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.

Champions League score predictions: Round of 16

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and two of the four Premier League clubs are in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, the two finalists from last season, are first up and both will be happy enough with their draws in the last 16.

That said, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool know that Diego Simeone’s Atleti are a very dangerous team to play as they will scrap and battle for every ball against the reigning European champions. As for Spurs and Jose Mourinho, the news that Heung-min Son has broken his arm and could be out for the rest of the season is a huge blow but they host an inconsistent RB Leipzig.

Borussia Dortmund host Paris Saint-Germain and Atalanta host Valencia in the other last 16 ties this week and both should be cracking encounters between two very evenly-matched teams.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

Next week the other four last 16 first legs take place as Man City and Chelsea are in action against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. Out of the four Premier League teams still in the competition, Liverpool and Spurs will be the most confident of advancing.

Below we predict the scores for the UCL round of 16 games taking place over the next two days. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Tuesday
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Liverpool
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 PSG

Wednesday
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 RB Leipzig
Atalanta 2-1 Valencia

Lampard issues Chelsea injury update; Pulisic remains out

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard issued a lengthy injury update after their 2-0 defeat against Man United and USMNT fans will not be happy to hear that Christian Pulisic remains out.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Ahead of Chelsea’s pivotal top four clash at home against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Lampard could be without as many as five key players.

Andreas Christensen broke his nose and came off at half time against United, while N’Golo Kante was subbed off early after yet another leg injury for the French superstar.

“Callum, no. Pulisic, no. N’Golo, no, from that today. Tammy is a maybe. It is not going our way with injuries at the moment but the players who come in they have to show that. That is what the squad is there for. It is frustrating,” Lampard told Chelsea TV when asked about availability for Saturday.

Lampard then gave an extra update on Kante, who walked through the mixed zone after the game looking okay and told the French journalists who were assembled that it wasn’t too bad.

“It is an adductor injury,” Lampard confirmed. “We will have to assess it and scan it. It doesn’t look great. It is on the same leg [as he injured before].”

With four wins in their last 14 Premier League games Chelsea are not in good form and are just one point ahead of fifth-place Tottenham ahead of their game this weekend.

They also have a nasty habit of dominating matches but are failing to put multiple chances away and with these injuries piling up it certainly makes Chelsea’s decision to not spend in the January window to strengthen their squad, especially in terms of strikers, very surprising.

With Bayern Munich coming up in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie next week, Lampard will hope Chelsea’s luck turns and plenty of players return from injury.

FC Cincinnati coach Jans resigns amid investigation over remarks

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CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans resigned amid an investigation by Major League Soccer of his use of a racial slur in the locker room.

Jans resigned late Monday, FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding said: “The club had suspended Jans pending the investigation, which was prompted by a complaint from the MLS Players Association.

“As Major League Soccer’s investigation unfolded and some themes emerged, Ron offered his resignation and we agreed that it was the best course of action for everyone involved with FC Cincinnati,” Berding said.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The club designated Yoann Damet as interim head coach while the team conducts a search. Cincinnati is training in Florida for its second season in MLS.

Cincinnati has been through two head coaches during its brief stay in the league. It fired Alan Koch after its 11th first-tier match, which left the expansion club with two wins, seven losses and two draws.

Damet also was the interim head coach while the team conducted a search that resulted in Jans’ hiring last August.

Cincinnati finished with the worst record in MLS in its inaugural season, with six wins, six draws and 22 losses. It scored a league-low 31 goals in 34 matches.

Cincinnati gained entry into MLS after a successful debut under Koch, who led the team to the semifinals of the United Soccer League’s playoffs in both 2017 and 2018.

German fans turn on fellow supporter for racist abuse

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BERLIN — The fans of German soccer club Preußen Münster showed how racist abuse can be handled, shouting “Nazis out! Nazis out!” after one of their own fans targeted a visiting player with monkey chants.

The perpetrator was a 29-year-old man who was forced out of the stadium. And the player, Würzburger Kickers defender Leroy Kwadwo, thanked the opposing fans their “exemplary” reaction.

“I was racially abused by one single spectator. It just makes me sad,” Kwadwo wrote on Saturday, a day after the match. “I indeed have a different skin color, but I was born here in this wonderful land that has given my family and I so much and made so much possible. I am one of you. I live here and can live my calling as a professional with the Würzburger Kickers.

“Something like yesterday just makes me sad and angry because everyone has to know, racism does not belong in OUR world. We all have the opportunity to oppose it and stop it if it happens.”

The incident occurred during a third-division match in Münster.

On Monday, Münster said it would seek to ban the suspect from all German stadiums for three years, the toughest possible sanction permitted under current regulations.

“The least we an do is ensure that this person is no longer allowed in our stadium,” Münster president Christoph Strässer said. “We will not tolerate racism or any form of discrimination. The issue of integration is naturally important to us as a sports club, and Article 1 of the constitution applies primarily, namely: Human dignity is sacrosanct. That goes for everyone in this country.”

The perpetrator also faces legal consequences. Local police said the man would be charged with incitement, which can lead to financial penalties and a jail term of three months to five years if convicted.

Referee Katrin Rafalski stopped the 0-0 draw in the 88th minute after being informed of the racist abuse by Kwadwo. It was followed by a stadium announcement against the abuse and the “Nazis out!” chants from the fans.

The German soccer federation praised the fans’ reaction on Twitter on Saturday.

“So sad and shameful as the racist incident against Leroy Kwadwo was, so exemplary was the immediate reaction to it,” the federation said. “The third division stands together and says, no to racism and discrimination!”

The incident occurred only days after Bundesliga club Schalke was fined 50,000 euros ($54,600) after some of its fans subjected Hertha Berlin player Jordan Torunarigha to racist abuse during a German Cup game on Feb. 4.

Torunarigha, the son of former Nigerian player Ojokojo Torunarigha, was targeted with monkey chants and was eventually sent off in extra time when he picked up a second yellow card after appearing increasingly upset as the game went on. The 22-year-old German defender was consoled by Schalke’s Amine Harit.

Numerous other racist incidents have tarnished European soccer this season.

On Sunday in Portugal, Porto striker Moussa Marega was visibly angered by monkey noises targeting him after he scored his team’s second goal in a 2-1 win at Guimarães. Several Porto and opposition players attempted to dissuade him from walking off the field in the 71st minute, when he demanded to be substituted.