In case you missed it, here's my weekend story on David Beckham's visit to Sun Life Stadium and FIU Stadium
I have no idea how this will all shake out, but I do know that it's very interesting and promising to have Beckham in town for 5 days touring the city and talking soccer with Marcelo Claure, a true soccer guy with tons of passion to bring a team to Miami, loads of connections, and pockets deep enough to make it happen.
I am still not completely sold on either of those venues, and not 100 percent convinced that Miami fans who care deeply about international soccer will be loyal fans of a domestic league. But with the right owners, the right stadium, and some big-name players (Miami will settle for nothing less than at least a few marquee names), anything's possible.
I do know European and South American players LOVE to visit Miami. Many have condos here. They take holiday here. If they had a chance to play here on a team owned by Beckham, some may bite.
Time will tell. What do you think? You think it could work? Where do you think they should play? Would Marlins Park work? Share your views...
So, I raced out of the new Doral Herald office at 5:20 p.m. Thursday and spent an hour in the car getting to AmericanAirlines Arena for the Big Beckham Moment. David Beckham was in town exploring MLS expansion with local cell phone mogul Marcelo Claure, and the two of them were going to the Heat-Pacers game together. Word from high up in the Claure camp was that Beckham would take a few moments to come outside Gate 4 and greet a group of Miami MLS soccer fans who had made special posters to greet the icon.
So, we all waited -- the fans and media -- outside Gate 4 for TWO AND A HALF HOURS...and neither Beckham nor Claure ever came out. They were inside hobnobbing, and sitting courtside while the fans outside were getting more deflated by the minute. I was disappointed and annoyed, but at least I was being paid to be there. I felt really bad for those poor soccer-loving souls who spent the past 3 days spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter, encouraging fans to go out and show Beckham some love, only to get ignored.
At one point, a handler came out to assess the crowd (75 people, not exactly a mob), and said Beckham's security people were figuring out logistics.
At 9 p.m., the soccer fans rolled up their banners and headed home. I have to say, it was not a good start for the Miami MLS bid. It would have taken 5 minutes max for Beckham and/or Claure to come out and say Thank You to the supporters for taking the time to be there. Loyalty is a two-way street.
Here's my story..
If you happen to be arriving at the Heat game tonight and see a commotion near Gate 4, here's why...
The Guinness International Champions Cup bracket is being released this morning.
First-round games in the West bracket: Juventus vs. Everton (July 31, San Francisco) and Real Madrid vs. LA Galaxy (Aug. 1, Phoenix)
First-round games in East bracket: Valencia vs. AC Milan (July 27, Valencia, Spain) and Chelsea vs. Inter Milan (Aug. 1, Indianapolis)
Second-round West games are in Dodger Stadium. Second-round East games are at Met Life Stadium in NY/NJ.
Championship round (all eight teams) is at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Aug. 6 and Aug. 7. Doubleheaders each day at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
In other news...Spain released its star-studded roster for the upcoming FIFA Confederations Cup, and that same team will be playing a friendly June 8 at Sun Life against Haiti. Here's who's coming..
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool) y Victor Valdés (Barcelona).
Defenders: Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Raúl Albiol (Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) y Álvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi Hernández (Barcelona) y Javi Martínez (Bayern Munich), Javi García (Manchester City), Beñat (Real Betis).
Forwards: Juan Mata (Chelsea), David Silva (Manchester City), Cesc Fábregas (Barcelona), Pedro (Barcelona), Jesús Navas (Sevilla), David Villa (Barcelona) y Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Roberto Soldado (Valencia).
Tickets are currently on sale and available through www.sunlifestadium.com and www.ticketmaster.com or by calling the stadium box office at (305) 943-8000. Tickets start at just $29 and a limited number of VIP Field seats will be made available on the sidelines to watch the match. For more information on the VIP Field Seating, teams, players and event, please visit www.sunlifestadium.com.
The David Beckham-to-Miami buzz continues.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Becks is visiting Miami this week and will be attending the Heat-Pacers game Thursday night as the guest of Marcelo Claure, the Bolivian billionaire owner of Brightstar Communications who in 2009 tried to bring an MLS team to Miami. The connection of Claure and Beckham has local fans atwitter.
MLS has announced that its next expansion team will be in New York City in 2015 -- co-owned by the Yankees and Manchester City. Atlanta and Orlando have been ahead of Miami on the list for future expansion, but Beckham's interest in Miami cannot be ignored. And Claure is a true soccer guy, former player and owns Bolivar. He also has very deep pockets and friends with very deep pockets.
A grassroots fan group called MLS Miami Bid set up a Facebook page and is calling on local fans to rally for Beckham and MLS on the steps of AmericanAirlines Arena Thursday night. Of course, Beckham may not see the rally if they hold it on the steps, as he surely will enter through the underground parking lot and a VIP entrance. Perhaps they should park themselves at the entrance to the VIP parking lot :)
In other local soccer news, the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers play FC Dallas tonight in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. NASL vs. MLS. Gametime: 7:30 p.m.
The national teams of Germany and Ecuador play a friendly Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. at FAU Stadium. Germany will be without 15 regulars, as they were wrapping up club commitments.
Three items of note this Tuesday...
MLS announced on Tuesday that there will be a second team in New York co-owned by Manchester City and the NY Yankees. The team, which is due to begin play in 2015, will be called New York City Football Club and already has a website www.nycfc.com . There are plans for a new stadium.
Hal Steinbrenner, the managing general partner of the New York Yankees, said:
“We are pleased to be associated with this major move by MLS to increase its
presence in New York and to enhance the opportunity for New York soccer fans to
enjoy high-level play in their own city.
“We look forward to working with Manchester City to create something very
special for the soccer fans of New York.”
MLS commissioner Don Garber said: “We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer. This is a transformational development that will elevate the league to new heights in this country.”
City are in New York, preparing for friendlies against Chelsea in St Louis and New York this week.
The Fort Lauderdale Strikers host the Laredo Heat (PDL) in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup tonight (Tuesday) at 7:30 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium. The tournament began last week, the six domestic NASL teams join in the secod round and the 16 domestic MLS come in at the third round. If the Strikers win tonight, they will host FC Dallas next Tuesday night at Lockhart.
Miami United, a semi-pro team which plays in the NPDL, has its home opener against the Georiga Revolution Sunday May 26 at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah. Tickets are $5 and college students get in free with school ID. Miami is 1-0-1 this season after a season-opening 3-0 win over Cape Coral Hurricanes and a 0-0 tie with the Tampa Marauders.
The team features many international players, including former Miami Fusion and Honduran national team forward Saul Martinez. Others include: Simone Quintieri (Italian ex-serie A
Indonesia and Serie B Italy Livorno), Daniele Fortunato (Italian ex
Glasgow Rangers And Pescara), Hondurans Erick Vallecillo, Henry Martinez, Carlos Palacios (calolo), and Colombian Jimmy Asprilla. There are also players from Brazil, Africa,Venezuela, Argentina and the United States.
For information, go to www.MiamiUnited.com
There will be no shortage of international soccer matches in South Florida in the coming months. Here's the latest calendar, and we're still waiting to hear the other four teams in the International Champions Cup Aug. 6-7 at Sun Life....
May 29: Germany vs. Ecuador, FAU Stadium
June 8: Spain vs. Haiti, Sun Life Stadium
June 23: Ft. Lauderdale Strikers vs. Cruzeiro, Lockhart Stadium
July 12: Gold Cup Trinidad and Tobago vs. Haiti, Honduras v. El Salvador, Sun Life Stadium
Aug. 6-7: Guinness International Champions Cup, Sun Life Stadium (Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Juventus, LA Galaxy and four more teams TBA, including English Premier League)
The CONCACAF Gold Cup schedule was released this morning. Sun Life Stadium will host two matches July 12: Haiti vs. Trinidad and Tobago, and Honduras vs. El Salvador.
The US is in a group with Belize, Cuba and Costa Rica.
Here's the full schedule...
Group A: Canada, Martinique, Mexico, Panama
Sunday, July 7: Canada vs. Martinique (5:30 p.m.) and Mexico
vs. Panama (8:00 p.m.) at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
July 11: Panama vs. Martinique (8:30 p.m.) and Mexico vs. Canada (11:00
p.m.) at CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
Sunday, July 14:
Martinique vs. Mexico (4:00 p.m.) and Panama vs. Canada (6:30 p.m.) at Sports
Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
Group B: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago
Monday, July 8: El Salvador vs. Trinidad and Tobago (7:00
p.m.) and Haiti vs. Honduras (9:30 p.m.) at Red Bull Arena, Harrison,
Friday, July 12: Trinidad and Tobago vs. Haiti (7:00
p.m.) and Honduras vs. El Salvador (9:30 p.m.) at Sun Life Stadium, Miami
Monday, July 15: El Salvador vs. Haiti (7:00
p.m.) and Honduras vs. Trinidad & Tobago (9:30 p.m.) at BBVA Compass
Stadium, Houston, Texas
Group C: Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, United States
Tuesday, July 9: Costa Rica vs. Cuba (8:30 p.m.) and Belize
vs. United States (11:00 p.m.) at JELD-WEN Field, Portland,
Saturday, July 13: United States vs. Cuba (4:00 p.m.)
and Costa Rica vs. Belize (6:30 p.m.) at Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy,
Tuesday, July 16: Cuba vs. Belize (5:30 p.m.) and
United States vs. Costa RIca (8:00 p.m.) at Rentschler Field, East Hartford,
Saturday, July 20: A2 vs. B2 (3:00 p.m.) and A1 vs. B3 or C3
(6:00 p.m.) at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
21: B1 vs. C2 (4:00 p.m.) and C1 vs. A3 or B3 (7:00 p.m.) at M&T
Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
Wednesday, July 24: Winner of Quarterfinal 3 vs. Winner of
Quarterfinal 4 (7:00 p.m.) and Winner of Quarterfinal 1 vs. Winner of
Quarterfinal 2 (10:00 p.m.) at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Sunday, July 28: Winner of Semifinal 1 vs. Winner of
Semifinal 2 (4:00 p.m.) at Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.