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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Messi and Ronaldo to meet in Miami as El Clasico heads stateside this summer

The two biggest clubs in world football will go head-to-head in Miami this summer, with Real Madrid and Barcelona gearing up for just the second ever El Clasico to be played outside of Spain.

Some of the game’s biggest stars – including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – are expected to be on show as the Spanish giants prepare to face off in the 2017 International Champions Cup series. The game will be played on Saturday July 29 in front of over 60,000 people at the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium.

It will be the first time El Clasico has ever been played on American soil and will be just the second time the rivalry has been played outside of Spain, with the only previous meeting abroad coming 35 years ago in Venezuela.

Barcelona will have their famous MSN trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar at their disposal, while Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to make the game, despite his involvement in the Confederations Cup in Russia a month before.

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It’s another huge boost for an ever-growing soccer audience in the USA and particularly for Miami, considering the continuous troubles with the attempts to get David Beckham’s MLS Expansion Franchise off the ground.

It would be an incredible day to announce that Miami is finally set to get an MLS team, but we’ll try not to get too ahead of ourselves on that one.

However, it is highly likely that either Barcelona or Real Madrid will be the opponent for the 2017 MLS All-Star match, which is set to take place in Chicago just four days after the game in Miami.

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?

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?

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?

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?

What is the latest situation with David Beckham’s Miami MLS expansion team?

Back in February, David Beckham announced plans to open a new franchise and still maintains that he will be able to bring an MLS team to Miami, as does business partner Marcelo Claure who echoed these ambitions.

“Even with all the problems that we’ve had with Miami politics when it comes to stadiums, I believe that we are in the final stages of making some important announcements, because it’s a very important goal for me that Miami has a soccer team,” he said.

Claure resides in Miami and also owns the Bolivian soccer team Bolivar. He’s been working alongside Beckham since it became apparent that he was interested in setting up an expansion team.

Problems

The project hasn’t been without its setbacks as local politicians have already rejected two of the stadium venues proposed, but Beckham said his team will continue to look for sites.

MLS commissioner Don Garber said, “this can’t go on forever – the Beckham group continues to work to try and find a stadium solution that they believe will put them in a position to succeed.”

Commentator Richard Fleming has also raised concerns and said, “time is running out for David Beckham – the league is aiming for 24 teams and others are queuing up, so Miami and the former England captain had better get a move on.”

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A spokesperson for Miami Beckham United said, “Miami is still David’s number one choice and it will happen. The fans and the people of Miami are behind us and we hope to announce some positive and exciting news soon. The reality is that everything is progressing very well.”

We await further updates on the situation, but it’s unlikely that there will be any developments until the new year now.

Will David Beckham be able to bring an MLS team to Miami?

5 World Cup winners you may not have known played in America

With the World cup starting on Thursday, we thought we’d pay tribute to five players who have won the trophy and played in America.

Some big names have graced US soccer in recent years but how many of these stars did you know plied their trade stateside?

1. Gerd Müller

The German International won the World Cup in 1974. He won the Golden boot at the 1970 world cup and amassed a staggering total of 68 international goals in 62 appearances.

He made the move to America in 1979 and played for three seasons with Fort Lauderdale Strikers, scoring 38 goals during his spell.

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2. Youri Djorkaeff

World Cup winner with France in 1998, the forward played for New York Red Bulls for two seasons between 2005 and 2006.

He played 40 times, scoring ten goals during his stint in the Big Apple.

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3. Alessandro Nesta

One of the more recent arrivals, Nesta won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, although he was injured in the final group match and sat out for the rest of the tournament.

Nesta is a legend and was a shock addition to the Montreal Impact squad in 2012. He played 31 times for the Canadian side before retiring.

4. Romario

The Brazilian goal scorer won the World cup in 1994 alongside Ronaldo in what was probably the best strike force to play at a World Cup.

Romario moved to Miami in 2006 and played 25 times for them, scoring a very impressive 19 goals.

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5. Denilson

Another Brazilian that made the move to MLS, Denilson was used mainly as a substitute during the 2002 World Cup in which the Brazilians won.

Denilson played for FC Dallas in 2007, making 8 appearances.

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MLS & EPL: closer than you thought?

With many English Premier League teams touring the USA and Canada this summer, it is perhaps fitting to look at the links between Major League Soccer and the EPL.

Some are learned facts, some are obscure stories and some are spurious rumours. The one thing in common is the love of the beautiful game and the historic partnership between North America and Great Britain.

Shoulder to shoulder, we all share the same passion; that great sport we all call football, no…soccer, sorry…football, no….soccer. Oh who cares? We love them both!

The list below will show the links that the 2013/14 Premier League teams have with North American soccer, and give an insight into the development of MLS.

Arsenal – American Stan Kroenke is the majority shareholder of Arsenal and also the owner of Colorado Rapids. The two teams formed an official link with each other in 2009.

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Aston Villa – Randy Lerner, current owner who has recently placed the club up for sale. American Brad Guzan is the current goalkeeper. Allegedly a US consortium are planning to become the new owners.

Cardiff City – The Welsh club share the honour of the most watched Premier League game in US this season with their rivals Swansea in the Welsh derby.

Chelsea – Have a megastore in North Carolina but have cancelled their proposed US tour this summer to focus on squad development. Though of course Frank Lampard has been linked with MLS for the past few years and is currently being linked again.

Crystal Palace – was affiliated with Crystal Palace USA team in 2006, by the then Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan, in the old USL second division. In 2010 the US Palace team severed the link, stating they were to take a year out and re-structure the team. They have unfortunately never surfaced again, unlike Simon Jordan who pops up on British TV now and again showing off his penchant for expensive wristwatches. The Eagles are set to play three games in the US this summer.

Everton – Everton America is a direct link with Everton FC. They partner local sports organisations and help youth development in the US. A big pat on the back is deserved for this. Oh yeah, they also have the Big Man, Tim Howard between the sticks and have had Landon Donovan and Brian McBride play for them in recent years.

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Fulham – Have American based billionaire Shahid Khan as an owner, American Airlines as their official airline and had Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride as players.

Hull City – Twinned with Harlem as part of the “Keep calm and pick a side” campaign to promote the EPL. We are presuming no pictures of Hull were shown as it isn’t exactly the most attractive place in the UK to visit! They also visited NASA in 1984 and then Chairman, Don Robinson, said they would be the first team to play on the moon.

Liverpool – Home of The Beatles and the nearly Champions of the EPL in 2014.  Also have a lakeside village in Onondaga County NY apparently! They have the honour of having some of the coolest men in the US as fans, namely, Dr Dre, Samuel. L. Jackson, LeBron James and Brad Pitt. Not bad eh? Oh, and let’s not forget the American owner John W Henry II.

Manchester City – The newly crowned EPL champions are partnering with the New York Yankees to form a New York franchise; New York City Football Club, with Man City being majority owner. An incredibly wealthy team, and at this rate, they will eventually own every team in the EPL and MLS!

Manchester United – They have a large fan base in the US and even though the outgoing champions had a poor season, they are still a giant in the game. Owned by Americans, Malcolm Glazer and his family. A US investment company, Baron International, has recently bought $150 million worth of shares as an investment. This only equates to 2.5% of the club however, and was not enough to influence the club not to employ David Moyes as the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor!

Newcastle United – Andrew Parkinson, a striker, played for them from 1977-1979, who has got to be one of the first players from the USA to play here which is impressive. (Even though he wasn’t the first in the EPL, John Harkes has that honour). It is also the only decent link we could find so the Toon Army need make some connections across the pond, rather than just France.

Norwich City – Zak Whitbread, an American/English player who played for two and a half seasons for Norwich from 2010. We have nothing more to say about that.

Southampton – Have a Canadian owner in Ralph Krueger, and have been partial to an American keeper with the same initials, Kasey Keller and Cody Cropper.

Stoke City – Current Manager Mark Hughes is at present not having a great US experience due to the failure of a second appeal for a work permit, with young American striker Juan Agudelo. He is now apparently contemplating only signing European players following this protracted appeal. This would be a crying shame as the EPL/MLS bond has been strengthening on a yearly basis. On the plus side they do currently have American International, Geoff Cameron formerly of Houston Dynamo, Brek Shea, the ex FC Dallas man and Maurice Edu on their books. (Maurice Edu is currently on loan at Philadelphia Union).

Sunderland – American owner Ellis Short is currently at the helm and Jozy Altidore is currently on the books, but Jozy unfortunately hasn’t had the best of times in the EPL with one goal in over 30 league appearances this season.

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Swansea City – Featured in the most watched EPL game against Cardiff and the second-most watched game when they were away to Man Utd. We believe two of the Swansea players also drive Escalades!

Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs have been affiliated with San Jose Earthquakes since 2008, they also have Brad Friedel, one of the best free transfers in the league under their belt. Clint Dempsey also played for them before his recent return to MLS with Seattle Sounders. Whilst they recently sold Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC in a big move for MLS, and Spurs are set to tour the United States this summer.

West Bromwich Albion – Apparently The Baggies were sniffing around US player Tim Ream, currently playing for Derby County, but everyone and their aunt are denying that.

West Ham United – The Hammers run a respected International Academy within the USA and Canada. They had Jonathan Spector as a player from 2006-2010. Clive Charles also played for them in 1972/1973.

And we couldn’t write a piece like this without mentioning David Beckham. A huge GB and US name in our beloved sport, he is currently trying to start his own franchise in Miami and we are quietly hoping it gets called Miami Vice. Perhaps Jan Hammer can do the music as the team emerge from the tunnel?

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May the union between our countries long continue, and the gap between MLS and the EPL draw ever closer. There can only be one winner….all of us mad fans!

David Beckham, the man with a plan

By Simon Pyne

David Beckham is set to introduce his very own team into Major League Soccer, and after such a great playing career, his Miami side will surely be a success.

There’s not a lot that hasn’t already been written about David Beckham. A true icon of world football and a name synonymous with immense skill and unbridled passion for the game.

From the moment he appeared on the back pages, he was never really off them during his glittering 20-year career.

From his early days in East London, to the success he achieved at Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Paris Saint-German and LA Galaxy, he has always showed the same determination to succeed and has put in the hard work required to achieve his goals.

For the English National team, he always showed a desire and passion to play for his country, and although this has been seen before amongst the likes of Stuart Pearce and Terry Butcher, it has arguably not been seen since.

He collected 115 caps, which was a record for an outfield player, and he still says one of his greatest achievements in football was captaining his country.

A true legend of his time in world football, but what was left for him to strive for once he finally hung his boots up?

He has been an ambassador for the sport and his country, and is carrying out the same role for UNICEF as well as Chinese football, but the desire for success and a new challenge would be gnawing at him internally.

So perhaps we should not be surprised he is now striving to build his own MLS team in Miami and is attacking the challenge with the same passion and enthusiasm he showed during his playing career.

There are huge challenges in store for him, as the problems with the new stadium location are already showing, with local business heavyweights objecting to the current proposal.

Miami Beckham United

Photo: Miami’s proposed soccer stadium (Miami Beckham United)

The new team are hoping to join MLS in 2017 and are perhaps taking the biggest gamble of all due to the previous Florida soccer teams; Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins all struggling with attendance figures in past seasons.

Miami will have to win games and then some in order to draw the fanbase they will require to enable success, and although “Brand Beckham” will be a draw they will still need big name players to bring in the crowds.

Of course Beckham has some great contacts to draw on, after playing for some of the biggest teams on the planet, and this will be a massive boost for the Miami team and MLS in general, as household name players are bound to appear for him.

It should follow that more supporters will be drawn by this influx of stars, so it has to be a win-win situation for the sport and MLS when, and not if, he succeeds in his plan.

One thing is for sure, David Beckham will put his heart and soul into his new venture in the same way he did during his playing career, and if all goes to plan with the stadium, we will all be talking a lot more about MLS and Miami very soon.