Todd Berner | Hobbies & Interests

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Tag: Futbol

The MLS in Minneapolis

The MLS is a growing professional league with bright prospects. A single team is on average worth $103 million. In just twenty years, the league has expanded from ten teams to what will be twenty-three by 2017, and this is just the beginning. Now even Minneapolis is getting in on the action.

With only five professional teams since 1970, there must be a serious push for Major League Soccer to even be considered in the Twin Cities, and that is exactly what’s happening. William W. McGuire, the former chief executive of UnitedHealth Group and the owner of the Minesota United of the North American Soccer League, is spearheading the effort and attempting to launch the expansion franchise by claiming he will build an open-air soccer stadium with private money.

He has committed $250 million (100 for the M.L.S. expansion fee and 150 for the stadium itself) and intends to focus solely on soccer. This is fantastic news for soccer because the Wilf family, owner of the Minnesota Vikings, opposes the M.L.S. expansion. An immensely powerful family, they potentially have (or rather had) the ability to shut down the project entirely.

Before McGuire pledged the $250 million, they were bidding to make the team play in the Vikings stadium. Had this transpired, soccer would be relegated to a position of lesser significance. It would come after the Vikings. It would, in short, be second.

Mcguire explains, “The sport I love would be a second priority. The N.F.L. is a gold mine, and everything else has to be second. There was always a chance the league would look at that situation and say ‘This is what we want to do.’…the best thing for soccer is to have soccer-specific stadiums, if it could be pulled off, rather than putting the sport into a stadium that’s fundamentally built for something else.”

M.L.S. officials agreed with McGuire and allowed him to build the purposeful stadium he envisioned. Funny enough, McGuire was not born into a soccer-filled childhood. Hailing from Troy, New York, his 6’6” lent itself to basketball and he played at Clear Creek High School in Texas. He spent his spare time fishing instead of kicking a ball around—until 2011, that is. That’s when the N.A.S.L. took control of the at-the-time failing Minnesota franchise, the Stars.

The N.A.S.L. got in touch with Bill’s daughter who, in turn, got in touch with Bill. Still, he was not interested. It was only after going to a couple games and meeting fans in 2012 that he changed his tune. Taken with their passion for the sport and the palpable energy immersing the sport, Bill decided he’d give it a shot. In fact, Bill took on the initiative with an eye to philanthropy than profit. “It was not analyzed extensively on a financial basis,” he claimed.

A sport that has never received much publicity is being kept alive based off of its presence in the community. McGuire elaborated “It was something we should not let disappear from the community after 35, 36 years.” If soccer is already being kept alive on goodwill even without the following it’s known for across the world, it bodes very well for the future of the sport.

Major League Soccer is making a splash in professional sports, and I expect it will only continue.

USMNT Training Camp is Upon Us

It is time, my fellow USMNT fans, to rejoice and celebrate the beginning of training camp. The roster has been called forth by Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, identifying 28 players we could well see representing us in the coming World Cup. Take a gander below (referenced here):

Goalkeeper: Nick Ramando, Jon Kempin, Sean Johnson, Alex Bono

Defenders: Oscar Sorto, Shane O’Neil, Perry Kitchen, Jermaine Jones, Brad Evans, Christian Dean, Steve Birnbaum, Matt Besler

Midfield: Will Trapp, Brek Shea, Dillon Serna, Marc Pelosi, Lee Nguyen, Miguel Ibarra, Luis Gill, Dennis Flores, Max Diskerud, Michael Bradley

Forwards: Gyasi Zardes, Bobby Wood, Chris Wondolowski, Julio Morales, Clint Dempsey, Tesho Akindele.

The camp is bound to promise a comprehensive review of all selected players. This new squad has a few familiar faces as well as a breath of fresh air in its new candidates. It appears 2018 is promising for a new and exciting look into a different team capable of providing the same exhilaration we have grown accustomed to. Joining the likes of esteemed veterans Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, Marc Pelosi in particular is a promising midfielder to watch.

The former captain of the U17 team, Pelosi is sure to provide an athletic spectacle. After signing for Liverpool but breaking his leg early on, his future has been uncertain. Luckily for him, he will now have Michael Bradley by his side to offer some guidance, thus (hopefully) elevating his game. Already currently exhibiting skill in the Liverpool U21’s, this is his well-deserved chance to see some playing time at the national level.

While of course it is exciting to see so many veterans, I do think it comes as a bit of a surprise. Personally, I was expecting a team completely full of new and invigorating players, ready to shed tears, sweat, and blood if need be for a shot at the World Cup. That said, I am sure the veterans will give it their all. Not to mention, their combined experience, field awareness, and refined skill may just give the USMNT the extra push they need for an even deeper run than before in the upcoming tournament of tournaments.

As a side note, it should be noted that both Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans will not be participating in this camp. Although listed for the roster, the reason why I listed them above, it says here that they may very well not be playing in reality. For Evans, it appears injuries like tendonitis in his knee will be barring his attendance. For Dempsey, the reason for his absence remains to be seen.

No matter what you think of the roster, I’m sure we can all agree that we are excited to see the USMNT back together again. The energy is palpable. The anticipation is building. The cup is coming.

P.S.: For your ticket to the first friendly against Iceland in Carson, California, click here.