It has been reported that Major League Soccer officials have descended on Central Florida this week to influence Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners vote for a soccer facility that will host the third division Orlando City in their proposed move to Major League Soccer. I can confirm through my sources in Central Florida that Orlando City Soccer Club does NOT currently have the number of votes needed as of press time to get the project passed through the Orange County Commission.
It is generally acknowledged that in the area that a MLS team would be a boom for Orlando, both economically and in terms of international stature. Everyone in the political leadership at the City and County level want MLS. The question is after the City has poured over a hundred million dollars into the renovation of the Citrus Bowl, a project that that will be complete by the start of 2015 MLS season, why should Orlando City have a different facility? Clearly as a fan of this sport everyone reading this understands why Orlando City Soccer Club must have a soccer-specific stadium, but some locally don’t see the logic we do.
One way or another, I predict the concerns are eased and the project passes. MLS will then award Orlando a franchise at MLS Cup 2013.
In the Bundesliga, The ghost goal by Stefan Kießling temporarily lifted Leverkusen top of the table but it seems if Bayern continue to improve as we saw in the second half of the 4-1 win against Mainz, everyone else is playing for second. Bayern, down a goal at halftime answered the challenge resoundingly by pushing their full backs further forward and tearing Mainz to shreds in the second half. In the process, Bayern returned to the summit in the Bundesliga.
AS Roma’s start has been too good to believe and while the 2-0 scoreline on Friday I felt was harsh on second placed Napoli, Roma fully deserved the three points. One under discussed story has been the revival of both Gervinho and Maicon exploiting the flanks and space. Gervinho’s best years were with Rudi Garcia at Lille and the French manager has found the formula again for the Ivorian to excel.
As an American, I take a great deal of pride in Giuseppe Rossi’s accomplishments. His second half hat-trick for Fiorentina against Juventus made me very proud. I know many Americans detest Rossi for choosing the Italian National Team over the USMNT but I have always defended him by saying he had to follow his heart and he is every bit as American as the rest of us. Others say since he was born and raised in the USA, he should have played for the United States. If we used that standard then several current US Men’s National Team players would have been ineligible to play for the USA.
FC Dallas fizzled out this season but I must pay tribute to Schellas Hyndman who, over the course of five full seasons, did an excellent job finding talent and integrating college stars into his FC Dallas team. This season was a disappointment considering the Hoops start but Hyndman’s contributions to MLS and FC Dallas should never be forgotten.
Another former college soccer manager, Caleb Porter, made Portland Timbers far and away the best team to watch in MLS. Slick passing, excellent movement off the ball and the incredible atmosphere at Jeld-Wen Field give MLS their most European feeling side in many years.
With Sunday’s draw versus FC Edmonton, the revived New York Cosmos need just one point or Tampa Bay to drop a point in the final two weeks to clinch a Soccer Bowl berth. This comes as the Cosmos have played just half the NASL season, playing in the fall while the league crowns a champion for both the Fall and Spring based on the results of both competitions. It’s important to note the Cosmos didn’t ask to be able to simply play in the Fall Season. The NASL knew that the Cosmos would not be ready for the Spring Season but allowed New York to compete in the second half of the season. The NASL’s split-season format had much promise but is proving to be almost unworkable. The different number of teams in 2013, where the Fall Season will been won by a team that did not compete in the Spring Season but is now eligible for the overall annual title, is one issue. This will be replaced by a different set of issues next season: a different number of games in 2014 — ten games in the Spring Season and twenty games in the Fall Season. Yet both seasons are weighted equally in determining Soccer Bowl participation in 2014.
Leeds United welcomed hero former skipper Lucas Radebe back to Elland Road on Saturday and the result was a resounding 4-0 win over Birmingham City. Brian McDermott’s teams tend to get rolling later in the season and then keep rolling. Perhaps this is the start of Leeds charge up the Championship table?
Sheffield Wednesday is quite possibly the worst side currently in the top two divisions of English football, besides over-extended Yeovil. However, manager Dave Jones has to be applauded for his resourcefulness in squeezing out difficult draws. Wednesday still has not won a match, but yet is far from being cut adrift in the relegation battle. Saturday’s 1-1 draw at the Reebok Stadium against fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers was another decent result in tough stretch of matches.
Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini showed some pragmatism for the first time away from home this season as the Blues got their first away victory in the league. Taking a page out of Roberto Mancini’s playbook, Pellegrini made defensive minded substitutions early on in the second half to where the types of things that happened late on against Cardiff City and Aston Villa were effectively prevented. It may not be the type of football many City supporters and the top brass at the club wanted when they sacked Mancini, but it has proven to be a winning Premier League formula.
It was good to see Aaron Lennon return from injury and contribute to Tottenham‘s second half win. The winger got hurt at the wrong time just as Spurs were shopping in the transfer window and as Andros Townsend was beginning to show improvement. Lennon is unlikely to ever regain his starting spot from Townsend and may even fall behind Erik Lamela in the pecking order, but it is good to see an injury-prone player fight for his place in such a competitive side. In the event, however improbable, that Lennon regains his starting position, he must be in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup plans if fit.
Monaco’s set piece defending in the 2-2 draw with Sochaux was criminally negligent. Claudio Ranieri has stressed shape and organization but conceding twice on set pieces in the second half — even while Monaco continued to control the flow of play — will irk the manager to no end. It also means Monaco has fallen behind PSG in the table for the first time this season. My fear is now that PSG sits atop the table, they may never relinquish that spot. Neutrals everywhere hope someone can challenge the Paris club, but if Monaco gives away games like this one, the title is already decided.