Because we know South Florida soccer fans are hanging on every word David Beckham says (or is rumored to say) these days, we bring you this quote from an interview he did with SkySports in England on Thursday:
“Hopefully there will be an announcement before the New Year,” Beckham said in regards to his quest to bring a Major League Soccer team to Miami. “We haven’t announced that it’s definitely going to be Miami yet, but obviously I’ve been seen in Miami quite a few times. We’re getting the details right at the moment.”
This is really not shocking news because it has been reported for quite some time that Beckham has a Dec. 31 deadline to exercise his option to purchase an MLS franchise at a discounted price of $25 million. Of course, if Beckham needed an extension, he’s betting the league would grant him one because … well, he is David Beckham.
Beckham and his investment group, which includes billionaire Marcelo Claure of the Miami-based global wireless distributor Brightstar, have explored 30 potential stadium sites in Miami-Dade County. They are particularly interested in Miami’s urban center, so they’ve inquired about leasing land on PortMiami, a scenic spot that would overlook Bayside and the downtown skyline.
Other possible sites include the former Miami Arena site, which is being developed as a mixed-use megaproject called Miami World Center, and a site in Wynwood. Indications are the team would probably join the league in 2017 and play its first season at Marlins Park.
In the meantime, Miami fans passionate about international soccer should start becoming familiar with MLS. Now would be the perfect time to get started, because the league championship MLS Cup is coming up Sunday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting KC will play Real Salt Lake for the league title. Although that might not be the big-city match-up the media and ESPN executives would have preferred, it is actually a great rivalry between two smaller-market teams with passionate, loyal fans and vastly different styles of play.
Salt Lake is known for its creativity and passing, and led the league in time of possession. Kansas City prides itself on its pressure, physicality, set pieces and fitness. KC led the league in fouls.
There is also no love lost between the teams. They last time they played, July 20, there were 26 fouls called, seven yellow cards issued, and one ejection. KC won that game 2-1 in the 97th minute.
Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey, a former Miami Fusion goalkeeper, minced no words describing the rivalry in a Grantland article a few months ago.
“We play diametrically opposed styles of soccer. We want to keep the ball, we want to possess, we want to attack. Kansas City want to kick people, pressure you all over the field and try to rely on set pieces and turnovers to generate their chances. It’s really an interesting rivalry in terms of where the league wants to go.
“I think the league has to decide do they want that kind of physical, rock ’em-sock ’em style, or do they want to play more of a passing, possession, beautiful game? And I think that’s really why the rivalry comes into focus, because you see these two different directions the league could go.”
RSL advanced to the final with a 5-2 aggregate advantage over the Portland Timbers in the two-leg Western Conference final. KC beat Houston in the East. Salt Lake won the 2009 MLS Cup and has been to the playoffs six consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the league. RSL beat the Los Angeles Galaxy in the conference semifinal.
Sporting is making its first trip to the MLS Cup since 2004.
Both teams are coached by former MLS players — Jason Kreis of RSL and Peter Vermes of KC. And both adopted European-style nicknames with Real and Sporting.
The game is at 4 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN.