As anyone who follows MLS expansion knows, the competition for the next league landing spot is as intense as it’s ever been.
With 22 teams now set to pass and trap by 2017, all signs point to two slots remaining open before a major freeze takes hold in terms of league growth. (New York will be No. 20, starting in 2015. Orlando will be No. 21 and Miami was recently announced as No. 22.)
So, Atlanta, San Antonio, Sacramento, St. Louis and others are lining up for their shot at this MLS thing. Atlanta, backed by the money and sports business muscle of NFL owner Arthur Blank, seems to have the inside track on 23.
The math says that leaves one itty-bitty chair still out there; and the music seems to be stopping.
So stories like this one now have a little extra weight, as St. Louis moves its effort forward by applying for United Soccer Leagues admission for 2015. The ultimate goal, they say, is an MLS side.
St. Louis has long looked and felt like a boffo MLS market waiting to happen. But “boffo market” doesn’t get you an MLS franchise. It takes big bucks. And a stadium plan.
St. Louis has been here before (AC St. Louis), but the financial heft just wasn’t there. This group has a long way to get there, too.
The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.
Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.
USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore
Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski
Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.
[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]
The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.
The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.
Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.
T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.
Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.
Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.
Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.
Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.
[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]
Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.
With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.
Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.
France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.
Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.
[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]
Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):
At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.
When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.
What do you think?