Commentary

LeBron James talks up football

By Paul Kennedy and Ridge Mahoney

Tuesday is the day MLS is scheduled to announce Orlando as MLS's 21st team, but there is other big news on the expansion front out of Florida.

On Monday, NBA superstar LeBron James confirmed he's had preliminary talks about teaming up with David Beckham, who has been exploring using his MLS expansion option on a team in Miami.

"There's some interest on both sides," James told the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. "David has become a good friend of mine over the last few years. I think it would be great for this city to have a football club for sure. There's interest on both sides, but it's preliminary talks."

James is no stranger to soccer. He has a small interest in American-owned Liverpool. The Miami Heat star is one of the few U.S. athletes who can match Beckham as a global icon -- Liverpool and James were a natural as both are hugely popular in China -- so he is well versed on international soccer.

The big question remains: how can Beckham or Beckham and James tap into the fickle South Florida sports market.

Saturday's international match between Brazil and Honduras drew more than 70,000 fans, but pro soccer has struggled in South Florida. The Miami Fusion holds the distinction of being the only MLS expansion team that has failed. The problem isn't exclusive to soccer. Baseball has done particularly poorly in Miami.

Any number of other investors have been mentioned as possible additions to Team Beckham.

The other issue that Beckham faces is finding a home for the team. Any number of existing stadium facilities -- none perfect -- or locations for a soccer stadium have been thrown out.

ORLANDO HEALTH RENEWS. A day before the scheduled announcement that it will become MLS's 21st team, Orlando City announced an extension of its existing partnership with Orlando Health, which will remain the club's jersey sponsor and official healthcare partner.

The agreement means Orlando Health is on the verge of becoming the first jersey partner in MLS history to commit to an expansion club before admittance into the league.

KWIK GOAL SIGNS GUZAN. One of the USA’s goal guardians has signed a deal to represent a manufacturer of said equipment. Kwik Goal has finalized an agreement with USA and Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

As a player representative for the company, Guzan will write blogs  for kwikgoal.com in 2014 and contribute to its Google+ and twitter accounts. He will also be featured on the 2014 Kwik Goal catalog cover with a photo taken during his shutout performance in a 1-0 defeat of Costa Rica in a snowstorm last March.

"Brad’s career and performance on the pitch have been on an upward trajectory for a number of years now with both Aston Villa and the U.S. national team," said James J. Pepe, director of marketing for Kwik Goal, said. "We are proud to partner our company with a great player, and more importantly a great person.”

-- Kwik Goal recently signed a deal to have Alan Hopkins, formerly of Soccer America, Fox Soccer and ESPN, serve as a spokesperson.
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