Villarreal – Atlético In Miami ? The Latest

The round 16 game would be the first regular season match of LaLiga Santander to be presented outside of Spain.

MIAMI, Fla. (October 17, 2019) —

LaLiga is continuing its attempts to stage an official league game in the United States by proposing that the Villarreal-Atletico Madrid match scheduled for the weekend of December 7-8 be played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Having previously attempted to arrange a game in Miami last season between Barcelona and Girona, LaLiga seem determined to make the event happen.

Spanish newspaper El Confidencial first reported that an agreement is already in place between LaLiga and both clubs to play the match in Miami, which would be a designated home game for Villarreal:

Tal y como hiciera la temporada pasada, aunque finalmente sin éxito, LaLiga estudia llevarse un partido de Primera División fuera de España, y más concretamente a Estados Unidos. Tras el fiasco del Girona-Barça del curso anterior que tanta polémica suscitó, el presidente de la patronal, Javier Tebas, no ceja en su empeño de expandir “la industria del fútbol español” a otros continentes, especialmente el norteamericano.

Support From Both Clubs

Today, LaLiga Santander confirmed that both Atlético de Madrid and Villarreal have agreed to play their December 6 meeting in the United States. The game is set for Friday, December 6 at 22:00 CET (16:00 EST), but there is also talk of playing the match on Sunday, December 8, 2019, which from the standpoint of ticket sales in Miami makes more sense. They now hope that the Spanish FA, among other governing bodies, consents.

“Atletico Madrid work every season to promote our brand across all continents.”

Miguel Angel Gil, CEO, Atlético de Madrid
Miguel Angel Gil, CEO, Club Atlético de Madrid Photo: RTVE

“A match in the US would allow us to continue working on it,” Gil added. “Additionally, we’d bring Spanish football to fans outside our country. It’d be a great game that would mark the future.”

Villarreal president Fernando Roig joined with the sentiments. “Everything about exporting football and Spanish sport is good for everyone,” he said. “And, of course, for Villarreal. The US is a very important country where we have official club academies. It would be very special for us to play there.”

“It would be positive for everyone.” Fernando Roig, President, Villareal C.F.

The Villareal President went on to say: “I hope this time it comes to fruition. We’re starting to see if Villarreal-Atleti can be played in Miami,” Villarreal president Fernando Roig told El Transistor. “Both us and Atleti have agreed to play in Miami, but I would like this to be a consensual agreement from everyone. I would like there to be a consensual agreement because I think that taking LaLiga abroad would be good for everyone.”

The club also said it would work out a plan to reimburse ticket holders who would not be able to see the game played at the Estadio de la Cerámica, although the precise nature of the reimbursement has not yet been revealed.

Sanctioning Process

The next step in the process to bring the Round 16 match to Hard Rock Stadium is for LaLiga to make a formal application to the Real Federación Espanola de Fútbol (RFEF) which is the licensing body of spanish football. LaLiga intends to file this application today, October 17. The league has also informed the players on both sides prior to announcing the plan. In addition to the RFEF, LaLiga will once again seek the approval of UEFA, and the United States Soccer Federation.

Prior Plan Scrapped

In August 2018, LaLiga announced that it would play at least one match per season overseas as part of a new 15-year partnership with Relevent Sports Group to promote the league in North America. But a proposed game between FC Barcelona and Girona at Hard Rock Stadium for January 2019 was shelved after Barcelona’s board of directors backed out of the match, citing “a lack of consensus” among stakeholders.

While the Barça board cited a lack of consensus, the real reason was that the RFEF, along with UEFA, FIFA and the United States Soccer Federation, had not approved the game.

The fallout from the failure of these bodies to approve last season’s match continues. In September, LaLiga’s North American partner Relevent Sports Group filed an antitrust lawsuit against the USSF (ÜS Soccer”) in the United States District Court For The Southern District of New York, alleging that Us Soccer conspired with global governing body FIFA and Soccer United Marketing, the commercial arm of Major League Soccer, to block official matches from foreign clubs being held in the U.S. There is also a similar lawsuit between LaLiga and the RFEF over the right to stage games overseas.

Economic Benefit To Both Clubs

Both Atlético de Madrid and Villareal CF are looking to increase their presence in the North American market, Atletico Madrid toured the U.S. this summer, including participating in the MLS All-Star Game. Having a regular season match in Miami would be a boost to the marketing of both clubs.

Miami is the leading choice for holding LaLiga games in the United States, given the league is in a fifteen-year agreement with Relevant Sports, which is tied in to the ownership group of Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Dolphins NFL franchise. Hard Rock Stadium, originally opened in 1987 and known as Joe Robbie Stadium, has undergone extensive upgrades in recent years, and is perfectly suited to host soccer matches. It even has the look of a modern European football arena. On top of that, Miami traditionally has among the highest support for soccer of any city in North America, given its large percentage of the population with ties to Latin America, and, to a lesser extent, Europe.

Photo: Hard Rock Stadium

Recapítulo En Castellano:

  • El organismo presidido por Javier Tebas cuenta con la aprobación de ambos clubes, que ven la propuesta como una oportunidad histórica. El encuentro se disputaría el domingo 8 de diciembre.
  • Por segundo año consecutivo, LaLiga estudia seriamente la posibilidad de llevarse un partido de la Primera División española a tierras estadounidenses.
  • Javier Tebas no ceja en su empeño de expandir más el mercado del fútbol nacional a otros continentes, especialmente el americano.
  • Ambos clubes implicados están de acuerdo con la iniciativa, asi lo aseguró Fernando Roig, presidente de Villarreal, más tarde en declaraciones al programa ‘El Transistor’ de Onda Cero: “Es bueno para que exportemos LaLiga a un país tan importante. No hay problemas por parte del Atleti. Esperamos que todo siga su curso”.
  • LaLiga presente que el enfrentamiento entre castellonenses y madrileños se juegue en Miami (Florida) en el Hard Rock Stadium, junto a la misma empresa promotora, Relevent.
  • Este pasado martes José Manuel Llaneza, vicepresidente del club amarillo, se reunió en Madrid con miembros de LaLiga para comprobar algunos detalles y dar su visto bueno a la operación.
  • El Villarreal compensará a sus aficionados, los grandes damnificados por esta medida, de alguna manera que todavía no se ha concretado. No se descarta que el club sufrage vuelos chárter para sus socios con la esperanza de que ningún abonado se quede sin disfrutar de un hecho que la junta directiva considera histórico. “Es posible. Estamos estudiando y viendo alternativas diferentes. No habrá problemas”, indicó Roig.
  • En su momento, la Federación (RFEF) se opuso por completo a que los partidos del campenato doméstico se celebraran fuera del país, pero se desconoce qué postura defenderá ahora una vez que ha maniobrado para organizar la próxima edición de la Supercopa de España en Arabia Saudí (del 8 al 12 de enero). Fue en septiembre de 2018 cuando la RFEF presidida por Luis Rubiales rechazó por completo la idea de un partido en Florida, que tampoco convenció a la FIFA ni a la AFE.

MLS Executives: There Is “No One Specific Way” To The Front Office

As The League Has Developed, The Range of Jobs Has Expanded And Continues To Provide New Career Opportunities.

MIAMI, Fla. (October 11, 2019) —

Today’s Major League Soccer clubs are a far cry from what they were in the beginning days of the league.

Teams are now managing full academies and some have USL squads (Inter Miami and New England are the two latest to announce USL teams for next season). With all of these additional components to an MLS team, millions of dollars in investment is required to run operations. Scouting has gone global as well. In addition to the financial undertaking, a full soccer operations staff is needed in order to do the job effectively.

The rapid expansion of Major League Soccer has increased the demand for employees to fill the various roles. With each new team, there is a full slate of front office jobs to fill, and that demand for talent has increased exponentially.

The list of positions in front offices across MLS includes work in team administration, salary cap management, analytics, scouting, team operations, stadium operations, ticketing and sales, marketing, legal, sponsorships, communications, digital and media, community engagement, and more. The staff includes many different titles, for example, president, chief commercial officer, sporting director (or general manager) (usually charged with running scouting, player selection and other soccer operations) and team administrator (who handles things like travel and players’ adjustment to teams and cities, including housing, banking and other life needs). Generally speaking, job functions within a front office can be divided into two sides: Soccer Operations and Commercial.

“It’s a natural evolution,” said Dave Kasper, who is the general manager (since 2004) of D.C. United. “You’re expanding where there’s multiple departments on the soccer side, and we’re starting to see that because our league is growing so fast and there is more money being pumped in.”

Dave Kasper, General Manager, D.C. United

“When you think about everything a front office entails, it’s player development, it’s scouting, domestic and international, and it’s team administration,” said Will Kuntz, Vice-President of Soccer Operations at LAFC, “There is so much you have to touch and it’s so global in a way that few other sports are. You look at front offices in other sports, pick your sport, they have a whole number of people in a number of roles. It underscores the importance of myriad people in the job.”

The ability to scout and identify international talent is absolutely essential in today’s MLS, which has only increased since the introduction of targeted allocation money (TAM). This year’s example of how not to build a club was provided by FC Cincinnati. The team used a large portion of its TAM on trades to build its roster instead of bringing in more talented players and using the TAM to buy down their salaries. This was due to Cincinnati’s lack of having someone, a general manager or sporting director, in the office during the roster-building stages. They eventually added Gerard Nijkamp, who formerly led PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands, as GM.

The Cincinnati example should be a lesson for all future MLS teams; a properly staffed soccer operations staff will likely include one or more people with expertise on the league’s intricacies. MLS’s centralised, single-entity status and league-controlled salary cap mechanisms essentially have created a niche skill set that is vital to success.

Knowledge of the international market is very important. MLS front offices need to have an active presence internationally as MLS becomes both a buyer and a seller in the global football market.

As the dollar amount goes up, acquisitions become even more critical,” said U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter, who was considered one of the top chief soccer officers in the league when he worked as coach/technical director with the Columbus Crew. “And as we realize that we can’t always be a buying league, we also need to be a selling league, the way we structure our clubs and the way we work to both bring players in and sell players is extremely important. Clubs are realizing that. So they’re putting more resources into scouting, which they should. They are putting more resources into player personnel; once you get the player here how do we integrate them into the team and how do we integrate them into the society? And then I think teams are now also putting more resources into…how do we export these players? What do the contacts look like?”

What Kind of Backgrounds Fit In?

“I do think as the league grows we all need to grow in the support staff. There is going to be a combination in every front office and it comes down to the individuals and their skill sets and where they can add value.

It may be a former player, it may not. It may be someone who has (a) law background or was an agent. It comes down to relationships, being able to work with the coaching staff and different people in the club and being able to manage up. Some is specific to personalities and some is understanding MLS and the landscape of U.S. Soccer, and that can be learned. I don’t think there is one specific way.”

Chris Henderson, Sporting Director, Seattle Sounders FC

Some of those hired by clubs have experience in the MLS office itself. Take Chicago Fire Senior Vice-President of Communications Sean Dennison, as one example. A graduate of prestigious McGill University in Montreal, he worked for fourteen years at MLS headquarters, the last two of which he served as Vice-President of Communications for the league, before joining Chicago in 2018. Other examples include general managers Ali Curtis of Toronto Football Club, Nelson Rodriguez of the Chicago Fire SC, the aforementioned Will Kuntz and Sporting Kansas City’s Assistant Director Of Player Personnel, Meghan Cameron, all of whom had previous experience in the league office.

Others have worked for other leagues or confederations. Inter Miami CF’s Chief Business Officer Jurgen Mainka, for example, served as the director of marketing and communications, and later the Deputy General Secretary and Chief Commercial Officer at Concacaf prior to being hired by the Inter Miami ownership group. Looking at the personnel across MLS teams also shows that not all front office employees even have prior experience in soccer, or even in sports in general.

Chris Henderson’s Insights On Front Offices

Seattle Sounders FC sporting director Chris Henderson Photo: (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Chris Henderson is currently the sporting director of the Seattle Sounders. A former midfielder, he gave coaching a try post-career but thereafter transitioned into being a technical director. Henderson was hired by the Sounders as technical director in 2008. He has spent the last decade learning “on-the-job” and also interacting with foreign clubs when he travels the globe scouting for players.

“The ownership groups have their own companies and are used to running businesses and used to having people with a certain profile to run their business,” Henderson said. “Somebody with extensive soccer knowledge (can help) because in the position you are going to be in you have to have an understanding with the head coach and the coaching staff.”

While the hires around the league follow different strategies and come from different backgrounds, a common theme is also there: the investment teams are willing to make in order to be competitive. This is only going to increase, and the teams that do it best will continue to have the most success.

“Nobody knows if (a hire) is right or wrong until you look at it later,” Henderson said. “I do think as the league grows we all need to grow in the support staff. There is going to be a combination in every front office and it comes down to the individuals and their skillsets and where they can add value. It may be a former player, it may not. It may be someone who has (a) law background or was an agent. It comes down to relationships, being able to work with the coaching staff and different people in the club and being able to manage up. Some is specific to personalities and some is understanding MLS and the landscape of U.S. Soccer, and that can be learned. I don’t think there is one specific way.”

With regard to those with legal backgrounds, they have found places both within the league office and with its clubs. When asked about the changing roles of the legal department at Major League Soccer, for example, Dimitrios Efstathiou, Vice-President, Legal, said that the legal team today is being considered as more than just ‘scribes’ and ‘drafters.’ “We’re at the table, with our counterparts within the media department or the corporate partnerships department or the licensed products department. We are sitting down and helping drafting a strategy to approach a deal and issue spot early on so we’re viewed as, again, a business affairs member as opposed to the lawyer.”

Another example is Darren Eales, President of Atlanta United, who had played soccer while attending West Virginia University and Brown University, later returning to his native England and earning a law degree from Cambridge. After working as in-house counsel at West Bromwich Albion, he moved on to Tottenham in 2010, where his work touched on all major aspects of soccer operations. He helped to negotiate and execute player transfers, including playing a key role in the 2013 world record transfer fee sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. Eales was the first person hired for the Atlanta team by owner Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Darren Eales and Atlanta United Owner Arthur Blank. Photo: Atlanta United FC

Lawyers are thus particularly good candidates for MLS front offices. Beyond the ‘obvious’ role of serving as an in-house counsel, someone with a legal background has a skill set that can be valuable in any business agenda. For example, most lawyers are very skilled at written and oral communications. Even with all the advances in technology, business is still won and lost based on personal relationships. People do business with whom they trust, with whom they find commonality and with whom they like. And these relationships are built on clear communication, exchanges of ideas and getting to know each other, skills that most lawyers have. Additionally, given the extensive use of contracts, from sponsorship agreements to media rights distribution to player contracts, having legal skills can assist with issue spotting and avoiding vagueness that often leads to disputes. Finally, despite the stories that make the news, most lawyers adhere to a high degree of ethical standards and can bring added professionalism to a business setting.

With new MLS teams beginning in Miami, Nashville, Austin, Saint Louis and at least one other city in the near future, there will be a need for many competent candidates to carry out the myriad of job functions in the front office. Some of these people may have a soccer background, while others may have other useful skills like foreign languages or an aptitude to work in an international environment. Whatever their skills and talent, they will also need passion and energy. Teams that have an open-minded approach to hiring and can assemble a front office with the right combination of talent, experience and dedication will be the winners.


Related:

MLS also has annual awards for front offices. Here’s a list of who and which teams won awards following the 2018 season:

2018 MLS Club and Executive Award Winners:

  • Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year – Darren Eales
  • Ticket Sales Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Public Relations Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Club Retailer of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Digital Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Operations Staff of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Supporter Management Team of the Year – Atlanta United

Additional award winners

  • Sporting Executive of the Year – Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City
  • Corporate Partnerships Team of the Year – Los Angeles Football Club
  • Corporate Partnerships Executive of the Year – Justin Compton (Sporting Kansas City)
  • Ticket Sales Executive of the Year – Sean Sittnick (Minnesota United FC)
  • Marketing Executive of the Year – Rich Orosco (Los Angeles Football Club)
  • Expansion Club Recognition Award – Los Angeles Football Club
  • Ticketing Sales Impact Award presented by the National Sales Center powered by SeatGeek – Colorado Rapids (Sales Combine)
  • Marketing Team of the Year – New York City FC (24-hour game)
  • Marisa Colaiano Community Relations Department of the Year presented by MLS WORKS – Chicago Fire
  • Business Analytics Team of the Year – Los Angeles Football Club
  • Social Media Activation of the Year – LA Galaxy (#Galaxy Social / Malea Emma)
  • Digital Content Experience of the Year – Portland Timbers (The Rivalry)
  • Equipment Manager of the Year – Chris Maxwell (Houston Dynamo)
  • Security Staff of the Year – Seattle Sounders FC
  • eMLS Team of the Year – Philadelphia Union
  • Team Administrator of the Year – Spencer Childs (Portland Timbers)
  • Athletic Training Staff of the Year – Sporting Kansas City
  • Academy of the Year – Sporting Kansas City
more

MLS Decision Day 2019 – Here’s What Is At Stake

MIAMI, Fla. (October 5, 2019) —

The last day of the MLS season is upon us. It’s called “Decision Day.” For most fans of soccer around the world, that means a final chance for some clubs to survive relegation, or for a club to seal the championship. For MLS, which follows the model of North American sports leagues, the final round of the season is a chance for some clubs to secure a place in the postseason tournament, known as MLS Cup.

For this season, MLS made some changes which definitely gives more emphasis to the regular season and rewards teams for better performances. The post season was revised to a single elimination format which involves single games at the home of the higher seed, rather than two legs that flattened the odds. This means teams are vying to finish high enough in the table to secure a very important home matches in MLS Cup.

All games kickoff Sunday, October 6 at 4 p.m. EDT.

Fixtures For Round 34

What’s at Stake? Here are the main 2019 MLS Decision Day Storylines:

  • In the Eastern Conference, three teams – D.C. United (4th place / 49 points), New York Red Bulls (5th / 48 points) and Toronto FC (6th / 47 points) – will be playing for the final spot available to host a playoff game.
  • In the Western Conference, four teams – Portland Timbers (46 points), FC Dallas (45 points), San Jose Earthquakes (44) and Colorado Rapids (42 points) – are competing for two playoff spots.
  • The Seattle Sounders FC and Minnesota United are tied for second in the table on 53 points. They play each other in Seattle at CenturyLink Field; the winner secures the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference.
  • The Los Angeles Galaxy can assure themselves of having a home game in the playoffs with a win over Houston. Last year, Houston’s win at Carson cost the Galaxy a spot in the playoffs. Zlatan and company are hoping to set the record straight this time.
  • Chasing the Golden Boot Award: LAFC’s Carlos Vela is tied for MLS’s most goals in a season record, set last year by Atlanta’s Josef Martínez, at 31 goals. If Vela scores Sunday, he gets the record. Currently at 29 goals for the season, LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is chasing Vela for 2019 top scorer and the record.

Probing 2019 MLS Decision Day Questions:

Eastern Conference: Should Teams Watch out for the Revolution?

With the Eastern Conference qualifiers already set in stone, Atlanta versus New England looks to be the most interesting match of Round 34 on this side of the league.

Atlanta can lock up the number 2 seed in the East with a win against New England combined with a Philadelphia loss or draw.

Ironically, despite winning a lot of matches in their three-year history, the Five Stripes still have not won on decision day. In 2017, Atlanta drew 2-2 with Toronto FC at home. The following season, they were crushed 4-1 at BMO Field. On Sunday they’ll face a dangerous New England Revolution side that come into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on a high.

New England has been looking like a time on the rise under Bruce Arena, riding some serious momentum. New England clinched the seventh and final playoff spot in the east with a 2-0 win over top-seed New York City FC, a team that recently defeated Atlanta United 4-1 in the Bronx.

Toronto FC currently sit sixth in the table, just one point behind the Red Bulls from New Jersey.

Atlanta United has not done well versus the Reds, while the team from New Jersey has won in Atlanta before. It’s reason enough for Atlanta to want to avoid playing either of these sides right away in the first round of the playoffs.

New England comes into Atlanta with nothing to lose. They are in the playoffs, something that looked impossible until Arena took the helm. The pressure sits squarely on Atlanta United. This is Arena’s first visit to Atlanta with the Revolution. The way he sets up New England today could tell us how he may approach a potential playoff rematch. Expect New England to stay compact and look for the counterattack. Columbus Crew used this trategy in Atlanta on September 14th and came away with a win. Frank de Boer’s team failed to find the necessary attacking solutions, and were subsequently punished in transition. How will De Boer adjust? It should be a study in tactics.  

Western Conference: Can Los Angeles Football Club Finish With The Most Points In History?

LAFC has been the dominant team this season, with only a couple of blips on the radar. They will likely use the final game of the season to remain focused. As the top seed, after this game they will have a first-round bye that will give them two-and-a-half weeks’ rest. With a win, LAFC have a chance to finish with the most points in a single season. Will they do it?

Can Colorado actually sneak in to the playoffs?

The Rapids had been building up momentum for months. After starting the season 0-9-2, they rallied under interim coach Conor Casey toward something resembling respectability. Robin Fraser took over as the Colorado Rapid’s head coach in late August, with his only previous managerial gig having been with Club Deportivo Chivas USA.

“By the end of the first session, I thought that not only were they a good team, that they have a really good spirit, and a lot of belief in themselves,” Fraser said. “That’s when I felt like this could be a really fun project.”

Now, on the last round of the season the Rapids have a chance, though admittedly a slim one, of making the playoffs. Can they do it? To reiterate, despite having started the season winless through 11 games the Rapids are still alive heading into the final round.

If Colorado upsets LAFC — the best team in the league, already owning the Supporters’ Shield and with the top playoff seed already clinched — and Dallas loses to Kansas City and San Jose loses to Portland, the Rapids are in. Even if the ‘Quakes draw with the Timbers, Colorado can still qualify through tiebreakers if they win by two goals or more. This ‘perfect storm’ isn’t exactly likely. LAFC is the top team, Dallas is at home, and Kansas City is playing only for pride. But wouldn’t it be a great story of overcoming odds?

Colorado has been scoring goals. Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio are both in the double digits (13 and 11, respectively), while Andre Shinyashiki and Jonathan Lewis have come on stronger. Fraser wants to inject a possession style of play but joining so far into the season has made that difficult. Yet he’s optîistic.

“I really admire the character of the team. They care about each other, and I think you see that in how they play, adds Fraser.”

No matter what happens on Sunday, that’s something to build on and carry over. And if they can get into the playoffs they will definitely be a team to watch.

Which club, the Portland Timbers or San Jose Earthquakes, will stumble into the playoffs?

Their game at Providence Park in Portland is the only semi-do-or-die matchup on the schedule in Round 34. Despite going a combined 1-7-3 in September, at least one of them will drag themselves into the playoffs on Sunday afternoon. Portland has played its last three games to a draw. Portland can lose this game and still get into the postseason torunament if Dallas also loses. The Earthquakes, who need a win, won the first meeting between the teams, 3-0.

There is a sense that both teams might be approaching unhappy endings.

This could very well be Diego Valeri’s last game as a Timber. Negotiations over a new contract have not gone well, and the two sides have different demands. Valeri has been the face of the Timbers since his arrival in 2013. He’s gone above and beyond — not just on the pitch, but as an ambassador in the community as well. Yet neither side looks likely to budge at the moment. This might be it.

Moving past Valeri’s situation, the Timbers have had a strange and trying year, summed up by Brian Fernandez’s goal drought and red card that has him suspended for this all-important finale.

San Jose sits just below the playoff line on 44 points. But if you had offered them this position at the beginning of the season — win one, final game and you’re in — surely they would have taken it. The club has done much better under head coach Matías Almeyda in his first year with the team, who has imparted an exciting style of play.

San Jose has slumped late, however. They have lost eight out of 10 since early August. Either opponents have figured them out or Almeyda’s physically demanding high press has ground them down. There are also rumours out of Mexico that Club de Fútbol Monterey are looking for a new manager, and, you guessed it, his name is Matías Almeyda.

Almeyda is a bigger name that most people realise, having been successful in his native Argentina and leading Chivas Guadalajara to the CONCACAF Champions League title just last year Earlier this week, he admitted that links with Monterrey and a return to Liga MX made him “happy.” How quickly the sand can shift in the world of soccer.

Is Seattle or Minnesota a real contender?

The victor of the Sounders-Loons game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle will lock up the No. 2 seed in the west, and home-field advantage all the way to the conference final. However, If Real Salt Lake wins in Vancouver and the LA Galaxy win in Houston, whichever side loses the match at CenturyLink Field would drop to fifth.

Seattle seems to feel rightly disappointed by this year’s performance: “I think anytime we don’t compete for the Supporters’ Shield, with the talent that we have, is a fail,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said this week.

“Maybe it’s more of a redemption-type game for us,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “We’ve had so many opportunities to make a statement game, and we’ve squandered quite a few of them. … We’ve been very, very fortunate. Let’s be honest. I think our season has been not the best. It was nice to finally start on top, but the remainder of the year has been a struggle. At some point, we have to make that statement.”

Minnesota has qualified for the playoffs for the first time. Their highlight moment of the season was a 2-0 away win at LAFC, which is also LAFC’s only loss since El Tráfico on July 19th. Carlos Vela was absent that match. But with the MVP favourite reinstated last weekend at Allianz Field, Minnesota still ground out a 1-1 draw. The Loons formula against Los Angeles was to stay compact, give LAFC possession in less dangerous areas, and have a ruthless mentality on the counter.

The Loons are playing with confidence, no matter the opponent.

Who Will Win The Golden Boot?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is second in the goal-scoring race with 29 goals. In fron is Carlos Vela of LAFC, who has 31 goals, a mark which places him in a tie with Atlanta United Josef Martínez for the most goals in a single MLS season. Zlatan had this to say:

“I am trying to score goals every game, that is part of my responsibility, part of what I have to do to help my teammates,” I have 29 goals in 28 games. If I would have the same amount [of] games like the other ones, it would be different. But now I’m chasing someone that has more games than me. If we score we score, we’ll have to see what the end number will be. If there still is a possibility, we’ll try.”

Still, the LA Galaxy star insists the ultimate aim is to achieve team glory.

“I prefer the collective win, when we win that game, that is more important,” he said. “With the collective success the individual success comes with it. If I can do good for my team, with my team, I know I’m doing good. I’m not focusing on the individual bonuses, I always say it’s like a bonus. Without my teammates those things would not be possible. If I win, it’s my team that wins. Whoever wins the Golden Boot has to think it’s not because of him, it’s because of his teammates.”


Credit to The Athletic for providing inspiration and perspective.

David Silva Will Leave Man City At End Of Season – To Play For David Beckham’s Inter Miami?

He is reportedly intrigued by the idea of becoming the marquee signing for Miami’s inaugural season.

MIAMI, Fla. (September 24, 2019) —

On more than one occasion, when questioned about what players he would like to see on the Inter Miami CF squad, David Beckham has mentioned that the number of star players who have contacted him to express interest in joining has been “remarkable.” I was in attendance on January 29, 2018 when David Beckham told the audience gathered at the Knight Center the same story. The media has seized on this and over the past two years has fed us a seemingly endless supply of transfer rumours. Enter the latest feature.

A few days ago, in a story written by Tony Evans and published in the British online publication The Independent, Inter Miami are reportedly set to sign their first superstar. 

David Silva, Manchester City.

“Ésta será la última temporada. Diez años para mí es suficiente. Es el tiempo perfecto.”

David Silva

According to the report, David Silva will leave the Premier League defending champions Manchester City at the end of his present contract (expiring 30 June 2020) and will join Miami over the summer. Silva agreed to a year-long extension of his contract at the close of last season and said at the time it was likely to be his last season at the Etihad Stadium. He further insisted that he would never join another Premier League side and is reportedly intrigued by the idea of becoming the marquee signing for Miami’s inaugural season.

“This is the last [season]. Ten years is enough for me. It’s the perfect time,” the 33-year-old told the Daily Mail. “Initially, we were talking about two years, but I decided to sign another one, so I finished at 10 years.”

Silva, an attacking midfielder, is 33-years old, and is one of Europe’s most decorated players. He won a World Cup with Spain in 2010, two European Championships (2008 and 2012), four Premier League Titles, two FA Cups, and four League Cups with Manchester City, which he joined in 2010. Silva has twice been named to the Premier League Team of the Season.

Silva arrived in Manchester from Valencia CF in 2010. With the Citizens, Silva has 71 goals and 134 assists over 402 games. He also has had a long career as a member of Spain’s national team, with 123 appearances for Spain, scoring 35 goals and 32 assists.

Silva has 123 appearances for La Selección Española. Photo: Getty Images

Miami has signed five players thus far: Defender Christian Makoun, midfielders Matias Pellegrini, US youth international George Acosta, David Norman Jr. as well as forward Julian Carranza. Each of the current players on the roster is 19-years old. Silva would be 34 at the time he would arrive in South Florida.

The MLS season starts in March and if this rumour holds true, Silva would miss the first three months of Miami’s inaugural campaign. While a move here would likely be Silva’a last team before retiring, MLS has already evolved from being a league where players from Europe land before calling it a career. While some older players still come over, the difference today is that they are still playing the game at a high level. This is certainly true of Silva.

Earlier this month, Inter Miami Managing Owner Jorge Mas and co-owner David Beckham, as well as Sporting Director Paul McDonough were in Europe, making stops in Barcelona, Paris and London, igniting speculation on whether they were talking with potential transfer targets or head coaches.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have both been linked to Miami. While Inter Miami has the financial ability to sign pretty much any player they choose, a player like David Silva is perceived as a more realistic possibility. Paris Saint-Germain’s Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani has also been mentioned.

Speculation of a Miami move comes after the player has already spoken of his desire to return to the Canary Islands before retiring. Silva, who is from Arguineguín, Gran Canaria, had previously stated that he might want to return to play at the club where he played as a youth, Las Palmas.

“Me encantaría terminar mi carrera en Las Palmas, pero el fútbol es muy cambiante. Dependerá del equipo y de los jugadores que haya. No puedo volver para jugar en Segunda División”.

“I would love to end my career at Las Palmas, but football is very unpredictable,” he continued. “It will depend on the club and the players that are there. I can’t return to play in the Second Division.”

Silva has featured in each of City’s six Premier League games this season thus far. He’s been a member of the starting eleven and worn the captain’s armband five of those games. He has scored one goal and two assists. This past August 25th, David Silva made his 400th appearance in a Manchester City kit in the Sky Blues’ away trip to the South Coast against Bournemouth; he played all 90 minutes as the Mancunians came away with all three points in a 3-1 victory.

One thing that is for sure is that we should not expect to see #21 playing for another Premier League side or a Chinese club either. “The cycle is complete. It’s a round figure. I couldn’t see myself playing against City,” he said. “China, no. My girlfriend will decide for me!”

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David Silva tiene decidido que ésta será su última temporada en el Manchester City. El canario, de 33 años, ha asegurado que es tiempo de cambiar de aires y no oculta su deseo de volver a Las Palmas.

“Ésta será la última. Diez años para mí es suficiente. Es el tiempo perfecto. Inicialmente estábamos negociando un nuevo contrato por dos temporadas, pero decidí firmar por uno y, de este modo, finalizar mi etapa aquí después de una década”, aseguró Silva, que llegó al City en 2010 procedente del Valencia.

El exinternacional español descartó, eso sí, seguir en la Premier:

“El ciclo está completo. Es una figura redonda. No me podría ver a mí mismo jugando contra el City. Diez años… está bien”.

Después de ganar cuatro Ligas, dos Copas, cuatro Copas de la Liga y dos Supercopas, Silva tiene claro cuál sería la despedida ideal: “Aún no hemos alcanzado el objetivo de ganar la Champions, pero firmaría que cada año fuera como el pasado (ganaron Liga, Copa, Copa de la Liga y Supercopa)”.

Inter Miami CF sign 5th player – A Miamiense

The first American signed by Inter Miami CF, he has played on the United States Men’s National Teams at the Youth Level and has played in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Miami, Fla. (Friday, September 20, 2019) —

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami announced today the signing of their fifth player, George Acosta, a Miami native.

“We are excited to sign a player of George’s potential and look forward to integrating him into our inaugural roster.”

Acosta, a 19-year-old offensive midfielder, played on the U-14 and U-16 teams at Weston FC (Fla.) Academy and was well known to the Inter Miami Academy coaching staff. His still young playing career has an international flavour: In 2014, he moved from South Florida to Argentine club Estudiantes de La Plata. After Argentina, Acosta moved back to the United States to play and study at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. From there, he joined the U-23 team of North Carolina FC.

On July 1, 2018, he joined Club Atlético Boca Juniors’ U-20 team, an achievement that is very rare for a foreign player. He spent the 2018-2019 season on the U-20 and later the Second Team of Boca Juniors. Recently, in August, Acosta was transferred to Austin Bold of the USL Championship, where he has played two games. He will remain with Austin until January when he will join his Internacional teammates for preseason training.

George Acosta was on the C.A. Boca Juniors 2nd Team.

The rising star also has experience as a member of several United States Youth National Teams. Acosta participated in the Montaigu Tournament in France with the US U-16 National Team. His six goals (most of the tournament) helped the United States win the tournament for the first time since 1992. He has played 12 matches on the United States U-17 team, and featured for the Stars and Stripes in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, scoring a goal against Colombia and making an assist versus India. (The US reached the quarterfinals of that tournament before bowing out to Brazil 4-1). This year, he was called up to the US U-23 team (currently coached by Inter Miami’s Jason Kreis) for a training camp in June. He also played on the US U-15 and U-19 sides.

“He’s someone that we know will play in the highest levels of soccer in the coming years. He has the opportunity of being one of the USMNT top stars in the near future,” said Austin Bold F.C. General Manager Roberto Silva at the time Acosta was signed.

“We are excited to sign a player of George’s potential and look forward to integrating him into our inaugural roster,” said Inter Miami CF Sporting Director Paul McDonough. Managing Owner Jorge Mas sent out this message this morning via Twitter:

Acosta has dual citizenship with the USA and Colombia (his father is Colombian), so he will not count towards Inter Miami’s current limit of eight (8) international players. The Rosanegro currently have three international players (Carranza, Pellegrini and Makoun) on the roster. Canadian David Norman, Jr. does not count against that limit per MLS rules.


Continue reading Inter Miami CF sign 5th player – A Miamiense

Sling TV To Become Official Sponsor of La Liga in North America

LaLiga North America continues its expansion and promotion of Spain’s top soccer league in the United States and Canada by partnering with Sling TV.

Miami, Fla. (September 18, 2019) –

Sling TV has become the official sponsor of La Liga in North America. The agreement will result in additional programming dedicated to La Liga.

Sling TV curently broadcasts La Liga regular season matches via beIN Sports and beIN Sports en Español. Subscribers are able to watch all matches on Sling TV’s Best of Spanish TV service and World Sports.

Additional content as part of the new partnership will include weekly La Liga segments: the Luis Garcia Show (in Spanish) and the Jimmy Conrad Show, (in English). Facebook users will be able to watch exclusive commentary ahead of the top four matches of the week on LaLiga’s Facebook page.

Sling TV will also show La Liga Ambassadors Club, which includes meet and greets with former players as well as player Q&As on Facebook Live throughout the season. Also encompassed in the partnership are La Liga experiences and merchandise which will include sweepstakes, giveaways and promotions across both partners’ platforms.

With increased coverage, Spain’s top soccer league is enjoying an increased following in North America, beyond traditional strongholds like Miami and Los Angeles. In the three meetings between rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF last season – two in LaLiga, one in the Copa del Rey – beIN Sports and beIN Sports en Español reached a combined audience of more than 2.7 million viewers.

What The Parties Are Saying:

“When we started our venture here and created our plan to grow the brand while getting the clubs and players closer to fans, doing it alone was going to be tough, so having partners that can come in and help amplify what we’re doing and commit to our strategy is just proof of the success,” Gartner said. “Having Sling TV come in as the first commercial partner we have for the region on a deal that’s anchored primarily on the original content strategy we set out to do is a good validation of how we see the market and how we see the strategy to grow here. 

That the content being developed is bilingual is important to LaLiga North America, says Gartner. It fits into their target market which consists of native Spanish speakers and a younger, bilingual audience. He also believes the additional content will allow partners of LaLiga to reach out to the target market in a more customized way.

“LaLiga’s rabid fan base has found a home at Sling TV,” said Alfredo Rodriguez, vice president of marketing at Sling TV. “As the Official North American sponsor, LaLiga fanatics can now get a premium experience through the partnership, gaining access to everything LaLiga through exclusive content and giveaways.”

About LaLiga North America

LaLiga North America is a joint venture between Spain’s domestic league and Relevent Sports Group, which also produces the International Champions Cup each summer, operating to support the league’s growth on the continent through content development, activations, marketing agreements, commercial partnerships, exhibition matches and youth academies.

About Sling TV

Sling TV provides over-the-top (“OTT”) TV services with more than 640 channels in 22 languages across multiple devices. As of July 29, 2019, Sling had 2.47 million subscribers.

Playing With Conviction

Granada CF currently tied for 5th in La Liga table after 4 rounds.

Miami, Fla, 16 September 2019

It’s early in the season, but after four rounds of La Liga, fans of Granada CF are probably surprised by the club’s performance thus far: two wins, one draw and one loss. For a team which is one of the favourites to finish in the bottom three, these are good times in Andalucía.

The season has seen Granada open the campaign with a 4-4 goleado at the Cerámica against Villarreal, followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat at home against currently first-place Sevilla. Then came a surprising 3-0 win away at the RCD Espanyol stadium over the Péricos before the international break, and proving that was no fluke, winning over the weekend 2-0 at Celta de Vigo. The team has also scored 9 goals while conceding 5 (+4 differential).

Germán Sanchez heads home a goal in first half stoppage time.

Granada are coached by Diego Martinez who at 38 years old is young for a manager, but has a wealth of coaching experience having retired from playing at the age of just 20. He has steadily built his way up since, spending seven years on the coaching staff at Sevilla before getting his big break with Osasuna in 2017-18. His switch to Granada last summer ultimately worked out well for both clubs with Osasuna the other side to achieve direct promotion from the Segunda last season.

Sunday’s Result Versus Celta

Manager Diego Martínez said in the pre-game press conference that “we approach every game with maximum confidence and thinking that we can win.” And win they did, though the game didn’t go according to plan. Nonetheless, Granada’s win on Sunday came exactly 61 years after their last victory in Vigo. The game itself will likely be remembered more for the deployment of VAR than much else. Under unusually warm, sunny skies and dry conditions, something not that common in this part of Spain, the most influential person on the pitch was referee Prieto Iglesias, who issued not one but two red cards after consulting VAR that reduced Celta to nine men before 30 minutes had been played.

Referee Prieto Iglesias issues red card to Celta’s midfielder Fran Beltran in the 28′

Granada found the back of the net in first half stoppage time on a nice header from Germán Sanchez and again shortly after the restart, when, in minute 53, Yangel Herrera unleashed a blast that nearly destroyed the crossbar on its way in. From that point on, it was game over.


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Summer Transfer Market: La Liga Santander And La Liga Smartbank Summer Transfer Market 2019 | Mercado de Fichajes 2019

A closer look at the squad: Granada CF (Transfermarkt)


At the post game press conference following the 2-0 victory, Manager Diego Martínez characterised it as a “marvellous victory,” adding that if someone had told him his club would have seven points after its first four matches it would have been beyond all imagination.

“Es una victoria maravillosa para un equipo recién ascendido como nosotros. Cuando salió el calendario, si nos dicen que vamos a tener siete puntos, no se lo hubiera imaginado ni el más optimista”.

One of the biggest tests of the season awaits the Nazarí side this weekend, as defending champions Barcelona make a visit to the Nuevo Estádio de Los Cármenes. Barcelona is playing well even in the absence of Lionel Messi, and has seen excellent performances turned in by young players such a Frenkie de Jong and 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati.

Discussing the upcoming game, Diego Martínez said he is hoping for a full stadium that supports Granada, and pledged that his team will approach every game as if it was the last.


Continue reading Playing With Conviction