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David Beckham’s Miami franchise arrives in MLS

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David Beckham owning a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami is no longer a dream.

It became a reality on Monday.

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A glitzy announcement took place at the Adrienne Arsht Center but MLS said “additional news and information on the club – including its debut season in MLS, team name, logo and staff – will be announced in the future” on the expansion franchise.

The team was first announced in February 2014 but has seen plenty of difficulties along the way, particularly when it came to a stadium site.

During the announcement Beckham and his partners admitted that “just 60 days ago” they had a breakfast which was the end of the bid and they thought it was all over, while local businessman Jorge Mas revealed that he stepped in to become a partner and help save the bid. Two months later the franchise is a reality.

It has been stated by local media outlets that the team will begin play in 2020, with the team to play at a temporary home until 2021 when their stadium is ready, while the colors and team badge will be picked with the help of fans in the coming months.

Miami hasn’t had an MLS team since the Miami Fusion folded in 2002 and they will become the second current MLS team in the State of Florida after Orlando City SC. With Nashville announced as MLS’ 24th team in December 2017 and Atlanta United joining for their inaugural season in 2017, the South East of the United States of America is fast emerging as a soccer hotbed.

Speaking alongside MLS Commissioner Don Garber and both the Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at the event on Monday, Beckham was delighted to make his franchise officially official.

“Our mission to bring an MLS club to Miami is now complete, and we are deeply satisfied, grateful and excited,” Beckham said. “Our pledge to our fans in Miami and around the world is simple: your team will always strive to make you proud on the pitch, our stadium will be a place that you cherish visiting, and our impact in the community and on South Florida’s youth will run deep.”

A video featuring several superstars was played during the announcement with Jay-Z, Neymar, Will Smith, Serena Williams and others sending their congratulations.

Garber said it was “a day that will go day as one of the historic days in our league and the history of sports in Miami” before adding the following in a league release.

“It is with tremendous pride that we welcome Miami to Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “With David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and Jose Mas, Masayoshi Son and Simon Fuller leading the way, we know the right people are in place and the time is right for Miami to become a great Major League Soccer city. This ownership is committed to bringing Miami the elite-level soccer team, stadium and fan experience it richly deserves. We look forward to working with the entire organization on a strategic and successful launch for Miami’s MLS club.”

An initial announcement came in Miami on Feb. 5 2014 that Beckham had triggered a clause in his previous playing contract with MLS — he joined LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 — which stated he could buy an expansion franchise for the reduced fee of $25 million (that expansion fee is now over $140 million). He picked Miami as his preferred destination for a team in 2013.

Since then Beckham has battled with finding a stadium site near Downtown Miami to build a soccer-specific venue, but failed with multiple sites.

However, a site in Overtown, less than two miles from Downtown MIA, has now been found and all of the remaining parcels of land have now been purchased for over $28 million to allow development to start.

The stadium is expected to hold 25,000 fans and Beckham and his ownership group, which includes Simon Fuller, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, Tim Leiweke, plus Jorge and Jose Mas and Masayoshi Son who were added in December 2017, will fund the stadium privately.

Miami’s arrival in MLS will see the league grow to 26 teams with 25 now confirmed and one of Detroit, Sacramento or Cincinnati to be confirmed later in 2018.

New York City FC adds Stuttgart mid with option to buy

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New York City FC might’ve found its dynamic box-to-box midfielder.

Ebenezer Ofori, 22, is bringing his relentless motor and eight Ghanaian caps to the Bronx from Stuttgart on a one year loan deal with an option to buy.

[ MORE: Mourinho on Pogba performance ]

Ofori joined Stuttgart from Swedish side AIK Solna in the January 2017 transfer window, and played a role in the club’s promotion to the Bundesliga. He was a signficant part of Solna’s three-round run in Europa League qualification.

But he found very little time on the pitch once Stuttgart rejoined Germany’s top flight, and is taking his talents to MLS.

Here’s NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira:

“I’m really excited to bring in Ebenezer – he’s a young player who is looking to improve, he is really dynamic and can cover ground. He’s really aggressive but he’s good with the ball too. I’m really pleased that we managed to bring him to the football club.

“He’s a competitor, he’s a guy who likes to win, he’s a strong character. He’s coming to this club to compete with the midfielders we have and, like I always say, that will bring the best out of all of the players we have at this football club.”

Ofori joins a midfield with Alexander Ring, Maxi Moralez, and Yangel Herrera. It’s a promising signing, and a name with the potential to take big steps on the club and international scene.

And moves like this are going to continue to happen for NYCFC, because players will feel the allure of being under the eye of Manchester City and the pull of becoming City property. It’s a different dynamic than Chelsea’s loanees in that young players can make their name and be a star in a gigantic world city while attempting to ingratiate themselves with one of the world’s biggest clubs.

Mourinho: “Paul made a big effort”

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had fine words for Paul Pogba, but was tickled by the performance of 21-year-old Scott McTominay in the Red Devils scoreless draw with Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

[ RECAP: Sevilla 0-0 Man Utd ]

The visitors emerged unscathed, though without an away goal, and Mourinho raised eyebrows when he kept Pogba on the bench to start the match. The young McTominay started the match, and was paired with Pogba once Ander Herrera left the match with injury.

When a reporter asked Mourinho about McTominay after the match, the boss asked if he could give the reporter a hug before elaborating (via the BBC):

“In the press conference, the questions were about Paul [Pogba] but the question should be about the kid. He was fantastic. He did everything well. He put pressure on Ever Banega and stopped him playing, he’s their playmaker. I think Scott was brilliant.

“I think Paul made a big effort to try to give the team what I asked of him. Paul replaced Ander, he tried to bring to the game the same kind of qualities. He lost a couple of possessions but he also gave us stability because we had a good percentage of possession for the way we played.”

Mourinho was sure to include Nemanja Matic as a big part of the midfield trio.

The Pogba-Mourinho questions aren’t going to go away any time soon, though it should be noted — perhaps strongly — that the player was ill this weekend and United has to face Chelsea in Premier League play this weekend.

Still, he couldn’t help but mention how much he believes “Old Trafford has missed a big European night,” and how he’s looking forward to a potentially big win come March 13.

Nil-nil in Seville as De Gea stars

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  • English sides unbeaten vs. La Liga in UCL season (2-6)
  • Pogba subs into match for Herrera, 17′
  • De Gea with seven saves for United

David De Gea was the star as Manchester United escaped Sevilla with a scoreless draw in the first leg of the two sides’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Sevilla won a corner kick within 90 seconds, but the ball made its way through the 18 without finding a receiver.

Ander Herrera sprung Alexis Sanchez down the middle, but Jesus Navas cut across to catch the Chilean and thwart the United chance.

Navas then dragged a shot across goal and past a diving David De Gea but inches wide of the far post.

A Herrera injury — yes, another injury United supporters — meant Paul Pogba would join the fray after just 17 minutes with the key position in the 4-3-3.

Lukaku botched a terrific diagonal cross from Sanchez with a blast over the goal in the 25th minute.

The 38th minute saw Scott McTominay pump a ball right at Sergio Rico for the Sevilla backstop’s first save, and Angl Correa’s low shot was collected by De Gea for a third Red Devils save.

De Gea then made a leaping save on Steven N’Zonzi’s redirection of a bicycle kick just before halftime, and then slapped Luis Muriel’s header over the bar before the whistle.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

De Gea nabbed another save, his sixth in the contest, when Clement Lenglet got his head on an Ever Banega free kick in the 64th minute.

A Sanchez giveaway provided Sevilla the chance to counter, and Muriel couldn’t get the step back needed to power a header past De Gea.

United had a goal pulled back in the 83rd minute as the ball struck Lukaku’s arm in the build-up.

Fred’s vicious free kick leads Shakhtar over Roma

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Facundo Ferreyra and Fred scored second half goals to lead Shakhtar Donetsk past AS Roma 2-1 at the Donbass Arena in Wednesday’s first leg of the clubs’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

Cendig Under scored his fifth goal in four matches as AS Roma did manage an away goal before the March 13 second leg in Rome.

Fred has been linked with a summer move to Man City, and the banger of a free kick showed part of the reason the Brazilian is in demand.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Roma is bidding to make its first UEFA Champions League quarterfinal since 2007-08 when they went out at the hands of Manchester United, while Shakhtar last made the quarters only to be dismissed by Barcelona in 2010-11.

Ukrainian backstop Andriy Pyatov had an early save on Edin Dzeko off a cross from Aleksandar Kolarov, two minutes after Kolarov mailed a free kick over the bar.

Kolarov and Dzeko remained big parts of the story line, though Pyatov and the Shakhtar defense stood tall.

Dzeko would wind up assisting the opener, and it was the in form Under who’d bury his chance.

Not soon after the break, though, Yaroslav Rakitskiy cued up Ferreyra for the equalizer.

And Fred but the hosts ahead with this outstanding free kick, what they’d call a “bar down bingo” in hockey.