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The SBI Show: Episode 195 (MLS Western Conference Preview, Award Predictions, and more)

Episode 195 of The SBI Show takes a look back at the recently-approved MLS CBA, previews the MLS Western Conference, and shares our MLS award predictions.

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SBI MLS Preseason Power Rankings

With the 2015 MLS season set to kick off on Friday, here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings to start the new campaign.

Brad Guzan of Aston Villa

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

Brad Guzan and Aston Villa will attempt to reach the FA Cup semifinals by beating West Bromwich Albion for the second time in five days.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Montreal Impact

Montreal Collage

By FRANCO PANIZO

The first year of Frank Klopas’ reign with the Montreal Impact did not go anywhere near as planned, but the second season is shaping up to be much more promising.

The Impact endured a rough 2014 campaign that saw them finish with the worst record in MLS, but a slew of offseason moves have strengthened a squad that was in need of changes. Reliable veterans from both MLS and Europe have been brought in, and their arrivals should help fill out a squad that has lost star striker Marco Di Vaio but still boasts some dynamic pieces in Justin Mapp and Dilly Duka.

While it could take some time to integrate the infusion of talent, early returns are promising. The Impact recently moved onto the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League by ousting Pachuca on aggregate in a two-legged series, and there were plenty of positive performances throughout both games from new and old players alike.

Now, Montreal needs to continue to ride that wave of momentum and deliver those same type of effective outings in league play. It is not unheard of for teams to have big turnarounds in one year in MLS, and the Impact are hoping to become the latest.

Here’s a closer look at the 2015 Montreal Impact:

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Posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Montreal Impact | 1 Comment

MLS Ticker: MLS signs deal with Eurosport; Lalas, Strong, Donovan part of Fox coverage; and more

DonGarberMLSCommissioner1-Montreal (USATODAYSports)

By RYAN TOLMICH

After signing a deal with Sky Sports last week, MLS has made another move toward expanding the league’s global footprint.

MLS announced Thursday that the league has signed a four-year deal with Eurosport to air MLS matches in Eurosport’s European territories, excluding the UK. As part of the agreement, up to four matches will be shown live each weekend along with a 30-minute preview show each Friday.

“It is a pleasure to be able to announce our support for the long-term vision of MLS,” Eurosport Group GEO Peter Hutton said. “We see the recent signings of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard as further proof of the willingness of the league and its owners to invest in globally recognized names. This can only help us grow MLS internationally, where we will look to show the league both live and in prime time to reach the maximum possible European audience.

“As we continue to improve the quality of Eurosport across the region, the new deal with the MLS is a significant step to increase our live football content as well as a sign of our belief in the potential of the league to continue to grow.”

Here are some more of Thursday’s MLS news and notes: Continue reading »

Posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Colorado Rapids, MLS- New York Red Bulls | 16 Comments

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson backs ‘total free agency’ in wake of MLS labor deal

Peterson-FCEdmonton

By RYAN TOLMICH

On the heels of the recent MLS CBA negotiations, free agency is a hot topic in the North American soccer landscape.

With the announcement of a limited form of free agency extended to MLS veteran players, the league has taken a step toward developing somewhat of a free market. However, that market has its disadvantages from a player standpoint, as free agency in the latest incarnation of MLS’ CBA is limited strictly for veterans, while even those eligible have a cap on salary increases.

Free agency is nothing new in NASL, where players have the freedom to play for any team they want once out of contract, much as is the case in the rest of the soccer world. NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson remains a believer in that system, and while he is glad MLS is set to take the field on time, he believes the league’s players are still at a major disadvantage.

“First of all, I’m glad that they reached an agreement,” Peterson told SBI on Thursday. “I think that that it’s important that both sides have agreed that these are terms that they accept. I don’t think what’s being called ‘free agency’ is very advantageous for the players. You look at our league where guys sign one or two-year deals and then are able to go back out and test the market with any team in the world. That’s free agency, in my opinion, but they agreed to it. That’s their business and we wish them well.

“It won’t effect anything we’re doing. I think you find that more and more of the agents and more and more of the players start to realize what free agency really looks like when they come into the NASL and that’s one of our advantages, one of our unique selling points, that a player can come in and prove himself at a very high level and, in a short period of time, go back out there onto the market.” Continue reading »

Posted in NASL | 21 Comments

SBI MLS Season Preview: New York City FC

NYCFC Collage

By FRANCO PANIZO

While the New York Red Bulls/MetroStars have been in MLS since its inception, there has always been a healthy number of soccer fans from New York’s five boroughs who have clamored for an MLS team to call their own. One that plays within the city’s limits, and not next door in New Jersey.

Well, the time for that has finally come.

After nearly two years of preparation and several more of anticipation, a second New York team is taking to the MLS field in 2015. New York City FC is ready to introduce itself to the rest of the league and soccer world, and hoping to do so with a successful season that meets the sizable expectations that some observers and fans have for the expansion club.

Owned by two notorious sports associations in City Football Group and the New York Yankees, NYCFC has already been built into what seems like a competitive team. Former Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis is leading the charge, and doing so with talented roster that includes Spanish striker David Villa, U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Mix Diskerud, and a bevy of other seasoned professionals from MLS, Europe and South America.

All that talent is being counted on to help NYCFC enjoy the type of strong first year that could make a serious dent in New York’s saturated sports market. It won’t be easy, of course. MLS looks as competitive as ever, and there is a history of expansion teams struggling in their first seasons in the league.

New York City FC has the tools to make it all work. The owners have poured some good money into the club, bringing in both players and coaches who have competed and succeeded at high levels. Now, it’s all about getting them to jell and perform so as to make a serious impact on New York’s changing soccer landscape.

Here is a closer look at New York City FC ahead of the 2015 season:

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Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- New York City FC | 3 Comments

Reports: Miami-Dade commission set to offer David Beckham stadium site

David Beckham FIU

 

By FRANCO PANIZO

The ball is now in David Beckham’s court.

After spending much of the last year looking for a suitable Miami location for a soccer-specific stadium for his MLS franchise, Beckham will soon have an offer on the table that he will need to consider. Several reports out of South Florida are indicating that the Miami-Dade County commission agreed this week to propose a stadium site west of Marlins Park to Beckham, a move that could bring an end to a year-long search that has brought its share of headaches for Beckham and his ownership group.

While the commission has identified that parcel, it is currently unclear as to whether Beckham will want to build a stadium there. There is no word as to how much contact the commission has had with Beckham and his group over the space of land, which is in an area that Beckham’s group had seen as “spiritually tainted” because of the negative stigma attached to Marlins Park.

That stance came early in the searching process, however, and before a number of hurdles left Beckham and his partners reassessing their options.

Beckham announced plans to launch an expansion MLS franchise a little over a year ago. There are currently only two remaining slots available before MLS reaches the 24-club mark it said it wishes to have by 2020.

What do you make of this development? Should Beckham jump at the chance at taking this land or should he continue to look elsewhere? Still think MLS should skip Miami as an expansion market altogether?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in Featured, MLS- Miami | 35 Comments

Midday Ticker: Evans, Cisse charged for spitting incident; Robinho gets Brazil recall; and more

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By ADAM TROXTELL

Both Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse and Manchester United’s Jonny Evans will be charged over a spitting incident.

The pair were caught on video apparently spitting at each other when they clashed during Man United’s road game against Newcastle on Wednesday. The FA has announced that while the match officials did not see the incident, both will face disciplinary action.

The incident occurred in the 38th minute. Cisse fell to the ground while battling Evans for a loose ball during the match, and Evans appears to spit at the Senegalese striker as he rose.

Cisse attempts to grab Evans before he appears to spit back. The Newcastle man apologized for his actions on Thursday, but Evans has denied spitting during the incident.

Both players have until Monday night to respond to the charge. The minimum ban for spitting is six games, though Cisse could get a longer suspension since he was already banned for violent conduct earlier this season.

Here are some more news and notes for your Thursday afternoon:

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured | 6 Comments