What They Said: Important quotes from Beckham’s MLS in Miami announcement

Leave a comment

Three consecutive Eurythmics songs played over the live stream as the world awaited the appearance of David Beckham’s major Miami announcement on Wednesday morning, as South Florida’s “Sweet Dreams” came true.

“This is an exciting time for myself, my family, friends and partners and something that we’re looking forward to bringing to Miami,” Beckham said before Garber took the mic to make the announcement.

“What an incredibly historic day for Major League Soccer and soccer in North America and more importantly for soccer in our world because this is the first time in the modern era that an ex-athlete is joining the ranks of ownership and will become the managing partner of a professional soccer team,” Garber said.

(OFFICIAL: Beckham announces Miami will be Major League Soccer’s 22nd franchise)

Gimenez managed to avoid most of the gaffes that tend to accompany politicians talking sports, aside from a slip-up of “David Beckman” and put a great deal of emotional weight and significance into the arrival of Major League Soccer:

“Commissioner Garber, we welcome the MLS and we’re happy to be home to your 22nd franchise. David, we welcome you, your wife Victoria and your children to Miami. We share your vision of greatness. We are going to be willing partners in achieving that greatness.”

Some other important points:

STADIUM TALK: Beckham said he’s doing it himself, “We don’t want public funding. We will fund the stadium ourselves. It’s something that we’ve worked very hard to get to this stage.”

As for a timeline, Beckham said, “We can’t build a stadium in two weeks. This is obviously going to take time. The next major thing is getting the right partners and getting the right investors.”

He said it would not be six months, but “we’ll be quick.”

Gimenez mentioned that they wanted the stadium in “the right place” and “as quickly as possible.” He noted that there were five political commissioners from Miami Dade County in attendance as a “clear indication that there is political support for getting this done.”

Garber on the stadium: “If we’re successful, this facility will be an incredible showcase of what’s so beautiful about this city.”

YOUTH ACADEMY: Beckham stressed building a youth academy to provide the best in homegrown players to the club, and Gimenez played to his voting public.

“To see the true passion for soccer in Miami Dade County, you just have to visit any of the neighborhoods in our community. When you watch young people, boys and girls of all ages, playing soccer in our parks.”

He called the rebirth of MLS in Miami as “the culmination of the international city we’re becoming.”

BECKS ON WHY MIAMI? “Why not? For me, I wanted to create a team that we can start from scratch. There was a team here 10 years ago and unfortunately they folded but going forward, I wanted to create a team that can be very personal. I want to make it my own team. I have great partners.”

“Miami is a vibrant city with a lot of passion. I know this city is ready for football, soccer, this time around. I’ve always said throughout my career, whether there’s challenges or not, I need to work hard.”

BECKS ON HIS TEAM CONSTRUCTION: “We will want to bring some of the best players in football to Miami. I’ve seen what it means when you bring great players into a team. I’m talking about the Heat. That’s the fortunate thing about my career, the teams I played for and with. Players are already interested in Miami.”

SUMMATION: It was a bizarre press conference right off the hop, and didn’t find normalcy once questions were passed to an excited group of media members (“Would you like to call Sir Alex Ferguson as your coach?”). But overall, Beckham showed his experience handling big press conferences and distinguished himself well.

Dest: Best decision was stay with US and not switch to Dutch

Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images
Leave a comment

DAVENPORT, Fla. (AP) Sergino Dest’s decision to stay with the U.S. national team rather than switch to the Netherlands got a mixed reaction from his Ajax teammates.

“Some of them, they didn’t like it,” Dest said. “Some of them, they said just: `Congratulations: You followed your heart. So that’s always good.”

An 18-year-old outside back who has become an Ajax regular this season, Dest made his U.S. national team debut in September and played exhibitions against Mexico and Uruguay. He skipped last month’s CONCACAF Nations League matches against Cuba and Canada in order to keep his options open, then announced Oct. 28 he was committing to the U.S. program long-term.

“It’s a hard decision, of course, because you are for both of them,” Dest said Wednesday, two days before he likely will make his senior national team competitive debut. “I just made my own decision. It’s my life. If it’s not working out well. I’m the one who is dealing with the trouble.”

Dest has a Surinamese-American father and Dutch mother. He came up through the U.S. youth national team programs, playing for the Americans at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and the 2019 Under-20 World Cup.

The Dutch national team, winner of the 1988 European Championship and a three-time World Cup finalist, tried to persuade Dest to ask FIFA for a switch of affiliation. Dest’s American youth team background was stressed by U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter and U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart when they had lunch with Dest and his father, Ken, on Oct. 24, the day after Dest and Ajax played Chelsea and American star Christian Pulisic in the Champions League.

Dest announced his decision on Oct. 28 and will be cap-tied once he appears in a competitive match.

“He is part of our future and we’re going to make sure that he develops himself to a player that will perform in ’22 and ’26,” Stewart said Tuesday. “What happened in his youth national team career helped the conversations with Sergimo, with his father, with his management in securing him for our U.S. national team, which is great for the program.”

Dest’s decision came 21 months after Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, now 20, switched to Mexico after coming up through the American youth national team program.

LA Galaxy midfielder Efrai­n Ãlvarez, also eligible for the U.S. and Mexico, has made four starts and once substitute appearance for El Tri as it advanced to a Thursday semifinal against the Dutch at the Under-17 World Cup.

Dest said his time with the U.S. program “might be the biggest influence” in his choice.

“I think I made the right decision,” Dest added. “Now I have to make sure that I made a good one and show what I’ve got.”

Stewart, now 50, grew up in the Netherlands with a Dutch mother and a father who was in the U.S. Air Force. He, too, played for a Dutch club and joined the U.S. national team, and played in three World Cups while scoring 17 goals in 101 international appearances from 1990-2004.

“It was very, very similar,” Stewart said, comparing their histories. “His father played an important role, very proud American, ex-military veteran that’s in Europe right now. Very proud that his son is going to play for the U.S. national team as my father was for me.”

Stewart’s experience resonated with Dest.

“It’s always good to hear from people that are also Dutch-American, and they also have a story in the U.S.,” Dest said. “My decision that I made, I listened to everybody’s advice, but it’s just a decision I’m making.”

Dest said his father was pleased, as was his mom.

“I think if I go play for the Netherlands, he would also be happy. He’s just happy when I’m happy. He’s a dad,” Dest said. “They’re just like, `OK, if you want to make that decision then, it’s your life. You have to make your own decisions.”

The U.S., rebuilding after its failure to reach last year’s World Cup, hosts Canada on Friday night at Orlando in another Nations League match, then finishes group play against Cuba at George Town, Cayman Islands. To advance to the semifinals, the Americans must win both games and overcome a goal difference of four against Canada.

In a game Dest skipped last month, the U.S. lost 2-0 at Toronto.

“That’s not going to happen the next game on Friday,” Dest said. “We’re not going to lose.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Chelsea Ladies sign NWSL superstar Sam Kerr

Photo by Harriet Lander - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sam Kerr is heading to London.

The Australian megastar is leaving the Chicago Red Stars for Chelsea after scoring two MVP awards in the National Women’s Soccer League (2017, 2019).

[ MORE: NYCFC teen off to Gladbach ]

Kerr, 26, has 38 goals in 83 caps for the Lady Matildas, scoring four times in one World Cup match against Jamaica last summer.

Her 69 goals are the most in an NWSL career, and she admits it was a challenge to leave her comfort zone and head to Europe.

“Probably the part that was most difficult was leaving friends and the US because I’ve created such a home there, but it was just time for me to make a change. And once I had my eyes set on Europe, it was kind of an easy decision to choose Chelsea as a club.”

It’s a huge signing for Chelsea, who is leading the table through five matches with an unbeaten 4W-1D record. She’ll join the team in January.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says goodbye to the LA Galaxy

Photograph by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.