Wednesday Kickoff: MLS eyes Queens stadium site, Schweinsteiger fit and more

Wednesday Kickoff: MLS eyes Queens stadium site, Schweinsteiger fit and more

Major League Soccer

Wednesday Kickoff: MLS eyes Queens stadium site, Schweinsteiger fit and more

Garber (Getty Images)

MLS is reportedly closing in on a home for its coveted second New York franchise.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the league has zoned in on an area in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, where a 20,000-25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium would be built. A proposal for what would be a privately funded stadium has been shown to local politicians, and according to WSJ, since the stadium would be built on city-owned park land, the city council and state legislature would need to sign off on the plan, which is in its infancy.

Should the proposal pass through all the necessary steps and red tape, the league says that the stadium would be built in no more than two years, according to the WSJ report, and it would be located near the New York Mets' Citi Field and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The site selection is the culmination of a city-wide search that has been conducted for almost two years. Back in March, MLS commissioner Don Garber said that the league had looked at 19 different sites over an 18-month period, trying to narrow down a place in New York City for a 20th franchise, one that would have to enter the league by paying a $100 million expansion fee.

Here are a few more stories to get your Wednesday going:

SCHWEINSTEIGER FIT FOR SEMIFINAL

After an injury scare, integral Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is fit for the Euro 2012 semifinals after all.

Schweinsteiger has played through an injured right ankle for months after tearing a ligament in February, but he was considered in doubt for Germany's match with Italy on Thursday. After training with the team and coming through OK, he has passed a fitness test and is ready for the bout with the Azzurri.

Schweinsteiger has started every game of the tournament for the Germans in central midfield, and according to coach Joachim Loew, "He is the team's emotional leader. He's very important for our team. We need him on the field."

ITALIAN NEWSPAPER OFFERS BALOTELLI APOLOGY

As if opposing country's fans behavior was bad enough during Euro 2012, an Italian newspaper has gotten into hot water over a cartoon that depicted Italy striker Mario Balotelli as King Kong.

Reputable daily Gazzeta dello Sport published a cartoon of Balotelli climbing Big Ben after Italy's triumph over England in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals, something done in poor taste considering that Balotelli has been the subject of monkey chants from opposing fans throughout the tournament. Gazzeta dello Sport issued an apology for the cartoon.

"We can honestly say it was not among the best products of our talented cartoonist," the newspaper said in a statement. "At this time, a measure of prudence and good taste are necessary because everything, absolutely everything, can be misinterpreted. The newspaper is for those who read it and hence, if certain readers found the cartoon offensive, we apologize. But those that accuse Gazzetta of racism are going overboard. This newspaper has fought any form of racism in every stadium and has condemned the boos directed at Balotelli as an unacceptable form of incivility.''

ANDERLECHT REPLACES RANGERS IN PRESEASON TOURNAMENT

Rangers' downward spiral has caused newly promoted Premier League side Southampton to rescind their invitation to the Scottish club for a preseason tournament. 

Rangers were set to participate in the Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup on July 14, but "due to the well-publicized circumstances surrounding the Scottish side" Southampton has decided to replace Rangers with Sacha Kljestan's Anderlecht. Kljestan will get to face Southampton and Arsenal during the round-robin tournament as part of the Belgian champions' preparations for title defense and UEFA Champions League run.

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What do you make of the MLS stadium headway in New York? Do you think that is a good location for a new stadium? Are you of the belief that the league does not need a second New York franchise? How crucial is Schweinsteiger to Germany's fortunes? Are you disgusted by the Balotelli cartoon in Italy? How long do you see it taking for Rangers to restore their reputation? 

Share your thoughts below.

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