MLS set and ready to “boost the MLB coffers” with move into Citi Field – except, not really

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Some stories are so silly that I need some time, and maybe even a second or third cup of coffee, to get my arms fully around it. They look so out of place that I need some extra minutes or hours to ensure I have not missed something – or to determine whether I’m having a Back to the Future moment, where I’ve somehow slipped back in time.

This morning we saw a story out of New York that says baseball’s New York Mets are interested in bringing an MLS team to Citi Field.

Well, isn’t that special? Personally, I thought we were past the time in Major League Soccer where NFL teams or MLB clubs thoughtfully and graciously propose that one of those cute little professional soccer clubs take advantage of their fine facilities. “I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we get a soccer team in here to fill some dates. I mean … there’s a soccer league here, right?”

I shake my head.

This is a little bit like me saying I have some interest in dating one of the darlins from Indie music group Those Darlins. Perhaps (and, truly, this a ginormous “perhaps”) there was a time in the past when this might have been possible.

But that horse is way, way out of the barn.  Now it doesn’t make sense for about 117 different reasons – not the least of which is that I am absolutely positive none of them want to have a thing to do with me.

So why would I ever consider getting the word out that I might be interested in one of them? Great question.

And yet, here you go. According to this story: “The Mets are ‘very interested and fully capable’ of bringing Major League Soccer to Citi Field, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) announced Thursday.”

Right. Except for that part about actually landing a team. Because that’s not really their call. It may come as some surprise to a local politician, but the Mets (or anyone else beyond the MLS board of governors) don’t get to say who joins or doesn’t join MLS.

This is just local politics, I suppose. It’s someone saying something to local press to look like they are standing up for local constituency.  I guess.  But it generally demonstrates an ignorance of a situation … not to mention a certain amount of disrespect for MLS.

An MLS spokesperson (someone who works as a special PR consultant on the league’s ongoing efforts to build a stadium and add a team in Queens) says in the piece that the idea is a “non-starter.”

According to the story, “The move would boost the baseball team’s coffers and eliminate potential competition from a $300 million MLS soccer stadium proposed for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.”

Yes, because what Major League Soccer is most concerned about is “boosting the baseball’s teams coffers.” I am sure that if I were to sit and have a delicious café latte today with MLS commissioner Don Garber, one of the first items on our “chat list” would be how MLS can best add money into a sport that has a 100-plus year head start in generating U.S. fan interest.

What MLS really is interested in: developing that 25,000-seat stadium at the eastern end of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and then identifying the right group of soccer backers who want to own Major League Soccer’s 20th franchise.

That is the venue that makes sense for MLS. And what makes sense for MLS (certainly in conjunction with community interests and concerns) is where this story starts and stops.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says goodbye to the LA Galaxy

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bid adieu to Major League Soccer, thanking the LA Galaxy for “making me feel alive again.”

The Swedish superstar averaged nearly a goal per game with the Galaxy, and was rumored to be in line for another two years at the club.

[ MORE: Columbus acquires Nagbe ]

Perhaps those reports, and maybe AC Milan’s struggles to score goals, have made more suitors come forward. Time will tell.

The Galaxy said the decision was a “mutual parting of ways” and thanked the player for his work both on and off the pitch.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“We would like to thank Zlatan for his contributions to the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles. We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole.”

Zlatan’s full thoughts, below, were a bit more Zlatanny.

Klein will have his hands full in replacing Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 times in 53 matches, but the Galaxy have always managed to bring in big names.

Getting a star playmaker is even more important as El Trafico rivals LAFC have rewritten the MLS record book and snared plenty of attention in California and across the league.

Columbus acquires Nagbe from Atlanta for $1M in allocation

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Darlington Nagbe is headed for a reunion with old boss Caleb Porter.

Columbus has sent over $1 million in allocation money to Atlanta United in order to claim the influential midfielder.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

Porter coached Nagbe at the University of Akron and the Portland Timbers, and has 25 USMNT caps but has turned down Gregg Berhalter’s requests for service.

Nagbe made 46 appearances across all competitions for the Five Stripes this season, scoring twice with five assists. He has 313 matches played between Portland and Atlanta.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Darlington Nagbe is a proven winner and the type of player who can be a difference-maker in our team,” Crew SC president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “In addition to his skill set, we believe that Darlington is someone whose character and values fit well within our organization. As we stated heading into this offseason, we continue to look both domestically and internationally for players that will make our team better, and we believe Darlington is an important part of those efforts.”

It’s a bold statement from Columbus, who had a reputation for getting the most of its talent under Berhalter but faded under Porter after a hot start. The Crew began 2019 with a 4-1-1 record but lost 13 of its next 15 matches.

Of course, being MLS, the Crew then only lost 2 of their final 13 matches. Shoulder shrug emoji.

NYCFC teen agrees move to Borussia Monchengladbach

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New York City FC’s impressive academy has earned one of the bigger transfer market payoffs in MLS Homegrown history, and will join the current Bundesliga leaders after next season.

Joe Scally, 16, is headed to Borussia Monchengladbach on a $2 million transfer with a sell-on clause, and will spend the 2020 MLS season with his boyhood club. Scally has played in the Open Cup, but has not debuted in an MLS match.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

The $2 million figure is on the edge of Top 30 for departing MLS players, according to Transfermarkt, just behind Cyle Larin’s move from Orlando City to Besiktas.

Scally appeared 11 times for the U.S. U-17 national team, going 90 minutes in all three matches and assisting on the lone American goal at the World Cup in Brazil.

From Borussia.de:

“Joe Scally is a top American talent who we have been following for a long time. We see a lot of potential in Joe and we are looking forward to him joining up with us in January 2021. Until then, we will work together with New York City FC to prepare him for his move to Germany,” said Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl.

Not sure just how long they could’ve been following a 16-year-old, but we digress.

Scally will join U-17 teammates Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg) on the books at a Bundesliga club. Recent U-17 call-ups Pablo Soares (Gladbach) and Noah Jones (RB Leipzig) are also with clubs in Germany’s top flight.

Last month, NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna told me that Scally was the perfect example of a young player trusting a club’s preference of changing his position.

“The perfect example is Joe Scally on the U-17 World Cup team. He came to us from a club in Long Island as an athletic box-to-box midfielder. He was very strong, but we saw him as an outside back. The lesson that we now we share that with our players, don’t get upset if you move to a position, but Joe Scally understood, never complained, he played wherever he was told to do, and now he’s a right back now, 16 years old going to the World Cup after being in our academy for two and a half years.”

Looks like it’s worked out.

Spanish court to decide fate of Spanish league game in USA

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish court will decide whether the Spanish league will be allowed to play the Villarreal-Atletico Madrid game in the United States next month.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Madrid to hear arguments from the league and the Spanish soccer federation, which is against taking the regular-season match abroad.

The league has called for an injunction to force the federation to give its approval. It accuses the local soccer body of unfair competition.

The league also needs the approval of UEFA and American soccer bodies to be able to play the match, which is scheduled for Dec. 6 in Miami.

The commercial court hearing the case is expected to issue a ruling within the next few days.

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