Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

10 things to watch out for in the new MLS season

SOCCER/The 15th Major League Soccer season kicks off on Thursday as fans thankfully turn their thoughts from collective-bargaining agreements and guaranteed contracts, to action on the field, safe in the knowledge that the only strikers making the news this week will be those who score goals.

Others will make their judgments on the deal that avoided a strike -- but what is certain is that the new five-year contract and modest salary structure ensures not only that MLS will start on Thursday (Seattle Sounders host the Philadelphia Union) but also that it will enter its 20th year in much the same status as it began its first – a league featuring a surprising number of good players, being paid a surprisingly low amount of money.

But anyway, this writer too has had enough of all the financial and contractual talk and rather is looking forward to the start of the new season. Here are ten things to keep an eye on this year:

1. Philadelphia Union – a brand new franchise to finally give the enthusiastic supporters club who preceded them, the Sons of Ben, something to cheer about. With the canny Pole Peter Nowak as head coach, the Union will be well prepared but they lack a proven prolific goalscorer and are relying on the unpredictable (but superbly named) Brazilian midfielder Fred for their inspiration. Expect workmanlike solidity, the odd upset and perhaps some sparkling moments from their number one draft pick Danny Mwanga, who could get more playing time than most rookies.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Big decisions loom for growing MLS

Major League Soccer shows plenty of signs of good health and progress but beneath the surface the North American league has some critical decisions to make over its future direction.

After a week of largely upbeat build-up and nationwide publicity for a sport that so often struggles to get space, the league’s title deciding game, MLS Cup, was played out in front of over 46,000 fans here in Seattle – the city that is staking a strong claim to be the de facto home of U.S soccer.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Beckham’s return to AC Milan confirmed

David Beckham will tread a familiar path once the MLS season is over, joining AC Milan on loan again for a five-month loan spell from January.

Milan have just announced the deal on their website (just in Italian for now), meaning any lingering hopes Premier League clubs had of changing the England midfielder's mind have finally been dashed.

Why do golf fans cheer tap-ins? And when is a fine not a fine?

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tigerA few thoughts from two weeks following the PGA Tour:

Just wondering why people clap like mad every time a golfer taps in a two-inch putt?  Are these the same people who break out in applause when a plane lands? Aren’t both these things suppose to happen?
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Best thing I heard on the golf course this week: “Instead of reading the greens you have to read the currents out there,” joked former U.S. Masters champion Mike Weir at the rain-hit Canadian Open.

Second best I heard on the golf course this week: “Let’s go watch someone who wants to play.” — A disgruntled spectator to a friend at the Buick Open after watching Rocco Mediate miss twice from three-feet at the par four 12th at Warwick.
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You have to love a tournament like the Buick Open where the trophy looks like a hood ornament.
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Best joke I heard: England midfielder David Beckham was fined $1,000 by Major League Soccer for confronting unhappy fans following his return to the LA Galaxy during AC Milan. That works out to 1/250,000th of Beckham’s reported five-year $250 million deal that brought him to the United States to spread the soccer gospel.

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