Big names push up MLS attendance

first_imgDENVER (AP):Kaka and David Villa are raising the profile of Major League Soccer (MLS). Clint Dempsey and the US national teams have done their part, too.Buoyed by international football icons and capitalising on recent World Cup success by the American men’s and women’s national teams, the league is drawing record numbers so far this season, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in an interview with The Associated Press this week.MLS averages 21,109 spectators a game, a figure bolstered by the additions of Orlando City (Kaka’s squad) and New York City FC (Villa’s team). The 20-team league also has new television deals that allow their stars to be seen all over the globe.MLSLOSINGMONEYStill, MLS is losing money – Garber declined to give an exact figure – as teams write big cheques for top players and fund player development through academy programmes to discover the next Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan or Dempsey.”We’re still in investment mode,” said Garber, whose MLS All-Stars beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Wednesday. “But there’s a lot of momentum for the sport of football in the US and Canada, and that is empowering.”Next on the docket? Expansion. Atlanta is scheduled to join MLS in 2017 and a second team in Los Angeles the following season. Down the road, Miami and Minnesota are expected to come on board as well.Garber threw his support behind a plan presented by retired football icon David Beckham to officials in Miami. Beckham and his partners are looking at the former Orange Bowl site, with the field financed privately and built on city-owned land at an estimated cost of around $200 million.”We believe Miami will be a great MLS market and we look forward to bringing the whole project across the finish line,” Garber said.As for Minnesota, that’s proving a little more challenging. With the passing of an early July deadline for a stadium plan in Minneapolis, the league is turning its attention towards St Paul.”We’ve now become intrigued by a possibility of having a stadium be in St Paul,” Garber said. “Similar with Miami, though, without a stadium, you can’t go forward anywhere. But we remain hopeful.”Other potential markets include Sacramento, St Louis or San Diego, he said.”That speaks to this overall growth period that we’re going through,” Garber said. “You have to do expansion right. There’s no rush. If we have to wait any period of time to get it right, we’re willing to do that.”Garber is encouraged by the number of foreign players headlining MLS rosters – and not just as a last resort.Sebastian Giovinco, the 28-year-old former Juventus standout, has 13 goals and 10 assists for Toronto FC this season.Then there’s Kaka and Villa, a pair of 33-year-old highly decorated players who are demonstrating they still have flashy moves. Kaka scored on a penalty kick in the MLS All-Star game and set up Villa’s goal.last_img read more

Key backroom duo understood to have signed new contracts with Leicester City

first_imgLeicester head of recruitment Steve Walsh and assistant manager Craig Shakespeare are understood to have signed new contracts with the Premier League champions.The pair have been in talks with the club for several weeks and Press Association Sport understands they have now put pen to paper on the deals, which are thought to run until the summer of 2018.Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri had said he was keen to see improved contracts for the two men, who have been instrumental in both Leicester’s return to the top flight and this season’s title success.Walsh and his scouting team have unearthed gems such as Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante while Shakespeare has played a pivotal role in maintaining the bond between the players and staff following last summer’s departure of former manager Nigel Pearson.Shakespeare and Walsh have been on the coaching staff at Leicester since November 2011. Steve Walsh and Craig Shakespeare 1last_img read more