Beckham Inching Closer in Miami, Garber Says; Real Madrid Wins All-Star Game



MLS logoCHICAGO — The delicate dance between Major League Soccer and a group headlined by David Beckham over an expansion team in Miami went to a vote at the league’s Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday.

But the vote wasn’t about awarding the league’s 24th club to the so-called Miami Beckham United outfit. No, instead MLS Commissioner Don Garber said “the vote authorized me to finalize details with respect to their plan.” In other words, there was a vote to set up another vote, perhaps soon.

Garber said that Beckham, and the leader of the group, Todd Boehly, an owner of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, gave a presentation to the owners that was well received. In fact, in this long-running soap opera that now spans nearly half a decade, it was the first time that Beckham had appeared in person in front of an assemblage of owners.

The news conference before a team of MLS stars played Real Madrid at Soldier Field was dominated by questions about expansion, nearly to the exclusion of all else. It’s the subject that just keeps on taking the air out of the room.

“I think the time is right, finally, for Miami to be an MLS city,” Garber said. “The next step is to work with Todd, who is the majority owner, with David and his partners. There are a number of things to work out to finalize details and officially close on the Miami team.”

Garber admitted that he was worries about the outcome of the owners’ vote. Beckham, as part of his original contract with MLS, was promised an expansion team at the discounted price of $25 million, provided he played five years in MLS. He played in six. But times have changed, and MLS is now asking $150 million for an expansion team, while some owners were reportedly balking at giving such a substantial discount in a changed market.

He said a decision could come before the end of the summer. “I was concerned they wouldn’t even get through today.”

Now it appears that Beckham & Company could be only weeks from closing a deal and turning their attention to building a new stadium in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, and perhaps beginning play in 2019 or more likely in 2020.

Real Madrid Wins All-Star Game

Tim Howard faced 19 shots against Real Madrid in the first half of the 2017 MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday night.

Real Madrid took the lead on a 59th-minute goal by Borja Mayoral, who stood even with the MLS back line as he settled a pass from Dani Ceballos and powered a shot that deflected past Stefan Frei. It appeared that was how the match was going to end, until Dom Dwyer headed in a rebound of Dax McCarty‘s shot that hit the crossbar.

Real Madrid, which entered the match without a victory on its American preseason tour, dominated the scoreless first half, the first time since the 2006 All-Star game a goal wasn’t scored in the first 45 minutes. Los Galaticos peppered goalkeeper Tim Howard with 19 total shots, only two on target and 11 inside the penalty area.

The deadlocked match went right to penalty kicks, and the MLS promptly missed its first two attempts. Real Madrid’s Marcelo sealed the victory and a 4-2 margin in the shootout.

Real Madrid returns to Europe to prepare for the UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United in Skopje, Macedonia on Aug. 8. Real Madrid has won two-straight Champions League titles, while United won the Europa League title last season.

think mld has a good level over all saw some good players, was a good game and the people enjoyed it, which is the important thing.

“The sensation over all was not good,” Real Madrid Coach Zinedine Zidane said, referring to his team’s 1-4 record on the tour. “It was good we got a result, but winning only once in four games, something is up. Now we have four days to go back and prepare for the Super Cup.”

Other Expansion News

Garber said the league is moving ahead to determine which four of 12 candidates would be the proverbial final four in the race for an expansion team.

“We’re moving in the right direction on all of them and hope to determine the next two at MLS Cup in December,” Garber said.

The commissioner has an uncanny ability to say all the right things and to subtly send messages to this city or that city or group.

He called the big crowds in Cincinnati “remarkable,” and praised the Sacramento group for “putting shovels in the ground” on a new stadium project earlier this week. He also had encouraging words for Detroit, which has settled on building on a downtown site that had been earmarked for a new jail and said that Nashville has “done well.” League officials have also recently visited Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., and plan a trip to Tampa Bay. He did not mention bids from Phoenix, Indianapolis and San Antonio.

So around and around it goes. Where MLS stops, really no one knows. If I was a betting man (which I’m not), my selections for Nos. 25 and 26: Sacramento and North Carolina; the Cincinnati and ??. Think South. Think warm. Think, dare we say it, European calendar.

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