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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.


  1. lol, Eric, “no kidnapping threats,” true!

    While they DO play during the hot, rainy season, Miami is not hotter or more humid than many Midwestern or southern cities. It is just that it lasts the whole season long, rather than just during the heat of July in a place like Chicago. Many of you might remember the “on field temps” during WC 94. Texas registered some of the hottest, I believe.

    Weather is a challenge, but it is no obstacle to play.

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

    Solution: Play at night.

    Seriously, you put a team in Miami, they’ll have a line around the block of Brazilians and Argentinians wanting to play there. Miami’s already something of a Latin American city, South Americans could play in a familiar culture but enjoy the benefits of America – nice stadium, regular pay, no kidnapping threats.

  3. Beasley won’t come to the Galaxy – they already have one USMNT veteran LM in Eddie Lewis; they don’t need another one.

    Beasley may not be at Rangers next season, but he’ll still be in Europe. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rangers picked up DMB primarily for European play, where his skills and pace can be more effective. In the very physical SPL, he was never going to be a regular starter.

  4. People are talking like Miami pulling out means the world is doomed. MLS expansion doesn’t rely on Barcelona. Vancouver is just as strong as Miami. St. Louis, Portland and Vancouver are still ready and willing to pay the expansion fee.

    Closing down expansion in MLS right now is a terrible idea. Just look at Seattle. Before they played one game the team has succeeded in selling more season tickets than any other team, has a world-known designated player and has made its share of other exciting signings.

  5. Furball, are you from St. Louis or something?

    While heat and humidity are certainly factors that affect players, it is no reason not to field a team there. That is just goofy reasoning.

    From here on out “heat and humidity” should be officially censored by the SBI blog police. 🙂


    Miami probably has a huge problem now. No Barca really exposes Miami’s flaws. Half of Claure’s reasons that he’ll be able to draw fans are based on Barca’s star power being able to draw the notoriously fickle south Florida fans.

    Now Miami’s bid is based on a failed franchise and the worst drawing USL team in the league at 1,700 per game.
    Posted by: Garrett

    I don’t remember Claure drawing a specific connection between Barca’s star power and the notoriously fickle fans as half the reasoning for his bid’s success with fans. There are challenges, to be sure, but a “failed franchise” indictment, AGAIN, ignores the reality of the Fusion’s continued upward success in many areas, including attendance, despite the flaws of their location at that time. (not to mention team on-field success, and media love for coach Ray Hudson). All of these things were positive, but still, their owner was not prepared as other MLS owners were, to see this team become profitable.

    Miami is “tradition challenged” with most of its sports teams, save for the Dolphins (and Canes). Most teams have not been around long, and they play in a highly transient and expanding immigrant society. New people don’t have the ties to their teams, since they either come from other states/markets (with those loyalties), or certainly from other countries. That is why it is true that building a strong fan base for each sport/team has its challenges. And to overcome that challenge celebrity (Shaq, maybe “Barca”) helps, as well as team success (playoff runs, etc). That creates the buzz.

    Over time, those people will and DO become supporters. And tradition and loyalty grows. But despite that challenge, it is not correct to say SF has no fan base, or that the Fusion “failed.”

  6. Well I’m personally pulling for St. Louis expansion, a close rival for the Fire a, a soccer hotbed, and a ton of tradition and history. After that, I could care less to tell the truth, as long as they meet the standard criteria.
    As for Beasley. I’d like to see him in MLS, he was a good player before, and he would be even better now. I agree that the SPL is a bad league for him, even though Rangers is a big club. I think a German club would fit his skill sets best. But I wouldn’t want him to come back to MLS until after the summer if and when he tries to leave Rangers to another European club first though.

  7. Furball – “…. but it would be miserable to be sitting out there with 90 degree temperatures and 90% humidity”

    sounds to me like you are describing Indy from June through August…..

  8. Although I really want an MLS team for the Timbers I’m not sure it’s the right time.

    I don’t know about whether MLS budgeted for expansion, but it seems like a good idea to wait. Setting the financials aside, I just don’t know how the league will be able to maintain the talent level with so many teams entering in a short time. Four new teams in four years requires a lot of additional players. That’s not including the potential 5th and 6th new teams by 2011. That’s well over 100 new players in five years. Is there really that much talent to be found here or in the Americas?

  9. First of all, the next two MLS expansion bids are for the 2011 season, not 2010. Only Philly debuts in 2010.

    Secondly, at this point, I think Portland should be the #1 bid. Like Seattle before them, Portland has a popular USL-1 club that could be promoted, at least in name, very easily. Despite the lack of press attention, Vancouver would be my second choice. The Whitecaps are another successful, storied USL-1 franchise ready for promotion. (I still think MLS was crazy to reject the Montreal bid, but whatever.)

    However, seeing as I’ve been wrong all along with my choices, watch MLS choose Ottawa and St. Louis.

  10. Miami should have been dead long ago. People in South Florida do not want to go watch soccer in the Summertime. Have any of you been to Miami in July? It might be great to be down at the beach, but it would be miserable to be sitting out there with 90 degree temperatures and 90% humidity. The only good thing about a Barca bid would be that we might have one player that we all may have heard of playing out the string in Miami. But still, teams can only have two DP’s and while Miami may be a draw, drawing two players is not going to make a difference. Down with Miami, Up with Portland, Vancouver.

  11. It’s too bad Beasley didn’t end up at Schalke, I’m still saying he should go to Latin America though. His pace and technical ability would thrive in South America.

    The Portland expansion bid will depend on whether or not the city council decides it’s worth builing a new stadium for the baseball team. If it’s approved, they have to be considered favorites, even over a Miama-Barca bid.

    Any word on the stadium in Philly? Last I heard the bad economy was putting the project in danger.

  12. Unless MLS reduces the entry fee, at which point they’d have to open the process back up again, I think at this point you have to look at who has the most bucks, who’s most able to absorb losses in the short term as the economy probably hasn’t even bottomed out yet. That would seem to eliminate St Louis, and possibly Portland, though MLS has already said it won’t be 2 Canadians who will get in this round.

    What a kick for the NW if it turns out to be Vancouver and Portland.

  13. Accepting a premise that Miami is dead for now (not sure about that, however), it would seem prudent to go with regions that have immediate fan base, rivalry, and regional strengthening. Hence, I would go for a Portland/Vancouver pick.

  14. MLS has a big issue with the expansion decision. On the surface it seems like this isn’t the best time to try and expand because of the economy. In the background it might be more complex. Built into the league/team owner’s budgets for the next 2 years was some split of the $80 million of expansion fees.

    Think about that… MLS might have to push ahead with expansion to bring in those budgeted fees.

    When it is all said and done, whoever has those $’s ready for The Don and the rest of the ‘family’ will get their expansion team. It’s not personal…it’s business.

    As for DMB, I am always surprised that he plays resaonably well for the USMNT, seeing him in club action hasn’t been impressive. Rangers was never going to be a fit for him. He’s better off in the Dutch league or MLS.

  15. That Spanish article is insulting.

    MLS is the strongest league in the world from a pure financial standpoint. Very little exposure to this recession because of how well the league has cut costs. That is by the way why the Galaxy cannot just sell Beckham.

    I have been told Miami is not out but wants to renegotiate the expansion fee. Claure is committed by Barca doesn’t want to pay the portion they had promised making him have to cough up more. However they went to keep their name attached to the project which stinks if they won’t pay up.

    MLS is stronger from a financial standpoint than La Liga which has several clubs teetering on the brink.

  16. In terms of putting off expansion, I am not sure I agree with such a position. If you can afford to do so, it is generally a good decision to expand your business in times of economic turmoil, as your main competitors will generally be preoccupied with their own financial mess and cannot expand themselves. Some of the best US businesses (Microsoft, for example) were born in bad economic times in which their potential competitors (IBM, at the time) could not compete against them to get them out of the market.

    This pattern could be emerging in sports markets. With MLB, NBA, and NFL all experiencing economic difficulties to some degree, NOW could be an excellent time for MLS to expand its market share, as there will be less competition from its competitors.

  17. I am really confused about the development with Miami MLS bid because I thought Barca would have no finincial exposure and Marcelo Claure was putting up the funds. Barca was just attaching its name. SO its basically a win-win situation for them. They get free advertising plus they have access to all the player-talent across South Florida. But why worry when you arent putting any funds up?

  18. 1. Expanding rosters won’t be sufficient to bring back a lot of the Americans in Europe who aren’t playing. Teams need to be willing to pay DP money to Gregg Berhalter, Danny Califf and Jay DeMerit and no, I’m not talking $400k but a lot higher. You’d need to make Adu the most expensive player in MLS–and even then he may not return.

    I agree that if someone (like Adu or Feilhaber) isn’t getting minutes, they aren’t going to be much help and their development will be stalled. But what some posters don’t get is that some of these kids like living in a country where everyone on the street recognizes them, where every game is a bid deal in the community, where there are lots of groupies and where they make 4-8x the money they’d make in MLS.

    At a time when the economy is tanking, ticket sales may stagnate or go down this year, sponsors are harder to get and most MLS teams lose money, expecting teams to spend another $1 million on the cap so they can sign a player who probably won’t sell any tickets (ie: DeMerit, Simek, Berhalter, even Feilhaber) is unrealistic.

    2. I personally think it would be better for Beasley if he returned to MLS for a year, got more camps with the USNT.

    3. It would be a match made in h*ll for the LAG though. Just think of it: major cap commitments to Beasley and Donovan (two DPs) plus Eddie Lewis. Same problem as last year (and why RBNY isn’t using their second DP slot and why DCU traded their’s away): you can’t afford any depth with 2 DP’s, let alone a DP and another player near max salary.

    Oh, and when Donovan and Beasley would miss major chunks of the season for the Confederation Cup, WCQ’s and USNT camps and maybe the Gold Cup, then depth would be especially important.

    4. On expansion, even if Miami drops out, I think there are some good options. No, you don’t want to hold off. As long as the expansion partners are solid, the critical element to a viable expansion teams are enough initial financing, a stadium and good management team (so you don’t make too many stupid decisions). While I’d like Barca as part of the league, any of the remaining partners are probably good options. I suspect it’s just a negotiating ploy by Barcelona.

  19. How are the MLS teams doing on season ticket sales for the coming season? Are US MLS fans casual and will forgo soccer tickets this year, or are we like Europe yet?

    And speaking of tickets, how big are MLS stadiums? 10,000 or 80,000? If a team can sell 50,000 seats for 30 games @ $30 each, it starts to become a lucrative enterprise, but less so if it does a 1/5 of that. I’d imagine a Barcelona style effort might require double that.

    Reading about Beasley makes me think about how we train our kids for soccer relative to most of the world, with US emphasis on speed versus more sophisticated play and the skills to execute it. Speed fades quickly with youth, do we doom our players to a short useful soccer life?

  20. This round of MLS expansion has always been more about finding investors that are willing to pay the ridiculous expansion fees that MLS is asking for. The fee dwarves what Toronto paid just a few years ago & was too much even before the economy went in the tank. MLS should be looking more seriously at other factors other than willingness to pay the expansion fee & they should also bring Montreal back to the table.

  21. Eugene, where in the world have you seen Beasley playing more for Rangers? A friendly against Milan? A Scottish Cup game against some crap side? Show me the last league game Beasley played in, or even dressed in for that matter.

  22. the word down here in miami is that everything is cool. apparently garber flew out to spain to smooth things over. we still expect the announcement. everything is full steam ahead. as long as news like “seattle sounders sell 20k season tickets for inagural season” keep coming out, barca should still be down. the press, especially over in europe, tend to blow simple quotes way out of proportion.

    miami in 2010. book it.

  23. Ives,

    I disagree with you on Beasley. Beasley was back in at Rangers and playing more, but that bad challenge in the Scottish Cup put him out for this past weekend’s game. I expect Beasley to be back in next weekend after he’s had some time to recover.

    The recent trend has been Beasley getting more playing time, so there is no point in hitting the ejection button now, but rather it makes sense to keep working at Rangers.

  24. I think they should continue with the expansion.. i think you guys are looking at it the wrong way. If the bids are still there in the midst of this downturn then they are the stronger bids. Which, should be what Garber is looking for.

  25. I don’t think Garber is chugging a Pepto Bismol, but I DO think expansion will be put on hold altogether for a couple of years.

    The best expansion candidates are dropping out while cities with inferior bids are being left. Instead of taking the inferior bids, it makes sense to put the brakes on expansion until the inferior bids can become stronger (by fixing their various problems) and the good candidates like Montreal and Miami that dropped out can come back to the table.

    I strongly believe that MLS should put expansion on hold while working on other aspects of the league — such as raising the salary cap.

  26. Miami – Crap! MLS hold off on expansion until finacial climate improves. The writing is on the wall.

    Beasley – stay in Europe, please.

  27. I agree with the consensus that if he really was as close to moving to Schalke as has been reported, he will likely move to another decent European club in the summer.

    Not that moving to the MLS would be a terrible move, but his salary potential in Europe, even at a smaller club, is still greater than in MLS, unless they are willing to pay him Donovan wages…

  28. Miami probably has a huge problem now. No Barca really exposes Miami’s flaws. Half of Claure’s reasons that he’ll be able to draw fans are based on Barca’s star power being able to draw the notoriously fickle south Florida fans.

    Now Miami’s bid is based on a failed franchise and the worst drawing USL team in the league at 1,700 per game.

    St. Louis doesn’t have the money and Garber has flat out said that. I don’t know why you keep putting them out there as some sort of favorite. Unless they get another big money investor they aren’t happening.

  29. Hey Ives,
    Do you think that MLS took too long in making this decision about expansion? If they had announced it awhile ago, Barcelona wouldn’t have had a choice, right? Basically, I’m just thinking that they took too long to announce what everyone already knew, that Miami was getting a team!

  30. Spot on, Eric. I’ve been saying that exact thing for the last couple of weeks. I know MLS really wants their $80M, but if they are serious about this league moving to the next level, it wouldn’t hurt to delay any expansion for a year. Just so the remaining candidates can get their acts together and put up some serious bids.

  31. Its not the end of the world If we hold off on expansion till the economy improves… HUH what a thought… I am beginning to hear rings of NASL from upper deck!! MLS is doing much better in recent year, it would be a shame to have them blow it up by pushing uneducated decisions in expansion.

  32. several people have speculated that DMB would be the answer to the left back position for USMNT, has he himself ever commented on this proposed positional move?

  33. i think beasley will have options in europe… i dont see a ride home being an option… b/c as far as speedy wingers go, he’s not getting any younger…. while experience can help a winger, Beasley’s big attribute was his speed…

    i think he’ll get at least another season or two in europe before his ride may come to an end…

    if he does come back to the MLS, couldnt LA use their allocation slot to pick him up since SJ got Convey??

  34. If Beasley almost moved to a team like Schalke during the January transfer window, I think he can do a little better than MLS at this point in his career.

    I am sure he will be back one day but now is too soon.

  35. Expand the rosters and bring home most that are not playing; EJ, Adu, Edu, DMB, and so on.

    Some of those never belonged over there in the first place, especially not at a top flight team. None of them have ever really had to battle day in and day out for their spot. Stay here, you are too old to learn how to do that now. Unless you are like CD, who came from a tough past and did grow up working for everything he got.

    This would up the leagues competition at the practice & game level bringing higher quality of play. The league is not the same as when they left. I think we will see a large difference overall from last year to this year. Every team has made some solid moves in the off season.

  36. I think Ives makes a good point that Beasley might simply ride ride it out on Rangers bench, get released, and then sign a new deal after the Confederations Cup to stay in Europe. BB has shown faith in continuing to start Beasley, and he could go anywhere he wanted if he is released. That does make more sense than returning to the Galaxy, and being held hostage to Galaxy’s transfer demands.

  37. Thanks for the info about Garcia, interesting news that we have brought in another RB, i wonder if they expect Wynne to move on this season or if hes capable of playing CB.
    Apparently we also have Alexandre Boucicaut, the haitian midfielder and Martin Durica a Slovak mid. I wonder why we are trying out all the midfielders when we need a couple of solid CBs, i would assume that they can either play position or a player or two still has yet to move…

  38. Well if none of the bids are worthwhile enough, the league could just say that in light of the current economy, it’s not a prudent time to expand further.

  39. It will be interesting to see if any of the other bids are effected by the economy over the coming months. I still fully expect a team in Miami but Garber cannot be happy about the hesitancy.


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