Between college basketball’s March Madness, the NBA and NHL heading into their respective home stretches of the regular season and spring training baseball, it is easy to overlook the fact Major League Soccer’s 2023 season is now underway. To help promote the arrival of the new season, Major League Soccer’s New York City Football Club invited members of the media to meet with its CEO, Brad Sims.
While the best athletes in the world come to the United States to play for most professional sports, that is not the case with soccer as the best players tend to play in European leagues. Big names such as David Beckham, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo played in the United States as a last hurrah before they called it a career.
Sims acknowledged that perception of MLS has been accurate, but said things are changing. He pointed to 20-year-old Brazilian star Talles Magno’s decision to play for NYCFC in 2023 as an indicator of MLS slowly closing the talent gap with European leagues. He hopes parity will arrive a decade from now. He also believes a new standalone soccer stadium will attract the best players in the world.
Mayor Adams and civic officials are backing NYCFC getting a new stadium across 126th Street from Citi Field. Sims is hopeful for a groundbreaking during the summer of 2024. “We are working closely with Community Planning Board 7. We are excited not just about a new soccer arena but also the development of a new neighborhood which will include affordable housing and schools,” Sims said.
Sims and MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who grew up in Bayside, are determined not to make the same mistakes Amazon did when it selected Long Island City to be its second headquarters. Amazon officials acted imperiously, infuriating many local politicos, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being the most notable. Amazon eventually opted for northern Virginia.
Playing in “The World’s Borough” excites Sims. He is well aware of the soccer matches taking place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park every weekend. He anticipates new customers coming from Nassau and Suffolk. The parking lots at Citi Field, which they will have access to, are easier for motorists than the garages surrounding their current Yankee Stadium home.
I asked Sims if he was concerned Mets owner Steve Cohen, who has plans of his own for the parking lots, would try to thwart them. “He has been very supportive. We have had several matches at Citi Field, and we will have more again this year,” Sims said.
NYCFC will play Nashville SC and FC Dallas at Citi Field on April 15 and 22, respectively.
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Sal Licata has carved out a nice career as a pundit for SNY programming, and as an overnight host on WFAN. He has shown he can be a cool, calm and collected host on SNY’s daily 6 p.m. show, “Baseball Night in New York.” A few hours later, he can turn into a screaming maniac on his overnight radio shows.
This past Friday, Licata caught the attention of sports media digital sites such as Barstool Sports and Awful Announcing. They were writing about a caller by the name of Ross who blamed Licata for the Mets losing the 2022 National League East title. On May 31, Licata had confidently declared the NL East was over when the Mets had a 10.5-game lead over the Atlanta Braves. Ross called Licata’s declaration “the kiss of death.”
Instead of just issuing a lighthearted mea culpa and playing along, Licata threw a temper tantrum and called Ross an idiot. The sad part is it appeared Licata really did lose his composure, as opposed to it being a comedy bit reminiscent of the late Sam Kinison.
LIV Golf was founded by links legend Greg Norman to be a competitor to the PGA Tour. LIV has generated controversy, and is a pariah to some, because it is bankrolled by the Saudi government. LIV has been able to sign some well-known golfers, though: Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Charles Howell III all played two weeks ago in its first tournament of 2023 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
The tournament was broadcast on the CW, which made it the first sporting event ever televised by the network. The always delightful David Feherty added his usual wit and humor to the proceedings.
It will be interesting to see whether the CW bids on broadcast rights for other sports should the LIV Tour prove profitable.
New York Riptide star Jeff Teat, who won last year’s National Lacrosse League Rookie of the Year Award, will be giving a free clinic to middle school students at JHS 185 in Flushing from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 19. The program is sponsored by Citylax, a nonprofit whose mission is to promote the growth of America’s oldest sport, lacrosse. Citylax has named its outreach to young teens the Eamon J. McEneaney Middle School Lacrosse Program in honor of one of the greatest NCAA lacrosse players of all-time. McEneaney, who grew up along the Queens border in Elmont, LI, was a vice-president at Cantor Fitzgerald who lost his life on 9/11. Teat, like Eamon McEneaney, is a Cornell University alum. For more information, log onto citylax.org.
There is little doubt boxing has long benefitted from the “Rocky” film franchise since its inception in 1976. The latest descendent is “Creed III,” and it is the first without an appearance from Sylvester Stallone.
If you haven’t seen the movie but plan to, the following paragraphs may contain spoilers.
Michael B. Jordan returns as Adonis Creed, the tough but tender heavyweight champion who has retired from the ring. Adonis’ world is rocked when a childhood buddy, Damien Anderson (Jonathan Majors), who was a Golden Gloves champ, returns from prison after serving an 18-year prison sentence for pulling a gun at an LA convenience store, something that involved both of them.
While the acting and boxing on the parts of both Jordan and Majors are terrific, the script leaves a lot to be desired. We never learn what caused the fateful incident that occurred nearly 20 years ago. Filmgoers are supposed to believe real heavyweight boxers, who have trained in gymnasiums against tough foes for years, cannot handle a fighter who operates via prison rules as opposed to those set down by the Marquess de Queensberry.
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