Is this former Arsenal striker set to become LAFC’s first DP?

Former Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner netted an impressive hat-trick in tonight’s 3-2 friendly win against the US Men’s National Team and could be playing against American talent on a more regular basis in the future as Los Angeles FC seem set on making him their first Designated Player.

LAFC are yet to enter MLS but are expected to join the league in time for the start of the 2017 season, meaning they will need to start making squad plans very soon.

Bendtner seems to be a name they have very high up their list and they made no effort to hide their admiration for the Denmark forward during Wednesday night’s international friendly.

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Their Twitter account was filled with tweets dedicated to Bendtner and the club even suggested LAFC fans should be celebrating when he scored his second goal of the night against the USA.

The 27-year-old Wolfsburg forward sealed his hat-trick in stoppage time with a fine volley and the club’s fans would also seemingly like to see Bendtner in an LAFC shirt when the club enter the league.

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A halftime Twitter poll saw plenty of fans suggesting that the 2009 Danish Footballer of the Year should be brought to MLS with the expansion franchise, and it seems the club are keen on that idea too.

Bendtner’s current contract with Wolfsburg expires in the summer of 2017 so he could join the club as a free agent at the midpoint of the 2017 season, though he could be signed for a cut-price deal in the months before his deal expires.

What do you think – would Nicklas Bendtner be a good signing for LAFC in three years?

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Don Garber: MLS has ‘total belief’ in latest expansion franchise Minnesota United FC

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber strongly believes that the latest expansion franchise to be revealed, Minnesota United FC, will succeed as they represent everything that is spurring the growth of MLS.

Minnesota United FC were officially announced as the league’s 23rd expansion franchise on Wednesday afternoon and will enter the league by 2018 at the latest.

It’s a fascinating turnaround of fortunes for Minnesota United, who currently play in the NASL, as the club almost ceased from existence two years ago.

Uncertainty had surrounded soccer in Minnesota for years and after changing team names, league’s and ownership several times, Dr. Bill McGuire came in to save the club in November 2012.

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“[The owners] are totally committed,” Garber said at Wednesday’s expansion announcement from Target Field. “They love this game, they love this city and they’ve got a great plan for a building.

“They represent exactly what we want and what we need to continue this momentum that we have, that’s really stimulating the growth of our league.”

Don’t Miss: EXCLUSIVE: Minnesota United’s ‘Dark Clouds’ on MLS dream

Garber and the people at the top of the MLS pyramid chose Minnesota as the 23rd expansion franchise despite solid bids from Sacramento Republic, Las Vegas and a second one from Minnesota headed by the NFL’s Vikings ownership.

And the decision to award the latest MLS expansion slot to Minnesota United FC is something the MLS Commissioner thinks will go down as a great one.

“We have total belief in the Twin Cities. This is a market that is young, that is diverse, that has more people riding their bicycles around than they do in Brooklyn, and Brooklyn is a pretty hip place.

“It has an incredible international flair too. It is a city that represents all of the things that we have been able to capitalize on that are allowing our league to be a sport for a new America. It’s diverse, it’s young and it is empowered by people who are the next generation of great sports fans.”

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United are set to enter MLS in time for the start of the 2018 season but could come in a year earlier, depending on developments with LAFC and their stadium plans, though Garber admitted that the date of entry had nothing to do with David Beckham’s proposed Miami franchise.

“It could be as early as 2017. We have a number of moving pieces. That’s part of the dynamic with a young sports league. The target is no later than ‘18 and it could be as early as 2017.

“Los Angeles is coming into our league and they are either ’17 or ’18 and Minnesota will be either ’17 or ’18. It’s not related to Miami.”

Will Minnesota United FC take MLS by storm when they enter the league in the next three years?

EXCLUSIVE: Minnesota United’s ‘Dark Clouds’ on MLS dream

Minnesota United FC are set to become the latest Major League Soccer expansion franchise when MLS Commissioner Don Garber and United owner Dr. Bill McGuire make the announcement on Wednesday afternoon, and that means another set of passionate supporters are set to enter the league too.

Minnesota United’s largest and oldest supporters group is the Dark Clouds and they have followed the team through thick and thin since they were formed in 2004. They are delighted that the club is finally on its way into MLS and cannot wait for the next era.

“It’s hard not to see the place in MLS as vital,” the Dark Clouds’ President Jim Oliver told MLSGB’s Louis East. “Minnesota’s had second division soccer for going on 26 years now, so we’ve had a team to support for a long time and have managed to survive through lean economic times and fraudsters for owners.
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“Despite that long history though, the competition for getting the rights to the MLS franchise in Minnesota might have put another club in United’s geographic area, which would have spelled doom for our club. That’s why it was so important for United to go for the MLS spot, and why we’re so pleased that our owner Dr. McGuire and his partners were willing to make the commitment.”

Some members of the Dark Clouds have been waiting for as long as two decades for their MLS dream to come true so the fact that United are set to become the league’s 23rd club is certainly something they’ve earned.

“MLS has been around for 20 years, so there’s definitely some among us who’ve been waiting that long,” Oliver added.

“Honestly we’ve been happy to support a lower-division club since the founding of the Dark Clouds 12 years ago, but nobody can say that you don’t dream of the quality players, stadiums and competition that the top flight provides.

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“For the Dark Clouds, we’re excited about all the attention MLS will bring and how it’ll help us to expand the charitable work that our group does. We’ve supported local soccer-related causes for years, and it’ll be great to hopefully turn that trickle of volunteerism and cash donation into a flood.”

Minnesota United’s official website claims: “We are industrious and built around the idea that hard work yields the greatest rewards. We are strong and getting stronger. We are United.”

More of those rewards are just around the corner now. An MLS franchise could enter the league within the next three years and United fans will hope to dominate in the top flight the same way they have done in the NASL over the past four years.

The NASL started it’s second chapter in 2011, and Minnesota United won the championship at the end of that first season. United then won the NASL Spring Championship last season and will look to enter MLS in style by continuing to dominate the second-tier of US Soccer until then.

Minnesota United celebrate winning the 2014 NASL Spring Championship (Photo: NASL.com)

Minnesota United celebrate winning the 2014 NASL Spring Championship (Photo: NASL.com)

“We’re expecting big things from United,” Oliver continued. “The ownership group has show a commitment to really raise the level even in the second division, bringing in great players and staff and systems that kept us firmly on top of the table last year.”

“There’s no other second division club in this country that commits resources to things like preseason tours (England last year and Brazil this year) and signings on the level we’ve seen from United in recent years. Dr. McGuire wants a dominant side and he’s done what it takes to build one. We can’t wait to see that in MLS.”

Are you looking forward to seeing Minnesota United enter MLS as the latest expansion franchise?

Minnesota United FC to seal next MLS expansion spot on Wednesday

Major League Soccer is set to announce Minnesota United FC as the league’s next expansion franchise on Wednesday afternoon as MLS will “make an important announcement on the future of soccer in Minnesota” at Target Field.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Minnesota United owner Dr. Bill McGuire will make the announcement at noon ET (16:00 GMT) on Wednesday as the Twin Cities are set to host the league’s 23rd team. The event will be streamed live on MLSSoccer.com.

The league confirmed that it was in discussion with Minnesota United about a possible expansion franchise last week and it is thought that the city’s plans for a downtown, open-air, soccer-specific stadium were key in their successful bid.

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“MLS leadership is well aware that the passionate soccer fans in Minnesota combined with a world-class, soccer-specific stadium make the Twin Cities and our state a perfect home for the next MLS expansion team,” the club said in a statement on their website last week.

United currently play in the North American Soccer League and play in front of around 8,500 fans at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

They took on Swansea City in Blaine last summer and beat the Premier League side 2-0 on their preseason tour.

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USMNT midfielder Miguel Ibarra and Northern Ireland international Jonny Steele both play for United and are two names that many will recognise.

It is unclear as to when they will enter the league at this point, though that should be confirmed in Wednesday’s announcement.

Atlanta FC are set to enter MLS in 2017, while Los Angeles FC are also expected to join the same year though that depends on their progress towards a new stadium.

David Beckham’s Miami franchise is still fighting for a slot, along with Sacramento Republic and those two look set to battle for the 24th slot, though the league is getting prepared to expand beyond 24 teams in the coming years.

What do you make of Minnesota United FC being announced as Major League Soccer’s next expansion franchise?

Las Vegas out of the running for next MLS Expansion Franchise

Las Vegas will not be the home of a Major League Soccer expansion franchise until after 2018 as it now appears Minneapolis, Sacramento, San Antonio and Miami will battle for the next two spots in the league.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber notified Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman about the decision in a letter on Thursday as he confirmed: “We are no longer considering Las Vegas as an expansion market until after 2018.”

MLS letter to Las Vegas Mayor Goodman

 

Mayor Goodman was obviously disappointed with the decision but remains focused on trying to bring a major sports franchise to the city in the next few years.

“Of course I am disappointed that the MLS did not select Las Vegas for an expansion team in the 2017 or 2018 seasons,” Goodman said.

“I still believe our city would be the perfect location for a major league team, and I am saddened that we miss out on the opportunity to gain $450 million in downtown investment and job creation.

Photo: An artist's portrayal of what a Las Vegas MLS stadium could look like

Photo: An artist’s portrayal of what a Las Vegas MLS stadium could look like

“A team coming here would have been the catalyst for other developments in the downtown. I hope the MLS will still consider Las Vegas for a team beyond 2018, and that the league’s decision will not be a negative influence on other major league franchises coming to our city.”

Atlanta and Los Angeles will enter the league in 2017, becoming the 21st and 22nd teams but Don Garber’s vision for 24 MLS teams by the end of the decade means two more are expected to join by 2019.

Miami are expected to be one of those teams so long as David Beckham can find a stadium for the team and that would mean Minneapolis, Sacramento and San Antonio would then battle for the final remaining spot.

Who would you like to see announced as the 23rd and 24th teams to join MLS?