Galaxy Honour David Beckham On MLS Opening Day

David Beckham

 

Major League Soccer kicked off a new season on Saturday with 10 games and a tribute to football great David Beckham whose arrival in 2007 helped usher in a new era for the then upstart league.

A statue of the former England captain was unveiled by the LA Galaxy outside their stadium in an emotional ceremony prior to their 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire.

Beckham’s former Galaxy coach Bruce Arena and teammate Robbie Keane, as well as Beckham’s wife, Victoria, attended the ceremony.

“From day one when myself, Victoria, and the kids arrived in this city we felt at home and for that we will be forever grateful,” said Beckham, who is set to become an MLS club owner when expansion side Inter Miami joins the league.

“This city has always felt like home for me. My wife, my kids, my parents, and my friends, I couldn’t have had the career I had without the support from you guys.”

Beckham made headlines around the world when he moved to the United States in 2007 after an illustrious career at Manchester United and Real Madrid.

His Galaxy deal was widely reported to be for $250 million over five years, but in reality the $250 million figure was his potential earnings from salary, endorsements and club revenue. His base salary was $6.5 million a year but he was promised a percentage of Galaxy revenues.

Beckham played for the Galaxy until 2012, taking league titles in his final two campaigns, during a career that also featured a stop with England’s national team.

“He wasn’t one of the fastest players on the field, nor did he score many goals,” Arena said. “He was an outstanding passer and a great free-kick specialist.

“He was an intelligent and skillful player. He was simply a great leader and a winner.”

Said former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, “the impact he had on the sport here in America can’t be overstated. He was the first true big name to come to the States.”

Beckham helped pave the way for European star players to follow and so it was fitting that Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on a late header Saturday to lift the Galaxy to a season-opening win over the Fire.

Ibrahimovic, who was second in MLS last season with 22 goals in his debut campaign, rushed in to put his header past Fire goalkeeper David Ousted in the 80th minute.

“We are not 100 percent but we worked to get our first three points,” said Ibrahimovic.

Cincy debut

Elsewhere, Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley’s brace lifted the Canadian side to a 3-1 victory at Philadelphia in the opening game of the season.

The 31-year-old US midfielder found the goal three minutes into first-half stoppage time and again in the 62nd to put Toronto on top.

Mexico’s Marco Fabian answered for the Union in the 73rd minute but US midfielder Nick DeLeon sealed Toronto’s victory three minutes into stoppage time.

Opening day also featured the debut of expansion squad FC Cincinnati, who lost their inaugural game 4-1 to the Seattle Sounders.

It is the second straight season that Seattle has hosted an expansion team in the season opener. Last year they faced Los Angeles FC and suffered a 1-0 loss.

There was no repeat performance as Cincinnati were no match for the Sounders.

Three other early matches ended in draws with FC Dallas and the New England Revolution deadlocked 1-1, Orlando City and New York City level 2-2 and the New York Red Bulls finishing 1-1 with the Columbus Crew.

MLS Cup champions Atlanta, with a new manager and without star Miguel Almiron who decamped to Newcastle United in January, open their campaign on Sunday against Wayne Rooney and D.C. United.

Garber Celebrates ‘Most Competitive’ MLS Campaign

 

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber hailed 2018 as its “most competitive season” as he assessed the state of the North American league on the eve of the MLS Cup final.

Garber lauded MLS Cup finalists Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers while touching on topics including league expansion, the global transfer market and possible changes to the MLS Cup playoffs format.

“My guess is we’re probably going to end up with something that’s a little different than we have now,” Garber said of the post-season.

He declined to go into specifics pending discussions among club owners next week but said the aim of changes would be “to make the regular season more and more important.”

Regarding expansion, Garber said he was confident MLS could eventually grow to include more than 28 teams — the limit that has been fixed for expansion for several years.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we can support more than 28 teams in MLS,” he said.

MLS, which doesn’t feature promotion or relegation, currently includes 23 clubs whose owners have paid an entry fee — now higher than $150 million dollars (131.5 million euros) to launch a team.

MLS has given the go-ahead for new clubs in upcoming seasons in Cincinnati, Ohio, Nashville, Tennessee, Austin, Texas, and Miami — where former England captain David Beckham’s long-awaited franchise is slated to launch in 2020.

The city that will host a 28th franchise will be designated “shortly,” Garber said.

‘A Selling League’

Garber said that now that MLS has matured, it’s time for the league to embrace a place in the global transfer market.

“We need to become more of a selling league,” said Garber, who formerly advocating trying to hang onto the league’s stars to raise the profile of the game at home.

“We all need to get used to the fact that, in the world of global soccer, players get sold,” he added.

This season, MLS has seen the record-breaking sale of Alphonso Davies, who departed the Vancouver Whitecaps to join Bayern Munich for a fee that could reach $22 million, while midfielder Tyler Adams was sold to RB Leipzig after breaking through with the New York Red Bulls.

However, Garber added that the lack of compensation in the United States for the clubs that help develop players remains a stumbling block.

“I don’t know that it’s entirely about young players chasing their dreams as it is about international clubs chasing our young players,” he said. “That’s something that we have to wrap our collective minds around and figure out how we manage that in a way that justifies our owners investing north of $100 million outside of our first team rosters.

“We are not, as a country, participants in solidarity and training compensation, and I think that probably has to change. We have to find a way that that’s going to happen.”

MLS Cup: Seattle Sounders Beat Toronto On Penalties

Seattle SoundersThe Seattle Sounders have claimed their first Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup after beating Toronto FC 5-4 on penalties.

The MLS title showdown between the two sides ended goalless on Sunday morning after extra-time as they proceeded into penalties.

Seattle defender, Roman Torres stepped up and coolly slotted home the winner after Justin Morrow hit the crossbar for Toronto.

The game was the first ever scoreless MLS Cup after extra-time.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Confirms Offers From EPL

Zlatan-IbrahimovicSweden captain, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has confirmed he has gotten offers from the English Premier League (EPL) ahead of the new season.

Ibrahimovic’s contract with French champions, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) runs out in the summer.

The Swede had been linked to a move to Major League Soccer earlier in the season but his brilliant form has opened up other possibilities.

He has scored 35 goals in 40 games for PSG so far this season.

Ibrahimovic helped the French side progress to the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions league after beating English side, Chelsea 2-1 both at the Parc des Princes stadium and Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard Says Hiddink Is Perfect For Chelsea

Frank LampardFormer Chelsea midfielder, Frank Lampard believes Guus Hiddink is perfect manager to transform the fortunes of his former club.

Hiddink took over from Jose Mourinho after their woeful start to the campaign saw them lose nine of their first 16 league games.

Chelsea are currently six points above the relegation zone and are up against London rivals, Arsenal in their next Premier League match.

Frank Lampard is, however, enjoying his stint at the Major League Soccer and hopes the new season will be more successful.

With new man Patrick Vieira in charge, Lampard believes the Frenchman’s international experience will have a positive impact on his team.

Former France international, Patrick Vieira, has been unveiled as head coach of New York City FC.

Vieira had been working with the development squad of the Major League Soccer Club.

New York’s first preseason match is a friendly against Florida Gulf Coast University men’s soccer team on January 31.

Steven Gerrard To Have Scan On Hamstring Injury

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-LIVERPOOLLiverpool FC Captain, Steven Gerrard, is to have a scan on a hamstring injury as Liverpool wait to find out the extent of the problem.

The midfielder was seen limping off with an injury during a 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday.

Prior to this, Major League Soccer club, LA Galaxy, had confirmed that Steven Gerrard would be joining it in July on an 18-month deal.

Steven Gerrard, while expressing his excitement said “I’m very excited to begin the next chapter of my career in the United States with LA Galaxy.

“The Galaxy are the most successful club in Major League Soccer history and I am looking forward to competing for more championships in the years to come,” Gerrard told the MLS club’s official website.

Gerrard who is, to date, the only footballer ever to have scored a goal in an FA Cup Final, a League Cup Final, a UEFA Cup Final and a Champions League Final, told the Liverpool Echo, that he would have agreed to continue his long Liverpool career, had the club offered him a new contract.

Meanwhile, the English club has expressed hope that Gerrard would still be able to play his usually key roles in the team’s quest for a good finish in the Premier League before his impending move to the U.S.

Liverpool Assistant Manager, Colin Pascoe, said of the injury, “Unfortunately, he felt his hamstring towards the end of the game and he is having a scan this morning and we are just waiting for results to come back.

“Hopefully the scans won’t show too much but as we’ve not got the results I can’t say too much.”

Gerrard would also be hoping that the injury is a minor one as he had declared his desire to give more to his boyhood club before departure.

“I am committed to helping the LA Galaxy compete for trophies and to having an impact in Los Angeles and I will give my all for the club.

“In the meantime, I will continue to give everything for Liverpool for the remainder of this season before joining up with the Galaxy,” said Gerrard.

The former England captain had spent his entire career at Liverpool, making nearly 700 appearances and winning the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.

The 34-year-old midfielder would join a growing list of high-profile former Premier League players to cross the Atlantic in the latter stages of their careers, most notably David Beckham.

Former Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool striker, Robbie Keane, will be a teammate of Gerrard at the Galaxy while former Chelsea midfielder, Frank Lampard had signed for New York City FC, although he is still in England on loan at Manchester City.