The Super Bowl of South American soccer could end up at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
Reports out of Brazil and a few other South American countries last week said there is interest in hosting the Copa Libertadores final at a neutral site, perhaps away from South American soil. Miami is the first choice, although a source at Hard Rock Stadium said they have not yet been involved in any conversations about hosting the event.
The Copa is the continental club championship, like the Champions League in Europe, and it has had a two-leg home-and-home final since the tournament’s inception in 1960.
Other potential venues mentioned in the reports included Mexico City or Brazil’s Maracana Stadium, which would not be neutral if a Brazilian team made the final. This year’s winner was Atletico Nacional of Colombia. Recent champions were River Plate (Argentina) in 2015, San Lorenzo (Argentina) in 2014 and Atletico Mineiro (Brazil) in 2013.
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Brazilian paper Estadao reported that CONMEBOL, the South American soccer governing body, was seeking a neutral site that would expand the fan base and bring more commercial and sponsorship opportunities. The 2016 centennial edition of Copa America – South America’s national team championship – was held on U.S. soil for the first time and deemed a big success.
Miami was unavailable as a Copa America site because the stadium was undergoing renovations. Hard Rock Stadium was built with FIFA-compliant field dimensions in mind, and the new open-air canopy makes the site very similar to the top stadiums in Europe. The Brazilian men’s national team is planning some matches in Miami starting in 2017 and Real Madrid is expected for the International Champions Cup next summer.
The Champions League final could also wind up in the United States. New UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told the Associated Press he wants to adopt an “open bidding process” for the right to host the Champions League final. He said New York is a city that would be worth exploring.
“It might be an idea in future but we have to speak about it,” Ceferin said. “To go from Portugal to Azerbaijan for example is almost the same or the same as if you go to New York. For the fans, it's no problem but we should see. It's a European competition so let's think about it.”
Game of the Week: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho makes his first return to Stamford Bridge since being fired by Chelsea 10 months ago, so that makes for a sizzling storyline.
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte said: “I have great respect for (Jose) Mourinho. He deserves a good reception. He was an important man for Chelsea and wrote part of the club's story.”
Through eight matches, Chelsea is in fifth place in the English Premier League standings with 16 points and Manchester United is seventh with 14. Captain John Terry is expected back in the Chelsea lineup after an ankle injury, as is Willian, who took a leave after the death of his mother.
Mourinho said he is ready for what could be an emotional day.
“I knew that working in England, staying in the Premier League, I would, sooner or later, have to play against Chelsea and I would have to go to Stamford Bridge. The computer has decided that I have to go now, so we go.”
Howard thriving in MLS: U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard has made a huge impact on the Colorado Rapids since returning from Everton in July. He has had seven clean sheets, and seven times been nominated for MLS Save of the Week. He is a big reason the Rapids earned their first playoff berth since 2013 and are in position to win the Supporters Shield if they beat Houston Sunday and LA beats Dallas.
“What Tim has done is bring a leadership role both in and out of the locker room,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni told MLSsoccer.com. “His play has been outstanding and kept us in a lot of games where we were a bit shaky at times and I think his presence overall has been something that has lifted the group.”
All 10 MLS final regular season matches kick off simultaneously at 4 p.m., including Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake, Kansas City vs. San Jose, Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia, Toronto vs. Chicago, and NYCFC vs. Columbus.
MLS: East - NY Red Bulls (54), NYCFC (51), Toronto (50), DC United (46), Montreal (45). West - Dallas (59), Colorado (57), LA (51), Real Salt Lake (46), Seattle (45).
NASL Fall Season: NY Cosmos (41), Indy (34), Edmonton (33), Miami FC (30), Rayo OKC (29).
English Premier League: Arsenal and Liverpool (20), Manchester City and Tottenham (19), Chelsea (16).
La Liga: Barcelona (19), Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid (18), Sevilla (17), Villarreal (16)
Serie A: Juventus (21), Milan (19), Roma (16), Torino and Napoli (14)
Ligue 1: OGC Nice (23), Monaco (22), PSG (19), Toulouse (18), Guingamp (17)
Bundesliga: Bayern Munich (20), Hertha (17), Hoffenheim (16) Koln and Leipzig (15)
Sunday – Manchester City vs. Southampton (8:30 a.m., NBCSN), Sevilla vs. Atletico Madrid (10:15 a.m., BeInSport USA), Chelsea vs. Manchester United (11 a.m., NBCSN), Real Madrid vs. Athletic Club (2:45 p.m, BeInSport USA), Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake (4 p.m., ESPN), LA vs. Dallas (4 p.m., FS1)