While other cities are boasting new stadium designs or academy plans, the MLS expansion hopes for Phoenix took a hit this week.
This past week was easily the Phoenix Rising’s most notable in their short history. After submitting a bid earlier this year for MLS expansion, the USL club announced the biggest signing in league history.
Ivory Coast and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba agreed to terms as both a player and part owner of the club. As the only professional soccer team in Arizona, and in a major market, the organization appeared to have jumped up in the rankings, while cities like St. Louis were stalling.
MLS Experience Coaching Exits
ESPN FC broke the news that former San Jose Earthquakes manager Frank Yallop would be leaving the club. The desire to spend more time with family was given as the reason for the exit. With the season in full swing and the arrival of Drogba, it was an unexpected setback.
With experience at three different MLS clubs (San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy & Chicago Fire), Yallop would have been a tremendous asset to help guide this organization, should they receive an expansion spot. Yallop said in his exit statement,
“The timing is perfect here for me to step aside and move back home with my family. I want to thank our talented players for believing in our vision, and our extremely dedicated ownership group. I believe there is no other club better positioned for expansion to MLS.”
Eclectic Ownership Group -> Player/Manager?
Didier joining a USL club in Phoenix was already an eye-catching headline. Becoming part owner to help push them towards the MLS, even better. But Drogba isn’t even the most interesting part owner of the group.
Brandon McCarthy of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers is a part owner. But the prize goes to Fall Out Boy bassist and vocalist Pete Wentz.
Why not just go ahead and do whatever everyone immediately thought of. Drogba as owner/player/manager. People joked about David Beckham doing that in Miami when he first announced his bid. And really the Phoenix hype train and interest outside of the US would only increase if the organization decided to go that route this year.
Don’t expect Phoenix to go just that far, as having strong leadership is something that the MLS expansion committee is looking for. Although they could offer a pretty interesting 2020 MLS All-Star match with then MLS-level head coach Drogba taking on guest team Chelsea, ahead of the Fall Out Boy halftime show.
If nothing else, this is an entertaining club so far.