MLS commissioner Don Garber dropped a few newsy tidbits during his annual State of the League conference call with national media on Monday afternoon.
We may circle back and dig more into some of these items. For now, the abridged version of Garber’s significant copy points:
- The league announced its official Best XI during the call. Long story short, Sporting KC dominated.
- Next year’s season will begin on March 2, five days earlier than this year’s first kick. So the 2013 launch (MLS Year 18) will be the earliest yet. While that creates a few more potential weather issues, it assists some off the other MLS endeavors, such as …
- The league will do its best to avoid scheduling 2013 matches during FIFA international dates; that’s long been a major point of contention among clubs and fans. Well, and media, too
- The league will have what Garber called a “light schedule” during the 2013 Gold Cup.
- The 2013 playoffs will follow the same format as this year’s. The only tweak, Garber said, would be in trying to add more rest days between post-season matches. That is a change that MLS absolutely must force through, based on some scenarios that created clear advantages in some of this year’s matchups.
- The league will continue to target a second team in New York as its 20th club, still aiming for a side to inhabit the new ground in Queens. There are “many ownership groups” still interested, according to the commissioner.
- The year 2016 remains a solid target to launch that second New York franchise.
- Regarding the clause in David Beckham’s contract that allows him to purchase an expansion franchise for a below market price of $25 million, Garber said lots of possibilities remain in exploration. New York, Garber reiterated, is not eligible according to the clause.
- The L.A. Galaxy, however, are eligible to be part of those discussions. That’s especially relevant because of AEG’s plans to sell the Galaxy and the Home Depot Center.
- Garber said the league invests about $20 million in youth development and reserve programs, and said MLS will continue to aggressively invest in those programs, although no return on investment has yet been seen.
- Not much new to report on stadium situations in two important markets, Washington, D.C., and New England. Garber did indicate renewed energy with D.C. United’s ongoing hunt for a home.
- Garber stressed, once again, the great need for an MLS presence in the American Southeast. Nothing new, however, in terms of hard news.
(MORE: ProSoccerTalk’s Best XI selections)
Poetic justice, put it in a Song.
Haiti’s Djimy Alexis made up for his early own goal by scoring a deserved winner as Haiti won Group B of the Gold Cup with an upset of Costa Rica on Monday.
[ ROUNDUPS: AFCON | Copa America ]
Los Ticos got everything they could handle from the upstart Gombey Warriors, who are now 3-0 on the tournament, and the World Cup mainstays tossed aside their early lead to meet Mexico in the quarterfinals.
Haiti will challenge Canada in the quarters, guaranteeing the semifinals an intriguing participant.
An early own goal had Costa Rica in control, but Duckens Nason’ 16th international goal was a part of a hard charge from the Haitians in the second half.
The other match saw Bermuda earn a 2-0 win over Nicaragua via goals from Lejuan Simmons and QPR’s Nakhi Wells. That gives the Gombey Warriors a 1-2 record while dropping Nicaragua to 0-3.
Bermuda was ranked 174th by FIFA to Nicaragua’s 129, but that will certainly change next month.
The Africa Cup of Nations said hello to six more competitors on Monday, with a thrilling goal amongst the eight tallied across the competitions in Egypt.
[ MORE: Copa America roundup ]
Mali 4-1 Mauritania
Two different men named Adama Traore — neither of them the Wolves winger — joined Moussa Marega on the score sheet but it’s difficult to describe the class and small margins that defined the tournament’s goal of the day.
Sporting Lisbon’s Abdoulay Diaby somehow got this shot off through two defenders and into the upper reaches of the goal to open the scoring in the three-goal win for Mali, which is having some summer when you take into account the U-20 World Cup.
Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa
There were only 13 total attempts in the game, and Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija scored the lone goal of a tournament opening win for Les Elephants.
Tunisia 1-1 Angola
A draw was probably fair, as Youssef Msakni’s first half penalty was met by Djalma Campos’ late goal to split the spoils in Group E.
Ecuador and Japan drew to allow Paraguay to sew up the final knockout round spot, sending Miguel Almiron and Co. into a match-up with Brazil.
[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]
And Uruguay rode Edinson Cavani’s goal into the other side of the bracket, moving ahead of Chile in a tight match.
Ecuador 1-1 Japan
There was a lot to like in a match with 30-plus shots and the ultimate prize of a match-up with Brazil on Thursday in Porto Alegre.
Shoya Nakajima put the Asian side ahead a quarter-hour into the match, but Angel Mena provided an equalizer before halftime to put both sides in danger of failure to reach the knockout rounds.
Chile 0-1 Uruguay
Cavani scored for the second time this tournament as Uruguay claimed first place in Group A and a knockout round meeting with Peru.
Cavani’s deftly flicked header of a Jonathan Rodriguez pass pushed Uruguay above Chile, which had won both of its group matches and now meets Colombia on Friday.
Knockout round schedule
Brazil v. Paraguay
Venezuela v. Argentina
Colombia v. Chile
Uruguay v. Peru
Brazil/Paraguay v. Venezuela/Argentina
Colombia/Chile v. Uruguay/Peru
Third place playoff
Norwich City has added a new star striker to a unit which produced 93 goals in the Championship last season.
Josip Drmic will join Swiss national teammate Timm Klose with the Canaries for the next three seasons, hoping to bring his Bundesliga and international experience to a Premier League safety campaign.
[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]
Drmic turns 27 next month, and scored two goals in five appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach last season. He has 31 goals and seven assists in 107 Bundesliga appearances between Gladbach, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen, and Nurnberg.
Coach Daniel Farke got 30 goals from target forward Teemu Pukki, who plays a similar role to Drmic and has plenty of top flight experience with Celtic and Schalke amongst others.
Drmic can also operate on the wing, usually left over right, and has featured in both the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. From Canaries.co.uk:
“I’m going to do everything and give 100% on the pitch. I will be ready to give everything for the club. My job is scoring but I also want to help my team and help us be successful.
“When I first came to Norwich, the first thing I noticed was how kind everybody was. It’s given me a lot of positive energy and I’m excited to see what happens.”
Between Pukki and Drmic, Norwich can have faith that its well-prepared to have an answer up top.