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That worked great in the NFL, of course, so why wouldn't it be fine in soccer?
On a conference call earlier this week, MLS Commissioner Don Garber expressed confidence that things will be A-OK. That sentiment was echoed on Friday.
MLS said it will start its season on Saturday with replacement referees after an impasse between the league's referees and their employer, the Professional Referees Organization, forced a lockout.
MLS and PRO said the lockout of referees belonging to the Professional Soccer Referees Association took effect at 11 a.m. on Friday, according to Steve Taylor, the union’s vice president.
"Although it is regrettable that the Professional Soccer Referees Association rejected PRO’s offer to continue with the current referees while negotiations continue, we have great confidence in the plan for replacement referees that PRO has put in place," said Mark Abbott, MLS president and deputy commissioner.
The replacement referees come from a group that includes FIFA referees who have moved to North America from overseas, retired MLS referees, and referees from other professional leagues in the United States. In preparation, PRO said that the replacement referees attended a training camp last week.
Soccer enthusiasts already have the World Cup to look forward to this summer, but now local fans reportedly have another reason to be excited.
Per ESPN.com, a major international soccer match is coming to Minneapolis -- though the story didn't specify the exact teams, venue or date. Per the story:
Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City will take part in a summer tournament in the United States. The International Champions Cup will also feature AC Milan, Inter Milan, Roma and Olympiakos, giving it eight clubs who have won 150 domestic league titles and 27 Champions Leagues between them.
It will be played between July 26 and Aug, 4 in 11 American cities, with the eight teams due to be drawn in two groups of four, followed by semifinals. The final will be played at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium on Aug. 4.
Other confirmed host cities are Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Washington DC, with one more to be announced.
That said, it doesn't sound as though the match will be at either TCF Bank Stadium or Target Field based on interviews today. Here is an e-mail response from Twins President Dave St. Peter:
"Yes, Target Field could accommodate soccer. Currently no plans for soccer at Target Field in 2014. We’ll be sure to advise should that change. ... I’d say [the international event this summer] is a long shot based on limited available dates – largely due to the ASG. That said, the Twins do have interest and expect future conversations. I’d be surprised if soccer wasn’t played at Target Field at some point in 2015-16."
We later confirmed with a U of M spokesman who says the game "definitely isn't" at TCF Bank Stadium. Also, a spokesman from the National Sports Center in Blaine said he hasn't heard anything about the event.
We'll provide any further updates as we get them, but right now we're curious about the status of Minneapolis as a "confirmed host city" and wondering if it is, indeed, correct. St. Peter's answer didn't seem to preclude Target Field from hosting, but "long shot" is a far cry from confirmation.
And on Thursday, Miller was chosen No. 5 overall in the MLS SuperDraft. He's headed to Montreal, which landed the pick in a trade with Dallas, where he will join Calum Mallace, who played locally in high school at Henry Sibley.
You can follow the rest of the MLS SuperDraft right here if you wish.
It's a long, snowy Sunday ahead. Here's what to watch today.
One of the best criticisms of English soccer over the past few years has been the top-heavy nature of the league. So far this year, though, that hasn't been true; Arsenal, famously low-spending, can go seven points clear at the top of the standings with a win today - and if they do win, Manchester United, with all of their piles of cash, will be closer to last place than first place.
The oil gazillionaires at Manchester City and Chelsea are still doing well, so it's not completely topsy-turvy yet in England. But Liverpool is in second place, and Everton can get to a tie for second with a win today, and Tottenham and Newcastle aren't far back; it's an actual race this year.
Anyway, it's either that or diving headlong into the random number generator that is the college basketball season. Or talking to your family, I guess.
1:00pm: World Cup Skiing (NBC): It's the Olympics this year. Get in the mood with the World Cup men's downhill, from Beaver Creek, Colorado -- the only American stop on the circuit all year.
3:25pm: Seattle at San Francisco (FOX): It's a divisional rivalry, with the Niners needing a win to stay ahead of the Wild Card pack, and Seattle just a couple of victories away from clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs - a big deal, given the noise in Seattle. Also, it's the perfect football lead-in to...
7:20pm: Carolina at New Orleans (NBC): One of these teams will win the NFC South, and clinch a first-round bye in the process. The other will have to play an extra playoff game. This game could be the difference in deciding which is which.
And by the time that's all over, you'll be feeling ready to take on the week. That's the power of Sunday Funday.
Some highlights from today's media day over at Target Center:
Nikola Pekovic: "I just hope everyone stays healthy. That's what we need." Amen.
Kevin Love had many variations on the same theme, which was, to paraphrase: nobody wants to talk about last year, and this is another year. He couldn't not have been more clear about that. Thank you for the Twitter suggestions to ask him about knuckle pushups, but we're pretty sure that would have resulted in a direct punch to our face -- and therefore possibly another hand injury for Love.
Head coach Rick Adelman said it took him a while to make a final decision on coming back this season, but he said it was looking that way for most of the summer. If the season started today, he isn't sure who his starting small forward would be. The rest, naturally: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Love and Pekovic.
*Derrick Williams looks noticeably slimmer, down to 235 pounds after playing at about 250 last season. He played bigger last year while trying to defend power forwards; this year, with Chase Budinger potentially out for a while with a knee problem, he could be in the mix for minutes at small forward.
*Quote of the day from Alexey Shved, when asked about his weight and body: "The weight is the same, but I make more muscles."
*Ricky Rubio appears to be wearing his hair a little differently, which is always a subject for discussion. Also, he opened up his presser with, "Hi everyone." Think about that as you look at his picture since it was snapped at around that time.
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