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Exactly this time last year, the USMNT captain was spotted at San Francisco airport. Soon after ESPN reported Clint Dempsey was coming home to a league that in 2007 set him on his way to a successful six- year stint in the BPL. Tottenhams loss would be Seattle and MLS gain. Over the intervening 12 months, we have witnessed unprecedented growth for a league which next year will celebrate its 20th season. It was following the 2013 All Star Game Board of Governors meeting Don Garber informed that having added the 20th franchise New York City FC for a fee of $100m only a few months previously, the league was now on an accelerated expansion path. The stated target was to add four more clubs by 2020. In the midst of last seasons playoffs, to the surprise of many it was announced the 21st franchise had been awarded to the City of Orlando. Like NYCFC, they will join the league next season. A Cinderella story if ever there was one, only four years ago Orlando didnt even have a professional soccer club until third division club Austin Aztex was relocated to the sunshine state in fall 2010. The man with the MLS plan and extraordinary vision is Phil Rawlins. Who moved the club from Austin to Orlando with the singular purpose of securing MLS football to a city that is more famous for Quidditch than the Beautiful Game. No word yet on if Harry Potter is amongst the 7,500 season ticket holders the club sold during the four-weeks of Brazil 2014. Contingent on stadium approvals in February, Florida was awarded a second franchise. David Beckham, who had previously been linked with New York and Montreal as locations where he would exercise his ownership option, chose Miami. Beckham and his ownership group have spent the intervening six months surrounded by opposition to their stadium plans. The latest rejection occurred last month when they were denied the right to buy land where they proposed to build a 25,000 capacity stadium which would have been privately funded. Scheduled to begin play in 2017, earlier in the week MLS knocked back suggestions Beckhams group were in discussions to purchase Chivas. 2017 is also when Atlanta, the leagues 22nd franchise will begin play in a $1 billion multi-purpose stadium which will also be the home for the NFLs Falcons. The ground breaking ceremony occurred in mid-May a little over a month after the announcement Arthur Black had finally secured a franchise. Black was widely speculated to bring an MLS franchise to Atlanta back in 2009 when eventually Portland and Vancouver were selected. MLS new additions for 2015 have wasted little time in announcing DPs of a stardust variety who wouldnt look out of turn playing in any of the top sides from the list of elite domestic leagues in world football that MLS has targeted to be mentioned in the same breath as by 2022. With a Brazilian in Flavio Augusto da Silva as Orlandos majority owner, it was one of MLSs worst kept secrets when finally early this month, the former world player of the year and Seleção legend KaKa was named as the clubs first DP. Thursdays announcement that Chelsea legend Frank Lampard had joined David Villa at New York City leaves no one in doubt of the intentions for the Sheik Mansour funded club. The hiring of head coach Jason Kreis may well go on to be recognized as one of the greatest managerial coups in league history. Lampard disclosed yesterday opportunity existed to extend his Chelsea career but he chose to call it a day as he recognized the club was moving in a different direction. Renowned as Chelseas all-time scoring leader, what will not have been missed by Kreis is the fact only Ryan Giggs has more assists than Lampard in the history of the Premier League. Yesterday he credited Gianfranco Zola for turning him into the player he is. Zola, who was a teammate of Lampards at Stamford Bridge for two seasons, personified what it was to be the model professional. Being like Franco certainly allowed Lampard to extend his time at the very top end of world footballs most demanding leagues. I have no doubts come the 2015 All Star Game, Lampard will make his third appearance, having done so previously in 2006 and 2012 when Chelsea were the opponents. As vital as it is for the Kakas, Villas and Lampards of the world to play in MLS – this to me is trumped by the recent news the MLS Cup Champs had signed two of the stand out members of the USMNT Brazil 2014 team. Securing Matt Besler and Graham Zusi to long term DP deals sends a significant warning shot over the bows of European football. As Dempsey proved last year, and Michael Bradley this spring, no longer are Americas elite players solely focused on carving out a distinguished career in Europe. DaMarcus Beasley returning after a decade abroad is another watershed moment for our league. No other player in the 100-year history of the USSSF has appeared in four World Cup Finals. Houston has instantly purchased playoff credibility. All exciting plots require a villain. This week MLS secured theirs. We could not have asked for a finer rogue than Ashley Cole. The ex-Chelsea player was arrogant and downright rude in his appraisal for a league which continues, as Lampard stated yesterday, to tick all the right boxes. "I had offers from the USA, but Im not ready to relax on a beach yet," Cole stated to reporters earlier this week at Romes International Airport. A frequent visitor to Los Angeles, Cole was recently reported to throw a glass of champagne over a UK TV Presenter in an LA nightclub. Which according to one witness allegedly resulted in a bar room brawl that got the attention of the LAPD. Not sure we want or need his type. Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca (@TheSoccerNoel) Troy Niklas Jersey .Y. - Urijah Faber walked out on a Madison Square Garden stage in a Wes Welker jersey, the UFCs fun nod to that other "super" show this weekend. Trent Brown Jersey . -- Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson couldnt hear himself amid the roar in Koch Arena, so he kept stomping on the floor in a fruitless attempt to get his teams attention. http://www.authenticpatriotsfanatic.com/...jersey.aspx.com) - The St. Adrian Clayborn Patriots Jersey . But Paul Osbaldiston, Hamiltons assistant special teams and kicking coach, said the team still relished the championship game workout. Jordan Matthews Patriots Jersey . 28 with a Vancouver entry for the first time in 10 years and a novel new collective bargaining agreement.CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Equatorial Guinea had two months to prepare to host the African Cup of Nations, making the colorful and sometimes chaotic continental soccer tournament even more unpredictable than usual this year.Along with the regular questions ahead of an African Cup — Will Ivory Coasts star-studded squad finally break its title drought? — comes a bunch of others this time: What will the small stadiums in the eastern border towns of Mongomo and Ebebiyin be like? And will the new highway carved through the jungle to those remote towns be OK in time for kickoff this weekend?Equatorial Guinea took over as host at very short notice from Morocco, which didnt want to stage the championship because of fears over the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and fans travelling from that region.The replacement host is a small, curious oil-rich nation in Central Africa.Equatorial Guinea has stadiums in the Malabo, the capital, and Bata, the biggest city, left over from when it co-hosted the 2012 African Cup. But the two other venues out near the Gabonese border are unknown and untested in top-level football. Organizers had little time to bring those grounds, used to hosting a few hundred people in Equatorial Guineas domestic league, up to standard. Its unclear how far they have got.Even without this years hurried preparations, few tournaments bring soccer stars back down to earth like the African Cup, where every two years some of the worlds best players leave their highly-paid day jobs in the luxurious English, Spanish and Italian leagues for three weeks of adventure back in Africa.And few tournaments are as difficult to predict.Burkina Faso, with no previous impressive history at the tournament, made the final and nearly won in 2013. Zambia did win in 2012, beating Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Gervinho and Ivory Coasts other big names in the final.In 2015, Algeria, the top-ranked team in Africa and its best performer at last years World Cup, is the favourite. But that isnt really helpful at the African Cup, as Ivory Coast and Ghana know too well. For a long time Africas two most talented teams, Ivory Coast hasnt won the title in more than 20 years and Ghanas misery stretches to more than 30 years.We cant make predictions in this kind of competition, said Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff, a Frenchman. Certainly many have named us tthe favourites but we must invest a great deal.dddddddddddd There is quality (in the team), but there are also conditions that we must get used to. We disregard the judgments of others.Algeria is in the toughest group, with Ghana, Senegal and South Africa. Theyll all be based in Mongomo for the group stage, where theyll likely come across each other often off the field in one of the towns two or three recognized hotels.Facing the unknown, Tunisia, probably like many teams, will be bringing its own cooks to prepare meals for the players in Ebebiyin, way up in the north-eastern corner of Equatorial Guinea. The Tunisians are also flying in all their food from home just in case, coach Georges Leekens said.Ivory Coast and Cameroon lead a list of contenders from West Africa, which also includes Ghana, Mali and Senegal. South Africa also qualified among the 16 teams.Ghana officials say theyve resolved a dispute over player payments, another issue that often plagues teams at the African Cup and which has been rumbling on for Ghana since last years World Cup. Bonuses have been cut to $5,000 per player for each match they play in, and a possible payout of $60,000 each if they win the title. In comparison, Spains players were each offered a $980,000 incentive to win the World Cup last year.It is not about the money, Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan said. We are just here to die for the nation because we are Ghanaians.Its not the richest tournament, but one thing the African Cup does produce is passion.For teams like Cape Verde, the tiny Atlantic Ocean island nation, and Republic of Congo, its the only chance they get to mix with the big stars. And for some fans, its the only chance they get to see their team have a chance at international glory.In Guinea, young supporters marched in the capital Conakry and erected barricades on the streets in protest after one of their favourite players, midfielder Sadio Diallo, was left out of the squad. Riot police were called in.The African Cup, with its haphazard organization and humble facilities, is still a big deal for many.___Associated Press writers Aomar Ouali in Algiers, Algeria, Bouazza ben Bouazza in Tunis, Tunisia, Francis Kokutse in Accra, Ghana, and Boubacar Diallo in Conakry, Guinea, contributed to this report.___Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP Cheap Jerseys Online Wholesale Black NFL Jerseys Youth NFL Jerseys Wholesale Cheap Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping ' ' '