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Major League Soccer: Nashville granted latest expansion team

Dec 20, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Major League Soccer is expanding its presence in the southeast, awarding Nashville the first of its newest expansion franchises as MLS’ 24th team .

Commissioner Don Garber made the announcement Wednesday at a news conference with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and John R. Ingram, head of the group that will own the team.

”This is a town that really surprised us with 46,000 at the Gold Cup US-Panama match and over 50,000 for the Man City game just a few weeks later,” Garber said. `So soccer-involved, great ownership and a great stadium plan, it just seemed like the perfect, perfect match.”

Nashville had been vying with Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento, California, as the finalists for the league’s latest two expansion teams. A decision on the second winner is expected within a few weeks. Atlanta and Minnesota joined this year and Los Angeles FC starts in March, giving the league 23 teams.

When Nashville starts playing remains to be decided. Garber said it was unlikely the team would debut in 2019 but 2020 was a possibility.

”We are making a lot of progress in Miami,” Garber said of David Beckham’s long-pending team. ”We’re hopeful we’ll be able to bring that team over the finish line.”

Nashville Soccer Holdings LLC includes Ingram, chairman of Ingram Industries Inc.; and the Wilf family, owner of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. Ingram said it was a landmark day both for Nashville and the area’s soccer fans who made a strong case for why the league needs to be in Music City.

”We will have a team that everyone can be proud of, and we will take a leadership role in enhancing the growth of the sport in a region that already has a passionate soccer culture,” Ingram said. ”Nashville is going to be a very worthy addition to MLS.”

The Metro Nashville City Council on Nov. 7 approved $225 million in revenue bonds to construct a 27,500-seat soccer stadium and an additional $50 million in bonds for renovations and improvements around the site at the current fairgrounds. The stadium could open by March 2021, with the bonds only waiting for Nashville to receive an expansion franchise.

Garber said it will be up to Ingram and the Nashville owners whether the new team gets a new name or keeps the Nashville SC identify used for the team starting in the second-tier United Soccer League next season.

Garber said Sacramento, seen as the other favorite, is MLS ready.

”They have some things to finalize with their ownership that I think would make them optimum,” Garber said. ”We’ve said for many years there’s a great level of support for the game in Sacramento and I think there’s great interest in joining Major League Soccer.”

MLS joins the NFL in Nashville with the Tennessee Titans and the NHL with the Nashville Predators. Forward Filip Forsberg of the Predators was at the news conference Wednesday, and the Titans tweeted out photos of players holding up shirts supporting the town’s newest pro team.


Big Read: The Oral History of Toronto FC

Dec 9, 2017

Alongside the MLS regular season, TFC was competing in the Canadian club championship, a round-robin tournament that also included the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps, who were both playing in the second-tier USL at the time. Toronto was in second place in the tournament (behind Vancouver) going into the final game. On the road in Montreal, the team needed to win by four goals to beat out the Whitecaps and lift the Voyageurs Cup.

CARL ROBINSON, former TFC midfielder: Chris Cummins was the manager and we’d been written off, because I think we’d [previously] lost in Vancouver, and we needed to go to Montreal and score four goals. I don’t think we’d scored more than three or four goals in our history. No one gave us a chance, [but] I said to the guys, “Miracles do happen.”

DANNY DICHIO, Sportsnet analyst and former TFC forward: We put a strong [starting lineup] out that day. There was a certain amount of confidence that we could get a result.

JIM BRENNAN, former TFC defender and captain: Montreal made a lot of lineup changes. They had a big game against Vancouver [in the USL] a few days after. They wanted to rest their key guys for that, so they made a lot of changes, and we had our full squad.

GERRY DOBSON, former Sportsnet commentator: I remember thinking, even early on, “Boy oh boy, the Impact are throwing on their reserve team here.” If Toronto could get one goal then anything could happen because those Montreal guys were not up to TFC’s level.

TFC’s chances seemed to be dashed in the 23rd minute when defender Nick Garcia brought down Montreal forward Peter Byers inside the box. Tony Donatelli converted the ensuing penalty to give the Impact the lead. Toronto now had to score five times without conceding.

DICHIO: I had early [scoring] chances where on another day I would have put them home easily. I had a shot and a header that I should have buried.

COCHRANE: Montreal took the lead, and I said to myself, “Okay, now it’s over.” [Laughs.]

DICHIO: We were creating opportunities, so even when Montreal scored, we never panicked. We knew that the tactics of the day were to get the ball, get it into the box, get the ball into me and then feed off of me. We had “DeRo” floating around. We were really putting them on the back foot after they scored that first goal. They looked very wobbly at the back. It was just a sense of we could do something.

De Rosario got things started for Toronto, burying a fantastic bicycle kick past former TFC goalkeeper Srdjan Djekanovic in the 29th minute and scoring again in the 39th to put the Reds up 2-1 at halftime.

BRENNAN: Serge was in net, a young goalkeeper, and one of the things we figured was we had to get in his head early. We have to bully him a little bit. He was great guy, a lovely fellow, who was with us that first season. But when you’re on the field, the friendship goes out the window.

DICHIO: Not much was said at halftime. It was more a sense of belief that the game was there for the taking.

De Rosario completed his hat trick in the 49th, slipping one past Djekanovic after beating Montreal’s offside trap. Amado Guevara made it 4-1 in 69th, curling a gorgeous free kick from 25 yards out just inside the near post.

BRENNAN: DeRo scored pretty quickly at the start of the second half. After that the flood gates opened.

COCHRANE: Dwayne put on a performance for the ages. He carried that squad on his back.

Chad Barret scored in the 82nd minute, heading home from in close off of a Guevara corner kick. 5-1. It was the first time in club history they had ever scored five times in a game.

BRENNAN: We were holding on for dear life after Chad’s goal.

Guevara scored in the final minute of regulation to seal the win and the players rushed onto the field at the final whistle. Most of the fans had left Stade Saputo by then, but approximately 200 travelling TFC supporters remained in the drizzling rain to watch their heroes hoist the trophy, the club’s first.

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