The soccer news starts with a familiar MLS story. The league expands to Miami and ends up playing in Fort Lauderdale. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the old Fusion scenario is now playing out again with David Beckham’s Inter Miami. We already knew that the team would start life in a rebuilt version of the Fusion’s old home Lockhart Stadium. Now, the team is talking about their eventual move to Miami potentially taking longer than expected.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Susannah Bryan reports that Inter Miami may be in Fort Lauderdale for multiple MLS seasons. It’s worth another reminder that in the old NASL era, Fort Lauderdale and Miami were considered separate markets. There’s a good reason for that with Fort Lauderdale 30 miles north. In the interim, the Florida Panthers NHL team decided to stretch the limits of the Miami region playing even further away from downtown Miami in Sunrise. That might speak to the overall growth of the region, but the biggest issue that led to the Fusion’s short stay in MLS was their location.
Miami entered the league the same year as Chicago in 1998, the original MLS expansion class. The Fusion lasted four seasons before joining Tampa as the first contraction class. A Miami team playing in Fort Lauderdale never unlocked the broader metropolitan area. Sitting so far north, it wasn’t a viable option for too many fans. Attempts to relocate to the Orange Bowl stalled, with the Fusion stuck at the old home of the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Inter Miami is now following the Fusion’s lead. On the site of what was once Lockhart Stadium, Miami will begin MLS play this season. The stadium should be nicer than the original that was showing its age in the Fusion era. It’s still a difficult location, even for Fort Lauderdale fans. In an era where MLS is moving to the urban core, Lockhart isn’t even close to downtown Fort Lauderdale, much less the middle of the Miami metro area.
Whether or not Inter Miami underestimated Miami politics, the Fort Lauderdale option is two things at once. It’s not the best solution for a Miami team and it’s an old answer to an old problem for MLS. We’ve seen this before. How Inter Miami addresses that starts with their first home game and continues until they get a stadium approved somewhere in Miami.
SI.com’s Grant Wahl has sporting director Earnie Stewart’s comments about the USMNT’s situation going into the November friendlies. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle also has Stewart talking about the USMNT program. Yahoo Sports’ Doug McIntyre has more from Stewart.
Pro Soccer USA’s Julia Poe talks to MLS Cup winners Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan now in camp with the USMNT. The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter interviews Dave Romney about his trade from the Galaxy to Nashville. The Austin American-Statesman’s Chris Bils reports on Austin FC’s proposed training facility.
BBC Sport’s Jack Skelton and David Lockwood look at the Premier League’s response to environmental issues. FourFourTwo’s Andy Mitten argues that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may work out for Manchester United.
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