You never know who you're going to run into at the World Cup! I was at the Sao Paulo airport early this morning with the US media corps getting ready to board our flight to Natal when we ran into....MLB 12-time All-Star catcher Mike Piazza, wearing a pink Palermo FC hoodie. Turns out Piazza, who has lived in Miami Beach for 12 years, is a HUGE soccer fan. He attended the Brazil-Croatia opener and was headed to Manaus to see England vs. Italy (his second team, along with USA) on Saturday.
Piazza told us his dad used to take him to see Philadelphia Fever games and he remembered seeing Pele playing in the NASL. He dabbled in soccer himself, and sees himself as a center back ("my lack of speed would hurt me at any other position'').
He said he would love to see an MLS team in Miami.
"I hope David Beckham can reach a compromise with the city and get a team there,'' he said. "I have been in Miami 12 years now, and love how the city has evolved. I remember going to Miami-Dade College back in 1987-88 and South Beach was just starting to change. Now, with South Beach and downtown and the Brickell area, it has really become an international destination. A soccer team would add to that.
"My kids go to school with kids from so many other countries and soccer is a big part of the culture and fabric of our community. I'm not sure if the Port was the right spot, or the FEC slip. I'm a taxpayer and I understand the concerns, but I think downtown would be great because people can go to bars and restaurants before and after, families can hang out in the area, it could be great. I really hope Miami takes that step and makes this happen. I would definitely go, and would like to be involved.''