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MLS expansion rankings: Who are the favorites?

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The big news in the MLS expansion world this week was the City Council of Nashville, Tennessee granting public funds for a soccer-specific stadium in Music City.

[ MORE: Garber gives expansion update ]

That leaves Nashville Soccer Club with a huge advantage over the rest of the MLS expansion field with their $275 million stadium plan ready to roll. The likes of Detroit, St. Louis and San Diego have all struggled in securing public funds for a stadium, so far, and their hopes hang in the balance.

With that in mind, now seems like a good time to speculate on how the 12 cities vying for MLS expansion stack up, especially with an announcement expected in the new few weeks.

Two cities will be announced as the winners of the next two MLS expansion franchises by the end of December, with a further two from this list of 12 at a yet to be announced date. Add into all of this LAFC kicking off in 2018, David Beckham still trying to bring a franchise to Miami and the uncertain future of the Columbus Crew in Columbus as their owner weighs up a move to Austin, Texas, and there is plenty to sort out.

Don Garber, MLS Commissioner, and his expansion committee have been traveling around and seeing the bids of multiple cities up close and personal in recent months and various interviews along the way have both complicated and cleared the expansion picture a little.

Below you will find our rankings of the 12 cities fighting for MLS expansion.


  1. Nashville – Stadium deal in place close to downtown and a growing sports market. Huge crowds for international games and friendlies. Seems nailed on
  2. Sacramento – Stadium deal in place, Sacramento Republic have had success and big crowds in USL. Past ownership issues over MLS deal sorted
  3. Cincinnati – Huge crowds in USL but stadium plan a stumbling block. Plans ongoing. Nippert a ready-made venue. Biggest losers from Nashville’s rise
  4. Phoenix – Financial backing is there, Drogba’s on board and stadium plans are in place. Phoenix the real dark horse?
  5. Detroit – Bid hurt by the deal for a stadium downtown collapsing. Will Ford Field as an alternate home put MLS off?
  6. San Antonio – Columbus potentially moving to Austin impacts this bid but Toyota Field is ready and big crowds for international games impressive
  7. Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg – Expensive redevelopment of Al Lang Stadium key to this bid but Rowdies have a strong, loyal fanbase
  8. Raleigh/Durham – NASL’s problems mean NCFC likely to move to USL soon, but will the crowds be big enough to woo MLS?
  9. San Diego – Lots of big names on board but the Soccer City development at Qualcomm has stalled. A big ask now
  10. St. Louis – See above. Such a shame too given STL’s soccer heritage. If they can get a stadium deal one day, you feel like MLS beckons
  11. Charlotte – No public financing or funding for a stadium deal has seen this bid stall. Competing with Raleigh/Durham was ill advised
  12. Indianapolis – NASL’s Indy Eleven have a loyal following but lack of funds to support an MLS expansion franchise mean this bid is a pipe dream

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

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.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET