Monday’s soccer news starts with the Sacramento MLS expansion bid needing a new principle investor/operator. In a statement released on Friday, Major League Soccer wrote that “earlier today, Ron Burkle informed the league that based on issues with the project related to COVID-19, he has decided to not move forward with the acquisition of an MLS expansion team in Sacramento. After working for many years to bring an MLS team to Sacramento, the league continues to believe it can be a great MLS market. In the coming days, the league will work with Mayor Darrell Steinberg to evaluate possible next steps for MLS in Sacramento.”
Set to begin play in 2023 along with St Louis, that expansion class would bring the league to 30 teams. Though nothing is stopping the league from continued expansion, some took that to at least be the point where the league takes some time off. Since 2017 with the move from 20 to 22 clubs, MLS has added expansion teams every season.
The Sacramento Bee’s Tony Bizjak and Marcos Breton reported that there was no final deal between Burkle and MLS, allowing for the scenario that played out on Friday. Sacramento would’ve originally taken the field next season with their Railyards stadium set for a 2023 debut. MLS commissioner Don Garber used the league’s official statement to make it clear that 30 teams is still the plan. “Interest in owning a club in Major League Soccer has never been higher,” he wrote. “And I remain incredibly optimistic about finalizing expansion plans for our 30th team.”
In their own statement released on Friday, the USL version of the Sacramento Republic said, “We understand the feelings of anger, disappointment and frustration – we share in those deeply. Today’s announcement is not a reflection of the fans, Sacramento or this club…. There is much more information to come about how we will continue our MLS journey. What we do know unequivocally is we have a season ahead just around the corner, three trophies to win, and a community to represent to the world.”
Also in the soccer news, Manchester City beat West Ham 2-1 at home on Saturday. Manchester United drew 0-0 at Chelsea on Sunday. That means City now has a dozen-point lead over United at the top of the Premier League table with a dozen games left. Even in this strange season of what passes for parity in England’s topflight, it’s tough to see United or 3rd-place Leicester City a point behind them, pushing Manchester City into a title race.
“It is so difficult. To have 20 wins in this period, I think this could be the greatest achievement we have done,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said. “It doesn’t mean we have won the title of course, but in winter time in England, every three days a game, COVID-19 situation, injuries… winning, winning, winning shows strength, mentally.”
He’s certainly not wrong about what needs to come together for this type of streak. No manager in their right mind is going to go ahead and congratulate their team on a title they haven’t technically won. Still, it’s abundantly clear on the first day of March that this is a version of City that’s doing so many things right that they should expect enough of the same to carry them through. What that means for the rest of the domestic treble and the Champions League is already the question.
USMNT and Swansea City player Paul Arriola talks to The Washington Post’s Steven Goff. AP reports that Chinese Super League club and defending champions Jiangsu FC is out of business. Wild East Football’s Cameron Wilson writes about the state of the Chinese Super League from a supporter perspective. The NY Times’ Rory Smith on Oscar picking China over Europe in 2016 when the league was spending big on players.
All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rendering courtesy of the Sacramento Republic