MLS Season Preview: Chivas USA

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This will be the final season of Chivas USA’s existence as Major League Soccer purchased the club from Chivas Guadalajara owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes. The team will stay in L.A. but be re-branded for next season and move into their own soccer specific stadium in the near future. With former Colorado Rapids assistant coach Wilmer Cabrera in charge, MLS will appoint a club president and give the team a budget but apart from that we don’t know an awful lot. We do know that Stan Kroenke won’t be buying the team as MLS Commissioner Don Garber confirmed.

Since they entered the league in 2005, early promise has succumbed to seeing Chivas not make the playoffs since 2009 and they’ve finished bottom of the West in three of the last four seasons. The only way is up. Once again the Goats’ nearest rivals are LA Galaxy who they share the StubHub Center with as their home stadium. Expect some fiery SuperClasico’s this season as this rivalry is about to take on a whole different spin.


Players In: Mauro Rosales (Trade with Seattle for Tristan Bowen and allocation spot), Andrew Jean-Baptiste (Trade with Portland for Jorge Villafana and Re-Entry draft pick), Adolfo Bautista (Free agent), Luke Moore (Undisclosed, Elazığspor), Agustín Pelletieri (Undisclosed, Racing Club), Tony Lochhead (Undisclosed, Wellington Phoenix), Andrew Riberio (Free, Charlotte Eagles), Donny Toia (Free, Phoenix FC) Fejiro Okiomah (Free, Charlotte Eagles)

Players Out: Tristan Bowen (Trade with Seattle for Mauro Rosales and allocation spot), Jorge Villafana (Trade with Seattle for Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Re-Entry draft pick), Gabriel Farfan (Loan, Chiapas)

Key Player: Mauro Rosales

Can Rosales stay fit and dazzle with Chivas?

The Argentine playmaker has been in sensational form in preseason, banging in some stunning free kicks and looks to have rolled back the years. After some good seasons at Seattle, fitness issues got the best of Mauro up in the Emerald City in the end, so a change of scenery should do him good. Coupled with goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and central defender Carlos Bocanegra, those three make up a spine full of MLS experience. If Rosales can stay fit, Chivas need to get him on the ball as much as possible in the central area and watch him slot things together. His partnership with fellow Argentine Agustín Pelletieri in the center of the pitch will be crucial if Chivas can have a good season.

Manager: Cabrera is well respected within MLS and helped Oscar Pareja build a squad full of young players at Colorado as an assistant coach since 2012. He’s also had vast experience with the U.S. soccer youth system after coaching both the U-17 and U-18 sides, and this is a big chance for him to prove he can be a successful head coach in MLS. Not much is expected from Cabrera, and he will likely set his team up in an attacking formation. This could be fun.

Outlook: Chivas have made some good player acquisitions but with so much up in the air it’s difficult to predict how this season will plan out. It will certainly be a strange situation, but the league owned team still have plenty to play for. Chivas’ squad will be playing for pride and having a bit of fun in 2014. They’ll also be hoping to impress potential buyers to keep them around in 2015. Things are looking a lot brighter for L.A.’s second franchise, but don’t expect a playoff spot this season. But some fluid attacking soccer should liven things up.

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Crew SC announce MLS Cup 2015 sold out 15 hours after qualifying

Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew SC
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The building formerly known as Crew Stadium has hosted its fair share of famous soccer games since it opened in 1999 — dos a cero, anyone? — and Sunday’s MLS Cup 2015 looks set to rank right up there among them.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Roughly 15 hours after advancing to this year’s MLS Cup, which they will host this Sunday (4 p.m. ET), Columbus Crew SC announced on Monday that MAPFRE Stadium is officially sold out.

Crew SC president of business operations Andy Loughnane addressed the fanbase in a blog post on the club’s official site Monday afternoon and said, “As of late this morning we are sold out of the extra capacity seating that was created for MLS Cup at MAPFRE Stadium. While there is a small chance that additional seats could be released for purchase as a result of MLS holds being returned, we are sold out of all known available seats.”

[ MORE: Beckham group abandons yet another stadium plan, site in Miami ]

Crew SC, making their second MLS Cup appearance in club history (2008 champions), will host first-time MLS Cup contestants, the Portland Timbers, on Sunday.

PL clubs combined to pay out $200 million in agent fees in 2015

Liverpool Unveil New Signing Christian Benteke
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What a time to be an agent in the footballing world, eh? The rich just keep getting richer and richer and richer.

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The steady increase in transfer fees being paid for players — bad, good, great and amazing alike — has made quite a few “selling” clubs rich reach over the last decade or two, to be sure, but it’s also made another group of people obscenely rich: player agents.

As the soccer world has gone crazy with its “now, now, now” approach — managers must win now, or they’re fired; new signings must become stars now, or they’ll be sold; etc. — agents are the ones making out like bandits — no losses to be sustained on players who turn out to be flops; no future loss of wages due to taking “too long” to settle in and being labeled a flop — at the expense of clubs and, most cruelly, the players.

More than $195 million was paid out agents by Premier League clubs across the January and summer transfer windows, with Liverpool — ever the club in constant change — paying out $21.5 million in agents fees to remain top of the table for a second straight year. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal were the four other clubs to top $15 million.

[ MORE: Premier League Payback — The Diego Costa era over at Chelsea? ]

Agents not only receive a fee when players change clubs through transfers, but can only be compensated again and again when one of their clients signs a new contract with their current club.

For instance, Wayne Rooney has signed at least four new contracts since joining Manchester United in 2004, the latest of which came barely three years after he was given a new five-year deal in Oct. 2010 upon handing in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move to Manchester City. Rooney’s current weekly wage is reported to be in the neighborhood of $450,000. His agent, Paul Stretford, will have received a sizable payday upon negotiating the deal in Feb. 2014.

At the end of the day, sports are little more than a business, and it’s the ones who play the game — the political game, that is — the best, and most ruthlessly, who are making out like bandits.

Puksas Award finalists: Somehow absent is USWNT’s Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd, USWNT

FIFA announced on Monday its three-man list of finalists for the 2015 Puskas Award, handed out each year to the player who scored the “most beautiful” goal of the past calendar year.

[ MORE: 2015 Ballon d’Or finalists ]

The three men up for this year’s honor are Alessandro Florenzi (WATCH HERE), Lionel Messi (WATCH HERE) and Wendell Lira (WATCH HERE) — all scorers of fantastically beautiful goals this year.

That means Carli Lloyd, who made the original list of nominees before being whittled down to just three, is shockingly tragically scandalously criminally not a finalist for this year’s award. Reminder: This is the goal we’re talking about.

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

So, here’s the case for Lloyd:

  • She scored from midfield
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick in the 16th minute

How in the world is Carli Lloyd’s midfield goal to complete a 16-minute hat trick and win a World Cup final not a top-three goal of the year? You got some (more) explaining to do, FIFA.

Beckham group abandons latest plans for Miami MLS stadium

David Beckham
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All signs seemed to point toward an all-too-familiar outcome for the David Beckham-led investment group hoping to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city of Miami: another failed plan in their bid to build a brand new stadium.

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Earlier this month, newly-joined all-world sports executive Tim Leiweke warned that groups or individuals currently owning the various parcels of land surrounding the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium, the latest site Miami Beckham United (MBU) had chosen, were making “unrealistic” demands and threatened to derail the project at that location.

Today, it’s been reported across South Florida that the group has altogether abandoned plans to build their stadium at that particular site. Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez confirmed that MBU were “moving in a different direction” — quotes from Local 10 News:

“It’s going to be withdrawn from the next agenda because the Beckham group has not acquired the private properties that are needed to construct the stadium on that site.”

“The residents expect us to hold these teams to the fire,” Suarez said. “A lot of times they’re financed by wealthy people and they want some sort of a public subsidy, which is very controversial as well, which is why we were going to take it to referendum.”

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

On Sunday, during halftime of the league’s Eastern Conference final, MLS commissioner Don Garber was asked about the Miami stadium situation, to which he responded, “We think Miami will be a great market. We found a reasonably good site. I’m confident that we’ll get something done there.”

MBU is reportedly being held to something of a deadline by the MLS board of governors, which meets every year ahead of MLS Cup, with this weekend’s sit-down thought of as a target date to have something concrete going forward. Meanwhile, Sacramento Republic FC, an MLS expansion hopeful currently playing in the USL (third division), announced last week they would be moving forward with building their brand new MLS-sized stadium, expansion bid or not.