MLS expansion update from Commissioner Garber

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Yesterday afternoon an impromptu Twitter Q&A from MLS Commissioner Don Garber lifted the lid on all kinds of MLS expansion talk.

St. Louis? Miami? NYC 2? Sacramento? Orlando? Chill out guys, let’s get down to what was actually said.

Fans inundated Garber with requests on the leagues expansion plans, and the commish gave some revealing answers.

According to Garber, the plans for NYC 2 are developing: “we continue to make progress in Queens.” While in the Floridian market, both Orlando and Miami have seen rising levels of interest in an MLS franchise. Garber is “hoping to see support in Florida House for stadium support bill,” to help out Orlando City, while he admitted that in Miami “there’s been more and more interest of late.”

MORE: Nine mayoral candidates, but no committals to support MLS stadium in Queens

Some cities further down the pecking order for MLS expansion franchises were also mentioned, as Sacramento and St. Louis made the Twitter Q&A. With Garber hopeful of next month’s Manchester City vs. Chelsea friendly at Busch Stadium helping to promote soccer and MLS in St. Louis.

And one fan even asked if 30 teams would adorn MLS in the future. An emphatic, yet slightly non-committal, response came from Garber’s twitter feed: “30 seems like too many.”

So what do we learn from this impromptu outreach from the commissioner? In a nutshell, NYC 2 is pushing ahead and Florida seems to be a market where MLS is targeting.

Fans in Atlanta, Minnesota and San Antonio may be disappointed to hear their names not mentioned more prominently. But those markets are focusing on proving themselves in the NASL, and all three are doing a fine job at that.

Expansion talk always gets the juices flowing, and with Garber opening up to fans about the potential new franchises, it only helps to keep the chatter going amongst soccer circles in the US.

MORE: Orlando purchases $8.2 million parcel, unveils soccer stadium plans

But if the league does fail in its bid to make NYC 2 happen and a stadium plan cannot be worked out in Queens, what then? Orlando seems to be the best option. They have already earmarked land for a new soccer-specific stadium that the city has purchased for the franchise. Plus Orlando City now has a wealthy Brazilian part owner, who will help fund the new SSS. The fan base is on the rise and their links from playing against plenty of MLS sides in preseason and affiliation with Sporting KC has helped their stock to rise further.

What we learned from Garber’s expansion chat is that MLS has plenty of options. We aren’t much closer to seeing which ones will pan out. But boy, its fun to talk about it.

Premier League clubs vote VAR into use for 2019-20 season

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It’s been inevitable for quite some time, but now it’s official: video review will be used in the Premier League when the 2019-20 season kicks off next August.

[ MORE: Fulham hire Claudio Ranieri after firing Slavisa Jokanovic ]

20 of 20 current PL clubs voted on Thursday to confirm the use of the modern technology beginning next season.

The Bundesliga and Serie A began using the video assistant referee (VAR) at the start of the 2017-18 season, and have continued (successful) operation of the system in 2018-19. Major League Soccer introduced the protocol two-thirds of the way through its 2017 season, to far greater degrees of varying success. La Liga is set to begin use of VAR next season as well.

[ MORE: England vs. USMNT preview ]

VAR was first used in the English game last season, when select FA Cup fixtures were used as test runs, while the same is being done in the EFL Cup this season.

Chelsea expected to let Cahill leave on loan in January

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Gary Cahill is no longer first-choice at Chelsea — anything but, in fact, as he’s played just 21 minutes in the Premier League this season — and the club is prepared to allow its captain to leave on loan in January as a reward for six years of excellent service, according to a report from the Guardian.

[ MORE: Fulham hire Claudio Ranieri after firing Slavisa Jokanovic ]

New Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has used Cahill sparingly thus far — even leaving him out of the 18-man team for Sunday’s draw with Everton — but has praised the 32-year-old for his professionalism and influence as a valued member inside the locker room. For those reasons, Sarri is prepared to do right by one of the club’s most senior members as Cahill seeks regular first-team minutes.

[ MORE: England vs. USMNT preview ]

Cahill’s current contract is set to expire in the summer of 2020, thus a loan in January and an ensuing permanent transfer this coming summer represents the club’s final opportunity to recoup a small fee for a player who will surely garner plenty of interest from within the PL. Having paid under $9 million to sign him from Bolton in January 2012, Chelsea have gotten pretty good value for their initial investment, including two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup, and one Champions League and Europa League title each during Cahill’s spell at the club.

U.S. U-20 men one win from World Cup

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One win.

That’s all the United States’ U-20 men’s national team will need to advance to this summer’s World Cup in Poland and the Pan-American Games in Peru.

[ MORE: Surgery for Mendy ]

The Yanks cruised through group play with a nearly perfect nine days of soccer, the closest of five wins a 6-1 defeat of Trinidad and Tobago.

Competition is a bit tougher in the knockout stage, but Costa Rica and Honduras did the U.S. a massive solid by drawing 1-1 in their opener.

Now Tab Ramos’ kids can qualify for the World Cup with a defeat of Costa Rica on Friday or Honduras on Monday.

The top two teams in each group qualify for Poland, while the Group A winner advances to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship to face the winner of Group B (Mexico, El Salvador, or Panama).

The U.S. has spread the scoring around, lead by 17-year-old Ulysses Lainez of LA Galaxy II (six goals). His former Galaxy Academy buddy, Alexis Mendez of Freiburg has five goals, as does Toronto FC 18-year-old Ayo Akinola.

Atlanta United sits atop Forbes’ list of most valuable MLS franchises

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Atlanta United came up just short of the Supporters’ Shield, but it’s off-the-field success is No. 1 with a bullet.

Giving high marks to attendance and merchandise sales, Forbes places the Five Stripes atop its list of the most valuable franchises in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: Surgery for Mendy ]

United sits first, with a valuation of $330 million. Both Atlanta and the second place Galaxy have valuations ahead of the two-least valuable teams combined (Columbus and Colorado). And the Five Stripes are worth twice the individual values of those teams and Vancouver. Full list here, from Forbes.com:

“Last season, average home-game attendance was 48,200, and this year the team is drawing over 50,000 fans per game. In just two seasons Atlanta has already laid claim to the league’s eight best-attended games ever, and nine of the top eleven.”

The margins are fine, relatively speaking, with Atlanta’s advantage over second place LA Galaxy by $10 million. Seattle is third at $310m, with newcomers LAFC at $305m, and Toronto FC at $290m.