BMO Field expansion gets resounding approval from Toronto city council

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The increased capacity at BMO Field that Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has harped upon since arriving in Ontario will come to pass, if plans approved today by Toronto’s city council come to fruition. With a 39-3 vote, the council approved a plan to expand Toronto FC’s home venue, on that currently seating 21,566. Under plans submitted by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the venue would be expanded to 30,000, with the city of Toronto paying only $10 million of the estimated $120 million cost.

Most of the that bill will be footed MLSE. The group is on the hook for at least $90 million toward the project, a commitment that comes with a 10-year extension on their lease. Currently expiring in 2027, TFC’s tenancy at the city-owned BMO Field would be extended through 2037.

The remaining funding for the project is expected to come from the Canadian and Ontario governments, with MLSE president Tim Leiweke explaining his group will now work to secure those commitments.

“We’re very grateful for the leadership and support of the City,” Leiweke said, via reporting by the Toronto Star. With the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts looking for a new home ,as well as the venue’s potential to host special events, expansion was pitched as part of a larger picture, one that transcends Toronto FC.

“This is an important issue,” Leiweke explained, “not just for Toronto FC, but also the CFL, the Pan Am Games, our ability to host Winter Classics, Grey Cups, and the proposed 2026 World Cup bid for Canada.”

Continuing the obligatory dance that’s always attached to these deals, Leiweke warned money from the provincial and federal governments is still necessary to make this project happen.

“It’s part of our agreement with the city,” he said. “If we don’t get the other sources (of funding), then the deal falls apart.”

So the project isn’t a go, but in MLS terms, this is still a significant step. BMO Field is nice, but also carries all the characteristics of the modest venues that have cropped up over the last period of Major League Soccer’s growth. As the league grows, however, it will need to cycle out smaller facilities in favor of stadia that increase gate receipts. For a team like Toronto, one that theoretically shouldn’t have trouble drawing fans (and didn’t, until the last three years), the extra 8,434 seats could represent a significant revenue boost.

Report: Morata sale allows Madrid to pursue Mbappe

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For months rumors have claimed that Real Madrid had been priced out of a move for Kylian Mbappe.

Now, they may have the cash, and a way throught.

After selling Alvaro Morata to Chelsea for $75 million, the club may have the funds – and enough offsetting cashflow to appease Financial Fair Play – to make a serious play for the 18-year-old superstar. In addition, the club has almost completed the slale of Danilo to Manchester City for $35 million, and James Rodriguez to Bayern Munich, although they see little return from that immediately, as the deal is a two-year loan with an obligation to buy at the end.

[ MORE: Man City bid for Mendy rejected ]

According to a Goal.com report, Mbappe is now Madrid’s top transfer target, although it seems there is little chance of prying him away from Monaco this late. According to the same report, Mbappe has been advised by unnamed parties that staying at Monaco gives him the highest likelihood of making the French squad for the 2018 World Cup.

“Mbappe is very good,” said Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. “He’s a very good player and he has shown that all year, but he is not my player. I can’t say anything else.”

PSG is also reportedly in for Mbappe, but it’s understandable that Monaco would be hesitant to sell to a chief league rival.

Follow Live: Jamaica and Canada battle for semifinal spot

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Jamaica and Canada are looking ahead to a possible semifinal spot as they match up at 7:30 p.m. ET in Glendale to mark their beginning of the 2017 Gold Cup knockout round.

Both clubs make up the majority of their rosters from MLS clubs, with Cyle Larin heading the line for Canada and Andre Blake manning the backstop for Jamaica. Nonetheless, it’s Larin’s fellow attacker Alphonso Davies who’s picked up three of Canada’s five goals thus far.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

Both teams are putting heavy importance on this match with each already eliminated from World Cup contention.

Jamaica has only allowed one goal all tournament, shutting out both Mexico and Curacao. The Reggae Boyz made the final last time around, but will find that same result much more difficult this time around.

LINEUPS

Jamaica: Blake, Taylor, Lowe, Lawrence, Powell, Watson, Lambert, Francis, Gordon, Mattocks, Williams.

Canada: Borjan, Vitoria, Jakovic, Davies, Petrasso, Piette, Tiebert, Arfield, Larin, De Jong, Hoilett.

US Soccer shares bite-mark photo with CONCACAF

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U.S. Soccer spokesman Michael Kammarman told the Washington Post that the Federation has shared a photograph of a bite mark on the back of Omar Gonzalez with the CONCACAF disciplinary committee.

Cameras caught El Salvador defender Henry Romero bite Jozy Altidore and pinch his nipple in the scrum prior to a corner kick in the second half of the 2-0 USA victory over El Salvador. However, Gonzalez said after the match that he was also bitten, and had the mark to prove it.

According to the Washington Post report, the CONCACAF disciplinary committee approached U.S. Soccer asking for any further information they could provide on the incidents. Thus, they shared the photograph of Gonzalez’s shoulder taken immediately after the game. There was reportedly no visible bite mark on Altidore that could be shared.

CONCACAF spokesman Brent Latham refused to confirm an investigation into the incidents.

After Gonzalez’s post-match comments, a review of footage showed that there did indeed appear to be a bite in the 81st minute by El Salvador midfielder Darwin Ceren.

Neither incident was witnessed by the referee, and thus no punishment was dished out in the form of penalties or cards. Altidore admitted he “barely” kept his composure after he was assaulted, saying, “You’ve got to keep your cool because these things happen. I shouldn’t be saying these things happen, but they do.”

Altidore joked about the incident, saying his significant other was angry at him.

Report: Man City bid for Mendy rejected

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According to a report by Sky Sports, Manchester City has seen a bid for Monaco full-back Benjamin Mendy rejected, and will have to significantly increase their offer for the transfer to be completed.

The report states that Manchester City bid $58 million for the 23-year-old French international, but Monaco values Mendy at the $65 million level Man City paid for Kyle Walker, a world record for a defender.

[ MORE: Barcelona president warns PSG over Neymar move ]

Monaco is in an advantageous position in this situation, with Manchester City desperate for full-backs and Monaco not obligated to sell. Mendy’s current contract with the defending Ligue 1 champions runs through the summer of 2021.

City has already purchased Walker, but with the departure of aging full-backs Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, and Bacary Sagna, the club is almost completely devoid at the position, with just Walker and Aleksandr Kolarov on the roster.

Mendy has shown blistering pace and great crossing ability, racking up 11 assists last season across all competitions, including four in seven Champions League appearances. His tackling numbers are also surprisingly competent for such a young defender, completing just about 50% of his attempted tackles during league play last season, and sporting a 64% completion rate in Champions League play.