Meet the Beckhams

According to Reuters, Victoria Beckham has signed a deal with NBC to star in a reality show. The six half-hour episodes will focus on the Beckhams upcoming move from Europe to Los Angeles.
Said Kevin Reilly, head of NBC entertainment publicity, "The series will give viewers a glimpse into what makes Victoria so popular and admired as one of the most glamorous women in the world."

The show, set to air later this summer, will be produced by 19 Entertainment's Simon Fuller - the man behind American Idol and a former Spice Girl manager.

Robbie Fowler to MLS?

There are conflicting reports over Robbie Fowler's future, including his reported switch to Major League Soccer. The 31-year-old Liverpool forward has been continually linked with the MLS and, specifically, the New England Revolution. Fowler and current Revs coach Steve Nicol were teammates at Anfield over a decade ago.

Nicol claims he has talked to Fowler about making the jump to the MLS when his contract expires this summer. "... he's dipping his foot in the water. The problem we have is that, because of the type of money David Beckham has got, a lot of people think everybody has that kind of money - which is not the case." Fowler's agent, George Scott, is now contradicting those reports. "He has not had a conversation with Steve and I don't think they could afford him anyway," Scott told BBC Radio. "If he was to think about moving, Qatar or Dubai could be an option."

Fowler would certainly be welcome in New England and could be a good fit up top with Taylor Twellman. Fowler is fourth on the list of all-time goal scorers in the Premiership.


Women's Soccer League To Return

A new women's professional soccer league is set to be launched in 2008, according to MSNBC. Five teams will play a 20-game schedule, running April-August, and will extend into the fall with playoffs. Cities that will host teams are Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis. The Los Angeles team will be owned by AEG and play at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

The new league hopes to capitalize on attention generated by the 2007 Women's World Cup, which will be held in China this September. It will replace the WUSA, which folded in 2003 when average attendance hovered around 4,500.

The Home Depot Center will now host three professional soccer teams, a lacrosse team and the X-Games every summer, not including the occassional Kenny Chesney or Dave Matthews concert.

Adu's Brother Signs At George Mason

Better known as the younger brother of Real Salt Lake's Freddy Adu, Fro Adu has just signed a national letter of intent with George Mason University. Fro will be 16 when he graduates from Georgetown Preparatory School in June. He plays on the U.S. U-17 National Team.
"First of all, it's great because I'm going to college. That makes my mom happy because Freddy didn't go to college. He did the soccer thing," Adu told ESPN.

About his brother, Fro says, "I'm just like, 'Yeah, I'm Freddy's brother. It's all positive to me, no negative. I definitely look up to him."


And The Oscar Goes To...

Well, he may not be starring in the movie, but David Beckham will reportedly make a cameo in the upcoming World War I movie "Truce". According to a production insider, "He has agreed to appear as a Britich soldier in the football scenes. Although he is moving to L.A., he has no great aspirations to become a major movie actor."

Truce is a story about the unofficial truce of Christmas 1914 when English and German soldiers laid down their arms, emerged from the trenches to sing carols and play football in no-man's land. Beckham will play one of the soldiers who took part in the match.

Perhaps there will be a Golden Globe in Golden Balls' future?


Bornstein Injured

Upcoming U.S. National team and Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein has suffered a partial tear of his left MCL and is expected to miss six weeks. That means he won't be a part of the USMNT's games against Ecuador and Guatemala next month and his status is in question for the Chivas season opener against Toronto FC, scheduled for April 7th. His injury occurred during practice on Thursday.

Bornstein, 22, was the MLS Gatorade Rookie of the Year last year, registering 6 goals and 4 assists. He made his debut for the USMNT last month vs. Denmark, scoring the second goal in a 3-1 U.S. victory. He also played all 90 minutes of the U.S. win over Mexico earlier this month.


RBNY Update: Arena Does About-Face

Bruce Arena apparently put the cart before the bull when he told reporters that the Red Bulls were ready to announce how they planned to use their second Designated Player slot. "I don't think it's going to happen. We've had some setbacks. We're not going to do anything that's a mistake so it's highly unlikely that we'll announce a signing next week. We're not ready yet," Arena announced today.

This was revealed on the same day that FIFA ratified the one-year ban of Agustin Delgado. The Ecuadorian was one of 11 players banned for between 2-12 months for taking part in a vicious melee at the end of local club LDU's 1-1 draw at home to Barcelona in December. So, by putting one and one together, it's safe to assume that Delgado was the target of the RBNY DP talk, and the deal only fell through because Delgado's suspension was upheld.

RBNY will likely keep the 2nd DP slot in their back-pocket, at least until the summer transfer window, when Zinedine Zidane will surely fly out of retirement and onto the football turf of Giants Stadium for the miniscule pricetag of $20 million/year.


Red Bulls To Annonce New Signing

Apparently, Red Bull New York isn't quite done making moves yet. In an e-mail interview last week, RBNY owner Dietrich Mateschitz said that it would be better to wait until the team gets into Red Bull Park next year before adding a foreign player of major stature. Now, coach Bruce Arena has revealed that a major signing will be announced either this week or next. He went on to say that it will likely fill the club's second Designated Player slot.
There are several names floating around that could be the signing in question:

It might be Agustin Delgado, a 32-year-old Ecuadorian forward, currently suspended from his club, LDU Quito, for his role in a brawl with players from Barcelona de Guayaquil. He has 31 goals in 70 appearances for the Ecuador National Team.

Another name out there is Robbie Fowler, 31-year-old striker from Liverpool. However, Fowler has been connected to the New England Revolution in recent days and it's less likely that he would be the signing to which Arena was eluding.

Of course, some people will be bringing up Zinedine Zidane's name again. Rumors have been swirling that ZZ wants to come out of retirement and would entertain offers of $15 million/year or more to play in America. This is still a long-shot, but Red Bull is in a position to throw their wealth around at this point. There has been increased pressure on the club to produce a big-named signing to compete with the Galaxy.

Best bet: Agustin Delgado, if his team will let him go in the middle of his suspension.


Galaxy Jersey Sponsor Candidates Revealed

According to SignOnSanDiego.com's Mark Zeigler, the two companies vying for the ad that will be placed on the front of the Los Angeles Galaxy 2007 uniforms are Citibank and Herbalife. Citibank has reportedly offered $49 million for a five-year sponsorship deal and appears to be leading in the chase for the rights to be on David Beckham's first MLS jersey.

To put the offer into perspective, Manchester United's four-year jersey-front deal with AIG is worth around $110 million. If the Citibank offer is correct, it would blow away the only other similar jersey-front sponsorship deal. In that deal, XanGo will pay Real Salt Lake between $4-5 million for the right to have their name splashed across the front of the RSL jersey for four years. Keep in mind that the deal was brokered in the pre-David Beckham era.


2018 World Cup Bid

The United States Soccer Federation is preparing a bid to host the 2018 World Cup. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. is set to go up against England, who have already made their intentions of hosting the World Cup clear.

The World Cup was last held on U.S. soil in 1994, which turned out to be the highest-attended WC of all time. "We showed in 1994 that the U.S. is capable of hosting a terrific event," U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati told the Washington Post. "Now, with the way the soccer landscape in this country has evolved, we would be in position to put on a spectacular event."

Gulati went on to say that the U.S. is prepared to host in 2014 if a South American candidate is not prepared. Brazil is widely supported to host the event in eight years, but will have to renovate or rebuild a majority of their stadiums, as they are in disrepair.


Zidane Update

The Zidane-to-Red Bulls rumors have been kicked up again. According to MLS Underground, the New York Red Bulls are considering making an offer to Zinedine Zidane. The story goes on to say that the club is willing to make a "big offer" for him and would outbid all other interested parties.

This comes on the heels of a report that the Chicago Fire have re-started negotiations with the French star. The report, which stated a decision could be made by Monday, has been denied by Fire general manager John Guppy. Guppy revealed earlier that the club had been in contact with Zidane last month, but was told that Zizou had no intentions of ending his retirement.

With dueling reports placing Zidane in either the Windy City or the Big Apple, it will be interesting to see if the MLS can pull off another huge coup. The rumors appear to have a little more steam behind them this time.

Update: Chicago appears to be out of the running for ZZ. It's reported that Zidane won't even consider an offer of less than $15 mil/year and talks never progressed far enough with the Fire to involve the front office and coaches. RBNY may still be in the hunt, however.


Beckham To Play Central Midfield

When David Beckham finally arrives in Los Angeles, his role with the Galaxy will be that of a central midfielder. "I would probably think we'll play a 4-3-3, I would see him in the middle of the field for us," Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said.

This likely spells the end of the road for holding midfielder Pete Vagenas, at least with the first team. Vagenas was captain of the team just a few months ago, but will be most remembered for this quote when asked of Beckham's contract: "... a wise man told me you're worth what you negotiate. But at the same time, of course there's resentment, I'd be lying if I said there wasn't." The media generally interpreted his statement as "All Galaxy Players Jealous of Greedy Beckham."

Yallop went on to say that he hasn't spoken to Beckham since a 50-minute phonecall shortly after the signing was announced, but he plans to travel to Spain sometime in the future to (hopefully) watch Beckham play.


Zidane to Chicago?

A while ago we reported that Red Bull New York might be interested in signing Zinedine Zidane after the Chicago Fire publicly acknowledged failing to do so. Now, there are whispers that Chicago may be in the hunt to get Zidane once more. If you follow the link, it's at the very bottom of the page, and then again in the comments section even further below.
On the chase for Zidane, Steven Goff of the Washington Post claims, "It could heat up again. Important meetings soon..." What that means exactly, nobody is sure of. We do know that Zidane would have to sit for his side's first six games, regardless of who he signs with, due to that pesky suspension left over from the World Cup.

It is worth noting that Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) owns the Chicago Fire, as well as the Los Angeles Galaxy. We all know that AEG is capable of landing big foreign players. Could this be their encore to the David Beckham fiasco? The media would jump all over such a deal, showing "the Headbutt" on a loop, 24-7.


Twellman To Stay In New England

So much for those Norway rumors. Taylor Twellman has re-signed with the New England Revolution. The contract is reportedly for four years at $300,000 per year. It was a much-needed re-signing for the Revs, having seen national team star Clint Dempsey depart for Fulham.
Twellman led the MLS in scoring in 2002 and 2005 and also took home MVP honors in '05. He has also seen time with the national team, scoring three goals in January 2006 against Norway. He has 75 goals in 130 regular season games, and has scored more times than any other player since 2002.

Twellman was the target of transfer talk when Odd Grenland of Norway reportedly made a $1.2 million bid for him. The MLS has turned down that offer, as well as a similar one for Shalrie Joseph made by Celtic FC.

Beckham Debut Date Set

Mark your calendars, folks. According to World Soccer Daily, a date has been set for David Beckham's debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy: July 21st, in a friendly against Chelsea.
If the report is true, this match would be played at the Home Depot Center just two days after the MLS All-Star Game would be held in Colorado. There's no word on whether Beckham will take part in that game, but ESPN's soccernet.com has a countdown posted, announcing the July 21st game against Chelsea to be Beckham's debut with the G's. Chelsea currently sit second in the Barclay's Premier League, six points shy of Manchester United. They last visited U.S. soil this past summer to take on the MLS All-Stars, a game won 1-0 on a Dwayne De Rosario goal for the MLS.


Zizou to the Big Apple?

Several media outlets have reported on Zinedine Zidane's current trip to New York, fueling speculation that he is in talks with the MLS to join the Red Bulls. He was spotted at a New York Knicks game, rubbing elbows with Spike Lee, and he also attended a fashion week event to help promote the Adidas Y3 fashion line.
When asked about Zidane's presence in New York, Jeff Agoos, current technical director for RBNY, was quoted as saying, "We haven't spoken with him, and I don't have any plans to do so at this point in the near future... I'd love to go out with him though, if he's coming here."

If RBNY does sign Zidane, a long shot at best, he would have to serve a six-game suspension for the infamous headbutting incident against Italy in the World Cup. It would provide the MLS with another infusion of talent, not to mention the publicity the signing would garner worldwide. Since Zidane is retired, they would not have to pay a transfer fee to acquire the midfielder's services. He would most likely take Amado Guevara's spot in the lineup, pushing recently-acquired Claudio Reyna into a more defensive role. Guevara was traded to Chivas USA for their Designated Player slot.

RSL Stadium Deal Passes

Only a week removed from talks of relocating the team, Real Salt Lake's stadium deal has won final approval this afternoon from the Utah House. The $110 million stadium, to be located in Sandy, makes RSL the ninth team in the league to have or have plans for a soccer-specific stadium, a component that the MLS sees as crucial for a team to become profitable. Only D.C., Houston, Kansas City and New England lack a SSS.
Last week, RSL owner Dave Checketts had threatened to sell the team to a group of St. Louis investors if a deal could not be reached. Now, St. Louis will have to look elsewhere for their team.

As part of the deal, RSL would also team up with Real Madrid in establishing an elite soccer academy, probably in the capital. There's no word yet if Fabio Capello plans to make a yearly trip to the academy to belittle the children, but I'm sure he couldn't refuse such an opportunity.


U.S. vs Mexico Tonight!

The U.S. men's national team will take on Mexico tonight in Glendale, Arizona. The 62,000-seat University of Phoenix Stadium is expected to be overflowing with fans for the first meeting between the teams since 2005. Though it is only a "friendly" there is no love lost between the two teams. "I don't have friendly matches, much less against them (the U.S.)," Mexico forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco said during a new conference in Mexico recently.

Each side is being led by a new coach, with this being Hugo Sanchez's first go-round with Mexico. Bob Bradley is at the helm of his second game since replacing Bruce Arena - on an interim basis; Bradley's boys defeated Denmark at the Home Depot Center last month. Neither coach can afford a loss in this highly-publicized (at least in Mexico) match-up. The U.S. has come away with a win in seven of the past 10 matches between the two teams since 2000. The last meeting was held in September 2005, with the U.S. claiming a 2-0 victory in Columbus, Ohio.

Bradley has named an MLS-heavy roster for the match, with only eight players that have had previous experience against the Tricolor. Several European players will also suit up for the U.S., including Carlos Bocanegra, Tim Howard, Bobby Convey, and the newly-transferred Clint Dempsey.

My prediction is a 2-1 win for... the U.S., of course.

The match will be televised on ESPN2 and Univision beginning at 9 p.m. ET, with kickoff slated for 9:25 p.m.


2007 Schedule Released

As reported several days ago, MLS has put the final touches on the 2007 schedule and has finally released it to the public. For Galaxy fans, they received confirmation that most of their team's fixtures after David Beckham arrives will indeed be played outside Los Angeles. They will also be subject to a brutal eight, yes EIGHT, games in September alone. They will also play five of six August games away from the Home Depot Center. The first derby vs. Chivas will be on April 28th, a home game for the Galaxy. After the All-Star Break, the team will travel north of the border to face expansion team Toronto FC for the first time on August 5th, which might just be the first game that a certain Englishman is in the squad.

ABC will once again televise the season opener, D.C. United @ Colorado on April 7th. Each of the leagues 195 games will be broadcast at least regionally - a league first, and 113 will be televised nationally - most in league history. The 2007 MLS Cup, to be held at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., will air on Sunday, November 18th.

Offers For Revs' Joseph, Twellman Rejected

Major League Soccer has rejected offers for two of the New England Revolution's biggest stars in recent weeks, it has been revealed.

Shalrie Joseph had been pursued by Celtic FC, with the Scottish club offering upwards of $2 million for the 28-year-old defensive midfielder. They had previously submitted a bid of $1 million for Joseph last August. Joseph currently makes about $150,000 annually.

The other target of a European club recently was Taylor Twellman, with the MLS rejecting a $1.2 million bid from Odd Grenland in Norway for the striker. Twellman is currently training with the U.S. Men's National Team in preparation for Wednesday's clash with Mexico in Glendale, AZ. Celtic FC may get another look at Joseph and/or Twellman on July 19th, when they travel to Commerce City, CO, to play against the MLS All-Stars.


Arsenal Looking To Sell Henry

Thierry Henry, 29-year-old striker for the France national team and English side Arsenal, may be on the move when the summer transfer window opens. Though he is under contract with the Gunners until 2010, Barcelona and Real Madrid have both been chasing him. Henry is said to be frustrated with the lack of investment in the squad, which currently sits fourth in the EPL, 17 points behind Manchester United.
Though a move to Spain would seem like the most likely option, several posters on BigSoccer.com believe Henry's next destination could be Red Bull New York of the MLS. RBNY still has a Designated Player slot to play with and if the club's Austrian owners open up their wallets, New York could offer another option. It would also provide the league with another shot of worldwide publicity and give the New York market the big name it is itching for (sorry, Claudio).

Henry is also an attractive target for endorsement deals with companies ranging from Reebok to Gillette, which, like David Beckham's deal, could off-set some of a large contract. In the 2005-06 EPL season, Henry scored more goals (27) than the entire team of Sunderland combined (26). He is also Arsenal's all-time leading scorer.


Frank Lampard To Chicago?

First David Beckham, now... Frank Lampard? File this one under 'fantastical speculation.' It has been suggested that Frank Lampard could end up playing in America, with the Chicago Fire as a likely destination. He could be lured away during the summer transfer period, but will likely come with a high price-tag.

Lampard, like David Beckham, is contracted to sportswear giant Adidas, who also sponsors all 13 teams in MLS. Therefore, Adidas could look to supplement whatever salary Chicago would offer with an endorsement deal of some sort. It has already been revealed that Chicago tried and failed to land Zinedine Zidane, so it comes as no surprise that they could also be interested in the 28-year-old Chelsea midfielder.

Lampard was voted runner-up in 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year voting, behind only Ronaldinho. He is also a big contributor on the England national team. Lampard was part of the Chelsea squad that came to America to take on the MLS All-Stars in 2006. In that game, Chelsea fell 1-0.

-- As a side note, Chelsea is expected to be making a return trip to America this year to take on the Los Angeles Galaxy, though no date has been announced as of yet. Perhaps David Beckham and Tom Cruise could show Frank around town?


KC: Goodbye Arrowhead, Hello... Arrowhead?

So much for the K.C. Wizards having to play on a high school field this year. According to various reports, the team appears set to stay at Arrowhead Stadium, at least for 2007. Scheduled renovations were to leave the stadium unaccessible, but a delay in the design plans means the Wizards should be able to stay put at least for a year.

In the meantime, they should focus their efforts on getting a soccer-specific stadium site, as Arrowhead will likely be out of commission to the Wiz for the '08 season. More likely, they will be breaking ground on a new training facility in Swope Park. Hopefully they can get a stadium built, because we'd hate to see the training facility go empty when the Wizards move to St. Louis.

2007 Schedule Release Imminent

After weeks of speculation and several tentative dates having come and gone, the MLS appears to be putting the final touches on the 2007 schedule. According to several posters on bigsoccer.com, ticket reps have been spreading the word that a new schedule should be available around February 7th.

It is presumed that MLS bigwigs have re-worked the schedule several times to make sure as many cities as possible get the chance to catch Beckham fever. This likely means that L.A. will be playing many home games in the front half of their schedule, and will spend most of the summer/fall traveling from city to city. It will also mean many Thursday games for the Galaxy as ESPN will want to take full advantage of the circus, as well.

So, L.A. season-ticket-holders, be prepared for a long spring as you will likely be without Landon Donovan, Chris Albright, Nathan Sturgis, Quavas Kirk, Joe Cannon and Nate Jaqua for parts of the season, all being called up for national team/U20 national team duties. Is it August yet?


Expansion in '08? MLS Knows The Way To San Jose

Major League Soccer appears set to expand to 14 teams for the 2008 season. After adding Toronto FC as team #13 for this year, next year appears promising for the San Jose Earthquakes. People familiar with the subject knew it was only a matter of time before Lew Wolff got a team back in the Bay Area, but now a potential deal with San Jose State to build a 23,000-seat stadium is coming to light. The deal isn't completed yet, but an announcement could be only a couple of weeks out.

The Earthquakes were uprooted at the end of the 2005 season and shipped to Houston - where they were re-branded as the 1836 and then, ultimately, the Dynamo. You might know them better as winners of the 2006 MLS Cup.

While never leading the way in attendance, San Jose had a very devoted core of fans. Nearly 200 Earthquake fans made the trip down the coast to the Home Depot Center last year when the Galaxy hosted the Dynamo, and they made themselves heard. They were among the most passionate fans I have encountered in the league, and they deserve to have their team back. Congrats, Earthquake fans... and prepare to be annihilated by the G's in '08, and '09, and '10...

RSL To Stay In Utah?

Earlier this week, it was reported that Real Salt Lake's stadium deal with the city of Sandy, Utah, had fallen through - again. Now it appears that a deal to keep the team in Utah is "very likely" according to one source, with another saying that there will be a press conference on either Monday or Tuesday.

The deal - which has been on-again, off-again, for the past several months, has been given an injection of new life. Literally only days ago, hopes for progress on the issue were crushed by RSL owner Dave Checketts' statement that the deal was "dead" and he would be looking to sell the team by the end of the week. St. Louis has repeatedly been brought forth as a perfect setting for the RSL relocation - but those moving trucks aren't going anywhere, yet.

So, is it to be believed that a deal is finally in place? Who knows? Things could change again over the weekend, but for now, RSL stays in Utah. This is good news not only for the team, but for the MLS, who badly needed to get a deal done - somewhere - to avoid a PR disaster. Focus should now be placed on the upcoming season, which appears bright, especially after landing "superstar" Freddy Adu in the off-season.


No More Rapids?

There are several reports out of Denver tonight that the Colorado Rapids will be undergoing more changes this offseason. Confirmed is a color change for their kits, but now we are hearing that the team name might be scrapped altogether in favor of the more international-friendly "Arsenal Colorado FC". It hasn't been confirmed yet, but the Rapids' front office has been hinting that a big change is on the way.

Last week, Colorado was at the center of another major announcement: The 2007 All-Star Game will be held at the brand-new Dick's Sporting Goods Park and Celtic will be taking on the best the MLS has to offer. It is unknown as of yet whether David Beckham will be taking part in the event, to be held on July 19th.