Inter Miami CF

MLS: Nashville to West, Inter Miami to East

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Major League Soccer made an – excuse the pun – major announcement on Monday, allocating Inter Miami CF to the Eastern Conference while placing Nashville SC in the Western Conference.

This puts the 26-team league at 13 teams in each conference – and MLS could have sent the Chicago Fire to the Western Conference instead of Nashville – but it also brings up an interesting scheduling change. With so many teams and still only 34 regular season match days, for the first time in MLS history, every team isn’t guaranteed at least one game against each opponent in the league.

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It could see an end to the fan-led Supporters Shield as we know it. Although it was artificially weighted if a conference has multiple horrible teams – see the Eastern Conference this year, even though LAFC won the Supporters Shield by a mile – the Supporters Shield winner could realistically say it was the best out of the whole league, and had to play everyone in the league on the schedule.

Starting in 2020, teams will play each of their conference opponents twice, home and away, leading to 24 games. The final 10 games will be against the other conference, likely with five home and five away. Now, a team like Atlanta United can beat up on expansion sides like Inter Miami and other struggling teams such as Cincinnati FC and the Chicago Fire, without potentially having to play LAFC.

The schedule, which is pretty uniform right now, will get a bit messy in 2021 with only one club – Austin FC – entering. Then, in 2022, Sacramento Republic and Saint Louis FC join, keeping it an odd number (29) of teams in the league.

With MLS’ remarkable expansion over the past decade, it was only a matter of time before the league became too big for a true Supporters Shield race, but the main worry will be making sure the league has enough home-grown talent to sustain adding 4 teams from now through 2022. That’s around 120 new spots for players to fill, and even with the lax foreign limits and opportunities for dual nationals or those with U.S. Green Cards, it will be MLS’ greatest challenge to keep raising the level of the league on a yearly basis, as well as grow young American stars.

Inter Miami to host LA Galaxy in historic MLS home opener

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Circle March 14, 2020 on your calendar.

It is the day Inter Miami CF will arrive at home in Major League Soccer, which will be over six years since the Florida city was awarded an MLS expansion franchise.

This also means that Inter Miami will begin their inaugural season on the road, as the 2020 MLS campaign is scheduled to being in late February.

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On Wednesday it was announced that David Beckham’s MLS franchise will finally play their first home game as an expansion franchise, as they host LA Galaxy at Fort Lauderdale Stadium at 2:30 p.m. ET.

This will be a lovely moment for Beckham, as the team he has co-ownership of will face the MLS team he played for as a Designated Player.

“Futbol comes full circle as Inter Miami faces former MLS club of David Beckham, the LA Galaxy. As a player, the Galaxy was the MLS side of Beckham between 2007-2012. Now, as club owner of inter Miami, Beckham will be supporting alongside the 18,000 in attendance and countless tuning in from afar.”

This will also mark the second time an MLS has played in Miami, as the now defunct Miami Fusion played from 1998-2001 and called Lockhart Stadium (on the same site as Inter Miami CF’s brand new Fort Lauderdale stadium) home.

Beckham’s ownership group are in ongoing talks with the City of Miami and other parties about building their permanent 25,000 capacity stadium on the Freedom Park site close to Miami International Airport. A key vote this week saw the plans for Freedom Park stalled once again, as Beckham continues to struggle to find a permanent home for his team in and around downtown Miami.

Until then the 18,000 capacity temporary stadium in Fort Lauderdale will be home, and when they finally move into a more permanent venue its capacity will be reduced to house their reserve side, while Inter Miami CF’s training ground will be located on the same site.

Many refused to believe Beckham’s Inter Miami CF would ever arrive in Major League Soccer, but he is now their Director of Soccer operations and work on their home in Fort Lauderdale is well under way.

Now that their first home game is scheduled and it is just four months away, it all seems very real.

Beckham’s stadium complex for Inter Miami taking shape

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Piles of steel sit at one end of the property, waited to be lifted into place. Workers were going in all directions, some pounding nails into wood, others ready to pour concrete, others driving heavy equipment over piles of dirt.

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For now, it’s a construction site.

Before long, Inter Miami will call it home.

“Organized chaos,” Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough said as he took a look around the site of the now-demolished Lockhart Stadium where work on a new complex is happening 12 hours a day, seven days a week. “But we’ll be ready.”

These are hectic times for McDonough and Inter Miami, the team headlined by soccer icon David Beckham that will embark on its inaugural MLS season starting early in 2020. The team doesn’t have a coach yet. Or players. Or a schedule. Or even the first blade of grass for its new pitch.

Over the next few weeks, all those issues – and countless others – will be addressed. Construction is on schedule, with all signals pointing toward everything being ready for the team’s first home match that’s likely to come in March.

Still, that doesn’t do much to help McDonough’s sleep cycle.

“This takes up a ton of time and everything keeps me up at night,” McDonough said. “But it’s OK. We’re just on an accelerated timeline. There’s so much stuff going on. But this is expansion. It’s awesome. Everything we’re doing here, we’re trying to do it right.”

At any given time, there are about 225 workers on the job site – the whereabouts of all of them tracked with an app that gets data from a chip attached to the back of their hard hats. If there’s lightning in the area, work gets halted for 30 minutes until the cell passes. And that’s a big deal, because even with next season still months away every minute counts.

Nothing is ready, yet – but it will be.

“The way it was built out, we’re thinking of the athlete first from the minute they walk in,” said Jacklyne Ramos, the team’s vice president of communications as she stood inside what will be the building containing the locker room and other key spaces for the team. “The main stadium, that’s for the games. Where we are now, this is where they’ll live.”

The Associated Press got a tour on Monday of what will be Inter Miami’s inaugural home. The shell of the team’s headquarters – locker rooms, equipment room, dining area, coach’s office, what will become the sports performance lab, the academy workout facilities and more – is coming together. Every detail has been thought of; the walk from the players’ parking lot to the building will be short, the training room will be small (“I don’t want them comfortable in there,” McDonough said), and an area will be built just off the outside wall of the locker room to air out cleats after training sessions.

“They’ll never be in the building,” McDonough said. “Boots can stink.”

Beckham spent about five years trying to get MLS back in South Florida, and after many sites were considered – there’s still plans for the team to eventually play in another stadium that Beckham and his partner Jorge Mas want built in Miami – they settled on the former Lockhart site. Lockhart is where the MLS’ Miami Fusion played from 1998-2001, eventually folding because of poor attendance.

The centerpiece of everything is the 18,000-seat stadium, and parts of what will become the field are already largely marked off. Drainage was installed first, followed by four inches of rock for a base. From there, sprinklers go into place and four thin pieces of wood are set in place to mark where the goalposts will go. About a foot of soil will be added in the coming weeks, watered and compacted and graded. Sod is scheduled to go in Nov. 14; from there, it’ll be protected and fenced off and finally, what now seems like an oversized sand pit right now will look like a place to play soccer.

Behind that are more fields, including a turf one can be used for high school football and other events. The other half-dozen grass fields will be for training and the team’s affiliate clubs.

A coach will be hired soon. A roster is coming. There are plans for a soft opening a few weeks before the season and then, when the first match is played all the mess and chaos will be forgotten.

“I wasn’t ready for this. I’m still not,” McDonough said. “I’m learning as we go. Conduits, positioning of poles, there’s so many things that you don’t realize until you live it. But that’s what it takes and we’re getting it done.”

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

Report: Man City’s David Silva in ‘likely’ Inter Miami move

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Arguably the greatest player in Manchester City history could become the first star player of Inter Miami.

That’s the story coming out of England, where The Independent reports that David Silva will “likely” join Inter Miami CF for its inaugural MLS run in 2020.

It’s well-known that Silva is leaving Man City this summer after one last-go at his first UEFA Champions League title.

[ MORE: Man City bests Shakhtar ]

David Beckham has been recruiting some of the top names in the game, and has been linked with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Silva, 33, checks all the boxes. The Spanish star won two EUROs and a World Cup, and is still playing at a very high level. He has five assists in six matches for City this season.

If healthy, it would be foolish to expect anything but dominance out of Silva, though beware the think pieces out there about how he “might find it tougher than he thinks.” We’re talking about a world beater who posted 10 goals and 14 assists for City last season.

Even at his age, he’d carry one of the top resumes of any player to join Major League Soccer (Beckham, Steven Gerrard, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic would like a word).

He has 71 goals and 134 assists in 402 matches for City, and would eventually line up against fellow City Football Group club NYCFC.

Beckham in talks to bring Messi to MLS

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Reports from Spain state that David Beckham has reached out to Lionel Messi about joining Inter Miami CF.

Ahead of their arrival into Major League Soccer in 2020, Beckham’s Miami franchise have been linked with several big name signings, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann to name just a few.

Beckham previously stated he wants to bring Messi and Ronaldo to his new franchise and refused to rule out the possibility of signing Messi when asked about in March.

Messi, 32, has played for Barcelona his entire career but according to reports from Radio Cataluyna, Beckham has opened up talks with Messi’s representatives and there is a huge financial package on the table for Messi to come to MLS.

Per the report, Barcelona are monitoring the situation and the interest seems to be very serious as Messi is said to have a yearly exit clause in his contract.

Messi has never really come close to leaving Barcelona, as Manchester City were linked heavily with him when Pep Guardiola took over but the Argentine superstar has never really shown any desire to leave his adopted home.

After arriving in Barcelona from Argentina at the age of 13, Messi’s entire family is settled and this would be a shock move.

Can we see it happening? Of course. Will it happen anytime soon? Probably not.

Messi’s talents are so magical that he could continue to play in La Liga until the age of 36 or 37 and still rip it up each and every week.

It is only then that he would consider heading to MLS. Could we see Messi and Ronaldo linking up for Inter Miami CF five years from now?

Stranger things have happened, and given their recent warmness towards one another at the FIFA Best awards, it would be quite incredible to see two of the greatest players of all-time who battled against one another for close to two decades finally play on the same team.

We know Beckham has big plans for Inter Miami CF, but making those plans a reality will be tough. He’s found that with the stadium deal in Miami, but once the team is up and running it will not be that tough to attract the world’s best players to South Florida.