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)
Despite a late scare, dominant Brighton and Hove Albion put an end to Frank Lampard‘s run in the FA Cup with a 2-1 defeat of Derby County at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
Anthony Knockaert and Jurgen Locadia scored in the final dozen minutes of the first half for the Seagulls, who will learn their quarterfinal foe on Monday.
[ MORE: Lingard, Martial injured ]
Substitute Ashley Cole scored in the 80th minute for the Rams, who were heavily outshot in the match.
It was Cole’s first goal in England since 2012, when he bagged a Premier League marker for Chelsea against Stoke City.
Locadia was injured just before the Seagulls conceded, and looked to be in considerable pain with an ankle injury.
American attacker Duane Holmes started up top for Derby but was subbed after 45 minutes. The 24-year-old Columbus-born man has become a regular starter under Lampard.
The 20th Anniversary of Manchester United’s treble, to the day, will see Sir Alex Ferguson managing the club.
This, of course, is for a single night only, as the Red Devils celebrate their 1999 treble with a testimonial of sorts against Bayern Munich, who it beat 2-1 to win the Champions League on May 26, 1999.
[ MORE: Lingard, Martial injured ]
“I’m really looking forward to what will be a special day at Old Trafford. It will be great to catch up with some familiar faces and a great opportunity to support the work of Manchester United Foundation,” Ferguson said.
Players for the game are not confirmed but imagine the possibilities: Peter Schmeichel was across the field from Oliver Kahn. Lothar Matthaus had to deal with Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, and the Neville brothers started or were in the 18.
Keep in mind that Solskjaer scored the winner for Ferguson’s United that day at the Camp Nou, as the Red Devils scored twice in stoppage time for a remarkable comeback win.
A pair of Premier League team attempt to dodge upset bids with varying degrees of likelihood, while one of the guaranteed lower league quarterfinal berths will also be clinched during Saturday’s FA Cup action
Brighton and Hove Albion opens the day hoping to outlast Frank Lampard-led Derby County at the Amex Stadium.
[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]
The other Premier League side, Man City, visits League Two side Newport County. Pep Guardiola is wary of the side’s physicality, but an upset is the longest of long shots.
Sandwiched in the middle is Millwall’s visit to AFC Wimbledon, the League One hosts hoping to continue the magic that helped them knock off the visitors’ rivals: West Ham United of the Premier League.
FA Cup Saturday
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Derby County — 7:30 am. ET
AFC Wimbledon v. Millwall — 10 a.m. ET
Newport County v. Man City — 12:30 p.m. ET
Rogelio Funes Mori is healthy again for Monterrey, and that’s a big reason why they lead the Clausura standings.
The 27-year-old Argentinian striker is in great form this Clausura after missing a significant portion of the Apertura with injuries. He had five goals in six Clausura matches coming into Friday night’s match with 16th-placed Monarcas Morelia.
He now has six goals, and his last one was an absolute stunner.
Funes Mori stole the ball off Aldo Rocha’s sloppy touch, looked up, and noticed Monarcas goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa just a hair out of his net. That was all the space he needed, letting loose from at least 35 yards out and producing an absolutely stunning finish that Sosa barely even had time to back up and give a stretch. Just like that, Monterrey went ahead.
Unfortunately for Monterrey, they gave up an equalizer less than a minute later as the left flank of the Monterrey defense saw their controller batteries die, allowing Edison Flores to snag a loose ball behind the lollygagging defenders and fire a low shot past Marcelo Barovero to level the score. The game ended 3-2 to Monterrey as Funes Mori would score a 78th minute equalizer and then the visitors won in stoppage time.
Still, win, lose, or draw, that strike by Funes Mori is something to behold. On the same day that a French top flight player unleashed from nearly halfway, Liga MX has a goal of the same caliber.