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David Beckham’s Miami franchise arrives in MLS

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David Beckham owning a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami is no longer a dream.

It became a reality on Monday.

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A glitzy announcement took place at the Adrienne Arsht Center but MLS said “additional news and information on the club – including its debut season in MLS, team name, logo and staff – will be announced in the future” on the expansion franchise.

The team was first announced in February 2014 but has seen plenty of difficulties along the way, particularly when it came to a stadium site.

During the announcement Beckham and his partners admitted that “just 60 days ago” they had a breakfast which was the end of the bid and they thought it was all over, while local businessman Jorge Mas revealed that he stepped in to become a partner and help save the bid. Two months later the franchise is a reality.

It has been stated by local media outlets that the team will begin play in 2020, with the team to play at a temporary home until 2021 when their stadium is ready, while the colors and team badge will be picked with the help of fans in the coming months.

Miami hasn’t had an MLS team since the Miami Fusion folded in 2002 and they will become the second current MLS team in the State of Florida after Orlando City SC. With Nashville announced as MLS’ 24th team in December 2017 and Atlanta United joining for their inaugural season in 2017, the South East of the United States of America is fast emerging as a soccer hotbed.

Speaking alongside MLS Commissioner Don Garber and both the Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at the event on Monday, Beckham was delighted to make his franchise officially official.

“Our mission to bring an MLS club to Miami is now complete, and we are deeply satisfied, grateful and excited,” Beckham said. “Our pledge to our fans in Miami and around the world is simple: your team will always strive to make you proud on the pitch, our stadium will be a place that you cherish visiting, and our impact in the community and on South Florida’s youth will run deep.”

A video featuring several superstars was played during the announcement with Jay-Z, Neymar, Will Smith, Serena Williams and others sending their congratulations.

Garber said it was “a day that will go day as one of the historic days in our league and the history of sports in Miami” before adding the following in a league release.

“It is with tremendous pride that we welcome Miami to Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “With David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and Jose Mas, Masayoshi Son and Simon Fuller leading the way, we know the right people are in place and the time is right for Miami to become a great Major League Soccer city. This ownership is committed to bringing Miami the elite-level soccer team, stadium and fan experience it richly deserves. We look forward to working with the entire organization on a strategic and successful launch for Miami’s MLS club.”

An initial announcement came in Miami on Feb. 5 2014 that Beckham had triggered a clause in his previous playing contract with MLS — he joined LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 — which stated he could buy an expansion franchise for the reduced fee of $25 million (that expansion fee is now over $140 million). He picked Miami as his preferred destination for a team in 2013.

Since then Beckham has battled with finding a stadium site near Downtown Miami to build a soccer-specific venue, but failed with multiple sites.

However, a site in Overtown, less than two miles from Downtown MIA, has now been found and all of the remaining parcels of land have now been purchased for over $28 million to allow development to start.

The stadium is expected to hold 25,000 fans and Beckham and his ownership group, which includes Simon Fuller, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, Tim Leiweke, plus Jorge and Jose Mas and Masayoshi Son who were added in December 2017, will fund the stadium privately.

Miami’s arrival in MLS will see the league grow to 26 teams with 25 now confirmed and one of Detroit, Sacramento or Cincinnati to be confirmed later in 2018.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Halted World Cup flip-throw heard around the world

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Milad Mohammadi knew the time was right for something special, but special isn’t always good.

And good is a subjective term. Cause to us this is very good, Milad.

The Iranian national team defender failed with a flip-throw bid in the final moments of a 1-0 loss to Spain on Wednesday at the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

And this wasn’t like he illegally flipped or broke some other rule. No, like a kid trying an audacious jump into the deep end, Akhmat Grozny star Mohammadi just bailed and climbed in from the side (so to speak).

The kiss, the look skyward, the headbutt… all integral parts of a wonderful World Cup moment.

Renard, Morocco ‘very proud’ of unlucky national team

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If you would’ve told Morocco fans or their manager, Herve Renard, that they’d outshoot and outpossess both Iran and Portugal at World Cup, their next question would probably be, “So do we need to do against Spain to win Group B?”

Alas, Morocco lost a pair of 1-0 decisions to become the first team knocked out of the 2018 World Cup.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The Lions of Atlas fell to Iran in their opener on a stoppage time own goal after carrying 64 percent possession and a 13-8 advantage in shot attempts, then lost to a Cristiano Ronaldo fourth minute goal on Wednesday despite a 16-10 shot advantage and 53 percent of the ball.

“I’m very proud of the performance and I am very proud of my players, I’m very proud of this country,” Renard said.

With no hope of advancing to the next round, the manager is finding the experience bittersweet. From RTE:

“What I am sure of at this moment is that the entire Moroccan people is proud of this team. Of course it’s easier to play with a player who has one chance and he puts it away. But we are in Morocco.

“We have quality players. Despite the ups and downs of the game, we should have been more effective. Because, like in the first game, we had plenty of chances. I won’t blame anyone. That’s football. It’s always those who know how to be present in the box, the most gifted players, who make the difference. We took a lot of risks and we didn’t get our reward.”

It’s unlikely Morocco will hold either of those statistical advantages against Spain, especially a Spanish side yet to qualify, but there is plenty to like from the tournament aside from poor finishing quality.

But the performances of 19-year-olds Amine Harit (Schalke) and Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid) — not to mention Hakim Ziyech (25, Ajax) — seem to hint at a promise for 2022. And Renard’s men can still play spoiler for Spain, which is no small shockwave.

Queiroz: Iran has one ‘match point’ left in World Cup group stage

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Iran manager Carlos Queiroz isn’t going to let his tournament be defined by one win or one loss, especially with a massive moment on the horizon.

Iran fell 1-0 to Spain on Wednesday, days after defeating Morocco in its World Cup opener. Team Melli was denied its equalizer despite VAR review thanks to an offside, and failed in several other bids to level the score.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Now Queiroz and his men need a win over Portugal to qualify for the first knockout stage in its five World Cup history.

“We showed that we were ready to suffer and ready to compete. I felt we deserved a better result. There’s no doubt Spain play wonderful, stylish football but I thought we deserved more for the way we played.

“But congratulations to Fernando Hierro and Spain. We will learn a lot from this game. If you think of it like tennis, we had one match point today and we will have another against Portugal. Everything is still open. We are still alive and still dreaming.”

What chance do you give Iran of getting over on Portugal, who only topped a dominant Morocco side via a terrific designed play executed to perfection by Cristiano Ronaldo?

The odds are in Portugal’s favor, if only for its experience in tight games on massive stages. Well, perhaps the better “if only” would be to say if only for Ronaldo. Either way…