David Beckham

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Garber still confident of MLS future in Miami

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It’s been months since we’ve heard anything concrete regarding Major League Soccer’s return to Miami, but MLS commissioner Don Garber believes that David Beckham’s ownership group is closer to its goal of a soccer-specific stadium, paving the way for an expansion franchise.

In an interview with ESPN, Garber said that he was confident “something is coming together” regarding Miami’s MLS future and that the major issues over the proposed stadium and ownership group have been resolved.

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“I’ve been saying all along we need a number of things to go forward with David Beckham and his option: a solid ownership group — one that hopefully could be very connected locally — and a finalized stadium plan,” Garber told ESPN. For many years now, we’ve not been able to close the loop on those two issues. I believe we are getting closer, and I believe we’ll have a team in Miami. Actually, I believe something is coming together rather soon.

“We had a meeting last August in which we presented an opportunity to the MLS Board of Governors, which they approved us pursuing, and we’re still trying to finalize the details of that.”

Just last week, Beckham’s ownership partner Tim Lieweke expressed doubts that the stadium come to fruition, with complaints from residents in the stadium neighborhood and a pending lawsuit from a local resident in the Miami area over a three-acre block of land that Miami-Dade County is selling to Beckham.

And with every month that passes, momentum for the ownership group and the potential franchise wanes, especially as folks still have hard feelings over how the former Miami Marlins ownership fleeced the city for their new stadium, only to put a poor product on the field.

So it remains to be seen how much longer Beckham, and MLS, is willing to wait for a stadium deal to formalize, before the league moves on to other cities who are vying for expansion franchises.

Beckham reportedly wants Steve Bruce in Miami

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He’s got the same initials as South Beach, you know?

Steve Bruce is being tipped to be the first manager of David Beckham’s Miami MLS outfit, according to The Sun.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]

It’s going to be some time before Bruce would have the opportunity. The 56-year-old former Manchester United star has Aston Villa in a Football League Championship promotion push, and Miami does not even have a start date for life on an MLS pitch.

Of course, managerial life tends to be short, so there’s no guarantee Bruce will have a job at any point during the build-up to Miami in MLS. And several expansion clubs have named their coach very early in the team building process (Jason Kreis and Bob Bradley amongst others).

Bruce on MLS’ parity-driven playing field, if not as one of the big spenders, would be intriguing to watch. He’s a terrific man motivator and has the connections to combine with Beckham to make something special happen in terms of personnel.

MLS give update on Beckham’s Miami franchise

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So, it seems Major League Soccer to Miami with David Beckham is finally going to happen.

Beckham’s long and winding journey towards owning his own MLS franchise began in 2014 when there was an announcement in the City of Miami alongside Don Garber.

The former LA Galaxy star had exercised an option in his playing contract to own his own franchise and he wanted the team to be in Miami. Easy.

Not so much.

Since then many issues have arisen, mostly around a stadium deal downtown and then near Marlins Park in the Little Havana district of Miami.

It appears that headway is being made after a court ruling favored Beckham being able to buy the remaining three acres of land he needed to make the 25,000 stadium (costing him over $175 million) in Overtown a reality.

According to Dan Courtemanche (MLS’ executive vice president, communications) Beckham’s franchise will be officially announced in the coming months.

“We look forward to working with David, Todd Boehly [majority owner] and their partners to finalise their expansion plan. David and his partners have committed a significant amount of time and resources to put everything in place to bring Miami the elite-level soccer team and stadium it richly deserves. We expect to make an official announcement to launch a new Miami expansion club in the coming months,” Courtemanche told the BBC.

So, we’ve been here before many, many times, so what’s different this time?

Beckham has a stadium deal in place with land secured and the project in Overtown appears to be a near-perfect fit for an MLS team in Miami with a downtown location the aim all along.

The main delay over the past three years has been getting a stadium site for Beckham and Co. (the ownership group he has put together includes Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure, his agent Simon Fuller and sports executive Tim Leiweke) but they appear to be nearly there and Garber will feel vindicated for giving the former LA, Manchester United and Real Madrid star extra time to figure things out in a very complex sports town. (RIP, Miami Fusion).

With MLS aggressively expanding right now, Miami was in danger of being left behind.

But with LAFC launching in 2018, two more MLS expansion franchises set to be announced in the next month and Miami now looking likely, MLS will soon grow to 26 teams with another two teams expected to be announced before 2020 to reach the stated league target of 28.

Pinch yourself soccer fans in Miami. This appears to be happening.

Kyle Martino running for USSF presidency

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Former MLS and USMNT player Kyle Martino is throwing his hat in the ring for the United States Soccer Federation presidency.

Martino, 36, launched everyonesgameusa.com to detail his candidacy. He won eight caps for the United States men’s national team between 2002-06. Martino will be taking a hiatus from his current role as a Premier League analyst for NBC Sports.

[ MORE: Kljestan, Altidore react to fight ]

Backed by Thierry Henry and David Beckham, Martino announced his candidacy on Monday, joining the first contested election since Sunil Gulati took over in 2006. Gulati is also a member of FIFA’s Executive Council dating back to 2013.

Martino said he’d resign if the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup or missed the quarterfinals of the 2026 World Cup.

Already announced for the election are Eric Wynalda, Gulati protege Carlos Cordeiro, Boston lawyer Steve Gans and UPSL executivePaul LaPointe. Gulati hinted at his candidacy during a conference call following the USMNT’s embarrassing failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Garber believes Beckham’s influence as owner will help MLS grow further

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All indications point to a Miami team joining Major League Soccer over the next few years, and the club’s owner — David Beckham — could help propel the league further, according to MLS commissioner Don Garber.

[ MORE: CONCACAF roundup — Mexico qualifies for World Cup ]

While the original plans for Beckham’s Miami club were to join MLS in 2018, it seems as though the expansion side is finally nearing the opportunity to join the United States’ top division.

The 42-year-old has been considered a “transformational” player by Garber and many others for completing a move to MLS years ago, which sparked many other European and foreign players to do the same and ultimately help grow the league.

“I’m a big believer that just because you are a professional athlete doesn’t mean you don’t have the capabilities to be a good sports team owner,” Garber said of Beckham. “It’s actually the other way round.

“Coming up with the game and understanding the intricacies of it, I think a guy like David would be a fantastic owner.

“He’s a very bright guy, very committed to our country and our league, very committed to the city of Miami.

“I think if we can get things closed then it will be a great success and it will be great to have him as an owner. He was a great player for us.”

Garber continued, by stating that Beckham’s inclusion in MLS really helped the league reach new heights, and he can do the same as an owner.

“Wayne Gretzky was a transformational figure for the National Hockey League,” Garber said. “Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were transformational players who took the NBA from what it was to what it is today in many ways.

“David was today for us, where we are now, that transformational player.

“He was our Michael Jordan, our Wayne Gretzky. He was the guy who came here and basically said: ‘It’s okay, this league is all right — it’s not the Premier League, but that’s okay.’