David Beckham’s Miami franchise finally set for official launch before the end of January

David Beckham’s long-awaited Miami soccer franchise is seemingly just days away from its official launch. The club’s official launch is expected to take place by the end of January, according to one of the new members of Beckham’s ownership group.

Jorge and Jose Mas joined the Beckham United group in December, along with Japanese businessman Masayoshi Son. The Mas brothers met with Beckham and fellow investor Marcelo Claure in Kansas City last week, with official confirmation of the franchise’s launch now apparently very close.

“We had super, super productive meetings in KC,” Jorge Mas told the Miami Herald on Saturday. “I’m very excited for what we can bring the Miami soccer fan, and we’ll have some big news to announce in Miami in the near future.

“Being a native, I’m a Miami guy 1,000 percent, and I want to make this a really special team with a really special fan experience.”

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If the official unveiling does indeed take place before the end of the month, the team’s official name and preliminary kit designs should be revealed for the first time. MLS Commissioner Don Garber would be expected to host the event, along with Beckham and his business partners.

Worth the wait?

It’s been just short of four years since this process began for Beckham. MLS announced that Beckham had exercised an option to launch his own expansion team for the discounted fee of $25 million back in February 2014, less than a year after his retirement from football.

The agreement to launch his own franchise for a reduced cost was written into his LA Galaxy contract that he penned ten years ago. But Beckham has suffered countless setbacks in the hunt for a stadium site for any potential team over the past few years.

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However, it now seems his dream is set to become a reality. The ownership group are preparing to begin building a 25,000-square-foot stadium in Overtown, just west of downtown Miami. Although the team would potentially have to play their first season at a temporary site if the stadium is not built in time.

The club are expected to enter MLS for the beginning of the 2020 season, although this will be confirmed at the official launch event. An event that finally appears to be imminent.

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Ibrahimovic has heart set on MLS switch with Miami favoured destination – report

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and MLS. The link that just won’t go away. The charismatic Swedish striker is today being linked with a move to David Beckham’s projected Miami franchise by French newspaper L’Equipe.

The story fills the front page of the publication alongside the headline “Big bang in Miami” and a move stateside for Ibrahimovic would certainly create a splash.

A move to Miami would see the 34-year-old Paris Saint Germain star join up with David Beckham for the third time in his career, having played together at AC Milan and PSG before the Englishman retired in 2013.

However, Miami are yet to be officially confirmed as an MLS Expansion Franchise and won’t join the league until 2018 at the earliest, depending on how the ongoing stadium struggles pan out.

Ibrahimovic’s PSG contract expires at the end of the current season so he will be a free agent as of July. He would be free to move to MLS then, but would have to wait at least 18 months to play for a Miami team.

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New York City FC and LA Galaxy are also reported to be looking at signing ‘Ibra’ as a move to the United States looks to be his priority, despite his agent Mino Raiola claiming “he could move anywhere”.

The player himself has praised the growth of MLS and said he would love to experience soccer in the U.S. in an interview with Yahoo Sports this summer.

“I see that soccer is growing a lot in US. I mean, I was here 10 years ago and soccer was not on the level that it is today, but it’s growing.

“I would like to play. Which team? Am I allowed to say that? No, I cannot say that.”

Which MLS club would best suit Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

United legend set for Miami battle with former teammate

Manchester United and MLS legend, David Beckham is set for a battle with AC Milan icon, Paolo Maldini, as his proposal for a new Major League Soccer franchise continues.

Maldini has the upper-hand as his Miami Football Club will be competing in the North American Soccer League as of the 2016 season. Maldini is full of confidence ahead of Miami FC’s debut season.

“I’m proud and excited to be part of this venture. I strongly believe in the growth of soccer in USA, and this is the perfect project to develop a top-class soccer team in one of the most important cities of the world.”

Beckham’s latest setback with his proposal came in 2014, after a 25,000 capacity stadium was rejected and his push for a fourth Miami competitive side has not been easy. Miami politicians have rejected stadium applications twice for Beckham’s franchise and a proposal was made for his side to be based at Florida International University on a temporary basis.

Maldini’s Miami will become the third soccer side in the city, alongside Miami United and Miami Fusion, who both play in the National Premier Soccer League Sunshine Conference. Fusion formerly played in MLS until 2002.

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Miami FC were described as the ‘city’s only professional soccer club’ in an NASL statement, which is a blow for Beckham.

The former United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star is set to meet today with MLS Commissioner Don Garber and outgoing University of Miami president, Donna Shalala, about the possibility of a partnering on a football/soccer stadium.

Beckham needs his proposal to take a forward step as he is risking losing his expansion slot with a whole host of potential teams lining up to join MLS.

Don’t miss: Don Garber give fresh encouragement to MLS expansion hopefuls

Miami FC’s announcement yesterday has only intensified pressure on Beckham’s proposal to bring MLS to Miami.

Has Maldini’s Miami FC dealt a huge blow to Beckham and is this the start of a rivalry between two footballing greats?

Robbie Keane issues warning to Steven Gerrard ahead of LA Galaxy arrival

LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane has warned Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard of how competitive Major League Soccer is and that he will be expected to perform when he arrives in July.

“The problem is I think with people in Europe – and this won’t be Stevie’s case because I’ve already told him how difficult the league is here – is that people think they’re coming over here to finish their career and it’s a holiday, but when you play for the Galaxy, that’s not the case,” Keane told ESPN FC.

“You’re coming over here to win things, because that’s what is expected because we’re one of the biggest teams in the MLS and we have standards here. The league is a tough, tough league.”

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The Galaxy have struggled in the opening stages of the 2015 season with just three wins from their opening 12 games, leaving them seventh out of ten in the Western Conference and 11th overall in the Supporters’ Shield standings.

Despite the slow start, Keane, who has been with LA since 2011, believes that Gerrard can improve the team and will be a success in MLS because of his incredible natural ability on the ball.

“His passing is incredible. He’s a player that can find someone’s feet from 50 yards and you wouldn’t have to move. I’m sure he’ll get a lot of assists from that, and we’re excited to get him here.”

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Keane and Gerrard, both 34, aren’t complete strangers to each other as they played together at Liverpool for the 2008/09 Premier League season.

As well as giving Gerrard a heads-up, the Irishman has also praised the rapid growth of MLS and is pleased that it is continuing to thrive, even since the departure of such a key figure in the league back in 2012.

“It’s only getting bigger and bigger, I think. It was big when I came over. The players certainly and everybody associated with the MLS, I think a lot of that goes down to David Beckham. The reason why I came was David was the one that got me here.

“I think David, like Tiger Woods did in golf, he changed the sport, he changed people’s salaries, he changed the growth where it’s getting bigger and bigger. I think the important thing was when David left was, ‘Can we keep that consistency?’ And to be fair they have.”

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Keane has only played four of the Galaxy’s opening 12 games having missed out through injury but is set to return for their next match against the Houston Dynamo on Friday.

“The update is I’ve been training for three days with the team and I’m ready to go for Friday’s game.”

Will Steven Gerrard be a success for LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer?

LA Galaxy success is homegrown as Bradford Jamieson IV bursts onto MLS scene

By Sandy Beeson: Twitter – @Sandy_Beeson

Through a remarkable weekend of MLS action there were many performances to be lauded, with four different teams scoring four goals apiece, and several big results across the league. One performance that stood out was that of Bradford Jamieson IV – an 18-year-old attacker who is providing further proof that LA Galaxy‘s recent successes have been in some way down to a successful youth policy.

It took the homegrown signing just nine minutes to make his big impact on the game. Collecting the ball well outside the box, Jamieson took on Chris Duvall, cutting inside both the defender and the covering Dax McCarty before burying a composed low finish past Luis Robles for a goal that belied his first team inexperience in just his second MLS appearance.

VIDEO: Bradford Jamieson IV’s goal against New York Red Bulls (via LA Galaxy on YouTube):

With the ongoing absence of Robbie Keane, Jamieson has been thrust into first team action, earning a first start for the Galaxy in last week’s 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City at StubHub Center. The pacy forward made an instant impression, constantly looking to stretch the Sporting defence with 10 attempted dribbles – two more than rest of his teammates combined.

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What impressed in the game against New York was Jamieson’s willingness to work for the team. Against a more solid defensive unit there was less opportunity for Jamieson to take on his opponents but the youngster attempted seven tackles, more than any of Galaxy’s four defenders.

With the Red Bulls dominant in possession, LA required Jamieson to provide an outlet further up the pitch. He consistently held the ball up and released teammates in a disciplined performance that served as an exciting glimpse of the striker’s potential and provided further evidence of Galaxy’s productive academy.

Since signing Tristan Bowen on the first-ever MLS homegrown contract in 2008, LA Galaxy have been one of the more successful teams in the league for producing their own players. Gyasi Zardes last season scored 16 goals for Galaxy, the highest single-season tally for a homegrown signing, whilst Jose Villarreal and Oscar Sorto recently turned out for the US U-23s.

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Galaxy have a reputation for bringing in big-money signings, having bought the likes of David Beckham, Robbie Keane and now Steven Gerrard over recent years, but the emergence of Jamieson, Zardes and Villarreal shows that the team continue to lead the league in youth development too.

Do LA Galaxy have the best youth development policy in MLS?

Top 10 British footballers to play in America

Football, or soccer depending on what you prefer to call it, is quickly becoming one of the more recognised sports in the United States as Major League Soccer continues to grow and develop as a league. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will both head stateside this summer but here is a list of the ten best British players to play in America so far.

10. Dom Dwyer

Dom Dwyer celebrates after scoring for Sporting Kansas City last season (Photo: SportingKC.com)

Dom Dwyer celebrates after scoring for Sporting Kansas City last season (Photo: SportingKC.com)

He might not be the most recognisable name on this list but he’s made a splash since heading stateside. Dwyer played for Norwich at youth level but moved to America aged 19. He won the 2013 MLS Cup with Sporting Kansas City and scored 22 times in 33 appearances for the club last season. Dwyer recently made headlines as he married U.S. Women’s international footballer Sydney Leroux on Valentines Day.

9. Trevor Francis

Trevor Francis playing for the Detroit Express (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Trevor Francis playing for the Detroit Express (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Francis joined the Detroit Express in the North American Soccer League (NASL) on loan from Birmingham City in 1978. He scored an impressive 39 goals in 38 games in his only season in America before becoming the first British player to be transferred for £1 million when Nigel Clough signed him for Nottingham Forest in 1979.

8. Paul Gascoigne

Paul Gascoigne playing for England

Paul Gascoigne playing for England

Although he never actually signed for a club across the pond, Gascoigne spent a summer on trial with MLS side DC United in 2002 as a 33 year old. He rejected a contract with DC and his next career move saw him move to China with Gansu Tianma in a role that saw him fulfil both player and coaching roles.

7. Rodney Marsh

Rodney Marsh in action for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers against Franz Beckenbauer (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Rodney Marsh in action for the Tampa Bay Rowdies against Franz Beckenbauer (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Marsh joined the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 1976 and famously announced, “Pele is the black Rodney Marsh” after being labelled as the “White Pele” by the club’s owner upon his arrival. He went on to score 48 goals in 94 appearances for the Rowdies and stayed in America after retiring, filling various roles as a coach and CEO.

6. Peter Beardsley

Peter Beardsley playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps (Photo: VancouverWhitecaps.com)

Peter Beardsley playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps (Photo: VancouverWhitecaps.com)

Beardsley spent two short spells with Canadian-based club, the Vancouver Whitecaps in the early stages of his career, scoring 28 goals in 73 appearances. He first joined from Carlisle in September 1982 but was signed by Ron Atkinson at Manchester United just weeks after moving to North America. Beardsley returned to Vancouver in March 1983 in another short spell as he was then signed by Newcastle six months later.

5. Bradley Wright-Phillips

Bradley Wright-Phillips playing for the New York Red Bulls last season (Photo: NewYorkRedBulls.com)

Bradley Wright-Phillips playing for the New York Red Bulls last season (Photo: NewYorkRedBulls.com)

Wright-Phillips moved to the New York Red Bulls in July 2013 and the move across the Atlantic has rejuvenated his career. The former Southampton and Manchester City striker has scored 33 goals in 43 appearances and equalled the MLS single-season goal scoring record last year with 27. He won the MLS Supporters’ Shield with the Red Bulls in 2013 and scored against Bayern Munich in last season’s MLS All-Star game.

4. Gordon Banks

Gordon Banks (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Gordon Banks during his time in America (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

The legendary England goalkeeper first moved to America in the summer of 1968, two years after winning the World Cup with England, to join the Cleveland Stokers on loan. He played seven of the club’s 12 games in their short-lived history. He returned to America in 1977 to join the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL, where he made 37 appearances before retiring.

3. Bobby Moore

Bobby Moore in action for the Seattle Sounders (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Bobby Moore during his time stateside (Photo: NASLJerseys.com)

Even Bobby Moore, one of England’s great footballing icons, made the trip west to play the game in North America. He joined the San Antonio Thunder on loan from Fulham in 1976, making 27 appearances, before moving to the Seattle Sounders in 1978 where he played just seven times as a 36 year old.

2. George Best

George Best with Pele during his time in the United States (Photo: Duncan Raban/EMPICS Entertainment)

George Best with Pele during his time in the United States (Photo: Duncan Raban/EMPICS Entertainment)

Best played for three different American clubs after leaving Manchester United in 1974. He spent two brief spells with the Los Angeles Aztecs either side of a season with Fulham before joining the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1978, where he played with Gordon Banks. The Northern Irishman then spent two years with the San Jose Earthquakes from 1980, netting 54 goals in 77 appearances for their indoor and outdoor teams.

1. David Beckham

David Beckham while with the LA Galaxy (Photo: MLSSoccer.com)

David Beckham while with the LA Galaxy (Photo: MLSSoccer.com)

Beckham is the man who changed the perception of U.S. soccer when he joined the LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007. ‘Becks’ spent five-and-a-half years with the Galaxy, winning the MLS Cup in each of his last two seasons. His mere presence helped to boost the image of the beautiful game in America and he is now on the cusp of securing his very own Miami MLS franchise.

Who do you think is the best British player to have played in America?

Sky Sports confirm four-year TV deal to show live MLS in the UK

Sky Sports have confirmed that they will exclusively broadcast live Major League Soccer games in the UK this season, starting in March when the 2015 campaign is set to get underway.

The UK’s biggest sports broadcaster is expected to show two live games each week in what is an enormous step for the growth of MLS, particularly here in Great Britain as football fans will now have access to one of the world’s most exciting leagues on a regular basis.

Sky Sports will broadcast at least two MLS regular-season matches each week, as well as the AT&T MLS All-Star Game, every MLS Cup Playoff game, and the MLS Cup final.

Sky will also broadcast weekly MLS highlights across their various platforms in what is another major step for the league.

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will complete their moves to LA Galaxy and New York City FC respectively this summer and they will be just two of many stars from the UK and Ireland.

Robbie Keane has been sensational for the LA Galaxy for numerous years and he claimed the MLS Most Valuable Player award at the end of the 2014 campaign.

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Other names UK fans may recognise include Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls), Nigel Reo-Coker (Montreal Impact), Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers), Lloyd Sam (New York Red Bulls), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City) and Steven Caldwell (Toronto FC).

Gary Stevenson is the President and Managing Director of MLS Business Ventures and he is excited about the partnership between MLS and Sky Sports.

“As MLS continues to grow into a global brand, we are excited to partner with Sky Sports, a leader in the UK TV market, to bring the sport to millions of soccer fans.

“2015 is a milestone year for MLS including new stars, new clubs and a new brand. Sky Sports will help continue to grow the League and its Clubs worldwide.”

David Beckham is the man who changed the perception of MLS when he moved to LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 and he is excited about the announcement.

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“This is another important moment that shows the continued growth of MLS,” Beckham told Sky Sports on confirmation of the deal.

“I have seen first-hand how popular soccer has become in America. Having fantastic partners such as Sky Sports on board will not only add to the coverage of the game, it will also broaden its appeal outside of US.”

Beckham is an ambassador for Sky Sports as is former New York Red Bulls and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. The Frenchman only recently joined Sky after retiring at the end of the 2014 MLS season.

Henry also helped to grow the league in his four-and-a-half-year stay in New York and he knows that MLS will be “huge” in the immediate future.

“I will never forget my time playing in MLS – it gave me some great memories and I was proud to play a role in growing the game,” Henry said.

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“I saw the passion of the fans in the US. They have always had it for other sports but they also have it for football now and it’s going to be huge in years to come. Sky Sports is the best place for the game, to bring it closer to fans in the UK and build MLS even more.”

The 2015 season is set to get underway in nine days with reigning champions, LA Galaxy hosting Chicago Fire in the season opener on Friday, March 6.

What do you make of the Sky Sports deal to show live MLS games?

David Beckham Miami update: It’s been delayed but “it will happen”

David Beckham has spoken again, giving us another update as to what exactly is going on with his proposed Miami Major League Soccer franchise.

The former LA Galaxy star has seen two stadium plans rejected over the past year but Beckham has reiterated once again that the plans to get Miami in MLS are very much on track, despite the delays.

We’re making some really good progress, some real positive progress, so at some point in the next couple of months there will be some announcements,” he told the BBC.

“Miami obviously doesn’t have a stadium at the moment, and we’ll continue to work hard on that. So it’s hard work, of course, but nothing in life is easy. We’re focusing on that and then we’ll announce it when ready.”

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Reports at the start of January revealed that a major announcement regarding the plans for Miami was to be revealed by the end of March. That still looks to be the case but hearing Beckham speak positively about the plans is obviously important along the way.

“I mean, delays are always frustrating, but to get it right, sometimes there are delays.

“We will get it right and it will happen. It’s taken a little bit longer than we thought. But it will happen,” he said with confidence.

Beckham was speaking from an event today announcing his extension as the UNICEF goodwill ambassador – a role he has filled for 10 years now.

Atlanta and Los Angeles FC are set to join the league in 2017 and with Don Garber’s plans to have 24 teams by the end of the decade still very much intact, we can expect to see Beckham’s Miami franchise playing sooner rather than later.

A date will be announced at some stage but for now the priority remains to find the team a home, even if that is a temporary one to get the club up and running.

When can we expect to see David Beckham’s Miami franchise in MLS?

Jermain Defoe talks up Steven Gerrard’s MLS move after returning to Premier League

Jermain Defoe‘s time in Major League Soccer lasted less than a year with Toronto FC but the English forward believes Steven Gerrard will love his time in the United States when he moves to the LA Galaxy in the summer.

Defoe returned to the Premier League with Sunderland last week in a deal that saw Jozy Altidore join Toronto and the 32-year-old forward has been speaking about Gerrard and his upcoming move to MLS.

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“He’s gonna be in LA. I played against them not too long ago [with Toronto FC] and I spoke to Robbie Keane and he loves it there,” Defoe told Sky Sports.

“They’ve got a good team and won it [the MLS Cup] last season so I’m sure he will enjoy it. Maybe he’s had a conversation with David Beckham, who was there for many years, and he loved it too.”

Gerrard has been at Liverpool for his entire career and joined the club as a seven year old back in 1987 so playing for another team will be a major challenge for the Anfield legend.

Defoe thinks that a move to another Premier League club would have been too difficult for Gerrard and expects the 34-year-old midfielder to love his new life in Los Angeles when he moves to America in July.

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“When you look at Steven Gerrard’s situation where he’s been at Liverpool for so many years, what he’s done for that club, maybe he just feels that it’s the right time to move on and move to a different league, a different country.

“I’m sure it would have been a lot harder if he’d have moved to another Premier League team and played against Liverpool. So to go to MLS will be a different ball game and I’m sure he will enjoy it.”

How big a signing is Steven Gerrard for LA Galaxy and MLS?

David Beckham MLS Miami update: Major announcement coming

David Beckham‘s Miami-based Major League Soccer franchise is heading in the right direction again, and a major announcement is expected before the end of March, reports Tom Hopkins of the Sunday People. 

Beckham announced plans to introduce a Miami expansion franchise into MLS last February but has faced continuous problems with regard to finding a suitable location for a stadium.

Two proposed waterfront sites have fallen through after local residents and businesses refused the plans put forward by Beckham and his team, and Don Garber reiterated in August that the expansion would not go ahead without a suitable stadium plan.

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There still doesn’t appear to be a definite plan but the chances are that the team will groundshare for at least their first season – the Florida International University campus is believed to be an option, while a permanent home is built.

An official statement released by Miami Beckham United on Thursday reiterated that plans are on the right path and things are looking good.

“Things are progressing in Miami, and we are very much on track in our plans,” the statement read. “David Beckham is very positive about the future of the club, and he continues to enjoy incredible support from the people in Miami.”

Aside from stadium plans, Beckham has been finalising plans for the clubs colours, team name and is making sure that the appropriate investors and sponsors are all on board as the former LA Galaxy star looks to kick things up a notch.

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Two expansion franchises New York City FC and Orlando City SC will enter MLS this year, with Atlanta and a second Los Angeles side set to join in 2017.

Don Garber set a target of having 24 teams by the end of the decade and Miami is very much back on track to being the 23rd, leaving one space. Minnesota, Las Vegas, Sacramento, San Antonio, St. Louis and El Paso have all prepared bids to become the 24th.

The major announcement could be anything from a stadium solution, to club colours and a team name or even all of the above and we now wait with excitement for an update from Beckham himself.

Will the Miami franchise be a success in MLS?