The soccer news starts with MLS officially announcing Austin FC will join the league in 2021. As everybody with even a moderate interest in MLS already knows, Austin was going to be the new home of the relocated Columbus Crew. Instead, Crew supporters pushed for a new investor/operator, with the team remaining in place. Former Crew investor/operator Precourt Sports Ventures is now the investor/operator of Austin FC.
“Austin is a thriving metropolitan city – the embodiment of what we mean when we say MLS is a ‘League for a new America,’” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “We are extremely proud to be the first major professional sports league to become part of the fabric of this important and thriving American city. In their support of a world-class soccer stadium that benefits the entire community, the leadership of the City of Austin has shown tremendous faith in our league and the sport of soccer in North America. I want to thank Anthony Precourt for his continued commitment to our league and Mayor Adler and the political leadership of the City of Austin for their belief in Major League Soccer.”
MLS used to be the league of choice. Either way, it’s another move into an emerging market. That used to be the polite way of saying a mid-tier city, something the league has embraced from the beginning with Columbus. With the United States undergoing demographic changes, Austin is now the 11th biggest city in the country. Soon, it will have a soccer stadium for its new team, another box checked for MLS.
Garber’s “New America” now includes three cities in the top ten by population without MLS teams. 5th-place Phoenix, 7th-place San Antonio, and 8th-place San Diego. How MLS continues to expand its footprint is once again the question. When does MLS stop expanding? What’s the limit for topflight soccer teams in North America? Austin will be the league’s 27th team, with the NFL still the biggest league in the United States at 32 teams. That league’s footprint is also an open question, with owners choosing LA over San Diego in the relocation of the Chargers and not in San Antonio. The NHL is already in Las Vegas, with the NFL joining by relocating the Oakland Raiders by the 2020 season.
For MLS, competition in markets is always a concern. Seattle is getting the NHL for the 2021-22 season and is strongly linked with the return of the NBA. Markets like Austin may be the next step for other pro sports leagues.
Moving to the soccer scores, DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for Newcastle United’s 4-2 FA Cup Third Round replay win at Blackburn. Sean Longstaff put Newcastle up in the 1st minute with Callum Roberts doubling the lead in the 22nd. Blackburn scored in the 33rd, equalizing in first-half stoppage time. That 2-2 score held through regulation. In extra time, Joselu scored in first-half stoppage time and Ayoze Perez doubled the lead in the 106th minute.
In Copa MX, Joe Corona’s Tijuana drew 1-1 at home with Atlante. Erick Castillo scored for Tijuana in the 9th minute with Atlante equalizing in the 39th. Ventura Alvarado was on the bench for Necaxa’s 2-1 home loss to Club America.
The Austin American-Statesman’s Chris Bils and Kirk Bohls on the city’s MLS team. MLSsoccer’s Charles Boehm talks to Jermaine Jones about his coaching ambitions. The Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman on Inter Miami as the team works towards their 2020 expansion season. The Toronto Star’s Laura Armstrong asks about Toronto FC’s offense, among other things. The Athletic’s Felipe Cardenas looks at what Frank de Boer needs to do with Atlanta United. FIFA does the same for Tata Martino and Mexico.
The Guardian’s David Conn updates the situation with Manchester City and Financial Fair Play.
— Concacaf (@Concacaf) January 15, 2019
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Logo courtesy of Austin FC