Closed practice ahead of El Clasico disappoints fans

Soccer fans lined up for hours Thursday to see their favorite soccer team, FC Barcelona, practice at Barry University.

But when the team showed up, fans were told that the practice was closed to the public.

“This is probably the only opportunity we’ll ever get to see them,” Fernando Denis said.

Frank Rodriguez was also disappointed.

“We came here with a purpose to meet them and we get here and they’re telling us, ‘Oh, you can’t get in.’ It’s disappointing,” Rodriguez said.

FC Barcelona is set to take on their rival Real Madrid in the El Clasico match at Hard Rock Stadium this weekend. 

Neymar de Silva Santos Jr., the team’s popular forward, suited up for practice despite rumors that he’s on the verge of leaving the team.

But all eyes were on Lionel Messi, who is arguably the biggest name in the world of soccer.

Ticket prices to El Clasico can run fans upwards of a few thousand dollars.

“That’s a bit pricey for us,” Rodriguez said. 

Therefore, watching practice and waiting for players to arrive at hotels has become an alternative for some fans. 

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Closed practice ahead of El Clasico disappoints fans

Fans lined up hours Thursday to see their favorite soccer team rolled up in Miami.

“This is probably the only opportunity we’ll ever get to see them,” Fernando Denis said.

FC Barcelona, which boasts some of the best soccer players in the world, proudly announced their arrival in Miami online. And hours later the team showed up for a practice match at Barry University– which was closed to the public.

“We came here with a purpose to meet them and we get here and they telling us ‘Oh you can’t get in.’ It’s disappointing,” Frank Rodriguez said.

Neymar de Silva Santos Jr.  the team’s popular forward, suited up despite rumors that he’s on the verge of leaving the team.

But all eyes were on Lionel Messi, who is arguably the biggest name in the world of soccer.

Kicking around the soccer ball ahead of the much anticipated El Clasico match at Hard Rock Stadium were tickets range from $250  into the thousands to see FC Barcelona take on rival Real Madrid.

“It’s a little pricey for us,” Rodriguez said.

So watching the  practice games and waiting for players to arrive is as good as it gets for now. 

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Pulisic scores twice, US beats Trinidad 2-0 in qualifying

Christian Pulisic rescued the United States with a pair of second-half goals, and the Americans beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 on Thursday night to move into third place at the halfway point in the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Pulisic, an 18-year-old phenom from Hershey, Pennsylvania, ended a frustrating start for the U.S. offense with a goal in the 52nd minute, then added another in the 62nd.

“It just took us a little while to get going,” Pulisic said.

Pulisic made his international debut 15 months ago and has seven goals and five assists in 15 appearances, including four goals and three assists in his last four contests.

“He’s having fun,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. “He’s a natural for the game. He sees the game very well.”

After crashing to an 0-2 start in the hexagonal of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, the U.S. is back among the top three, which earn berths at next year’s tournament in Russia. Mexico leads with 10 points, followed by Costa Rica, which has seven and is ahead of the U.S. on goal difference. Panama (five), Honduras (four) and Trinidad (three) trail.

The fourth-place team advances to a playoff against Asia’s No. 5 nation.

In late games, Costa Rica hosted Panama and Mexico was home against Honduras.

The Americans have three wins and three draws since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann as coach in November. The team’s biggest test in Arena’s second stint comes Sunday at Mexico.

“It’s going to be a tough one down there,” Pulisic said.

Kenwyne Jones nearly put the Soca Warriors in the 33rd minute, beating goalkeeper Tim Howard to a cross but putting a header off the crossbar. Clint Dempsey John Brooks and Jozy Altidore all had good chances, but T&T keeper Jan-Michael Williams made several sprawling saves.

After helping Borussia Dortmund win last month’s German Cup final, becoming the youngest American to earn a medal for a European club, Pulisic had another breakthrough moment with his second two-goal game for the U.S.

Michael Bradley forced a turnover, DeAndre Yedlin recovered the ball and passed to Darlington Nagbe, who went around a defender and dribbled upfield. He passed to Clint Dempsey, who sent the ball back wide to Yedlin. He crossed to Pulisic, who slid and scored from 4 yards with his left foot, then sprinted for a corner and slid on both knees to celebrate.

Trinidad’s Nathan Lewis beat Howard off the ensuing kickoff, but Yedlin had stepped up, causing an offside call that disallowed the goal.

Pulisic started the run that led to the second goal, passing to Yedlin, who sent the ball to Altidore, Pulisic burst past Kavan George and slotted in a right-footed shot from about 10 yards to Williams’ short side.

“He’s a fantastic player,” Trinidad coach Dennis Lawrence said.”

Bobby Wood nearly got a third goal, hitting a post shortly after replacing Altidore in the 83rd.

The U.S. is unbeaten against Trinidad in home qualifiers, winning nine matches and drawing one and outscoring the Soca Warriors 21-2 — including 17 in a row since 1989.

The game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is at about 5,200 feet, which will prepare the Americans for Sunday night’s qualifier at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, which is around 7,820 feet above sea level.

This time, there was no need for snow shovels in Denver. The weather was partly cloudy and 82 degrees, a contrast for the Snow Classico in March 2013, a 1-0 win over Costa Rica.

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City vs county fight underway for first responders at future soccer stadium

Just two days after David Beckham’s stadium land purchase was approved by Miami-Dade commissioners, one of its amendments sparked outrage at the city of Miami. 

In an unplanned vote, commissioners decided to formally fight Miami-Dade County’s effort to have county first responders share the work at the future stadium. 

“I think the big issue here is accountability,” Miami police Chief Rudy Lanes said.

Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban echoed that thought.

“We do not look at the political ramifications,” he said.

Both support the city as sole jurisdiction over health and safety  at the site to be Miami Beckham United’s Overtown stadium site. 

“We have to protest the right of our officers, number one, to earn off-duty pay in the city of Miami,” Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez said. “And number two, we have jurisdiction.”

Miami city manager Daniel Alfonso raised a question of why the city should police a “property that is not county owned, that’s privately owned.”

The answer to that lies in Miami-Dade County politics.

Tuesday, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz made his vote on the county’s soccer land deal contingent upon county police and fire sharing in the lucrative off-duty jobs at future games and events.

“It sets a precedent that hasn’t happened before,” Miami-Dade County Commissioner Frank Carollo said. 

Other venues in city limits policed by the county include the American Airlines Arena, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art and Marlins Park. But they are county owned.  

The Miami Beckham United soccer stadium will be team Beckham’s private property.

“In order to work with, back up and take command of the units that are working inside of the stadium, it only makes sense that city of Miami units are inside the stadium working,”Zahralban  said.

Llanes believes the county is intruding on property rights. 

“What the county has said is that they can impose on a private property owner that they use their emergency services, which doesn’t make much sense to us,” he said.

What may be a bigger problem for team Beckham United is the indication from the Miami commissioner — in whose district the stadium site falls — that a stadium is far from a foregone  conclusion. 

“Our decision-making in the city is going to be a bit more issue-based,” Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon  said. What “the real issue comes to is the zoning appropriate to handle  a stadium.” 

A date has not been set for the team to come before the city on its zoning requests, which will include determining the footprint of the stadium and at least one road closure. 


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Miami-Dade commissioners agree to sell Overtown site to Beckham group

David Beckham’s dream of owning an MLS franchise in Miami moved a step closer to reality on Tuesday.

Miami-Dade commissioners voted 9-4 to sell a three-acre parcel of land to Beckham that will allow him and his partners to build a soccer stadium in Overtown.

“We should be playing soccer by 2020,” said Tim Leiweke, one of Beckham’s partners, after the vote.

The purchase price is just over $9 million.

A county-owned truck depot currently sits on the site on the corner of Northwest 6th Street and 6th Avenue.

The entire 25,000-seat stadium project will take up nine acres at the location.

“I firmly believe that the sale of this property, as well as the subsequent soccer stadium, will leave a lasting positive impact on the community.” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava, Jean Monestime, Javier Souto and Bruno Barreiro all voted against the recommendation.

Despite Tuesday’s win, the Beckham group must still get zoning approval to build any stadium. 

Even with his status as a soccer icon, Beckham has struggled to find a location for his prospective MLS franchise. Over the years, Beckham’s desires to place his stadium in Downtown Miami, the Port of Miami and next to Marlins Park have all been dashed.



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Residents, Beckham Group, city officials discuss new soccer stadium

Overtown neighbors packed a room tonight hoping to be among  the first to see the newest rendering of the highly anticipated Beckham Stadium.

Many were not impressed.

“You need to know that we do not like this,” one resident said.

Wednesday night marked  the last opportunity for the community to voice its concerns about the pending soccer stadium.

“If you ever get off on 17 Avenue or 12 Avenue during a Marlins game, it takes me about 20 minutes just to get home, imagine with another stadium in there,” a resident said.

Many said they felt powerless to stop the stadium from coming in and asked for a second meeting to ask more questions. 

Those who live near the site along Northwest Seventh Avenue gave Miami officials their opinions during the meetings.

Many were upset when they  heard members of the Beckham Group say they have no plans to build more parking in the area.

A Beckham Group spokesperson tried to appease the crowd by saying they plan to promote the use of public transportation.

“The public transportation in this county, excuse my language, sucks,” a resident said.

Supporters of the plan were also at the meeting and pointed to the hopes of a big economic impact and job creation.

The Beckham Group is now moving to finalize its purchase of three additional acres it needs from Miami  to start building.

Total costs for the 25,000 -seat facility is estimated at $500 million. 

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