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Major League Soccer


December 23, 2016
Changing the whole guard

By Brian Trusdell
Soccer News Net Contributor

Getting his own people
Curt Onalfo apparently won’t have to worry about hurting anybody’s feelings to make room for his own assistants at the LA Galaxy. According to one report (albeit on Twitter), Bruce Arena is taking his entire LA Galaxy staff (not counting Onalfo) with him to the U.S. national team: Dave Sarachan, Pat Noonan, Matt Reis and his son Kenny Arena.

Sarachan, a 62-year-old veteran of the NASL (Rochester Lancers) and MISL (Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas City), has been with Bruce Arena since joining him as an assistant in 1984. He’s had his own stints at the top job at Cornell and the Chicago Fire.

The other three have played under Arena at either the national team or club level (or both) and have been his lieutenants at the Galaxy for the past few years: Noonan, 36, since 2013 and Reis, 41, and Kenny Arena, 35, since 2014.

That will give Onalfo, who in actuality wasn’t an Arena assistant for the past three years but the head coach of the club’s LA Galaxy II developmental team in the USL, a whole staff to hire.

The right accent
An anonymous report in a British tabloid/website has Vancouver Whitecaps FC coach Carl Robinson being considered as manager of Swansea City. However, Swansea City already has a manager, former U.S. national team chieftain Bob Bradley.

Yet, after getting chastised on a radio broadcast by Danny Gabbidon – who in October said he “couldn’t take Bradley seriously” because of his New Jersey accent, now Bradley is getting slammed (in social media and similar avenues) for using the rarely uttered phrase “PK” in an interview for “penalty kick.” Is that the final straw?

(Criticism of Bradley, 58, probably also has something to do with his 2-6-2 record since taking over at Swansea and the club being tied for last place in the English Premier League.)

Without quoting any sources, The Sun said Robinson “is the shock name in the frame” to be mulled for Swansea.

Robinson, 40, has been running Vancouver for three seasons, qualifying the ‘Caps for the playoffs in his first two years but had an eighth-place finish in the MLS’ Western Conference this year with a 10-15-9 record.

Bradley qualified for the playoffs seven out of seven seasons in MLS with three teams (not counting 2005 when he was fired with three games to go but the MetroStars qualified anyway) and won MLS Cup (1998). But since Robinson played in Britain for 12 years and played for Wales 52 times, he at least wouldn’t make the unforgiveable mistake of calling a penalty a “PK."

Expansion horse race
Nashville and Charlotte have moved toward the front while St. Louis has slipped into the pack in the MLS expansion sprint, if recent reports are to be believed. Nashville’s prospects supposedly have taken a step forward with John Ingram, chairman of the Ingram Industries book and transportation conglomerate based in the city, emerging as the lead investor of the group, The Tennessean says.

Ingram’s mother, Martha, and the Ingram family is listed as worth $4.1 billion according to Forbes (No. 156 on the Forbes 400).

The announcement that Nashville will be a venue for the Gold Cup probably didn’t hurt the city and The Tennessean indicated there has been some discussion about cooperation between Vanderbilt University – which wants to build a football stadium – and Ingram (a “donor and supporter of Vanderbilt athletics”) about sharing a home.

Charlotte’s efforts have been bolstered by quiet meetings between Marcus Smith, the CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (SMI) – which owns Charlotte Motor Speedway, and “league executives and industry consultants”, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.

Smith spoke about building a “brand new stadium” and submitting a bid for a team by the end of January.

At the other end is St. Louis, whose bid took a hit earlier this week when Democrat-turned-Republican Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens called a request from the city of St. Louis for $40 million in tax credits toward a $200 million downtown stadium “welfare for millionaires."

Prospective MLS club owner SC STL asked for, and got, postponement of a scheduled vote by the Missouri Development Finance Board on the proposal. SC STL vice chairman Jim Kavanaugh, who also owns USL side St. Louis FC, said his group is working on “contingencies” if the tax credit isn’t approved.

Seven other cities supposedly are in the running: Cincinnati, Detroit, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Teams 21 and 22, Minnesota and Atlanta, start next year. No. 23, LAFC, is to start in 2018 and No. 24, Miami?...

If the other 10 hopefuls want to be one of the expansion clubs 25 or 26, they’ll have to get their bid in by Jan. 31.

Not so American soccer
There were 43 games in North America this year that topped the 40,000 plateau in attendance – only 16 of them involved a North American team.
Nearly half, 20 (including four matches involving the U.S. national team), were Copa America matches; seven were International Champions Cup club friendlies (Real Madrid-Chelsea at Ann Arbor, Mich., topping the list at 105,826); 12 were MLS games; and four were friendlies involving Mexico.
Only three games involving North American teams made the top 20: the U.S.-Argentina Copa America semifinal (69,451), the U.S.-Colombia Copa America third-place game (67,439), and the Orlando-Salt Lake MLS season opener in Florida (60,147).

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