New report kicks off another round of Las Vegas expansion talk for MLS

8 Comments

Is Las Vegas a legitimate contender for MLS expansion? According to the man trying to bring professional soccer to the Nevada desert, the answer is yes – an answer that came straight from the horse’s mouth.

According to Justin Findlay, the person behind Findlay Sports and Entertainment Group, Las Vegas is not on MLS’s “short list,” something he learned after MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott visited the city last week.

Abbott toured downtown Las Vegas and met with city officials about potential expansion into the world’s gambling capital, but for the move to work, the city will have to approve a financing plan for a new $150 to $200 million facility, one that would have air conditioning ducts every three rows of its stands to offset the Mojave Desert heat.

Though the proposal will require a sales tax district around the 24,000-seat stadium for financing, Findlay remains hopeful, almost evangelical:

“The best sport in the world is available. We can get a team right here,” Findlay told a group of potential supporters at a local bar. “Guys, this is possible. It is really, really possible.”

“Hearing right from the horse’s mouth, this is really a possibility,” Findlay would later tell the Las Vegas Sun, who adopted its own evangelical view on Saturday. “We just have to convert on our plan. There are no reasons why these big, big dreams can’t happen.”

There are actually a couple of reasons, starting with the stadium. But even if that happens, Minneapolis might have something to say about it. San Antonio and Sacramento are in this game, too. Las Vegas is an attractive option, but it’s one of many that may be at Major League Soccer’s disposal.

There’s also MLS’s comment on the matter, published to the league’s website:

“We are in preliminary discussions with a potential ownership group for an expansion team in Las Vegas,” the spokesman said. “Also, there is no short list of potential expansion cities. There are many cities interested in bringing a future MLS expansion team to their market.”

No short list? Mr. Lindsay may be getting a little ahead of himself.

Still, for a league that asked $100 million for it’s 20th franchise (back in the days before 24 was the new number), it’s a perfect situation. It’s also why Abbott’s unlikely to discourage any suitor. You’re wealthy and like us? Great! We like you, too! But we there are others we like, too, and boy do they have some great things going on! Just keep driving that price.

Before worrying about where Las Vegas sits compared to, say, Minneapolis let’s consider the positives:

• There’s a clear, passionate ownership group;
• a route to an acceptable facility; and,
• Las Vegas is an attractive market.

Add in a long history of consuming soccer (on television or otherwise) and you have Miami, though tells you how far Vegas has to go. If they build it, will people come? Without a lower-level team (above the PDL) or any significant history in the sport, Vegas is a gamble.

Still, Findlay’s project looks better than places like San Diego or St. Louis, which can’t check all of those boxes (most importantly, number one). Because of the market, it may be more attractive to MLS than Sacramento or San Antonio.

But compared to Minneapolis? Without an established fan base, a track record of lower-level success, or being closer to a stadium, Vegas seems far behind. And whereas we’ve heard commissioner Don Garber speak positively about Minnesota, Las Vegas is just now entering the discussion.

There may be a long way to go MLS announces its next team. That gives Lindsay a chance to catch up. Until we hear something from somebody outside of Las Vegas, though, this looks like a long shot, albeit an attractive one.

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Liverpool

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Swansea City’s bid to slow down steamrolling Liverpool begins at 3 p.m. ET Monday at the Liberty Stadium (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The rampaging Reds are coming off a 4-3 win that ended Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League season, and will hope to avoid a let down against desperate Swans.

The Welsh hosts are six points adrift in the race for Premier League safety, and look set for a 5-4-1 with Jordan Ayew the only forward. Wilfried Bony and Oliver McBurnie are on the bench along with attack-minded Luciano Narsingh.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Van der Hoorn, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Ki, Fer, Clucas, Dyer, Ayew. Subs: Nordfeldt, Bartley, Roque Mesa, Carroll, Narsingh, McBurnie, Bony.

Liverpool: Karius, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Milner, Klavan, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

Kevin De Bruyne commits to Man City through 2022-23

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best players in the world, and he’s committing his prime to the club which has taken him to the next level.

[ MORE: How will Arsenal, Man Utd line up? ]

Manchester City announced a new deal for the Belgian wizard, keeping him at the Etihad Stadium through 2023.

De Bruyne, 26, has posted 31 goals and 38 assists for Pep Guardiola‘s men since returning to England from the Bundesliga, and appreciates being given a lot more money. From ManCity.com:

“As I’ve said previously, my intention has always been to stay here at City, where I’ve felt at home from day one. Not only are we winning – we are playing great football. It’s a pleasure to be a part of and I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.”

De Bruyne is in the discussion for a Ballon d’Or finalist spot this year, along with Lionel Messi, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, and others (Hot take: This does seem to be year Ronaldo possibly knocked off, barring a remarkable run in the Champions League or World Cup).

After the swap: Alexis, Mkhi-infused XIs for Man Utd, Arsenal

@Arsenal
1 Comment

The deal is done: Henrikh Mkhitaryan has moved to Arsenal with Alexis Sanchez going the other way in a monumental January move.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

How will it look for each side once the shape’s settled?

Arsenal

When Henrikh Mkhitaryan was at his very best — for Borussia Dortmund in 2014-15 — he was deployed as a left or right wing. He contributed 23 goals and 32 assists in 52 matches during his final season at the Westfalenstadion, and predictably saw those numbers drop as Jose Mourinho consistently moved him toward an attacking center midfield role.

He’ll get the chance to go out wide again at the Emirates Stadium, though perhaps not always to the extreme flanks. Expect Alexandre Lacazette‘s numbers to explode with this move.

Arsene Wenger used a 4-3-3 to batter Crystal Palace 4-1 at the weekend, with Ozil on the right wing and Alex Iwobi on the left. The club still needs better at center defensive mid while Aaron Ramsey is out, so that will likely keep the lineup similar until he returns (at a minimum):

Cech

Bellerin — Mustafi — Koscielny — Montreal

Elneny (Ramsey, eventually)

Xhaka — Wilshere

Ozil — Lacazette — Mkhitaryan

By the way, a lot of Arsenal supporters aren’t feeling great about this (understatement alert):

Manchester United

Alexis Sanchez prefers left wing, too, and Mourinho has a trio of in-form players who like that side of the field. Anthony Martial is red hot but plays wider than Jesse Lingard, and it seems one of them will take the slot of Juan Mata to the right of Paul Pogba in a 4-1-4-1. Marcus Rashford could also see the far right positioning.

But against top competition — continued apologies to Burnley — it’s usually a 4-2-3-1 for Mourinho with Pogba dropping next to Nemanja Matic a little deeper in the formation. Lingard has been getting the run as CAM here, usually to the detriment of Juan Mata. With Alexis as the clear-cut left wing in this formation, it causes real combat for the two other slots between Mata, Lingard, Rashford, and Martial.

So while it’s likely we’d see something like this in a big game for Manchester United…

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Pogba

Martial — Lingard —  Sanchez

Lukaku

… We’d love to see something more like this:

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Herrera

Pogba

Martial — Lukaku — Sanchez

How do you think Wenger and Mou will run ’em out?

Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap official (video)

@ManUtd
Leave a comment

Arsenal and Manchester United have completed their American-style trade, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining the Gunners and Alexis Sanchez on board the Red Devils’ train.

Both 29 years old, the playmakers arrive at their new homes with plenty to prove.

More to come…