Las Vegas

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


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.

Klinsmann side-steps blame, calls USA-Mexico one of world’s best rivalries

Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT
Leave a comment

The rivalry between the national soccer teams of the United States and Mexico is one of the fiercest and most unique of its kind in the world of sports. Anyone who’s participated in, or simply attended, a competitive fixture between the two sides will immediately attest to that.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Speaking to ahead of Saturday’s clash against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, it’s quite interesting to hear current USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann describe the rivalry from his point of view, both before and after having coached in it on a number of occasions.

Before we get to that, though, Klinsmann had a bit more blame side step regarding his side’s fourth-place finish at the 2015 Gold Cup, the USMNT’s worst-ever showing at the tournament for CONCACAF nations.

Q: What did you learn from this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where you lost to Jamaica in the semi-finals?

A: There were so many things that happened in the tournament and decisions that were made that affected the outcome. It was difficult for the players to know what to expect. For Mexico and for Panama it was the same thing. The lesson is that you just have to roll with it and try to control the things you can.

What’s the no. 1 thing players can’t control? Who gets called into the team/plays in the games.

What was the no. 1 problem for the USMNT at this summer’s Gold Cup? Who got called up/played game after game despite performing very poorly. Ultimately, it’s what undid them in the semifinals and third-place game.

Just once — once — would it hurt Klinsmann to answer a question with an “I,” or “me,” or even “we?” The question was “What did you learn,” yet the answer always come back to “the players,” or “they,” or “them.” At this point, Klinsmann either believes he’s infallible, or he’s simply trying to see how many ridiculous statements he can get away with.

Q: You’ve been in the top US job for almost five years now and you’ve met Mexico many times. How would you define the rivalry between these countries on the pitch? Can you compare it with others you’ve experienced?

A: The USA-Mexico rivalry is one of the greats in world football. For me, it compares to Germany-Holland in terms of the intensity and emotion it brings out in the fans. As USA coach, it was a learning curve to understand how much this rivalry means to our fans. We had won some games against big nations, but the reaction from everyone to when we went down to [Estadio] Azteca and beat Mexico there for the first time was just amazing.

Q: What makes the rivalry unique?

A: What is unique is that there are so many Mexican-Americans living in the United States, so the rivalry crosses borders. We have seen many times in these last years that younger Mexican-Americans will wear a Mexico jersey to our game, and when we start doing well they take it off and have a U.S. jersey underneath! More and more they’re supporting us, and we hope to continue to win them over.

Klinsmann gets this one absolutely right. With the two countries situated right next to each other, the aforementioned immigration of so many Mexican soccer fans into the U.S., and the classic battles between the two sides over the years, USA-Mexico not only feels amazing to get one over on your rivals, but perhaps more than anything it’s avoiding that feeling of defeat, of embarrassment, of being taunted and haunted for days, weeks, months and sometimes years, that makes beating the old foe so satisfying.

Ozil, Coquelin: Arsenal can win the title this season

Mesut Ozil, Arsenal FC
Leave a comment

I suppose, in theory, that any Premier League club that fields a team could win the league title for a given season, so the above headline could have been written in reference to any one of 20 teams a few short weeks ago.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Fast forward eight rounds of fixtures to the present day, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer with every passing week that it’s a three-horse race — Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, who currently sit 1-2-3 atop the league — for the 2015-16 Premier League title.

So — and stick with me for just a second — why not Arsenal? [The crowd gasps loudly] Arsenal midfielders Mesut Ozil and Francis Coquelin believe the Gunners have what it takes to win the title this year, so why doesn’t anyone else?

Ozil and Coquelin, on Arsenal’s progression to title contenders — quotes from the Guardian:

Ozil: “We have a great team with many world-class players. Our goal is to win the Premier League and I think that this season it’s possible to do it, if we all stay healthy. But the season is long.”

Ozil: “I didn’t expect [Bayern Munich] to beat Dortmund 5-1. Their recent results show they are simply in great shape … But our victory against Manchester United was a sign: when we play and want it 100 percent, then we can beat Bayern.

“We are playing at home. Although we have respect for them, we don’t have any fear. We know how to score goals against Bayern and we can be successful. It will be difficult – but we have the potential to beat any team.”

Coquelin: “We proved a lot of people wrong. Inside the dressing room we knew we could do good things this season. We knew we could be contenders, but obviously we have to be consistent.

“We are getting stronger against the big teams. We beat City last season, now United. It’s all about consistency. The league is getting tougher, so we need to be getting results every week … We knew we had to put it right after Olympiakos and that’s what we’ve done.”

Coquelin is absolutely right — no one expected Arsenal to throttle Man United the way they did on Sunday. The Gunners acquitted themselves quite well, though it should be mentioned that Louis Van Gaal set up United to fail miserably with the immobile midfield duo of Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger against a quick, dynamic Arsenal unit.

[ MORE: “Super computer” predicts final Premier League standings ]

That’s not meant to take anything away from Arsenal’s scintillating performance, because they did exactly what they should be doing against a poorly planned side — that’s not always been the case for Arsenal against top teams. The Gunners will play hosts to Man City on Dec. 19; perhaps we’ll better be able to dub them contenders or pretenders based their showing that day.