Clamor for NY MLS franchise

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber.
AP Photo/Steven Senne, file
AP Photo/Steven Senne, file

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and others have been clamoring for an MLS franchise in New York City for some time now, but just when the current political leadership in City Hall is in support of an MLS presence here, it seems time may be running out.

Mayor Bloomberg, who will leave office at year’s end, has openly advocated for an MLS franchise in New York City. The Mayor understands the cosmopolitan make-up of the city, the support that soccer already has in the five boroughs and the jobs within and around the sport that an MLS franchise would create. Furthermore, New Yorkers have to travel to Harrison, New Jersey, to watch professional soccer at Red Bull Arena. There is also the knawing fact that, because New York is void of an MLS club, the New York Red Bulls in Harrison is allowed to usurp and profit from the ‘New York’ name.

There has always been the thought that New York, arguably the greatest city in the world and unquestionably the most diverse, should be a home for the world’s most popular sport. Enhanced by the limitless business opportunities to support a franchise and with unquestionably huge fan support compounded by the financial profits that could be generated for the club and the league, it makes perfect sense that professional soccer belongs here. The situation as it stands now seems ironic: New York City, the world’s most cosmopolitan enclave and the city where the great Brazilian Pele came to genuinely kick-off soccer in the U. S. A., which has emerged as the world-recognized MLS, is void of the sport, while sedated Harrison next door profits from the spoils of the professional game.

One now understands why, in an AP report on Thursday, April 25, Garber said that within a month, he hopes to announce plans for a stadium in Flushing Meadows Park in Corona, Queens for a 20th MLS franchise to kick-off in 2016. Garber is in an understandable haste!

‘’If we get this done, it will be in Flushing Meadow Park. There is no Plan B,’’ Garber told the Associated Press Sports Editors on Thursday. He further stated that the league is hoping to have an agreement with New York City, the New York Mets’ ownership group to use the parking lots at Citi Field and with an ownership group that would pay a $100 million expansion fee.

Garber knows that the opportunity for an MLS franchise here could be lost if substantial plans are not put in place soon; he wants to get the ball rolling now. The commissioner realizes that there would be much uncertainty next year since the aspiring mayoral candidates are noncommittal on the stadium, which is essential to a franchise. ‘’I think it was really good that they (mayoral candidates) didn’t say no,’’ Garber said. ‘’It shows that there’s some political value in not yet taking a stand.’’ So, the saga of the MLS in New York City continues.

Cahill led Red Bulls

Midfielder Tim Hill led the New York Red Bulls to a 2-1 win over host Toronto FC at BMO Field last Saturday afternoon and was named MLS Player of the Week. Cahill, in his second year in MLS after a transfer from Everton of the English Premier League, scored both goals for the Red Bulls to give his team its second road win of the season. The Australian international’s goals came off assists from defender Roy Miller (39th minute) and captain Thierry Henry (89th).

The Red Bulls played a very composed game considering that midfield mainstays Juninho and Dax MaCarty were not in the line-up. Juninho was still serving has red-card suspension and is expected to be back in action when the Red Bulls travel to Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday, May 4. MaCarty sat out because of injury and it was uncertain when he will return to action.

Defender Jamison Olave, as usual, steadied to defense from his central position, alongside Marcus Holgersson, with Brandon Barklage and Miller at the fullback positions. Lloyd Sam filled in effectively at midfield. The Red Bulls next home game is on Wednesday, May 8 versus the Montreal Impact at 7:30 p.m. at Red Bull Arena in Harrison (NJ).

In other MLS results, Montreal beat Chicago, 2-1; Vancouver and FC Dallas, and San Jose and Chivas USA played to 2-2 draws; Houston and Colorado tied, 1-1; Los Angeles beat Real Salt Lake, 2-0, and New England topped Philadelphia by the same score; DC United went down, 3-0, against Columbus; and Portland knocked off Sporting Kansas City, 3-2.

Rogers back

Robbie Rogers, the first active American soccer player to announce that he is gay, is back in the game, training with the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS. When Rogers, 25 and a former U.S. national player, made the announcement last February, he also said that he was leaving the game.

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said of Rogers’ attempted come-back with the Galaxy that it was “open-ended” as to his future with the club. Rogers has been out of the game since February after his release from English club Leeds United. “He looked a lot sharper than I thought he would …, “ Arena told the Galaxy’s website.

Roger trained a day after NBA player Jason Collins made his gay announcement. “The timing I guess is good,” Arena added. “I think our league is a progressive league. Our league is a league comprised of all different races, colors and creeds, and to be accepting of a gay athlete I don’t think is anything that’s difficult for our league.

Arena continued, “We’ve had a great mentality of being open and tolerant of all different kinds of people, views, what have you. We’ve known Robbie a bunch of years and he’s a first-class person and we’re only too excited to have him here with us.”

Caribbean Clubs

The opening round of Caribbean qualifying for the 2013/14 CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) got under way last weekend comes to an exciting conclusion Tuesday with three games. Each of the seven participants remains in contention for a place in the confederation’s annual club championship.

In Couva, Trinidad, W Connection is on the verge of emerging champions in the three-team Group One that includes Antigua Barracuda FC and Caledonia AIA. W Connection got full three points from its first game, a 4-0 win over Caledonia AIA, and with a draw against Antigua Barracudas FC could with the group. Caledonia AIA defeated Antigua, 3-1. Games were played last Friday and Sunday.

In Group Two at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex in Kingston (JA), Valencia of Haiti leads the group with maximum six points from two games; it could win the group with a draw against Jamaica’s Boys’ Town in its last contest. Second-place Portmore United, also of Jamaica, and Bayamon FC of Puerto Rico, are the other teams in the group. The groups winner advance to the CONCACAF Champions League tournament later this year, while the second-place team in each group go into a play-off for an additional berth.

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