MLS- Toronto FC

MMCB: With Miami bid shaky, MLS expansion race is even tougher to predict


There are officially no sure bets in the MLS expansion race. Not after shaky developments out of Spain put the FC Barcelona-backed bid for a Miami team, the top bid in the race, in jeopardy.

So what's the issue now? Barcelona club members have voiced concerns over the team investing a large sum of money in MLS at a time when the global economic crisis is impacting even Barcelona's bottom line. Barcelona management responded by stating that, at the very least, the club is taking a closer look at its MLS bid and whether it might not be more prudent to hold off on a bid, which would launch in 2010.

That sound you just heard is Don Garber chugging some Pepto Bismol.

These latest developments don't necessarily mean the Miami-Barcelona bid is dead, or even mortally wounded, but it certainly casts some doubt about the bid after it had seemed a foregone conclusion that Miami would receive of the two winning bids in this round of expansion.

With Miami on shakier ground than before, the odds have improved for the other four cities in the race, meaning that with the exception of a Vancouver-Ottawa tandem, any combination of the five remaining cities could wind up being chosen by MLS.

So which cities are the favorites if Miami truly has stumbled? Folks in Ottawa and Portland will say they are, while recent comments from Don Garber that St. Louis' bid has improved makes you wonder if St. Louis finally ready to be a serious contender. Then there is Vancouver, which hasn't been getting much buzz lately, but is still a serious player considering the strong stable of investors backing the bid.

What is clear right now is that all those MLS fans who had already penciled in Miami for 2010, and who were already thinking about a road trip to the Sunshine State, might be forced to consider different plans when MLS makes its MLS expansion decision in a month.

Time for Beasley to come home

DaMarcus Beasley went another weekend without playing for Glasgow Rangers and while his absence this week was due to his recovery from an injury, the fact remains that the U.S. national team midfielder has not been playing much for Rangers and looks unlikely to become a regular again this season.

So what can Beasley do? As we have suggested in the past, a move to MLS could suit Beasley well. He is still just 26, and could be back in Europe after a season or two in Major League Soccer.

The only destination that makes sense is Los Angeles, where Beasley could be reunited with Landon Donovan and Bruce Arena. The remaining obstacle is a potential transfer of David Beckham. If the Galaxy sells Beckham to AC Milan, then the Galaxy would have the money and cap/DP slot to bring Beasley in and while Beasley doesn't have the star power of a Beckham, Beasley has the ability to make a major impact on the field in MLS.

AEG could do much worse in the wake of a Beckham transfer than to reunite Beasley with Donovan. It would make for great story lines, and would make the Galaxy a better team on the field.

The remaining question is whether Beasley wants to come. He could be looking ahead to the summer, when the Confederations Cup should afford him the opportunity impress scouts as he and the United States take on Italy, Brazil and Egypt. If he stays with Rangers he might not play, but he could also potentially be released and go into the summer a free agent.

Whatever Beasley decides, it is more clear than ever that Beasley needs to leave Scotland. There are plenty of leagues where Beasley would be better off and Major League Soccer is one of those leagues.

TFC bring in defender for trial

Toronto FC has brought on Portuguese defender Miguel Garcia for a trial. The former Sporting Lisbon right back has endured a rough few years. First, he saw a move to Reggina ruined by a major knee injury that cost him the one year he was with the Italian club. Then, Garcia signed with Standard Liege over the winter break, only to fail to earn minutes and move on after a few months.

Now Garcia, 26, is with Toronto and will be hoping to latch on and perhaps provide some insurance for a potential Marvell Wynne transfer this summer. Still no announcements on a central defender, but sources tell me the club is close to introducing a central defender in the next week or two.


What do you think of the above stories? Are you hoping Barcelona stays in the MLS expansion race? Are you hoping the Miami bid falls apart? Think Beasley should consider returning to MLS? Share your thoughts below.

  • JB

    “Problem: it’s hot in the summer in south Florida.

    Solution: Play at night.”

    You’re not from the South are you? I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast, and let me tell you summer nights can be oppressively hot and mosquito riddled hell.


  • Garrett


    If Miami is such a great soccer town why do only 1,700 people show up to Blues games?

    Enough USL teams beat MLS teams every year for us to know the talent level isn’t terribly different.

    So essentially you’re saying that because they will have no tradition a new Miami franchise will need a David Beckham to draw like the Heat needed Shaq. Well I have news for you. There is one David Beckham and if he’s back this year in LA he’s not going to be in Miami the year after that. I think your assertion that the Fusion had an upward trend in attendance is a little overstated. They had an uptick when they finished in 1st place but I wouldn’t call 11,000 a game for one season a trend. The 3 years prior was a 3 year downward trend.


  • ryan

    blame canada.
    give the next franchise to st. louis, one of the only cities that actually has a passion for the game in this country.

    beasley has the quality to stay in europe.


  • Garrett

    @ Erik K

    Seriously? A line around the block full of Brazilians to play? You’ll get a bunch of aging stars who want to get a paycheck for spending more time training at the local club than training on the pitch. Fact!


  • Joe in Fl

    @ brokenbil

    “The good news is that Garber has stated that if Barca/Miami get the bid for an MLS Miami soccer team they will begin in 2010. In a direct quote from Garber “Barcelona and Miami, in partnership with Marcelo Claure, are focused on 2010…if Miami gets a franchise they’ll be starting in the 2010 season”

    – from miamisoccerfan.com

    Also Ives had it in his blog during the week of the Mexico match.

    Regarding the weather in the summer. Where in the US is it not 90 degrees and humid in the summer? Texas NY Kc?


    You are correct with the tradition regarding the sports team in South Florida but it gives the transplatter a chance to root for a new team.


  • undrafted

    I now think that if Vancouver and Ottawa are the 2 best bids, they’ll both be chosen. It might be wiser to delay expansion but I doubt they would. If MLS takes Ottawa, they’re looking at a future of 30 teams. The continued request for public funds by Garber seems to indicate MLS will one day take in Ottawa (if ready) and thus is looking at a future of 30 teams. If the only 2 bids fully ready now are Canadian, they’re both in.

    Garrett, USL Toronto drew next to nothing. I’m not saying Miami is an easily great market, but USL doesn’t necessarily predict anything in regards to MLS.


  • Garrett


    I’m aware Toronto drew next to nothing. I don’t care how far away the Fusion played from Miami. That is a failed franchise in a failed market. Without Barca that bid is shaky and MLS can’t go into a market for the 2nd time with a shaky bid. If a team closes down for a 2nd time it’s almost nail in the coffin of MLS.

    Honestly the 2 best proposals out there right now are Vancouver and Portland if Portland gets the stadium funding down, which it looks like they’re taking care of. Portland regularly draws 10K to USL games and Vancouver will fit right in with the traditional Cascade rivalry. Ottawa is a joke. St. Louis doesn’t have the money.


  • Ian

    With Doug Hamilton running the Fusion they would have continued winning and averaged even more than that 11,000 a game in 2002 and 2003. They were a terrible team with an incoherent marketing strategy. Seriously, its ironic that those of you who are Red Bulls fans trash the Miami market when if you take doubleheader games out of the mix the Metros had terrible crowds in 1998 and 1999. And please don’t tell me how difficult it is to get to the Meadowlands. Do you realize how difficult it is to get to both the Rose Bowl and HDC from LA? Do you realize how far it is?


  • Furball

    And who is it that all of those Brazilians, Mexicans and Argentians going to pay to see. With MLS wage structure it isn’t like they are going to be banging down the stadium doors to go watch Chad Marshall and Eddie Lewis. It’s the same failed experiment that Chivas used in LA. At first, the idea of having the Mexican giants name attached sounded like a sure thing. But when they realized that there ere only going to be a bunch of no name Mexicans, the fan base never materialized. Same thing will happen in Miami. .


  • Bob

    There’s a fool in Portland that thinks Steve Nash has pulled out of the Vancouver bid.

    Can anyone confirm that rumour through a reputable site?


  • DC Josh

    Bring Beasley home! New campain slogan for the Obama Admin.

    It’d be nice to have a southeast team, but whatever. 2 more teams regardless would bring the league to 18, then a single table would be nice. The top 6 teams could go into the playoffs, with the top two earning a bye in the first round. Each team would play the other twice, one at home and one away. This would make the season much easier to follow. Also, the eastern conference is incredibly strong and deep this year, so good luck westies.


  • Tom P

    Miami’s economy is a full blown disaster. I know- I live here. Portland and either Vancouver or even Ottawa –lots of government jobs means stability people- would better serve the MLS at this time.

    Barcelona isn’t stupid, they are the biggest multi sport organization in the world, and they saw a losing hand and tried to fold gracefully without looking too obvious in the process.

    Miami – like Arizona, California and the rest of Florida- will take the longest to turn around from our current economic crisis because if you compare it to an earthquake they are at the epicenter.( and Spain, the UK and Ireland would be the epicenter of continental Europe.

    It isn’t personal-it is just the facts.


  • BlueWhiteLion


    It was not stated that Miami was a great soccer town. However the point was made that there is much potential there. Even the Fusion pulled in 11K in their last year, the year they went to the semifinals, as you aptly pointed out.

    Correct, their attendance had declined from 1998 (10,284 avg, first year of club) to ca. 8700, then ca. 7500–when they didn’t qualify for playoffs) then they experienced a dramatic jump to over 11,000 the very next year, their last. (they made the semis). If anything, that goes a long way to support the idea that success IS a draw in Miami. The picture never was painted that they led in attendance, only that the year they folded, they had several things going for them, despite their many obstacles (including, many people from Miami believe–the location at Lockhart Stadium).

    USL in Miami is not the same thing as MLS in Miami. Again, your attendance supports that. I am happy the USL gets good support in other markets (Portland, eg), that is pretty awesome. And I realize they have teams that rival the quality of some MLS teams. That still doesn’t translate to attendance in all markets. I probably would go, if USL was the only option–purely because I love soccer and I do anything I can to support the sport in my country. However, the USL does not have the same marketing power as the MLS across the board.

    Who mentioned David Beckham going to Miami, other than you?

    The point is, Miami is not a crap sports town. It has challenges, for sure. But it is also poised for success, especially if an investor is willing to stick it out for the long haul, as Horowitz didn’t.


  • Mikeype

    As much as I agree that our national team players should be playing in the best leagues in Europe, I am starting to change my opinion on whether players such as Beasley, Edu, Eddie Johnson, etc. should come back to MLS for immediate playing time.

    Bob Bradley has shown that players need playing time to be considered for the national team. For example, how many times has Eddie Johnson been called in recently as compared to Brian Ching? Ching is getting regular minutes with the national team because he is our only striker who is getting regular minutes in any league! Bradley has shown that playing in the MLS is not such a bad thing. Kljestan, Clark, Donovan, and Hejduk have all been called up to the national team consistently and they all play in MLS. I don’t think that Bob Bradley will simply throw Beasley under the bus if he comes back to MLS and gets playing time, he hasn’t shown that he will bench him for not getting playing time.


  • Mikeype

    As for the expansion plans of the league, when will Garber realize that this expansion fee is too high for any future club? Montreal dropped out because of the fee, Miami will thinking of dropping out due to the fee and whether it is “worth” having a team in MLS, St. Louis never seems to have “enough” money for a team, and so forth.

    Does anyone know that the expansion fee is used for anyways? Does the league use it for advertising? What?


  • occupant

    Miami has been tried and failed. Sure, the league may be a bit stronger now than when the Fusion played. It still failed even though it’s a “Latin American” city. I think any of the other four cities would be a better choice, if only because of geography. I’ve always wished that there were more teams clustered together regionally. Being from Chicago, a St. Louis team would mean another couple of away matches for me. I’d like Milwaukee and Minneapolis teams too. Maybe someday. This is the reason I’d support Portland and Vancouver. There is an existing rivalry with Seattle that would be great for the teams,the fans and the league. Knowing the way this league is run, Garber will probably decide on putting teams in Guam and Juneau.


  • Eugene


    “Beasley is ruled out of Saturday’s SPL clash with Kilmarnock but there is only soft tissue damage and it is hoped he will be fit for the following weekend’s match at Hamilton.” — from Rangers, on their website

    ” In case you hadn’t heard, DaMarcus Beasley was FLYING last night in Rangers 4-0 Scottish Cup win over Forfar United. That is, until a rough challenge from Elliott Smith (gee, and his music always seemed so serene) forced him off with 18 minutes left.

    Well… fear not, fans. I have been told by Rangers that Run DMB was pulled in a precautionary move, the knock isn’t too bad and he is expected to be fit for the weekend.

    UPDATE: Beasley will miss this weekend’s match, but Rangers now expect him back for Hamilton next week.” — from No Short Corners

    So DMB was back in the last two games — one competitive, one non-competitive — and missed the last league game due to this knock, but it clearly appears he’s back on his way to playing time if the club is expecting him back for Hamilton next week. There is clearly momentum, so why would Beasley just throw his hands up and jump to MLS now? Beasley has been one of the more successful Americans in Europe, there is no need for him to throw in the towel now and come home.


  • JC

    best thing to come out of the economy crisis is Barca backing out and Miami bid failing.

    Portland to MLS! Hopefully Saputo can muster up the cash as well.


  • Tom P

    That is, until a rough challenge from Elliott Smith (gee, and his music always seemed so serene) forced him off with 18 minutes left.

    Great line Eugene. I just wanted you to know someone got it.


  • undrafted

    There are many reasons to doubt Miami. I was just saying that USL performance shoudl be the least of them.

    I’ll believe Portland has stadium financing when it’s done. I don’t think it’s anywhere near a done deal and it’s the type of process that has to play out before you can trust it’ll happen.

    Maybe MLS could knock the price down a bit for Montreal but delaying expansion altogether may be a better option. I’m not so sure Montreal would even pay $30 million.


  • Garrett


    I’m aware of the potential in Miami. I just don’t see it the same way. I’m going to use baseball because it’s easy and plays to the same populace that they hope to get with soccer.

    You’ve brought up tradition. The Marlins have been there since 1993 and have won 2 titles since. If that isn’t enough to create a tradition to draw fans I don’t know what is. All I know is that the last time the Marlins were in the playoffs there were empty stands.

    Nobody mentioned Beckham to Miami. I used it as an example of a name that would probably draw fans in Miami. As we’ve seen with the Galaxy experiment the product on the pitch is total crap even if they have a fancy, big named, well paid player on the squad. They spend too much money on a DP with a name like Beckham.

    I bring it up because a place like Miami needs stars for people to attend. The Heat average 4,000 people less than they did with Shaq there and they’re even winning now.

    They have a horrible track record. Why will that change this time the 2nd time around? It hasn’t changed in any of their other sports. Baseball was supposed to be a huge draw for the latino population and the Marlins went ahead and won 2 championship and even still people don’t attend the games.

    A team won’t be in first place every year. That’s why you can’t trust the numbers from the last year the Fusion played.

    MLS should go for a place with a history and proven record of support. Not a flashy tech mogul used car salesman like Claure.


  • BlueWhiteLion

    Garrett, because Miami is an exploding population, many immigrants and others from places like NYC, they have to establish tradition and loyalty in most of the sports, other than the Dolphins and Canes.

    It is just my hunch, from observation, that some sustained success, coupled with a little flash, will put extra fans in the seats until fan stability and tradition is achieved. Immigrants are often very loyal to the country they came from, often slower to embrace the new culture for a generation.

    The Marlins decimated each WS team the year after they one. That disheartened many of the young fans. Similar with the Fusion.

    There is no argument from me that some areas like Portland have a been filling stadiums. That’s pretty awesome and I wish them well. They stand a good chance. But Miami is not the doom and gloom place some posters here thoughtlessly parrot (not meaning you).

    Miami is a fantastic location, a world renowned and glamorous city, the gateway to South and Central America, a major media market, and they DO have a population base with deep soccer heritage. It HAD seemed to me that the combination of Barca and Claure would be the team that could bring both the pizazz and the money to establish a loyal soccer tradition. I say had, because Barca seems to be hesitating at the moment (but that is even a good thing, once they commit, I think it would “have” to be for the long haul.


  • Garrett


    I don’t think Miami is doom and gloom. I just think they definitely need Barca. I don’t think Claure alone can bring that pizazz.

    I think they’d need a player with that stature of Beckham. The only other player I could think of that might be close and in the right position is Henry. He would probably cost so much they wouldn’t be able to put a winner on the pitch. How long would a player like Henry be able to keep fans coming even if the team is mediocre.

    I also don’t want Barca-Miami to turn into Barca-reserves. I really got the feeling that’s what Barca wanted.


  • BlueWhiteLion

    Garrett, we are actually closer in our thinking than we think! :)

    Your concerns about not being able to field a quality team around a high-priced DP is why I like Leiweke’s proposal to divorce DP money (all of it) from the salary cap, and to raise the salary cap a bit more. This would allow all the benefits of players like Beckham (marketing, skill, luring them here in the first place) and at the same time, have money to target more ‘mid-level’ players who may not be flashy, but who can play well, and play consistently. And the teams might have enough to ADD players to their rosters, making them deeper for the various extra-league games/tourneys.

    Not sure how “Barca-Miami” would turn into the Barca reserves, but even if they could do that, that may not be a bad thing. I suspect many of their reserves are very good players! Perhaps your concern is that Miami would look like a farm team for Barca and that would translate to US soccer still looking like a weak brother, rather than standing on its on right.


  • ChrisM

    Why not Spain, Germany, England?

    Rangers are a better club than a lot of teams in those leagues, so it isn’t like he couldn’t make a squad, and even playing in the Championship he could make big bucks and get get competition, probably more money than in MLS (far more if he is not given DP money) and better competition than MLS too.


  • MetroStone

    Keep it at 16 teams: home and away = 30 games. Let the league grow in quality for a couple years, not quantity.


  • Graham

    Funny to think that in Toronto we may have some of the better football weather in the league. Sure the beginning of the season is cold, but for the running players and jumping fans that’s no biggie. There have been few rainy gamedays thus far. It can get pretty hot and very humid in T.O in June/July/August, but at the stadium down by the lake there’s usually a nice cool breeze.

    The only weather issues I can remember over the last two years that effected players on the pitch at BMO were the occasional lake-effect wind mucking up technical play or heavy rain sogging up our crappy fieldturf.


  • John Bladen

    The Barca/Miami issue is just another domino falling… Take a look at the path MLS has walked here. At one time or another pretty much every one of the candidates has been considered a “slam dunk” if only (insert condition here) has been met. Garber is only trying to get the best deal he can for expansion. While we might be upset at him at times, we can’t really fault him for doing it.

    Very few MLS clubs make money on operations. Investing $40M plus into a business that stands a 1/5 chance of making a $1M annual profit (Forbes 2008) just doesn’t make sense. If they dropped the fee back to $20M or so (which would mean refunds to a couple of recent additions, of course), maybe there would be more interest. In this lending environment, maybe not…

    Right now, if you are a prospective club owner, the USL is a better bet. You don’t get the exposure or game revenues, but you don’t have massive debt right off the start, either. You have about $3M/yr in debt service right off the top. Ouch.

    What Garber is facing is the marketplace turning up it’s nose at the league. MLS is simply not worth the price of admission right now.


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