Jeff Fisher

Rumor: Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke to create MLS side “LA Gunners”

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With Stan Kroenke’s recent purchase of a choice 60 acre plot of land in downtown Los Angeles, reports from Britain claim the Arsenal chief shareholder is set to create a sister team in Major League Soccer called the LA Gunners.

Straight off these “reports” should be qualified as coming from the notoriously unreliable Metro, via the notoriously unreliable Sun.

The theory is as follows – just before this year’s Super Bowl Kroenke purchased a parking lot sized space located between Hollywood Park and the Los Angeles Forum. Such prime real estate, combined with the fact that the stadium lease for the St. Louis Rams (who Kroenke owns) ends after the 2014 season, had the LA Times making the logical connection that the land could “potentially could be used for an NFL stadium.”  

The foreseeability of Kroenke using the land to establish a new MLS side in LA, as the British tabloids would like us to believe, is considerably low for two main reasons. First, there are already two MLS clubs in the city, making three a crowd. Second, MLS has recently announced the expansion of the league to include New York City Football Club, Orlando City and David Beckham’s Miami club. Adding a fourth expansion side in such close temporal proximity would feel a bit aggressive and even if it gets down, Atlanta is currently the favorite to win that race.

Given these reasons – as well as the lack of quotes from anyone in Kroenke’s camp revealing even a mild interest in setting up a sister side in MLS – it’s highly likely the LA Gunner rumor is mere journalistic creativity of someone at the Sun connecting the dots and someone at the Metro getting on board. Quintessential British footy tabloid stuff.

Yet despite the barriers to entry and the story being pie in the sky, Kroenke setting up a sister club in LA is at least a possibility considering the rise of sister clubs (read: Manchester City’s plan for world domination) in burgeoning soccer markets.

But what about the practical issues at hand?

Chivas USA is the blight of MLS, a disgracefully run organization in dire need of a change of ownership. If Kroenke could work out a deal to purchase the club, this would overcome both the three-teams-in-LA issue and the expansion predicament.

Another option would be for Kroenke to rebrand the Colorado Rapids, his current stake in MLS, into the LA Gunners. Doing so, however, would fail to address the three-teams-in-LA issue all the while pissing off an important base of MLS supporters. A definitively less likely possibility

So for now the LA Gunners story should be taken with a grain of salt. Pure rumor. Speculation. Tea leaves. But discredit the rumor at your own peril because in the current wheeling-and-dealing world of MLS anything is possible.

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

NYCFC
New York City FC
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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.