Report: MLS set to accept Minnesota United’s expansion bid

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Minnesota United, currently of the North American Soccer League (NASL), is expected to have its expansion franchise bid accepted by Major League Soccer in the coming weeks, according to a report by SI‘s Brian Straus.

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Straus, citing multiple sources, reported on Friday that United’s bid has been chosen ahead of a second Twin Cities bid, led by the NFL’s Vikings, Sacramento Republic (United Soccer League) and San Antonio (NASL). The prospective United ownership group also features Timberwolves (NBA) owner Glen Taylor and Twins (MLB) owner Jim Pohlad.

According to the report, MLS has sent “a signed Letter of Intent … confirming that United is the choice for team No. 23” to the city of Minneapolis as the club endeavors to build a downtown soccer-specific stadium, which the club hopes to complete in order to enter the league in 2018.

[ RELATED: MLS standings | Stats | Schedule ]

With Atlanta, Los Angeles and now reportedly Minneapolis set to join the league, only a single expansion place remains as MLS aims to feature 24 teams by its 2020 season.

Straus goes on to speculate that Sacramento Republic would likely join United in the not-so-distant future, nabbing expansion place No. 24, if not for David Beckham’s ongoing quest to bring a team to Miami.

MLS’s deal with Beckham stands, so he’ll be given every opportunity to secure a stadium before the league makes its decision.

United always seemed the more likely — and wiser — choice of the two Twin Cities bids, as they’ll eventually play in their own stadium, while the Vikings bid was built around the NFL team’s $1-billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium which is currently under construction.

[ MORE: NYCFC open entire Yankee stadium for inaugural home game ]

The already existing fanbase and soccer infrastructure also make United the more attractive candidate. Once the club’s expansion bid is formally announced — Straus says it could be sooner than the 30- to 45-day timeline MLS commissioner Don Garber gave this week — United can start recruiting and signing marquee players to their NASL roster in an attempt to enter the league as a contender in 2018.

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

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It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

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The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.

AFCON: Nigeria 1st team through to round of 16 at African Cup, joined by host Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) Former champion Nigeria became the first team to reach the last 16 at the African Cup of Nations after defender Kenneth Omeruo‘s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 win over Guinea on Wednesday.

The Nigerians were unimpressive in the first half in Alexandria but lifted their game in the second. Alex Iwobi‘s rasping shot was pushed away by Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone and Ahmed Musa almost set up Odion Ighalo on a counterattack.

The former Chelsea defender Omeruo did what the forwards had not been able to do when he beat Kone with a glancing header at the near post off Moses Simon’s corner in the 73rd minute.

Nigeria, which won the title in 2013, has two wins from two games in Group B. It beat Burundi 1-0 in its first match and now needs a draw from its last fixture against Madagascar to finish top and stay in Alexandria for the last 16.

There was more good news for Nigeria when Samuel Kalu came on as a substitute near the end. The midfield player collapsed at a training session the day before the first game, suffering from dehydration, and was hospitalized.

Coach Gernot Rohr rested captain John Obi Mikel against Guinea.

Elsewhere, Egypt also confirmed a place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmad Elmohamady and Mohamed Salah each scored in the first half to lead the Pharoahs to victory, the hosts second-straight win in the competition.

In the other match of the day, Uganda tied Zimbabwe, 1-1.