Major League Soccer prides itself on its rapid expansion. And with good reason. Just eight years ago, there were only 10 MLS teams alive and kicking.
That tally will now rise to 20 with the all-new Nycfc set to debut in 2015. But does their arrival on the scene spell double-trouble for the league and are MLS fans as a whole being short-changed by it all?
There’s no doubt that relatively-speaking these are boom times for the soccer scene in the States. Attendances overall are up. Just go to any Portland or Seattle home game and you’ll witness a vibrant, passionate crowd that would put a lot of their European counterparts to shame.
MLS is a sound business model and very much on the right track but I just can’t help wondering to what extent the proposed New York City FC multi-million dollar deal might be risky business.
Sound financial planning has always been key to the league and its mantra but the rule-book went out the window to some degree when David Beckham signed on with the L-A Galaxy seven years ago.
The stringent salary cap was relaxed and in came the three-designated players rule. Now think about it for just a moment. Would that really be enough for the new franchise’s owners? Remember who they are after all! Manchester City belong to Sheikh Mansour and as a club – in terms of spending prowess- money is truly no object - and he will demand success.
And what should we make of the Yankees involvement in all this? I still recall their marketing tie- in with Manchester’s “other” club United back in the early 2000s. It didn’t last and there always seemed to be a lack of clarity over how it all worked?
Will things be different this time around? It would appear so and that can only be good news for City who’ll be benefit from the Yanks’ stature and local clout.
As I understand it- the most famous brand in baseball will be part-owners and will certainly have a huge say in vital issues like where in fact the new club will play but again we're left wanting to learn more about what exactly their role will be.
I have to conclude this is a great news for footy fans in the New York City area but what about the rest of the country?
The Red Bulls' average home attendance already falls well short of its 25,000 capacity and the Big Apple also has the reformed New York Cosmos on the scene too.
Is this potentially soccer over- saturation New York style? I realize it's the allure of the lucrative Nyc market and all that but has the league missed a great opportunity to truly put new meaning into the word " expansion"?
For example- take the huge area of land known as the Southeastern USA. Not an MLS franchise in sight.
Why? Where I live in Atlanta I'd have to travel some nine hours by car to go and watch my "local" team- DC United in Washington!
Having grown up in North West England- the City fans I know would never have dreamed of seeing the day their club would launch a spin-off franchise in the United States - with the added benefit of being able to loan out players to the MLS side.
Most I'm quite sure would rather the club be fully focused on prioritizing the search for a new manager or improving their woeful recent Champions League record.
In fact- they might even be wondering if they'll possibly even get to see Yankees baseball at the Etihad some day!
I have no doubt the MLS' newest franchise will soon become the league's undisputed super-power backed by the world-wide might of City and the Yankees.
I'm left with this nagging doubt though. Will the other 19 be able to seriously compete? If so, how? The MLS landscape has changed rather dramatically now and it all seems to have happened quicker than a New York minute.
David Beckham may be coming to the end of his career but he is still a man who can top a league. France Football magazine recently published its list ranking the world’s richest footballers and according to the publication the midfielder earned over $46 million last year, more than the two maestros considered by most fans to be the best players on the planet: Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Few soccer superstars can boast the business clout of "Brand Beckham", but how has the former England captain been able to hold on to his appeal? How is he still making more money in endorsements as a 37-year-old player past his prime, than the finest footballers of the current generation? FULL POST
I wonder if Andy Murray ever curses the fact that he’s playing in an era with two of the greatest tennis players of all time? I suspect he does.
The Scot has all the attributes to be a major winner; he can play every shot in the book, is incredibly fit, loves a challenge and has great court-craft and intuition, but so far this total package hasn’t been quite good enough. FULL POST
Sometimes a sporting event is more than just a game. Sometimes the arena for competition is emblematic and symbolic of a greater reality, in which the twists and turns of a match carry a wider significance.
And so it was for the titanic clash between India and Pakistan in the semifinal of the cricket World Cup; a tie that needed no artificially created hype. Giants of the sport going head-to-head for a place in the final as two nations, both equally obsessed with the game, saw millions become engrossed with the drama unfolding on a circle of grass in Mohali. FULL POST
When Justine Henin announcement her return to tennis at the end of 2009, I, like most tennis fans was delighted. The Belgian’s game is simply poetry in motion and so dramatically different from that of the current crop, with only few exceptions.
In her prime, she showed size didn’t really matter and - unlike players such as Martina Hingis - she was able to challenge the "big babes." It was refreshing to see that women’s tennis could be about more than just booming ground-strokes. She was the player who made me want to watch.
Kim Clijsters showed that you could return a champion after a lay-off from the game when she clinched her second U.S. Open title in 2009, so when Justine reached the Australian Open final in 2010 it seemed that women’s tennis was returning to a golden age.
In my opinion, England's Premier League is in crisis. The top flight division has lost its status as the best league in the world. It has fallen behind Spain and could soon drop below Germany’s Bundesliga as well.
Recently, at the FIFA Ballon D’Or gala, the FIFPro World XI was announced. This dream team was picked by close to 50 thousand professional players. It featured eight players from the Spain's La Liga and three from Italy’s Serie A. Not a single footballer plied his trade in England.
So was it just a bad year for English football? You could say that, but I believe it would be closer to the truth to see it as a chink in the once formidable armor of the league that has called itself the best in the world. An empire could be crumbling.
Having reported from Australia on every day of every Test match during England’s 5-0 whitewash in the last Ashes contest there, I believe Andrew Strauss and his men face a mammoth task to win this series.
Yes, England’s team is more settled than Australia’s and, yes, they have shown better recent form and a more coherent and consistent selection policy. However, no Ashes series was ever won with superior rhetoric before the action got under way.
If that sounds obvious, it’s worth transporting you back to November 2006, just 14 months after England won back the famous little Ashes urn in a scintillating contest on home soil -– and they had high hopes of winning “Down Under” for the first time in 20 years.
The best Clasico of all time? The upcoming clash between arch rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid comes at a time when both teams are at the top of their game and beating all sorts of records in Spain. We should be in for a treat!
I watched my first Clasico when I was seven or eight years old. I distinctly remember Diego Maradona running around with his small shorts and big mop of hair. Throughout the last three decades there have been so many great players to shine in this contest, which is more than a game between rivals, it is a battle between regions.
Monday’s match at the Camp Nou will see the top two footballers on the planet going head to head. Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal has 15 goals in 12 league games, the most scored by a Real Madrid player at this stage of the season since 1937. Not only is he scoring goals, he is making them. Just ask "El Pipita," Gonzalo Higuain. Most of his seven goals have come from the boots of CR7.
In England, many people are already crowning Chelsea as Premier League champions. After five rounds of fixtures, apparently, there are several commentators and pundits who believe the Blues have already proven they are the best team in the country.
Now if you take a look at the numbers, it is easy to see that Chelsea have looked good so far. They have five wins in five games and they have scored a whopping 21 goals. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that’s an impressive average of over four goals per game. Carlo Ancelotti’s side have also played some great football at times, and to concede only one goal in the process is also noteworthy.
So, we have established that the Blues are doing well. But are they on their way to another title? Uh … not so fast. At this point, I would like to interject with a reality check.
On the eve of the new Bundesliga campaign, there are two players who in many ways symbolize the changing of the guard in terms of the leading talent that will now drive the German national game.
The World Cup often proves definitive in the careers of footballers, and considering the pedigree of German participation at the most prestigious tournament in global soccer, any progress is invariably watched by fans across the planet.
The experience of Michael Ballack and Mesut Ozil over the showcase in South Africa, however, could barely be more contrasting.
Ballack, prior to June, looked set for an awesome finals. The free-scoring captain of the side, coming up for his hundredth cap, was aiming to better his second and third finishes at previous World Cups by lifting the trophy in Soccer City.