrande this season plus another in the Asian Champions League, leaving him in top goalscoring form coming into this international break, something which has clearly translated directly to international play.

The 28-year-old had lost his place in the national team squad in 2014, going over two years without a single international appearance, but has been a mainstay in the Brazilian side during this World Cup qualification cycle.

Dele Alli banned three European games for straight red card

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Spurs may be out of the Europa League this season, but should they end up qualifying for the Champions League next season, they will start the campaign short-handed.

Tottenham will be without midfielder Dele Alli for the first half of the group stage after his horrifying tackle on Brecht Dejaegere of KAA Gent in their 2-2 draw which saw Spurs out of the competition on aggregate in the Round of 32.

Alli went to ground on the 39th-minute challenge, and made contact on high up on Dejaegere’s leg with both his studs, finishing with a scissior-whip motion. It was a blatant red card, and now UEFA’s disciplinary committee has handed down the three-match ban. Straight-red cards for violent conduct only carry a minimum penalty of one match in UEFA tournament play, but the disciplinary committee clearly thought a longer punishment was necessary, with the ability to sentence anyone up to five matches.

The straight red was the first of Alli’s professional career. Alli apologized to Dejaejere after the match, according to the Gent midfielder. He’s since scored in four straight matches, and when asked on Sunday if that moment was still in his mind, he said, “I’m never going to say sorry for wanting to win or trying as hard as I can but things happen and you have to learn from them.”

Spurs currently sit in second place in the Premier League table with 59 points and look to be in a strong position for Champions League qualification, with a seven-point cushion on fifth-placed Manchester United.