There are officially no sure bets in the MLS expansion race. Not after shaky developments out of Spain put the FC Barcelona-backed bid for a Miami team, the top bid in the race, in jeopardy.
So what's the issue now? Barcelona club members have voiced concerns over the team investing a large sum of money in MLS at a time when the global economic crisis is impacting even Barcelona's bottom line. Barcelona management responded by stating that, at the very least, the club is taking a closer look at its MLS bid and whether it might not be more prudent to hold off on a bid, which would launch in 2010.
That sound you just heard is Don Garber chugging some Pepto Bismol.
These latest developments don't necessarily mean the Miami-Barcelona bid is dead, or even mortally wounded, but it certainly casts some doubt about the bid after it had seemed a foregone conclusion that Miami would receive of the two winning bids in this round of expansion.
With Miami on shakier ground than before, the odds have improved for the other four cities in the race, meaning that with the exception of a Vancouver-Ottawa tandem, any combination of the five remaining cities could wind up being chosen by MLS.
So which cities are the favorites if Miami truly has stumbled? Folks in Ottawa and Portland will say they are, while recent comments from Don Garber that St. Louis' bid has improved makes you wonder if St. Louis finally ready to be a serious contender. Then there is Vancouver, which hasn't been getting much buzz lately, but is still a serious player considering the strong stable of investors backing the bid.
What is clear right now is that all those MLS fans who had already penciled in Miami for 2010, and who were already thinking about a road trip to the Sunshine State, might be forced to consider different plans when MLS makes its MLS expansion decision in a month.
Time for Beasley to come home
DaMarcus Beasley went another weekend without playing for Glasgow Rangers and while his absence this week was due to his recovery from an injury, the fact remains that the U.S. national team midfielder has not been playing much for Rangers and looks unlikely to become a regular again this season.
So what can Beasley do? As we have suggested in the past, a move to MLS could suit Beasley well. He is still just 26, and could be back in Europe after a season or two in Major League Soccer.
The only destination that makes sense is Los Angeles, where Beasley could be reunited with Landon Donovan and Bruce Arena. The remaining obstacle is a potential transfer of David Beckham. If the Galaxy sells Beckham to AC Milan, then the Galaxy would have the money and cap/DP slot to bring Beasley in and while Beasley doesn't have the star power of a Beckham, Beasley has the ability to make a major impact on the field in MLS.
AEG could do much worse in the wake of a Beckham transfer than to reunite Beasley with Donovan. It would make for great story lines, and would make the Galaxy a better team on the field.
The remaining question is whether Beasley wants to come. He could be looking ahead to the summer, when the Confederations Cup should afford him the opportunity impress scouts as he and the United States take on Italy, Brazil and Egypt. If he stays with Rangers he might not play, but he could also potentially be released and go into the summer a free agent.
Whatever Beasley decides, it is more clear than ever that Beasley needs to leave Scotland. There are plenty of leagues where Beasley would be better off and Major League Soccer is one of those leagues.
TFC bring in defender for trial
Toronto FC has brought on Portuguese defender Miguel Garcia for a trial. The former Sporting Lisbon right back has endured a rough few years. First, he saw a move to Reggina ruined by a major knee injury that cost him the one year he was with the Italian club. Then, Garcia signed with Standard Liege over the winter break, only to fail to earn minutes and move on after a few months.
Now Garcia, 26, is with Toronto and will be hoping to latch on and perhaps provide some insurance for a potential Marvell Wynne transfer this summer. Still no announcements on a central defender, but sources tell me the club is close to introducing a central defender in the next week or two.
What do you think of the above stories? Are you hoping Barcelona stays in the MLS expansion race? Are you hoping the Miami bid falls apart? Think Beasley should consider returning to MLS? Share your thoughts below.