Possible temporary homes for New York City FC

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After more than three years in the making, yesterday Major League Soccer announced that the 20th franchise will be called New York City FC. Yeah, it was kind of a big deal

However, this news has been coming for a while.

But in amongst all the excitement and rigmarole from Manchester City and the New York Yankees — who will be the owners of the the new franchise — one key factor has gone slightly missing.

Where will NYCFC play?

Yes, we all know about the MLS Stadium plans in Queens. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to give an update on that and more later today, so check back here for that. But NYCFC are expected to join MLS for the 2015 season, giving less than two years for a stadium to be constructed. That’s not possible.

Building a stadium in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens has hit a few snags, to say the least, in recent months. The New York Times’ George Vecsey discussed those issues superbly this morning. And in this very blog yesterday evening, Steve Davis brought up MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s comments about having “no plan B’ for anywhere other than Flushing Meadows Park for the new MLS franchise to be based.

So are there alternatives for an interim home for New York City FC in the New York metro area, while a new stadium is being built? You betcha.

Yankee Stadium

The most obvious choice right off the bat. The Yankees involvement in this deal my very well include their stadium as the temporary home for the first two or three seasons. On Saturday Manchester City will play Chelsea in a friendly and Yankee Stadium has hosted plenty of big friendlies between the top European sides in recent years. Was all that in preparation for an MLS franchise to play there for a few seasons? The one big thing is the turnover between baseball and soccer matches. With the seasons running at the same time, MLB and MLS will have to work together to schedule games accordingly. This could be a great opportunity to keep the club in New York City proper and snag some Yankee fans to NYCFC’s fanbase. Update: Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner on NYCFC at today’s press conference: “Well, tentatively we are working on them playing at Yankee Stadium.”

MetLife Stadium

Probably a complete no-no. But still, you never know. Massive stadium that would probably be a quarter full for MLS games, could NYCFC transform an NFL venue like Seattle does or maybe the ‘Caps who only use the lower bowl at BC Place? It could work. Big stumbling blocks include poor transports links out to the stadium and a lack of atmosphere being created. And oh yeah, the fact that Met Life is in New Jersey. That’s a biggie.

Red Bull Arena

Another non-starter perhaps. But look at how the Home Depot Center is shared by LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. It is possible. The Red Bulls are the new rivals for NYCFC but they could certainly help them out with a temporary home. It wouldn’t sit well with RBNY fans and sharing a stadium with your local rivals diminishes the rivalry, in some cases. But when you think about AS Roma and Lazio, it can work. But highly unlikely. Also, the New Jersey issue raises its ugly head once more.

Columbia University Stadium

Not many have mentioned this idea. But it could be one to think about. Columbia University’s football stadium is located in Manhattan is close to the 215th street stop on the subway and would be relatively cheap to upgrade and place temporary seats in. Like the Vancouver Whitecaps did at Empire Field for their inaugural MLS season, a temporary home with flexible seating arrangements can work for small periods of time. Columbia’s soccer stadium could also be redeveloped and is close by, but the capacity will be very small. Look no further than Buck Shaw Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, for proof that this is a viable option. Maybe.

Citi Field

This one is highly unlikely…but I’m going to throw it out there due to its proximity to the potential new home of NYCFC in Flushing. Just a stones throw away from the proposed new stadium plan MLS has been working on for over a year, the fanbase could grow in the local area while the tam plays at a temporary pitch at the New York Mets’ stadium. It wouldn’t be ideal, but like Yankee Stadium, Citi Field has hosted soccer games in the past.

(More: MLS may be backpedaling on Queens as NYC site)

Injuries aren’t halting Red Bulls from proving to be MLS’ top club

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It would have been understandable if the New York Red Bulls dropped their heads in agony last month after the club’s disappointing CONCACAF Champions League defeat to eventual tournament winners Chivas de Guadalajara.

[ MORE: NYCFC’s Vieira close to signing contract with Nice ]

That wasn’t the case though, and for manager Jesse Marsch and Co., the club has been rewarded in the biggest of ways for its perseverance.

Sunday night’s 3-1 win over Atlanta United proved once again in 2018 that this season’s Red Bulls are the class of MLS for a number of reasons.

The team’s 7-3-0 start is its best in modern Red Bulls history, which dates back nine seasons to when Red Bull Arena was first opened in 2010.

Marsch and his group currently ride a four-match win streak, which includes away wins over LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids and Atlanta, with a 4-0 beatdown of rivals New York City FC bunched in the middle of the road trip.

It’s easy to look at wins and losses to determine which teams are serious MLS Cup contenders and others that will struggle throughout the season, but when diving deeper into this Red Bulls team, there are a lot of special qualities that make them different than previous years.

Heading into 2018, questions surrounded the team following Sacha Kljestan’s departure for Orlando City, as well as the club’s ability to defend with a back line that didn’t appear to have much depth.

The Kljestan question has not only been answered, but turned into Alejandro “Kaku” Gamarra becoming a household MLS name and legitimate MVP and Newcomer of the Year candidate.

The Argentine (possibly turning Paraguayan) leads MLS in assists (9) through the Red Bulls first 10 matches, after Kljestan posted 17 for the club during the 2017 campaign.

Kaku is a spark plug that manages to find himself in the right positions on the field at any given moment, and his work rate perfectly matches what Marsch his instilled in the squad since the moment he first arrived.

Defensively, the Red Bulls have far exceeded expectations, conceding the fourth-fewest goals (12) in MLS, despite a host of injuries.

Jamaica international Kemar Lawrence went down with a scary injury on Sunday, leaving his immediate availability with the club unknown, while Homegrown player Kyle Duncan will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

That’s not including outside back Connor Lade, who has battled an ankle injury early in the 2018 campaign as well.

While the addition of Kaku has paid dividends in the biggest of ways in the attack though, it was the Red Bulls ability to bring in center back Tim Parker from the Vancouver Whitecaps that has really changed the team’s outlook at the back.

Parker has formed a strong bond with fellow central defensive partner Aaron Long, and the two are easily the best center back pairing in MLS through the opening two-plus months.

The bigger test for the club in the long-term will be if Lawrence does miss significant playing time, though.

That would force Marsch to rely more on Lade, who only returned from injury on Sunday to replace Lawrence, or young outside back Ethan Kutler, unless the Red Bulls manager opts to switch to a three-back system (as he has done in the past).

Nainggolan ends Belgium career after World Cup snub

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As World Cup squads fill out their rosters ahead of next month’s great tournament in Russia, a number of high-profile names won’t feature at the World Cup.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Spanish Chelsea trio ]

Belgium named its 28-man provisional squad on Monday, which includes Premier League stars Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, however, one notable midfielder was left out of Roberto Martinez’s squad.

Radja Nainggolan won’t be on the plane to Russia next month for the Red Devils, who take on England, Panama and Tunisia in the group stage.

That decision by Martinez has prompted the AS Roma midfielder to end his international career, which Nainggolan revealed in a social media post following the announcement.

Martinez commented on the Roma player’s omission from the roster.

“Radja is a top player,” Martinez said. “The reason is tactical. In the last two years the team has worked in a specific manner. Other players had those roles.

“We know that he has a very important role in his club and we cannot give him that role in our squad.”

Emery set to replace Wenger at Arsenal

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Unai Emery will be the next man up for Arsenal, with the BBC calling it a “unanimous choice” from Arsenal’s search committee.

[ MORE: Nashville hires ex-Liverpool CEO ]

The BBC’s David Ornstein is reporting that Arsenal will appoint the ex-PSG and Sevilla boss as its new manager.

Emery had massive success with Sevilla in tournament and league play, and led PSG on a rollicking run through Ligue 1 but was deemed replaceable thanks to a Neymar-less loss in the UEFA Champions League.

The Basque manager will be the first Arsenal manager not named Arsene Wenger since the Frenchman took over at the Emirates on Oct. 1, 1996.

It feels a natural fit, as Emery has had success with multiple systems at both favorites and relative underdogs.

Emery has also overseen Spartak Moscow, Almeria, and Valencia.

Mikel Arteta and Thierry Henry were also rumored as potential Wenger successors.

Transfer rumors: Willian, Alderweireld to Manchester United

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The transfer rumor mill is picking up steam this Monday, including some persistent whispers regarding two Premier League players with possible futures at Old Trafford.

Both of these make a lot of sense.

[ MORE: Nashville hires ex-Liverpool CEO ]

A day after Nemanja Matic stressed the need for experienced players at United, two good fits hit the rumor mill (again).

Matic’s old Chelsea pal Willian has interest from United if he seeks a way out of London — which seems likely — where he’s said to be ready to go if Antonio Conte remains as manager.

Then there’s Toby Alderweireld, whose been very strong at Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur but reportedly fallen out with current Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

During a rut, the Tottenham manager claimed that Alderweireld was held out of Spurs’ lineup due to the form of the players in front of him.

Also from Sky, we’ll leave this quote from PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi on the idea of possibly selling Kylian Mbappe.

Al-Khelaifi told Canal+: “You want me to give you a number? More than €1bn! Yes, I said one billion! And even if you gave me a billion, I wouldn’t sell him.”