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Don Garber issues latest update on MLS expansion

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MLS Commissioner Don Garber has been speaking about Major League Soccer expansion once again.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

Garber attended the USMNT’s 1-1 draw with Panama in the 2017 Gold Cup on Saturday, with the game hosted in Nashville, Tennessee, a city bidding to have an MLS team.

With a crowd of 47,662 watching the U.S. at Nissan Stadium, Garber couldn’t hide how impressed he was with Nashville and admitted they’ve climbed high among the 12 cities pushing for the two expansion franchises (number 25 and 26, which will be announced in 2017), with a further two expansion teams planned but no time frame given on their arrival.

Speaking in a Q&A with USA Today over the weekend, Garber admitted that Nashville’s chances of getting a franchise have improved with stadium deals in St. Louis, Charlotte and San Diego stalling.

“I think there is an opportunity for Nashville to rise higher on the list because there appears to be a more streamlined process to have the third leg of the stool (needed to get an expansion team), which is the stadium,” Garber explained.

With Nashville recently hosting the Stanley Cup finals for the first-time ever, the energy in the city for sports soared to new levels. Garber was impressed as the NHL’s Predators captured the imagination of Nashville’s citizens.

“I think it’s one of the great recent success stories in the sports industry. The industry is very connected,” Garber said. “And we want to see great stories, whether it’s in the NFL, the NHL, NBA, MLB. I like seeing success. We saw that here in Nashville with the crowds outside the stadium and just the civic pride around a sports team.”

Although Nashville has the smallest market size from the 12 competing cities for a franchise, Garber went on to say that having an “engaged owners and passionate fan base” is more important than market size.

“Market sizes matters because it can help, logically, grow your national television audience. But success in markets and engaged owners and a passionate fan base are probably more important than market size,” Garber said. “You also have to look at growth. It’s important to go to growing cities. And growth isn’t just  about population size — it’s about, what’s the vision for the city? Where do they want to be?

“There just seems to be a desire to take this city and just make it bigger and more international and to provide value to the people who live here. It’s part of why there’s such a disparate group of people to come together to try to bring MLS here.”

Garber was hosted by the Governor of Tennessee for dinner during his trip and the close connection with the investors and the public sector have certainly suggested a stadium deal won’t be too hard to arrange if Nashville is chosen to house an expansion franchise.

Nashville’s MLS bid is led by businessman John Ingram — who is in talks with Mayor Megan Barry’s office about a deal to finance a new stadium with a mixture of public and private funds — and Nashville will get another chance to show off its love for soccer later this month as Manchester City clash with Tottenham Hotspur in an International Champions Cup game at Nissan Stadium on July 29.

The Ingram family also bought a USL side, Nashville Soccer Club, which will begin play in 2018 and Garber called that “really smart” for the bid.

Right now the likes of Phoenix, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Cincinnati, Sacramento and San Antonio appear to be at the front of the queue for Garber and MLS, but judging by the success of this weekend and Garber’s words you can slot Nashville in towards the top.

Watch Live: Everton vs. Arsenal

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Arsene Wenger celebrates his 68th birthday with a trip to Merseyside, as Arsenal visits Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez both start underneath Alexandre Lacazette for Wenger.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin starts up top for Everton and under fire manager Ronald Koeman, while Jonjoe Kenny starts at right back.

LINEUPS

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Baines, Williams, Jagielka (c), Keane, Gana Gueye, Vlasic, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin. SubsJoel, Mirallas, Martina, Niasse, Klaassen, Davies, Lookman.

Arsenal: Cech, Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Bellerin, Sanchez, Ozil, Lacazette. Subs: Macey, Holding, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud.

Klopp: Liverpool “not 500 miles away” from Man City’s standard

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Jurgen Klopp remains bullish on his Liverpool’s credentials as one of the Premier League’s top-four sides title challengers this season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview — Spurs vs. Liverpool ]

While everyone else might be writing off the Reds due to their propensity for defensive disasters on an every-game basis, Klopp refuses to concede that a gap of “500 miles” exists between his side and Manchester City, the early-days runaway leaders of the 2017-18 season — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t compare City with us, but I think everyone can see we are not 500 miles away. But they fly. It was a very decisive day when we lost 5-0. Dealing with a 5-0 defeat is not the easiest thing. We didn’t lose confidence but we were not that fluent afterwards and it was not like we could close our eyes and finish [thinking about it]. They did exactly the opposite. I saw the Stoke goals, you see the shot from Fernandinho and you think, ‘If it works, it works even like this.’ They are a fantastic team and we don’t have to compare, but it starts so early again with us having to apologize for the season so far because one team is flying.”

“Their way of football I would say is not something we are too far away from but to be as clinical as they have been so far? We weren’t.

“That’s the thing. We are still in the race, not with City in the moment because they have I don’t how many points, and I don’t say already that we should only fight for a top-four place. Performance-wise we are a team that should be there but now we have to get the results.”

[ TACTICS SESSION: Inside the brilliant mind of Kevin De Bruyne ]

All due respect to Klopp and Liverpool, the league table says City currently have 25 points (having played one game more), while Liverpool have 13. That’s not a difference of 500 points, but taking into account not only results but performances, it might as well be.

Ligue 1: Falcao, Balde score to keep Monaco close to PSG

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PARIS (AP) French champion Monaco got back to winning ways with a 2-0 home win against Caen on Saturday.

Monaco lost three and drew one of its previous four games in all competitions. But coach Leonardo Jardim’s side was largely in control against a Caen side that started brightly and faded after Keita Balde’s opening goal and first for Monaco.

“It was important to win, to get a bit of confidence back,” Jardim said. “We’ve been working hard and the players were very serious today.”

Captain Radamel Falcao scored his league-leading 13th from the penalty spot in the 59th, confidently sending goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre the wrong way.

The win moved second-place Monaco within three points of Paris Saint-Germain, having played one game more. Unbeaten PSG is away at bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Falcao’s partnership with teen star Kylian Mbappe was crucial to Monaco’s charge to the league title and the Champions League semifinals last season. Mbappe left to join PSG in a high-profile move — as did several other key players — but Falcao’s new partnership with the unselfish Balde looks a promising one.

“We’ve lost a few players and we need a bit of time, it’s been a bit difficult for us,” Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said. “I hope we can stay at the top of the table and that the young players can shine. We have a lot of quality here.”

Balde has been sharp in his handful of appearances since joining from Lazio in the offseason, but mainly as a link player and a provider.

This time, the Senegal forward finished off the move as he ran onto Thomas Lemar’s perfectly weighted pass into his path, cut across a defender on the edge of the penalty area and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Lemar almost created another goal when his corner was headed against the crossbar by Brazilian defender Jemerson late in the first half.

Falcao put the game beyond doubt from the spot after Slovenian midfielder Jan Repas fouled attacking midfielder Rony Lopes.


After a tricky start to his tenure at Nantes, Italian coach Claudio Ranieri has turned things around.

Nantes beat Guingamp 2-1 at home to move up to third place, extending Ranieri’s unbeaten run to eight matches after losing the first two.

Nantes, which scored through defender Chidozie Awaziem and midfielder Abdoulaye Toure, is just two points behind Monaco.

The 2 Robbies: Terriers Triumph And Chelsea Leave It Late

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start today’s show off by discussing Huddersfield Town’s surprising win against Manchester United (00:20), Jose Mourinho’s measured post-match interview (03:50), praise Manchester City again (10:30), discuss Sean Dyche’s next move (16:10), analyze that exciting match between Chelsea and Watford (18:30) and finally, weigh in on Slaven Bilic’s future at West Ham United (27:30).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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