Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways becomes Major League Soccer’s newest sponsor


Sometimes when you put two and two together, you make four. And this is one of those occasions.

On Tuesday Major League Soccer announced that Etihad Airways are now the official airline of the league, as a “multi-year partnership” between the league and the United Arab Emirates based airline is now in place.

Etihad are the flag carrier of the UAE, where Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed al Nahyan is deputy prime minister, and it is Sheikh Mansour who is buying and setting up Major League Soccer’s 2oth franchise, New York City FC. Connecting the dots, his country’s airline will now be pumping plenty of money into the league for the foreseeable future.

MLS announced on Tuesday that a deal has been struck with Etihad to became the league’s newest sponsor. Major League Soccer stated that “Etihad Airways and MLS will also work together on a number of activations and initiatives including community programs, as well as hosting competitions and promotions for flights and holidays with MLS fans.”

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways had the following to say: “Etihad Airways has a growing portfolio of sports properties that cover the globe and we’re delighted to now add Major League Soccer, a leading international sports brand, to this group.”

MLS Commissioner Don Garber is delighted to enter the partnership with Eithad, as the league continues to grow its outreach by linking up with a respected global brand, as Etihad were voted the ‘World’s Leading Airline’ by World Travel Awards for five-straight years from 2009-13.

“We are excited to welcome Etihad Airways as the official airline partner of Major League Soccer in the United States and are proud to be the first major sports association in the U.S. for such a prestigious global company. On behalf of our clubs, our players and our millions of fans, we welcome Etihad Airways to the MLS family and look forward to working with them to help grow their business in this region.”

But what does it mean for MLS to partner with Eithad?

It certainly means the league will benefit financially from the deal, which is paramount to the development of not only MLS but also soccer in North America overall. Also, it strengthens the bond between Mansour and the league, and it proves that the man who owns three other soccer clubs, Manchester City, Melbourne Heart and Al Jazira, is keen to pour money into the league as well as benefiting from NYC FC’s creation.

It is a win, win for everyone concerned, as Mansour’s glowing portfolio aims to reach more markets across the globe. Bringing a second MLS side to New York and more investment into the league is likely to make other MLS owners extremely happy, and get the franchise up and running on everyone’s good side.

Is this just the start of MLS driving its outreach to attract huge global brands?

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)