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Fifteen teams will compete in 2009, but schedule has yet to be set.

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With Montreal out for now, MLS is altering its expansion choices.

Philadelphia is set to become 16th franchise this week, begin play in 2010.

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Beckham's transfer status will be decided by Friday, Garber says.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Wednesday, February 11, 2009) -- If a transfer of David Beckham from the Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy to Italian power AC Milan is going to happen, it will have to be completed within the next two-plus days, MLS commissioner Don Garber said today.

The loan that sent Beckham to Milan ends March 9. While many have assumed that would be the date in which Milan and MLS would come to an agreement for Beckham's full-time move to Milan, Garber now has established a Friday deadline. Milan's proposals to MLS, which owns all player contracts in the league's single-entity structure, have been deemed insufficient by MLS.

Beckham signed a five-year, $32.5-million contract with MLS prior to the 2007 season, a deal that was estimated to be worth as much as $250 million when marketing partnerships were considered.

"This whole thing is becoming a distraction for (MLS)," said Garber, in town for tonight's World Cup qualifier between the United States men and Mexico. Milan "may think they have until the ninth, but the timetable is ours not theirs. If they want to make a deal, tell us yes or no, and be serious. If there is going to be a deal it has to be completed by Friday.

"By Friday, he is either coming back or he is transferred. If it is not resolved by Friday, I will not approve the transfer. This has been going on too long. I understand Milan needs to come to some conclusion. . . and I understand from David's comments that he would like to find a way to stay (in Italy). The only way that happens is if Milan makes an offer to buy him out of his contract that makes sense for MLS and makes sense for the Galaxy."

MLS stands to lose its top marketing attraction. "Clearly, if David's in a position where he wants to finish the season in Milan, and Milan in turn compensates the Galaxy so that we can suffer no damages to our fans or to our team, then we'll take a look at it," recently said Tim Leiweke, chief executive officer of Anschutz Entertainment, the Galaxy's owner-operator. "But we have made it very clear to them that we expect David back here March 9. (Beckham and his representatives) agree and understand we own the contract. They understand the only way we do this is if, when this is all said and done, the Galaxy benefits.

"We need to end the distractions, the circus and the zoo. We just received an offer. It was rejected."

When Beckham left for Milan in January, he was projected to be a backup player in the Milan midfield. But Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti has started Beckham in all seven Serie A games since he arrived and Beckham has responded with a pair of goals while setting up four others with excellent passing.

Complicating matters for the Galaxy is the possible loss of striker Landon Donovan, who has started scoring goals in bunches in his training loan to Bayern Munich and the German side is expected to a request an extension of the loan and an eventual transfer. MLS and the Galaxy will gave to decide whether a ton of money will compensate for the loss of two premier players by the league's Los Angeles franchise.


Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correpondent.

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