Sounders left off Best XI; league talking expansion

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comDecember 4, 2013 

No Seattle Sounders were included on the Major League Soccer Best XI team announced Tuesday.

The Portland Timbers led the MLS with three players named to the team.

Here is the MLS 2013 Best XI: goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts (Portland); defenders Matt Besler (Kansas City), Jose Goncalves (New England) and Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles); midfielders Tim Cahill (New York), Will Johnson (Portland), Diego Valeri (Portland) and Graham Zusi (Kansas City); and forwards Marco Di Vaio (Montreal), Robbie Keane (Los Angeles) and Mike Magee (Chicago).

The Best XI was announced following a state-of-the-league address and press conference by commissioner Don Garber.

During that session, Garber:

 • Indicated the league may be making a push into the South, with Miami and Atlanta the leading candidates to follow already-announced expansion cities New York and Orlando.

 • Said market size and a downtown stadium are the top criteria for picking among future expansion candidates, which include St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Antonio and Austin, Texas.

 • Praised the competitiveness of the 2013 regular season, pointing out that five teams were within six points of the Supporters Shield, which goes to the club with the best regular-season record.

 • Noted that MLS has gone from one soccer-specific stadium in 1999 to 15 this season, with new stadiums on the way for San Jose and DC United.

 • Said increased TV ratings will follow continued building of the MLS fan base and could be helped along with a broadcast partner that would cooperate with scheduling and marketing.

 • Cited MLS Cup finalists Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City as success stories both on and off the pitch.

Those teams will meet for the league championship at 1 p.m. Saturday in Kansas City, Kan. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

The drumbeat toward the Cup continues Wednesday, when the goalkeeper and newcomer of the year will be named. The postseason awards conclude Thursday when the goal of the year, save of the year and league most valuable player will be announced.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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