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MLS Best XI unveiled with awesome foosball video

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Major League Soccer, wow, this is terrific #content.

MLS released its Best XI on Monday with a dynamite video of the players passing the ball from Zack Steffen in goal to Josef Martinez up top… via a virtual foosball table.

[ VIDEO: An unprecedented goal ]

The XI is set in a 3-4-3, with the New York Red Bulls, DC United, and Atlanta United leading the way with a pair of players each.

My predictions? Well, I only got six correct. Whoops. The only absence that really surprises me is Graham Zusi, and Sporting KC not having representation at all. I guess that explains why SKC manager Peter Vermes is going to be announced as the next USMNT– Wait, what’s that? Oh. I’ll stop talking.

2018 MLS Best XI

Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen (Columbus)

Defenders: Kemar Lawrence (RBNY), Aaron Long (RBNY), Chad Marshall (Seattle)

Midfielders: Miguel Almiron (Atlanta), Luciano Acosta (DC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal), Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy), Josef Martinez (Atlanta), Wayne Rooney (DC)

FC Cincinnati switches crest ahead of MLS debut

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FC Cincinnati has unveiled its crest for 2019’s maiden voyage in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Sticking with the orange and blue color combination which has served them since inception, the shield has FC in the top left corner, Cincinnati running diagonally left-to-right in blue script on white, and a winged lion holding a sword as the primary icon.

FCC will draft up to five current MLS players in the Expansion Draft on Dec. 11. Teams will announce their protected lists on Dec. 10.

Cincinnati will play in the Eastern Conference. It won the USL regular season championship under coach Alan Koch in 2018.

Portland outlasts Seattle in gripping playoff second leg

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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Portland and Seattle staged a second leg befitting of their rivalry, as the Timbers knocked their rivals out of the MLS Cup Playoffs with a gripping win in Seattle early Friday.

A chaotic ending put the match in extra time, where Dairon Asprilla sent a bullet header into the back of the goal off a Diego Valeri cross to make it 4-3 on aggregate only to see a penalty make it 4-4 four minutes later.

Will Bruin hit the post with Seattle’s second penalty attempt and Jeff Attinella stopped Osvaldo Alonso on the next Seattle attempt. Stefan Frei stopped Liam Ridgewell‘s winning bid, but could only get a hand on Asprilla’s winning hit.

The triumph sets Portland up for a meeting with either Real Salt Lake or Sporting KC in the Western final.

[ MORE: Louisville City defends USL Cup title ]

The Sounders entered the match down 2-1 but holding an away goal. That meant 1-0 would be enough for them to get into the conference finals, and an awful Portland mistake put them in the catbird seat.

Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella bungled a cross and left it on the doorstep for Raul Ruidiaz, who made it 2-2 on aggregate in the 68th minute. Seattle, as it stood, was headed back to the Western finals.

Enter Sebastian Blanco.

The Argentine took a lay-off from Dairon Asprilla and hit a low ball that caught Stefan Frei in a hard place.

Portland was back in front, though the Timbers were denied a bid to close the match out via Frei’s in-tight denial of Lucas Melano.

Stoppage time made it 2-1 to Seattle, when Ruidiaz unleashed this beauty following a weak headed clearing attempt from Blanco.

The match went to extra time, and Valeri’s long cross was met at the back post by the leaping Asprilla.

The score line stayed the same for less than four minutes, as a Blanco handball sent Lodeiro to the spot and the Sounders star did not miss his chance to make it 4-4.

Ruidiaz had a goal pulled back for a handball as the match continued to deliver drama en route to kicks.

Some Timbers players celebrated after extra time, apparently thinking they advanced via away goals (away goals in extra time are no longer a tiebreaker). That’s… problematic.

Reports: Beckham’s Inter Miami wins stadium site vote

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe
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More good news for David Beckham’s long-delayed Major League Soccer project.

Miami voters have given a big bump to Inter Miami CF’s Freedom Park project, which includes a 25,000 seat soccer stadium, shopping mall, and hotel.

[ MORE: USMNT’s 28-man roster released ]

According to the AP:

Voters on Tuesday agreed to allow Beckham and his partners to skip competitive bidding and negotiate directly with the city on a 99-year lease to convert a 73-acre (30-hectare) golf course into the soccer complex.

Inter Miami has been linked with managers like Zinedine Zidane and players as high profile as Antoine Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo, but has faced an uphill fight to get its stadium in the face of a country club’s lawsuit.

The Melreese Country Club has a golf course near the stadium site, and was not too happy with Beckham’s plans to bring more traffic to the area.

Zlatan’s future: Ibrahimovic hopeful of return to LA in 2019

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File
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CARSON, Calif. (AP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s first season in Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy was largely a success. The charismatic forward is under contract with the club for next season, but a few things have to happen if he is to return.

“I have some wishes and demands which is simple things,” Ibrahimovic said Tuesday as players had end of season meetings. “There is interest in Europe, but my priority is Galaxy. They have wishes, I have wishes, but I’m optimistic and I’m positive.”

[ MORE: USMNT’s 28-man roster released ]

Ibrahimovic is a finalist for the league’s Most Valuable Player and newcomer awards after he had 22 goals and 10 assists in 27 games.

AC Milan of Italy’s Serie A has been the latest to express interest in bringing the Swedish player back to Europe on loan, but he said he is not interested in doing something like that, admitting that if he is under contract to one club, he wants to devote his attention to that club.

“If I belong to Galaxy, I am a Galaxy player. If I belong to one club, I give my attention to one club, so I am here,” he said.

Ibrahimovic made $1.5 million this season, according to Major League Soccer’s Players Association contract figures. In order for him to earn more next year, the Galaxy would have to part ways with one of their three designated players.

Galaxy president Chris Klein said initial conversations with Ibrahimovic have been promising, and bringing him back is a top priority for the club.

“What he did this year is certainly well documented,” Klein said. “He wants to win and we want to win with him. Hopefully we can come to a resolution that is good for both sides.”

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

The only thing Ibrahimovic couldn’t do his first season in MLS was get the Galaxy to the playoffs. LA (13-12-9) would have earned the final spot in the Western Conference with a win in its final regular-season game but squandered a two-goal lead to Houston and lost 3-2.

The club announced Tuesday they fired vice president of soccer operations Pete Vagenas. Klein said he hopes to have that spot filled soon. Former Galaxy and US national team coach Bruce Arena is believed to be a candidate.

They also have to decide on a head coach. Dominic Kinnear was 3-2-1 after replacing Sigi Schmid in early September and drew positive reviews from most players, including Ibrahimovic.

“I think the season was like a roller coaster. Hopefully we make it better because that is the target,” Ibrahimovic said. “I want to be able to challenge for the trophy. Like I said, I’m not here for a vacation, I’m here for the challenge and I want to feel my team has a chance to be the best in MLS. I am the best, but I want to feel like my team can compete against the others.”

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