Posts Tagged ‘Toronto FC’

SUMMER FRIENDLY UPDATE: Benfica v Panathinaikos in Toronto

May 17, 2010

SUMMER FRIENDLY UPDATE: Benfica v Panathinaikos in Toronto

Toronto’s BMO Field will host an International Friendly this Sunday as Greek Superleague Champions Panathinaikos take on Portuguesa Liga Champions SL Benfica.

Benfica, who will play New England Revolution at Gillette Satdium on Wednesday, will travel north of the boreder with their star players Nuno Gomes and Javier Saviola in tow.

Panathinaikos, who won the Greek League by six points ahead of rivals Olympiakos will field a squad heavily depleted by World Cup Duty, but will still have Sebastian Leto and Simao Mate Junior on display.

Toronto, which possesses vibrant Greek and Portuguese communities which the organizers hope will drive a sell-out at BMO.

Toronto FC will be playing the New England Revolution the day before at 1pm ET, the match was moved up from 4pm so Toronto fans could have a chance to watch the Champions League final later that day.

NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP: D-RO GOAL ELIMINATES IMPACT

May 13, 2010

NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP: DE ROSARIO’S GOAL ELIMINATES IMPACT

It was a huge week for Montreal. The Impact were named Major League Soccer’s 19th team and the Canadians ousted the defending champions from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but one mission that was just beyond the city’s reach was an Impact victory over Toronto FC.

Dwayne De Rosario ended that dream with a second half strike. Nick LaBracca bounced a well-slotted through ball into on form Chad Barrett. Impact ‘keeper Matt Jordan made a diving save but the rebound fell just right for De Rosario who buried the nights only goal. A goal, in the 73rd minute, that gave Toronto FC their first road win in any competition this season.

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UPDATED SUMMER FRIENDLY CALENDAR

May 12, 2010

2010 SUMMER FRIENDLY CALENDAR

Updated: May 12 2010

European club soccer makes a return to Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium as Manchester City will face Serie A titans Internazionale Milan on July 31.

This is the first North American match announced regarding this summer for Inter Milan, a team which is one of the most popular, successful, lucrative in the world. Managed by Jose Mourinho, one of the most unique personalities in the game, Inter will looking to win their first European Champions League Final on May 22 and are poised become Serie A Champions for as a 5th consecutive year.

The Baltimore match is the fourth scheduled match of Manchester City’s North American summer tour. City, who finished 5th in the Premier League, will play two matches at the New York Football Challenge at Red Bull Arena in Harrison NJ from July 22-25, then take on Mexican power Club America July 28 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, before heading to Baltimore to take on Inter.

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NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP – WEEK 3 PREVIEW

May 12, 2010

NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP – WEEK 3 PREVIEW

Montreal Impact host Toronto FC at Saputo Stadium in the Week 3 of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship Wednesday Night. The match couldn’t get much tougher for the home team

The match will be the third in three weeks for the Impact in the NCC, and their North American Soccer League schedule hasn’t slowed at all during the competition. Montreal has managed a 2-1-1 record in the league with 7 points so far. It wont get any easier for the team as they head back out to Vancouver for an NASL match this weekend, making it two cross country trips in ten days. Returning from Vancouver, Montreal meet 2nd place Portland Timbers at Saputo Stadium next Wednesday then host Serie A side Fiorentina in the first of L’Impact’s summer friendlies.

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SUMMER FRIENDLY UPDATE: BOLTON TO PLAY TORONTO FC

May 11, 2010

CLICK FOR TORONTO FC v BOLTON WANDERERS MATCH PREVIEW, ROSTERS, LIVE VIDEO


SUMMER FRIENDLY UPDATE: BOLTON WANDERERS TO PLAY TORONTO FC FOR CARSLBURG CUP

Add Bolton Wanderers to the list of Premier League clubs coming to North America this summer as they will hit BMO Field on Wednesday July 21 to take on Toronto FC in the 3rd Annual Carlsburg Cup.

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SHORT CORNERS – SOCCER NEWS, NOTES AND RUMORS

May 11, 2010

SHORT CORNERS – SOCCER NEWS, NOTES AND RUMORS

BOB BRADLEY TO NAME PRELIMINARY 30-MAN ROSTER FOR 2010 WORLD CUP TODAY

US Soccer and Head coach Bob Bradley will name his preliminary 30-man roster for the United States Camp leading up to World Cup 2010 in South Africa next month. only 23 of the 30 will make the trip, but the 23 must be from the 30 player pool.

The selection of the 30-man pool will air today at 2pm ET / 11am PT on ESPN2.

Rumors abound that both Brian Ching and Edson Buddle will be among those called in but the wires have been mum regarding Charlie Davies who is on the mend after a car crash in October and Herculez Gomez who has had a rebirth in the Mexican League.

Here is how the Experts see it unfolding

COUNTDOWN TO SOUTH AFRICA: PICKING THE 23-MAN US WORLD CUP ROSTER (SI.COM STAFF)

SBI’S 23 FOR 2010 – MAY EDITION (IVES GALRECEP)

US SOCCER TO FORMALLY SUBMIT WORLD CUP BID FOR 2018-2022

The United States will officially become a bidder for either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup’s on Friday when a delegation from US Soccer will formally hand over it’s Bid Book to FIFA at a ceremony in Zurich on Friday. No nation can match the United States on Stadium capacity and readiness.  The 18 host city finalists feature 21 venues that are all in compliance with FIFA standards and all have average capacities of more than 76,000. 12 of the stadiums feature capacities between 75,000 and 94,000. With the opening of new Meadowlands Stadium last Friday, all 21 of the stadiums included in the United States bid  are already functioning with 18 having been built in the last 20 years.

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MONTREAL IMPACT OFFICIALLY NAMED MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER’S 19TH TEAM

May 7, 2010

MONTREAL IMPACT OFFICIALLY WELCOMED AS MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER’S 19TH TEAM

In 2012 Montreal Impact will be celebrating the clubs 20th year in existence, but in the same year, they will be celebrating the clubs inaugural season in Major League Soccer.

Both Major League Soccer and the Montreal Impact called press conferences on Friday for  an announcement that was one of the worst kept secrets in North American Soccer as it had been anticipated and expected for months.

The announcement that Montreal would be awarded a Major League Soccer team for the 2012 season, becoming the league’s 19th team and the leagues 3rd Canadian team, was still warmly regarded by American and Canadian fans alike.

Toronto FC, joined the league in 2007 and Vancouver Whitecaps will enter the league for the 2011 season, meaning that in the span of 5 years Canada has gone from no top-tier professional soccer clubs, to having three; an achievement that will, no doubt have a significant ‘impact’ on the long-term exposure, marketing and development of the sport in Canada and the continent in general.

Legitimate stadium, committed ownership and tradition were all cited as reasons when Vancouver was admitted as MLS’s 17th, just over a year ago, but those praises could apply equally to Montreal. Congratulations to Montreal, the Impact and its fans. A very fitting and welcome new addition to Major League Soccer.

NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP: ROUND TWO PREVIEW

May 5, 2010

NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP: ROUND TWO PREVIEW

One of the most memorable matches in Vancouver Whitecaps history took place just a bout a year ago. the odd thing about that fact is Vancouver didn’t play in the match. Leading last seasons Nutrilite Canadian Championship going into the final contest between Montreal Impact and Toronto FC, Vancouver knew that only a blowout win for Toronto FC would cost them the NCC title, this made little difference to Montreal coach Marc Dos Santos.

The Impact sat virtually all of their starters, stating that they had no chance to win the tournament and wanted to focus their energy on the USL Division 1 season. The result was a 6-1 thrashing by Toronto FC who took the Championship on goal difference over Vancouver.

The memory of this is likely to be forefront in the minds of the thousands of the Whitecaps fans attending the second match of the 2010 edition of the Canadian Championship Wednesday Night at Swangard Stadium. A fact that has not eluded Dos Santos.

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WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

April 30, 2010

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Pachuca scored a wonder goal in the 93rd minute to beat Cruz Azul on aggregate Wednesday night and claim the CONCACAF Champions League title and secure a place in the World Club Cup. Cruz Azul had won the first leg 2-1 in Mexico City last Wednesday and it set up a thrilling second leg that culminated in a thrilling finish. A truly entertaining affair, if anyone had cared enough to watch it.

The 2009-10 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League was entertaining at times, but lets face it, this competition is never going anywhere until the Major League Soccer teams start to show that they belong in the tournament. Aside from the Pachuca-Houston matches a few years ago the MLS sides have looked woeful, outmatched and out of shape, and there are reasons for that, to be sure, but let us not, however, take anything away from the prowess of the teams from south of the Rio Grande.

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SHORT CORNERS – SOCCER NEWS, NOTES AND RUMORS

April 30, 2010

FULHAM IN EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL, LIVERPOOL FALL IN SEMIFINALS

If you had bet in August that Fulham FC would be the last English team remaining in European competition this season, you would be a rich person indeed.

Fulham, powered by two late goals, pushed past Bundesliga side Hamburg Thursday Night at Craven Cottage to advance to the Europa League Finals on May 12.

Ironically, the 2010 Final will be played in Hamburg at the HSH-Nordbank Arena where Fulham managed a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Semifinals.

Fulham will be playing Athletico Madrid who eliminated Liverpool FC and thus ended the dreams of an all-English Final.

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UPDATE: US OPEN CUP AND CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP

April 29, 2010

LAMAR HUNT US OPEN CUP AND NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP

LAMAR HUNT US OPEN CUP

NEW YORK RED BULL v PHILADELPHIA UNION

Red Bull and Union met on Tuesday to play against each other for the second time in four days and though the matches were in different competitions the scorelines were the same.

New York eliminated Philadelphia from their first ever US Open Cup appearance 2-1 on a Conor Chinn brace in front of just over 3,000 at Red Bull Arena.

Red Bull manager Hans Backe kept only one starter from Saturdays 2-1 win over Union and went with a very young lineup, including Chinn, a rookie third round draft pick.

Chinn popped in the first goal in the 16th minutes when Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz saved the young strikers first attempt.

The rookie then converted a Luke Sassano cross in the 68th minute to double the Red Bull lead.

Philadelphia’s hat-trick hero from their home opener, Sebastian LeToux was brought on in the 64th minute and scored soon after Chinn’s second goal and it looked as if Union were going to make it a game after all but LeToux suffered a knee injury late in the match and Philadelphia, having used all it’s substitutes, played the rest of the match down a man.

Disgruntled Union manager Peter Nowak made his team run wind sprints on the field after the loss.

“I won’t tolerate half-efforts and if you don’t enjoy playing on the field, you have to enjoy running,” Nowak said. “And if you are not running during the game, then you have to run after the game.”

DC UNITED v FC DALLAS

Major League Soccer’s two winless teams came into Wednesday nights US Open Cup Play-in match with more than advancing to play Real Salt Lake on their mind.  Visiting FC Dallas and host DC United are struggling to find any kind of form or momentum that they could apply toward resurrecting their season.

FC Dallas would be starting a difficult stretch of four matches – three on the road – in the next twelve days and that comes at a bad time as they club cannot seem to gel on the field and are in desperate need of points for fear of being left behind in a tough Western Conference.

DC United, riddled with injuries and without a point after 4 matches DC United had little choice but to go with an inexperienced lineup, but the player that could be the most inexperience was the one that stepped up in front of the 2,800 or so fans at RFK Stadium.

17-year-old Andy Najar set up the first goal in the 4th minute by flicking a neat ball to Adam Cristman who returned the favor in the 51st minute by crossing a ball in that the youngster blasted home.  By this time the score was 3-0 to DC United and tie seemed to have been decided.

FC Dallas would not go quietly and scored two goals in quick succession and it appeared that DC might not have all their problems sorted out after all.

Cristman, however scored his second goal of the match in the 59th minute put the tie out of reach and eliminated FC Dallas from the US Open Cup for the second consecutive year.

NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP

TORONTO FC v MONTREAL IMPACT

Toronto FC continued it’s fine home form and drew first blood in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship by defeating Montreal Impact 2-0 at BMO Field on Wednesday Night.

TFC Captain and current MLS Player of the Week, DeWayne De Rosario opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he pounced on a loose ball in the box and slotted it home.

Defender Ty Hardin was injured on the same play on a collision with Montreal Goalkeeper Matt Jordan. Hardin left the match and received 22 stitches on his knee.

the bad blood from last seasons NCC was evident as the match descended into cynical fouls and cards.

“Rivalries are usually like that, especially for the first 20, 25 minutes it’s going to be very intense,” De Rosario told the Globe and Mail “Both teams are trying to stamp their authority on the game.”

“I think the fans came to see a soccer match not a boxing match,” Toronto forward Chad Barrett said.  “Whatever, they got both… you are going to get (that), especially playing against Montreal.”

Former MLS player and Impact veteran Roberto Brown brought the ill-will to a crescendo when he struck Toronto defender Nick Garcia in the face prompting an instant red card.  the match became more one sided after Browns dismissal.

Barrett made the most of the ample space he was allowed down the left flank in the 60th minute when he cut inside and blasted home the final goal of the contest.

CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: TORONTO v MONTREAL

April 28, 2010

NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: TORONTO v MONTREAL

Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC hosts North American Soccer League side Montreal Impact tonight while  in the first match of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, the Canadian version of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Well Sort of.

The Canadian Championship is, in a lot of ways what the US Open Cup could be. The three Canadian professional teams (Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver Whitecaps) play a six-game home and away series against each other for the Voyageurs Cup trophy. There is, however, much more at stake than a trophy. There are bragging rights for an entire nation and a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.

The main difference in the American and Canadian Cup competitions is that the three Canadian teams, fans and cities in general just don’t like each other. One team in MLS, one team coming in to MLS next season and one team rumored to be entering the league the year after that, but the differences between the sides mean nothing when it comes to the NCC. A tournament that brings the best out of it’s teams. this is something that cannot be said of the US Open Cup.

The USOC is played in front of spartan crowds (just over 3,000 saw Tuesday Nights USOC match at Red Bull Arena and just over 1,200 saw the Kansas City Colorado match last week) and nonexistent TV and media coverage and usually contested by sides that are resting key players for their league matches. The Nutrilite Canadian Championship, on the other hand averaged 90% capacity across the three venues and features national rivalry, televised games and a more condensed schedule (The NCC will be contested over six consecutive Wednesdays).

“It’s something like an unofficial Canadian championship, since we don’t have our own league up here,” Toronto FC Director, Business Operations Paul Beirne said at the start of last years tournament“We take that very seriously, and we know Montreal and Vancouver do, too.”

TFC Captain and Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario seems to agree.

“It’s a tournament that’s a source of pride for our fans and for us here in Toronto and it’s a tournament that I think we should win” DeRo told MLSsoccer.com “So it starts Wednesday against a tough opponent.”

Tough indeed. Montreal Impact won the first edition of the NCC in 2008 and used the success to propel themselves through the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League and win the North American Division 2 Championship the following season (Against the third Canadian side and future MLS team Vancouver Whitecaps).

The rivalry extends onto the field and comes complete with controversy. Vancouver had all but wrapped up the 2008 NCC, but on the final day of the tournament Toronto had to win big against Montreal who had no shot at the Championship. Impact manager Marc Dos Santos rested the majority of his first team and the result was a 6-1 TFC victory. Vancouver was fuming as they had been edged out of the title on goal difference. There is bad blood between these three teams.

“I anticipate Montreal is going to try and come out with a 0-0 tie, or 1-0 game and take it back to Montreal and hope for the best in terms of (goal) aggregate,” De Rosario told the Toronto Sun.

Wednesday’s match doesn’t exactly come at the best time for Toronto FC.

“The schedule hasn’t really been great for us, especially when you have so many new guys in here trying to learn how to play together,” TFC boss Preki told the media Tuesday “When you play so many games so close, it doesn’t give you much time to heal, either. But it is what it is.”

The Impact is only two games into the defense of their Division 2 title, losing on the road 2-0 to the Austin Aztex, and grabbing a point late in a 1-1 tie against Portland Timbers in their home opener Sunday at Saputo Stadium.

Montreal is an experienced side and they know what it takes to into Toronto’s BMO Field and get points.

“We are feeling confident right now and we are going to Toronto to perform well,” said Impact captain Nevio Pizzolitto. “We are not taking them lightly because they have good skilled players…”

“It will be a major game,” Dos Santos added “We are expecting a big challenge because two champion teams will match up: Toronto, the defending Canadian champions and the Impact, league champions last year.”

Look for Impact forward Roberto Brown to test the makeshift TFC defense early and for DeRo to come through for the Reds late. Humble American prediction… 1-1.

UPDATE-SUMMER FRIENDLIES: SPURS AND CITY IN NEW YORK, OLD FIRM AT FENWAY?

April 22, 2010

UPDATE-SUMMER FRIENDLIES

This summer is shaping up to be one of the most incredible in memory for fans of the World’s Game. More and more teams are announcing North American tours either just after the end of the European Season in late May or as part of a tune-up for the 2010-11 European Season in July.  The Big Apple has already seen legendary Brazilian side Santos FC this year and just days after announcing a match with Juventus comes news of three more European teams playing at Red Bull Arena.

NEW YORK FOOTBALL CHALLENGE

Red Bull Arena will host a four-day tournament called the ‘New York Football Challenge’ from July 21-25 which will feature New York Red Bull taking on Sporting Lisbon from Portugal and Premier League sides Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.  Spurs and City are battling for fourth place in the Premier League, the prize being the final spot in the prestigious and lucrative Champions League. City had already announced their plans to tour North America and have already penciled in a match in Atlanta against Mexico’s Club America.

“We have big ambitions for the Premier League next season, and this tournament will give us the perfect opportunity to prepare for our season with some highly competitive games, enthusiastic supporters and world class facilities,” Mancini said on the Manchester City website.

MILAN RETURN TO CHICAGO

The Chicago Fire have confirmed that AC Milan’s May tour of North America will have a stop in Chicago as The Italian Giants will take on the Fire at Toyota Park on May 30. This will be the second meeting between the two teams after a 2005 encounter at Chicago’s Soldier Field with Milan winning 3-1.

Milan have already scheduled matches against DC United at RFK Stadium on May 26 and Montreal Impact at Olympic Stadium on June 2.

OLD FIRM AT FENWAY?

Many sources are reporting that Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers will contest the first ever Old Firm Derby to ever take place outside of Scotland this summer in Boston. The rumors of a potential July match between the two massive rivals had been focused around Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, but Steve Goff of the Washington Post reports that the site may actually be Fenway Park; ancient and revered home of the Boston Red Sox.

Both Celtic and Rangers have been busy penciling in July dates around North America in the past few days. Rangers is scheduled to play DC United at RFK and Club America in the massive Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. Celtic is lining up a match with Toronto FC and a match in Philadelphia. None of this is confirmed, but watch this space.

MORE RUMORS

Manchester United may a date in Philadelphia in addition to their match to open the new Chivas de Guadalajara Stadium in Mexico and, of course, the MLS All-Star Game in Houston. another Portuguese powerhouse, Benfica may be playing the New England Revolution and possibly Toronto FC, again stay with me for details when I hear them.

MAJOR ROSTER MOVES LEAD UP TO FIRST KICK

March 27, 2010

MAJOR ROSTER MOVES LEAD UP TO FIRST KICK

TFC SCRAMBLES

Many Major League Soccer teams made moves in the last minutes before their 2010 First Kick this weekend, none more than Toronto FC. The Canadian side acquired midfielder Nick LaBrocca and a third-round MLS SuperDraft pick in 2011 from the Colorado Rapids in exchange for defender Marvell Wynne. LaBrocca appeared in 29 matches for the Mile-High club, while Wynne was touted as future US National team regular, but has struggled to shed the ‘all speed’ accusation levied on him by critics.

Toronto FC is desperately in need of some cap space but also has to fill some roster spots, moving Wynne will solve some of the teams budgetary concerns, no doubt shipping Welsh midfielder Carl Robinson and Goalkeeper Greg Sutton to Red Bull also helped, but the team didn’t stop there.

In more Goalkeeper moves, TFC then signed stopper Jon Conway, and waived goalkeeper Brian Edwards. Conway who was the first MLS player to be banned for substance abuse was put on waivers by Chivas USA earlier this week and is looking to resurrect his career.

Finally (or possibly not, there are a few minutes until kickoff after all) Toronto signed 30 year old Argentine midfielder Martin Saric. Saric (see if you can follow me on this one)  was born in Argentina, carries a Croatian passport, played most of his career in Romania and spent last season at a Slovenian Club. How TFC scouts found him I’ll never know, but Red’s fans can’t complain that the team isn’t LOOKING.

Though Toronto FC dominated last minute roster moves, they weren’t exclusive to them.

UNITED BOLSTERS BACKLINE

D.C. United addressed all complaints regarding it’s defense going into the season, signing three defenders in the lead up to First Kick.  Juan Manuel Pena, Carey Talley and Barry Rice.

Experience was obviously the watchword for First year United manager Curt Onalfo. That is exactly what the 37-year-old ex-Bolivian international Pena brings.  His 35 Bolivian Caps as well as over 14 years experience playing in Spain should have him rival anyone in the league for experience.

Carey Talley not only brings 12 years of MLS experience, the 33 year-old was a member of DC United’s championship era, having made 120 appearances for United form 1998-2001 and winning MLS Cup with the team in 99. Talley was acquired after being waived by Chivas USA and now gets a chance to return to the team he started with.

Rice, who attended the University of Kentucky and was a member of the venerable Chicago Fire Premier, joins the club after training with DC United in the preseason as a camp invitee.

REVS MANEUVER – BARRETT RETIRES

On Friday the New England Revolution re-signed midfielder Khano Smith who made 85 appearances for the club in 2005-08. Since then, he has tried to catch on at Red Bull New York and at English League Two side Lincoln City, but he returns in 2010 to the team where his pace helped both himself and the Revs to their most successful seasons.

Steve Nicol also made a move that won’t manifest itself for a few weeks in brining in Marko Perović on a free transfer from Swiss club FC Basel.  The 26 year-old Serbian midfielder still needs to work out visa concerns

To make room on the roster/cap New England cut Costa Rican midfielder Gabriel Badilla. Rev’s fans will not weep. I don’t believe Badilla played a minute for the team in 2009.

In some sad news Houston Dynamo defender Wade Barrett officially retired as a player, on Thursday.  He was a regular for my Fantasy Team in the early years and he will be missed.  Not all sad faces though as Barrett will step into an assistants role as of immediately.

THE OFF-SEASON PART TWO – MLS STADIA

March 22, 2010

THE OFF-SEASON PART TWO – MLS STADIA

The off-season produced a number of news stories surrounding stadia in Major League soccer, most of which was welcome news.

Red Bull Arena

Red Bull Arena

The Main story is of course Red Bull Arena.  Before we dive into it though let us take a look back at a stadium that will NOT be missed.  Giants Stadium, though an amazing venue for soccer, was a disaster for Major League Soccer on almost every level.  The plastic pitch was horrible, the gridiron lines, the vast emptiness that made even a decent crowd look pathetic.  Just moving out of there would be a step up for the leagues most under-achieving and over hyped team.

Owners Red Bull, not only ponied up for a soccer specific stadium, but did so in style and have constructed what is, without question the best stadium of it’s kind in North America.  The 200 million dollar Arena’s debut match, Red Bull New York hosting Brazilian powerhouse Santos FC was held last night showed us just how wonderful it can be to play with an completely soccer atmosphere (not to mention have a New York team play an exciting brand of football). There are still issues such as serious traffic and parking concerns, not to mention the pitch that seems to have been planted on a bed of sand, but the venue is undoubtedly the new benchmark for Major League Soccer.

PPL Park in Chester PA

Let us not forget that there is another new venue coming into the league this year as fledgling Philadelphia Union will open another soccer specific stadium in nearby Chester PA.  PPL Park as it’s called after a Pennsylvania Energy Company which bought the naming rights and supplies the power to the 120 million dollar facility. The Union will play a few home matches at the NFL’s Lincoln Financial Field, which like Giants Stadium is a great venue for the sport, just not for the day-to-day machinations of the Union. The choice to play at ‘The Linc’ will be fun for the short time they are there, but all eyes are on Chester come the end of June.

The Kansas City Wizards finally broke ground on Wizards Stadium Complex at Village West this past January. The $165 million dollar project will open in 2011 and hold 18,500 Wizards fans.  Located near Kansas KC’s temporary home, Community America Ballpark and the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Epicenter?

Last week, the San Jose city council voted unanimously to rezone the property west of the San Jose Airport to allow for development of the new Earthquakes stadium.  This is seemingly the final hurdle in the Quakes plans for a new home.  Lew Wolff, the Quakes owner can now precede with what hope is a 2011 opening for the 15,000 seat stadium. The new site is walking distance from the Quakes temporary home of Buck Shaw Stadium and the teams front office, both of which are located on the Campus of Santa Clara University.  The Santa Clara transit center is also nearby which should make traffic easier.

In what can only be considered poetic irony for San Jose Earthquake fans, the Houston Dynamo, the former San Jose franchise that moved out of the bay area because they could not secure a stadium deal anywhere in the Bay Area, are still struggling to complete a stadium deal in downtown Houston and have consequently started entertaining offers outside of the city center.

Both Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, MLS expansion teams slotted to enter the league in the 2011 season made off-season stadium news.  Portland owner Merritt Paulson secured the governmental approval to construct a minor league baseball facility for his Portland Beavers team, clearing the way for the a renovation of PGE Park and allowing the Timbers to start their inaugural MLS campaign in a new 22,000 to 23,000 seat stadium more suited to soccer, though they will still be sharing the stadium with the Portland State football team.

Vancouver’s BC Place, which played host to the opening and closing ceremonies of the recent Vancouver Winter Olympics, will also be renovated for soccer and come complete with a retractable roof, not dissimilar to the one we saw built in Frankfurt for the World Cup in Germany.  The problem is that the renovation will not be completed in time for the Whitecaps 2011 season, which means the venerable Canadian team will open it’s inaugural campaign at a stadium called Empire Fields, to be built on the site of old Empire Stadium.  Construction of the temporary home will begin soon and is expected to be completed this summer.  The temporary facility will hold 27,500, 7400 of which are bench seats, and it will contain 12 hospitality suites.  Most of the seats will be covered. This all seems oddly permanent for a ‘temporary structure’ but even more unsettling is that the Vancouver team will have played in three different stadia in three years. The team is still hoping to secure a long-term deal that could see the Whitecaps playing in a downtown waterfront stadium.

Vancouver will share their stadium (both the temporary facility and BC Place) with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.  With Portland sharing PGE with a college football team and Seattle Sounders not likely to move out of Qwest stadium, which they share with the NFL Seahawks, we will likely be seeing gridiron lines in the Northwest for some time.

Speaking of Canadian Football League teams, there was some buzz in the Toronto area that the CFL Argonauts were trying to move into BMO Field, home of Toronto FC.  Though true, the likelihood of that deal happening has lost it’s momentum, which will make TFC fans happy.  Better news for the BMO faithful is that after years of fans complaints, a natural grass surface will be laid for the Reds 2010 season. No more plastic pitch north of the border.

Toronto FC has put a bid in to host the 2010 MLS Cup, which was thought to go to Red Bull Arena for sure, but there is a feeling that MLS might take a longer view and not jump into the leagues newest crown jewel until all the kinks and bugs have been worked out.  MLS may get it’s first north-of-the-border championship game in 2010.