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January 6, 2017
Vegas wants back into MLS expansion race

by Brian Trusdell
Soccer News Net Contributor

Expansion horse race re-entry?
Las Vegas’ hopes of getting an MLS team were put on hold nearly two years ago when Commissioner Don Garber said Sin City wouldn’t be considered “until after 2018." Two years until the start of 2019, Las Vegas is moving to re-enter the race.

The city council on Wednesday voted – albeit not unanimously (5-2) – to spend $80,000 to sell the idea of the gambling mecca to potential investors/club owners as a future MLS team home.

The move to hire New York-based Inner Circle Sports to develop a strategy for luring MLS to the middle of the Nevada desert comes two-and-a-half years ago after the city had reached an agreement with a developer and a private investor to build a 24,000-seat stadium that would cost anywhere from $200 million to $410 million – depending on whose report you believe.

That was a contentious deal, at least among the council representatives, and the new money doesn’t appear to be any less so, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Jockeying for position
Across the country, near water, is the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ effort. That includes plans to renovate 7,200-seat Al Lang Stadium on the Tampa Bay into an 18,000-capacity venue, which were to go before St. Petersburg’s city council this week.

Rowdies chairman/CEO Bill Edwards would privately finance the $80 million renovation, which needs approval not for funding but for permission to make the 70-year-old baseball park into a more modern soccer venue.

If the council OKs the plans, a voter referendum would be needed for final blessing. It’s a bid that the Cincinnati Enquirer says has “industry insiders” referring to the Rowdies as “silent assassins” of the MLS expansion process.

Up the road in Charlotte, a report in the Charlotte Business Journal says that the discussions between Speedway Motorsports head Marcus Smith and city officials include a $180 million-$190 million upgrade of that city’s Memorial Stadium, a nearly 800 percent leap from the previously mentioned $25 million paint job.

According to the report, the city and county of Mecklenburg would each kick in $50 million with Smith to pay for the rest – about $50 million to $90 million. Smith would also pick up the ($150 million?) expansion fee.

San Jose United FC?
Maybe MLS should consider another team in San Jose – the one in Costa Rica. Teams in the league already have transferred four players this offseason from Deportivo Saprissa, which plays in the Costa Rican capital’s suburb of San Juan de Tibas.

Houston has acquired Panamanian defender Adolfo Machado, expansion side Minnesota has added Costa Rican international defender Francisco Calvo and the Portland Timbers apparently got a bulk discount, signing defensive midfielder Daniel Guzman and former Red Bulls outside back Roy Miller – both Costa Rican.

That’s not to mention Jose Guillermo Ortiz, who is on loan to D.C. United from Herediano for this coming season, or Jose Salvatierra, who FC Dallas has borrowed from Alajuelense, and it also doesn’t count other Saprissa players Daniel Colindres, Marvin Angulo and Shaquille Jimenez, who MLS teams are reportedly contemplating acquiring.

Beyond that, seven Costa Ricans already ply their trade in MLS (OK, six if you count’ Ariel Lassiter as an American and not a Tico.)

More European grass turning brown
For at least the third time in the past year, a report has highly touted former U.S. Under-20 midfielder Junior Flores as returning to the United States and joining – or rejoining -- MLS, like so many before him.

The latest is a tweet from Washington Post reporter Steve Goff, who posted that the 20-year-old Flores – who signed with Borussia Dortmund more than two years ago – has agreed to a three-year deal with MLS and that while his new club is still undetermined Columbus is the likely destination.

Goff tweeted in April that Flores was outbound from Dortmund either to MLS or smaller German club, but regardless his two-year endless European summer appears to be, well, at an end.

He’s just the latest in a litany of “next greatest things” to leave for Europe, like Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore (and that’s just a quick run through the “As”), only to return home. It also doesn’t begin to examine players like Flores who never tried MLS before heading east.

One might think that the experiences of many of the players that went to Europe previously, of Bob Bradley – who had less than three months as coach of Swansea -- and the tenure of Jurgen Klinsmann as U.S. national team coach would prove a cautionary tale to young prodigies. It’s a theme that includes not only is a career in soccer an iffy proposition, it’s even more iffy for an American in European soccer.

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