After Garber’s comments, will Beckham’s dream of MLS in Miami ever happen?

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David Beckham dressed in a crisp white suit, standing on a street near Miami’s South Beach, waving thousands of fans towards the stadium of his new Major League Soccer franchise.

That was the dream for Beckham and his Miami Beckham United (MBU) ownership group, but as the long search continues for a stadium site in and around Miami, it has now turned into a bit of a nightmare.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]  

It has now been almost two years since MLS announced a new franchise would be heading to MIA but in that time little to no progress has been made with regards to a stadium. After first being knocked back on a potential downtown waterfront site and then recently seeing a deal collapse to build a stadium next door to MLB’s Miami Marlins — we told you that was a long way from being confirmed a few months ago here at ProSoccerTalk — Beckham is in a sticky situation.

Appearing on CNBC on Tuesday, MLS commissioner Don Garber gave the following update on Beckham’s plans for a new stadium.

“It’s really real-time. They’re trying to solidify their site,” Garber said. “We’ll be meeeting with their ownership group if not in the next couple of days, certainly in the next few weeks to try to see if we can really put a stake in the ground and hopefully finalize having David Beckham and his partners be owners in our league, which we’re excited about.

“We need to finalize their stadium site and ensure it’s a proper location. Right now they don’t have that plan finalized. They will come to us and ask us possibly to approve a location as early as this weekend at our MLS board meeting in Columbus. If that should happen over the next few days, we could at least take one step closer toward finalizing our deal with him and hopefully having a team in Miami.”

So, not much of an update from Garber there which has been a reoccurring theme over the past 18 months whenever he’s been asked about any progress in South Florida. However, the “hopefully having a team in Miami” line certainly seems to suggest this franchise becoming a reality is not as cut and dry as it once seemed.

Beckham has had his franchise deadline extended on multiple occasions but in this MLS board meeting, it is believed that a firmer deadline will be handed to the former Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and England star. Throw in the fact that on Tuesday USL outfit Sacramento Republic released stunning plans for a new downtown stadium site and more pressure than ever appears to be mounting on Beckham to get this deal done.

[ MORE: Neville brothers take charge of Spanish giants Valencia ]

What are the options, stadium wise, for Beckham and his consortium which is backed by Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure? Well, not many. Having a temporary home at Florida International University, 16 miles west of downtown, seems like the most viable short-term option. That would at least allow MBU time to scope out other areas and although Garber and league officials seem insistent that a stadium deal has to be put in place before they finalize MLS heading back to Miami for the first time since 2001, the commissioner has put himself in a tough spot after allowing New York City FC to play in a temporary home at Yankee Stadium during their inaugural season in 2015, with no real plans coming forthcoming for a permanent home.

Beckham's plans for an MLS stadium in downtown Miami had to be shelved.
Beckham’s plans for an MLS stadium in downtown Miami had to be shelved.

Speaking to owners and CEO’s around MLS recently, it is clear they want “brand Beckham” in the league and it would be a great thing to have a successful franchise in Miami, one of the USA’s biggest media markets. However, it comes to a point where enough is enough and either MLS changes its stance on the stadium deal having to be in place, or they simply have to cut ties with Beckham and let him either move on to another city or can the idea of him owning a franchise altogether.

Time is certainly ticking for Beckham and with Sacramento and other North American cities pushing hard to try and join the MLS party, there’s only so much leeway that can be given to the legendary figure.

Atlanta heads into MLS playoffs looking to defend its Cup

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MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) It’s been a strange season for Atlanta United.

They’ve added more two more cups to their collection.

They’ve endured some rather baffling losses.

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After all that, the defending MLS Cup champions are heading into the postseason from essentially the same position as last season.

Atlanta, which was runner-up in the Eastern Conference, will host the New England Revolution on Saturday in the opening round of the playoffs, a rematch of their Oct. 6 game to close out the regular season.

“We’ve put ourselves in a pretty decent spot, as strange as the season has maybe been,” midfielder Julian Gressel said Wednesday after a training session. “We’ve already won two trophies, and now we have a chance for a third.”

In mid-August, United broke out the champagne after a 3-2 victory over Mexican powerhouse Club America to capture the Campeones Cup.

A couple of weeks later, they were celebrating again with a 2-1 victory over Minnesota United in the U.S. Open Cup final, guaranteeing a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League.

“I felt like we were always there and pretty much at our best in those games,” Gressel said. “That’s why I’m pretty confident we’ll be at our best when it really matters.”

But there are reasons to be concerned. Atlanta struggled badly in some league games – especially on the road – and rarely looked like the dynamic team that won the MLS Cup in just its second year under former coach Tata Martino.

With Frank De Boer now at the helm, United got off to a sluggish start and spent much of the season juggling lineups and switching up tactics in a desperate bid to find some consistency. Atlanta never put together an unbeaten streak longer than five games – it had three such stretches a year ago – and finished with 58 points, 58 goals and a plus-15 goal differential. All were short of the 69 points, 70 goals and plus-26 differential from the 2018 season.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings ]

Still, United’s second-place showing in the East behind New York City FC matches last year’s finish, guaranteeing the team at least one home game in the playoffs and another in the conference semifinals should it beat the Revolution.

That’s a crucial edge for a franchise that has essentially broken every MLS attendance record and again averaged more than 52,000 per game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, doubling up every team in the league except Seattle and Cincinnati. In 17 home games, Atlanta lost only twice.

While United closed out the season with a 3-1 victory over New England, the Revolution has been one of the league’s hottest teams over the second half of the season.

Atlanta will be further tested by the possible absence of its best defender, Miles Robinson, who is dealing with a strained left hamstring sustained during a workout with the U.S. national team last week.

If Robinson can’t go, United will have to change up their lineup once again and possibly adopt a more defensive approach to Saturday’s game.

“If I do push up, it’s more so getting back a little faster than I normally would, things like that,” said midfielder Darlington Nagbe, one of those who may be affected if Robinson can’t go. “Just feel the game out and see how it plays out.”

In the regular-season finale, Ezequiel Barco got the start over Pity Martinez, a lineup that de Boer might go with again in the playoffs.

Barco played only 15 league games this season because of injuries and a lengthy stint with Argentina at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but he provided the sort of spark de Boer was looking for against New England. Martinez, who was the 2018 South American player of the year and Atlanta’s major acquisition during the last offseason, has struggled to find his nice in MLS with just five goals in 32 appearances.

“We have to see,” de Boer said. “The only thing that concerns me is to win the playoffs.”

MLS switched up the playoff format this season. Instead of the top two teams from both the East and the West receiving byes and two-legged rounds to determine the winner of conference semifinals and finals, only the first-place finisher gets the opening round off and every step of the playoffs is a single-game elimination.

There is no room for error.

“If you have an off day, you might be out,” Gressel said. “I feel like it’s a format that favors the underdog a bit more, or gives the underdog a bit more hope.”

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com

Zlatan paces MLS jersey sellers, offers fresh quip on Minnesota challenge

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic: He’s like a more charming, less anarchist version of Tom Hardy’s Bane.

The LA Galaxy man was revealed to again have the top-selling jersey in Major League Soccer on Wednesday, days before the club begins its 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs run with a match in Minnesota.

[ MORE: Monster deal for Mbappe? ]

Snow is in the forecast, but Zlatan is not bothered by such weather.

“I’m from Sweden I was born in the snow. When it snows, I’m a viking. When it’s warm, I’m a lion. We adjust for every condition there is.”

Back to the jerseys, the MLS MVP finalists are 1-2-3 in sales. Ibrahimovic is first, followed by Atlanta’s Josef Martinez, and LAFC’s Carlos Vela.

The top sellers amongst Americans are Seattle’s Jordan Morris (7) and Cristian Roldan (12). Chris Wondolowski of San Jose is 13th, while other domestic names on the Top 25 include Sebastian Lletget, Brad Guzan (!?!), Dom Dwyer, Jozy Altidore, and Graham Zusi.

Midweek El Clasico possible in December following political unrest

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Political unrest in Catalonia has both La Liga and the Spanish government looking to move the first El Clasico of the season.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are scheduled to meet at the Camp Nou on Oct. 26, but the jailing of nine Catalan separatists has caused uproar in-and-around Barca.

In fact, Barca as a club has denounced the imprisonment, so it plays more than a peripheral role in the controversy.

[ JPW: What now for Berhalter, USMNT? ] 

Players heading to and returning from international break have faced in challenges in getting to the club.

Instead, Marca says that we may see a midweek match played in Madrid on Wednesday, Dec. 18, with the reverse fixture in March moved from Madrid to Barcelona.

Dec. 18 would give both teams three matches in eight days before La Liga’s winter break. Barca would play Real Sociedad, Real Madrid, and Alaves, while Real would play Valencia and Real Betis in addition to the Clasico. Both difficult runs, but fairly even.

Reports claim Allegri linked with Manchester United, Spurs

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The international break can be a slow time for news, but what to make of multiple reports claiming that Max Allegri is in discussion with a pair of struggling traditional Premier League powers?

Tuttosport claims that Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have interest in hiring the Italian manager, adding that United has had “intensified” contact with him.

[ MORE: Monster deal for Mbappe? ]

Noise out of Old Trafford continues to back Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while there is no real buzz that Mauricio Pochettino is on the verge of leaving Spurs.

The 52-year-old Allegri has won Serie A once with AC Milan and five times with Juventus, claiming a Serie C title with Sassuolo in 2007-08.

Is there anything to it? He’d be a great hire for either side. In United’s case, he’d be a marked upgrade on their current boss.