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MLS Ticker: Minnesota United faces opposition to stadium deal; Villarreal turns down U.S. Under-23 call-up; and more

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By AARON CRANFORD

Major League Soccer is ready to award an MLS expansion team to the owners of NASL side Minnesota United on Wednesday, but not everybody is wanting to help the latest addition succeed.

As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday, Minnesota Vikings executives, who were competing with Minnesota United for franchise rights to the Minneapolis market, are “twisting arms” to prevent the construction of a soccer-specific stadium for the current NASL side.

“The idea was that, thus discouraged, the MLS would zero in on awarding the expansion franchise to the Wilfs, and it would play in the new dome,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune stated.

Vikings executives Mark and Zygi Wilf, the president and principal owner of the NFL team, reportedly have “a loyal pal” in Senator Thomas Bakk.

Bakk reportedly phoned MLS Commissioner Don Garber before MLS made a final decision and told Garber that Minnesota United “would not receive a dime’s worth of assistance from the state” if they were selected in favor of the NFL team’s bid.

Here are some more MLS notes to close out your Tuesday:

HERZOG TURNED DOWN BY VILLARREAL, CALLS IN RSL DEFENDER BOYD OKWUONU

With the 2016 Olympics on the horizon, call-ups to the U.S. Men’s Under-23 National Team are more important than ever, yet Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Jose Villarreal rejected the invitation.

Los Angeles Galaxy Insider reports that the Galaxy midfielder turned down an offer to join the U-23 side from head coach Andi Herzog in favor of helping his club against D.C. United Saturday.

“I spoke to Bruce and said that I just wanted to stay and work with the team because [international call-ups] will come eventually,” Villarreal told LA Galaxy Insider on Monday. “I personally wanted to stay because I didn’t want to kill the rhythm that I have with the team, and have to come back and need to win my spot again.

Without the addition of Villarreal, Herzog announced Tuesday that he had called in two players for the side’s first training camp of the year in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Real Salt Lake defender Boyd Okwuonu and Dan Metzger, who is currently unattached, join the squad in preparation for the team’s first match against Bosnia’s U-23 national team on March 27 and their second match facing Denmark on March 31.

Both players are familiar with the national team, with Okwuonu playing for the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship team that qualified for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Okwuonu and Metzger played together with the U-20 team in 2012.

CHICAGO FIRE INKS KINGSLEY BRYCE

Second-round draft Kingsley Bryce penned a new deal with the Chicago Fire on Tuesday.

“Kingsley is a versatile player and I’m pleased that we’re adding him to our roster,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop told the Chicago Fire website. “Although he has an attacking background, he’s come in and impressed us these past few months with his ability to play a defensive role.”

The Saint Louis University midfielder did well in the NCAA, scoring 23 goals and recording 12 assists in 79 games as a midfielder.

SKC MIDFIELDER MIKEY LOPEZ LOANED TO OKC ENERGY FC

Mikey Lopez suited up for Oklahoma City Energy FC five times last year, and he is set to join the USL side again.

Sporting KC announced Tuesday that the first-round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft has been loaned to Jimmy Nielsen’s team. Lopez recorded one goal for Energy FC last season and also appeared eight times for Sporting KC in the 2014 MLS campaign.

DYNAMO SENDS TWO TO CHARLESTON BATTERY

On Tuesday the Houston Dynamo loaned Oumar Ballo and Memo Rodriguez to the Charleston Battery, the club’s USL affiliate.

The 19-year-old Rodriguez signed a Homegrown Player contract with the MLS side in December after being named Dynamo Academy Players’ Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Meanwhile, Ballo was selected 30th in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft after he led the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, to an unprecedented run into the Final Four of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.

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What do you make of Senator Thomas Bakk reportedly backing the NFL franchise’s bid over Minnesota United FC’s bid? Like the inclusions of both Okwuonu and Metzger?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. The mentality of a true professional, establish yourself long term on your club team, because its the reason WHY you were picked for the U-23 MNT in the first place….rather than worry about temporary exposure/glory on the national stage. He might enjoy this ONE call-up but if he is replaced on his return, especially with the arrival of Gerrad, and is left out of the starting 11 because of team familiarity, reliability, rhythm and understanding…….then where will he be then? Riding pine and not considered for the future…….something I wish Freddy Adu really really understood. Club gets you to the National team not the other way around. It doesn’t matter how many times you have represented the stars and stripes or how talented people know you are, without a club and consistent play time to showcase your talent, you will be dropped and forgotten.

    Reply
    • bizzy,

      Your basic point is correct, one I’m sure Herzog understands.

      However, while Villarreal is far from a guaranteed starter, why is everyone saying that Villarreal is under threat from Gerrard? As far as I can tell they don’t play the same position. In theory, Gerrard’s presence should make Villarreal’s job easier.

      Reply
      • GW,
        you misunderstood me a little, Gerrad is not a threat to Villarreal or his position but when a team like the Galaxy, with so many play makers, are trying to put the pieces together to build a team around a player like Gerrad, so he cannot risk being absent, because the coach is not going to wait on him.

      • bizzy,

        Liverpool’s last game is May 24.

        I sincerely doubt Gerrard is going to report to LA any sooner than that unless this latest incident really blows up and they kick him out of Anfield early for ruining their last two seasons.

        Those Under 23 matches are on March 27 and 31.

        What seems most likely is that Arena, who is also losing Zardes, told Villarreal to stay,keep that mojo going and, as you say, make enough of an impression so that when the Red Mist finally does show up he will be in a better position for the transition.

  2. Looks like a pretty brilliant decision to give Minnesota a team ahead of Sacramento, because if the league gets too much opposition from state and local government, they can threaten to take the franchise away from Minnesota and award it to Sacramento instead.

    Reply
  3. With stadium opposition and the Vkins opposing it too, I don’t see Minnesota playing anytime soon. Another fail in franchise launch.

    Reply
    • This was NEVER, EVER going to involve public money. MN United knew that all along. The legislature just paid for half of a billion dollar stadium for the vikings, and are not that long removed from financing stadiums for the Gophers and Twins. There’s also a reason why McGuire added Glen Taylor ($2.5B net worth) and Jim Pohlad ($3.6B net worth in 2013) to the ownership group. This was always going to be a privately financed venture. The land for the stadium is private and one of the ownership group already has an option to buy it. So Bakk’s statements aren’t going to alter the league’s approach at all.

      Reply
  4. Screw Bakk. Take the franchise elsewhere. Sacramento, San Antonio and Miami are better than dealing with that codknocker.

    Reply
  5. ” I didn’t want to kill the rhythm that I have with the team, and have to come back and need to win my spot again.
    This is the A1grade loser mentality Klinsmann is trying to get rid of. You don’t own the spot. You have to earn it every week. If you were good enough once believe that you can do it again. It’s all about challenging yourself.
    WEAK!

    Reply
    • It’s all about making the right decision, it will be far more important for Villarroel to consolidate himself as starter for the LA Galaxy than playing one game or two games for the U23.

      Villarroel has to establish himself and get as much as games possible under his belt to be a contender the the U23 or the USMNT.

      Right now he is replacing LD so….. that is not an easy task, he needs to prove Bruce Arena that he is worthy to start every game. As soon as Gerard gets here, probably Villarroel will be the first to be benched.

      This is it for Villarroel.

      Smart decision

      Reply
      • Matador is right. With LD retiring there is a spot wide open on the Galaxy for the taking. Villarreal has the momentum and doesn’t want to lose it. He’s fighting for his job, to call that a “A1grade loser mentality” is mind numbing. Good for Jose, he’s been very impressive this year and he’s right, if he keeps playing like this he’ll be called up for the big games.

      • Dude, if you know how to spell Matador you should know how to spell Villarreal.
        So, instead of trying to earn a spot with the NT he’s staying to fight for a spot he knows he’s losing as soon as Gerard arrives? That makes no sense.
        With that sense of entitlement. Not only is he replacing Donovan, he’ll also join him watching the NT games on tv.

      • I’m not sensing any entitlement, quite the opposite. He knows what he has to fight for and has an idea of where he is in the pecking order. Unless your name is Julien Green, you need to be consistently performing at a high level at your club team to get chances at the USMNT.

    • Relax Rob, your Klinsy love in clouding your judgement. This was a no-brainer decision for Villareal. You have to remember that he is eligible for the U-23, and qualifying for that tournament doesn’t start anytime soon (October).

      Bruce Arena probably put pressure on Villareal to stay. Why anger your club coach right now when you have a VERY TENTATIVE hold of a starting spot, just to go play one or two friendlies in some U-23 camp? At the end of the day, Herzog will judge him and the other players and how they are doing with their clubs and on how much playing time they are getting.

      This would be a different conversation if MLS honored the Fifa international break.

      Reply
      • Wtf. I was accused to be a Klinsmann hater in the last tread. You all need to get together and make up your mind.

      • Yup typical SBI. I refuted/countered your argument pretty well, and since you know I made a good point, you just completely changed the subject with some non-sense and ignored what I said.

      • It was a silly response to a silly post. You don’t earn a spot in the NT by how you do with your club or how many minutes you’re getting. You get a call to camps and friendlies but not a spot. The only way to earn a spot is by how you in these games. This guy is either too weak to believe on his capabilities or has an overly inflated sense of entitlement. My guess is the former.

      • “You don’t earn a spot in the NT by how you do with your club or how many minutes you’re getting.”
        …you absolutely get call ups and caps, at least under Klinsy’s direction.

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