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Major Link Soccer: Orlando close to stadium deal

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If Orange County votes in favor of the downtown stadium deal, Orlando will be announced as the next MLS franchise.

Ljungberg will join Thierry Henry in a 3 month tournament in India
Ljungberg will join Thierry Henry in a 3 month tournament in India
Otto Greule Jr

Seattle Sounders

Popular soccer magazine Four Four Two has a feature on the rivalry between the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. In it, Obafemi Martins expresses his belief that the league is growing at a rapid pace and that young players in Africa should pay attention.

Orlando

Only one hurdle remains before Orlando can be announced as the 21st franchise in MLS. If Orange County votes today to approve funding for the $84 million downtown Orlando stadium deal, the league will make an official announcement "very quickly". The county would provide the last $20 million of funding needed by steering county tourism tax dollars toward the project. MLS president Mark Abbott and Orlando City owner Phil Rawlins met with the Orange County commissioners yesterday in an attempt to address any reservations some of the commissioners may have regarding the project.

As if Orlando City SC's strong average attendance of over 8,000 and growing substantially each year isn't enough evidence of a soccer supporting community, the USWNT's November 10 friendly against Brazil at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando has sold over 10,000 tickets in 4 days since ticket sales opened to the public.

Major League Soccer

Another stadium deal for an existing MLS team still in an earlier stage is the potential DC United stadium deal. Although a preliminary deal between DC United and the District of Columbia was reached in July, there has been some resistance to the terms of the deal. This has led to the formation of the "Winning Goal Coalition", whose purpose is to attempt to push DC United for better terms from the perspective of DC taxpayers.

The race for the Supporters Shield is now down to the New York Red Bulls, Sporting Kansas City, the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake. All of those teams have taken different paths to put themselves in position to contend for the Shield. Sporting Kansas City's run for the Shield and the top spot in the Eastern Conference was built on the strength of its league-best defense. Despite their strong defending, the team MVP award went to Graham Zusi. There is no word yet on whether Zusi has been voted as Mexico's MVP.

Reports suggesting some of England's biggest clubs are interested in signing Vancouver Whitecaps 18 year-old striker Kekuta Manneh aren't showing any signs of dying down. Considering Manneh's age, speed and recent form, it's not difficult to imagine Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal getting into a bit of a bidding war for the Gambian.

Another young MLS striker is in the news, with Diego Fagundez having been granted a green card. This has breathed new life into discussions about whether he will play at the international level for the United States or Uruguay.

At the other end of the career spectrum, Montreal Impact and former Italy defender Alessandro Nesta announced over the weekend that he will retire at the end of the season. He plans to take a break for a few months before pursuing a career in coaching.

MLS has announced the timeline of when its end of the season awards will be announced. The first awards will be announced on November 25, a day after the second leg of the last conference final. The announcements will lead into the MLS Cup Final on December 7, with the MVP, Goal of the Year and Save of the Year awards announced on December 5.

When the Sounders host the LA Galaxy on the final day of the regular season, they won't be the only team battling injuries going into the playoffs. Landon Donovan is trying to play through an ankle injury. Omar Gonzalez still isn't over his adductor injury that he's dealt with for most of the past year.

The Portland Timbers have a new celebrity fan. Portland fans may or may not be pleased to learn that Joey Barton is one of them.

US Soccer

USMNT and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard will make his broadcasting debut with our own Arlo White on NBC Sports Network next Sunday in the match between Chelsea and Manchester City.

Alex Morgan participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything yesterday. She addressed everything from whether she'll refer to herself as "Captain Morgan" if/when she is named the USWNT captain to how she prepares for playing on artificial turf.

College Soccer

In this week's MLS on Campus feature, which is essentially power rankings for college soccer, Washington moved up one spot to #2 and Sean Okoli's Wake Forest jumped 4 spots to #4.

Women's Soccer

Al Jazeera America has a story by Graham Parker extolling the Portland Thorns for the club's early success, both on the field and in the bleachers. Parker examines whether Portland could serve as a model for success in women's professional soccer.

England

Manchester United and France fullback Patrice Evra said in a recent interview that he won't sign a new contract with Manchester United for personal reasons. He also criticized several former players for France, which hasn't gone over too well on the other side of the English Channel.

Former West Ham United manager Harry Redknapp related a story over the weekend on the Jonathan Ross Show of a time when a West Ham fan relentlessly criticized his decisions from the stands during a friendly match that Redknapp finally had enough and put the fan on the pitch.

Flares at matches in England have become a serious issue in the minds of police after a referee's assistant was hit with a flare thrown by a visiting supporter in last weekend's match between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park.

After a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan missed a home game for the first time in 37 years for the wedding of his stepdaughter, the club decided to reward his loyalty. Wolves record goal scorer Steve Bull was sent to the wedding as a surprise for Peter Abbott and his family. Abbott, who hadn't missed a match since he was 16, will be honored at today's match against Oldham.

England's Football Association continues to celebrate its sesquicentennial. In a ceremony at Wembley Stadium yesterday, descendants of the founders of the game of association football were honored with the unveiling of a blue plaque. The FA was able to track down descendants of 6 of the 8 founding fathers for the ceremony.

Portugal

Fredy Montero's 12 goals in Sporting CP's first 8 games of the season is even better than the start Brazilian striker Mário Jardel had in the 2001/02 season, when he scored 55 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions. 17 of those goals were penalties. That season also marked the last time Sporting won the league.

Italy

Just as current Serie A leader AS Roma was getting some good news, with the return of Michael Bradley to the lineup, the Giallorossi has lost its captain Francesco Totti for a month, due to a hamstring injury.

Spain

Tata Martino hasn't wasted any time in molding Barcelona according to his own philosophy. He has already made some key tactical adjustments that seem to directly address areas of weakness that were exploited by Champions League opponents last season.

Despite the tactical shifts, both Barcelona and Atlético Madrid dropped points for the first time this season over the weekend. They remain the top two teams in La Liga at the moment.

India

A new league tournament is being launched in India next January. Like MLS, the league will be franchise-based. Unlike MLS, it will only involve 8 teams and last for 3 months. Some big names have already been signed for the competition, including Thierry Henry, Dwight Yorke, Robert Pires, Hernan Crespo, Louis Saha and former Sounder Freddie Ljungberg.

FIFA

The Brazilian government has launched an investigation of FIFA's official tour operator, which is selling hotel rooms for next June for 40% above the normal rates for that time of year in Brazil.

Jerome Valcke, the head of FIFA's committee tasked with exploring the possibility of moving the 2022 World Cup to the winter, has voiced his support for staging the World Cup in December.

The draw for the European playoff for UEFA's final 4 spots in next year's World Cup was held yesterday, resulting in the following match-ups:

  • Portugal vs. Sweden
  • Ukraine vs. France
  • Greece vs. Romania
  • Iceland vs. Croatia

A FIFA official who was banned for seeking bribes in exchange for his World Cup vote is now free to once again take a role in football administration after serving a 3 year ban. He plans on returning to an administrative role, but perhaps not one with such a high profile in the near future.

UEFA Champions League

One of the marquee matchups in Champions League this week features Arsenal, the top team in England, against Borussia Dortmund, last year's runner up in the Champions League Final.