No doubt, there was plenty of backslapping taking place at MLS headquarters on Tuesday. After all, it's not often that the league receives the kind of investment that Manchester City and the New York Yankees made, as the two teams became owners of New York City FC, the league's 20th team. While Commissioner Don Garber refused to state for the record on Tuesday's conference call what the expansion fee would be, it's believed to be in the neighborhood of US$100 million. The Commissioner, quite rightly, called the news, "a transformational moment".
Things are hectic at MLS headquarters off New York's Fifth Avenue. David Beckham hectic. A giant step and repeat banner branded with images of MLS, Manchester City and New York Yankees logos, U.S. Soccer's latest brand bedfellows, is being shuttled around to serve as a backdrop. The $100 million deal, which has birthed New York City FC as MLS's 20th team, has just been announced, and the team's executives are still meeting to finalize the details. -- Carlisle: More questions than answers -- Davis: Garber's legacy rests on NYC -- Manchester City's New York plan -- How will NYCFC work?
Major League Soccer, Manchester City and the New York Yankees joined together Tuesday to make an announcement in New York that will one day define the legacy of MLS commissioner Don Garber. A franchise within the city limits of New York has long been Garber’s overriding goal. Despite talk about Orlando, Atlanta, St. Louis, et al, as possible locations for MLS teams, Garber remained resolute in his belief that a team in New York should be the league’s first priority. Or rather, Garber was the public face of that effort for a growing American fan base that is at time both hostile and wary of Major League Soccer leadership.
On a day when MLS announced the ownership group for the league's New York City-based team, the question of where the club's stadium will be located became more muddled. On Tuesday, MLS announced that English Premier League side Manchester City and the New York Yankees would team up to run the league’s 20th team in New York City. The team is set to begin play in 2015 at a yet-to-be-determined temporary site. But in terms of finding a permanent home, the ownership group and MLS appear to be backtracking on plans to build a 25,000 seat stadium in Queens at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (FMCP).
Each week, as MLS teams hit the field in another round of competition, there’s an obvious question to be asked: Did the narratives from the lead-up hold true? Here are the storylines and how true they held in Week 12. Toronto FC 0-1 Columbus Crew - Video Narrative: What narrative? Teams headed in the wrong direction attempt to take advantage of the other’s failings Columbus took all three points off a Toronto FC is quickly crumbling under the weight of losing so many points this season when one or more was there for the taking.
Now we have confirmation that Landon Donovan will indeed have to resort to playing the role of cheerleader when the U.S. takes on Belgium and Germany in a few weeks -- and again for the three World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras later in June. But as so often happens with the roster selections of U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann, that was by no means the only decision to come under scrutiny. Here are four others that caught the eye: 1. Is Carlos Bocanegra's national team career over?
A round of rumors about Chivas USA -- probably unfounded and actively refuted by Major League Soccer -- hit the internet last week, alleging the beleaguered club might be in danger of being seized by the league. Backing the claims was an anecdote describing Jorge Vergara's attempt to sign a sponsor that would directly pay player salaries (in exchange for promotional services) and the troubling lack of a television contract for the American Goats. Because MLS is a single entity that licenses the right to operate its clubs to third parties, the league is within its rights to take control of a team it deems -- for whatever reason -- in need of direct management.
It's a script that has been played out numerous times since the start of MLS back in 1996. A foreign player arrives and struggles to adapt to the league's physicality, not to mention the language and the culture shock than can come from living in North America. Rare are the instances where a player seems to adapt straight away on all fronts. But that appears to be exactly what has transpired in Dallas, where Michel has helped FCD to a league-best 24 points from 11 matches. The 31-year-old Brazilian has fit in seamlessly into FCD's midfield since joining the club in preseason, providing steady defense alongside Andrew Jacobson while also contributing to the attack, especially from set pieces.
Landon Donovan's absence hasn't left U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann pining for the team’s all-time leading scorer to return. So much so that Donovan has reportedly been excluded from the U.S. roster for a trio of World Cup qualifiers in June. And based on the player's recent form, it's the right call. Donovan famously took a lengthy break from the game following the Los Angeles Galaxy's MLS Cup triumph last December. He missed all of preseason training camp with the Galaxy, as well as three crucial World Cup qualifiers against Honduras.
How did this weekend’s MLS narratives play out, particularly after a full set of midweek games? Here's an attempt to answer the question. Chicago Fire 0-1 Philadelphia Union - Video Narrative: Underwhelming Chicago, a team that creates chances but rarely puts them away, hosts a Philadelphia team trying to shake off the ugly feelings of last week’s disappointing home draw. Narrative fulfilled. Once again, Chicago was the aggressor at home and managed to put six shots on the Union goal.
As homecomings go, Kei Kamara's return to Sporting Kansas City didn't quite go according to plan. In fact, Wednesday's encounter with the Seattle Sounders ended in nightmarish fashion, with the visitors capitalizing on a late error by Aurelien Collin to score a late winner in stoppage time. As for Kamara, his 23 minutes of playing time were relatively uneventful, even if the ovation he received from the SKC faithful reminded him that "it really does feel like home". That said, he was still kicking himself for not staying engaged in the play that led to Djimi Traore's tally.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Ryan Nelsen's career in professional soccer has taken him all over the world, from his native New Zealand to Stanford University to MLS and finally the English Premier League. Given such depth of experience, Nelsen is as qualified as anyone to dissect what separates North American players from their counterparts elsewhere in the world. --Big Head Read Head: Sir Alex, Wedensday's MLS He insisted that it's not athleticism, nor is it technical ability. "I'd say what [North American players] don't have is a hardened edge you get from cut-throat professional environments in Europe and South America and Africa," he said following Tuesday's practice session.