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 MIAMI -- David Beckham hopped onto the stage, his back to su 
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MIAMI -- David Beckham hopped onto the stage, his back to sun-splashed Biscayne Bay, and a pack of photographers jostled for position as admirers cheered and chanted. "Thank you for the warm welcome," Beckham said on an 80-degree February morning. In this case, it was soccer weather. The sport moved a step closer to returning to South Florida on Wednesday, when Beckham confirmed he has exercised his option to purchase a Major League Soccer expansion franchise in Miami. The deal will be finalized when the former English national team captain can secure a financing plan and location for a new stadium. Beckham attended a news conference with MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to discuss their progress. "This is an exciting time, and something were really looking forward to bringing to Miami," Beckham told a crowd of more than 300 people on a downtown museum plaza. The event was frequently interrupted by cheers for Beckham, whos popular around the world and especially in celebrity-smitten Miami. The retired soccer icon has scouted possible stadium sites and is seeking investors to assist with startup costs such as construction and player acquisitions. Among those who might become involved is Miami Heat star LeBron James, who has had recent conversations with Beckham about bringing a team to Miami. "LeBron has become a friend over the last few years," Beckham said. "We spoke about this on the business side and also as friends. Hes very interested in this." Beckham, looking the part of a businessman in a suit and tie, said city officials have promised the teams stadium will be downtown, which is his preference. "We dont want public funding," Beckham said to applause. "We will fund the stadium ourselves. We have worked very hard to get to this stage where we can fund the stadium ourselves. We want to create a football club that is the peoples football club." Gimenez -- who at one point referred to Beckham as "Beckman" -- said theres political support for a plan. "We started our negotiations last week," Gimenez said. "We have to get rolling. Theres a time crunch. We are willing partners. We are very grateful that Mr. Beckham and MLS have chosen Miami as the site for their next franchise. Were going to do all in our power to make sure we get the stadium built in the right place as quickly as possible." New teams have been announced for 2015 in New York City and Orlando, Fla., increasing the leagues total to 21. Beckham declined to offer a timetable regarding when Miami might play its first game, but a likely target is 2017. The former Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Los Angeles Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain star has the right to an expansion team at a discount fee of $25 million. MLSs Miami Fusion played in Fort Lauderdale from 1998-01 before folding because of poor attendance, but this time, Beckhams star power could make a difference. "Miami is a vibrant city with a lot of passion," he said. "I know this city is ready for football -- soccer -- this time around. I know this is going to be successful." The crowd at the news conference included a throng of chanting, singing fans. "People here love this sport," Garber said. "We together have no doubt it will be a very successful MLS team." Beckham said he also wants to start a childrens soccer academy in Miami. Shareholders in the team will include Beckhams business partner Simon Fuller, the "American Idol" creator who is the driving force in franchise negotiations, and Marcelo Claure, president and CEO of Brightstar Corp. Beckham said hell finalize his group of investors over the next couple of months. He declined to say what players he would like to bring to the team. "We have a list," he said. "We want to bring some of the best players in football to Miami to play on this team. Ive seen what happens to teams when you bring great players in. Im talking about the Heat." That brought cheers from the crowd. James and the Heat have won the past two NBA titles. Beckham laughingly ruled out hiring his former manager, Alex Ferguson, to coach the team, but said he has ideas regarding that search, as well. "I kind of know what makes a great coach and what doesnt," he said. "Well have a good coach here." Beckham praised the growth in recent of years of MLS and said hes optimistic about the leagues direction. Regular-season attendance increased from an average of 15,504 in 2006 to a record 18,807 in 2012 before dropping slightly this season to 18,594. "Ive seen the change in this league," Beckham said. "Ive seen the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona come over to America. They want to play against the MLS teams. Theyre interested in this league, and thats whats changing." Joe Allen Jersey . "For the past several weeks, Logan has been dealing and playing with an upper body injury," said general manager Doug Wilson in a statement. "Despite his efforts to play through it, the injury has not responded as we had hoped and Logan has made the decision to undergo a surgical procedure to repair the problem. Blank Jersey . Marek Hamsik, who had earlier missed a penalty, headed Napoli in front in the 23rd minute and Pandev added a second goal five minutes from halftime. Alessandro Matri got Juventus back into the game just after the break but Pandev was on hand to score again in the 68th. http://www.soccerwalesshop.com/ashley-w ... -jersey/.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes have activated defenceman Joni Pitkanen from injured reserve. Joe Ledley Jersey . Altidore strained his left hamstring in the Americans opener against Ghana on June 16 and didnt play in their next two games. "We dont know how much because we need to see how hes going, but hes available," U. Wales Jerseys . -- D.A. Points was disqualified Friday from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for using a training device while waiting to play the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. WASHINGTON -- The contrast couldnt have been greater for DeSean Jackson. In a matter of days, he went from unwanted to wanted, from fired to hired, from discarded by the Philadelphia Eagles with reputation tarnished to rock star treatment and a new fat contract from the Washington Redskins. Concerns about work ethic, attitude and reports about gang activity seemed miles away when he was being wooed by Robert Griffin III or enjoying his recruiting-style evening out with cornerback DeAngelo Hall, receiver Pierre Garcon and rapper Wale. On Wednesday, Jackson closed the deal, signing a three-year, $24 million contract that includes $16 million guaranteed. The terms were disclosed by a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Redskins did not announce the financial details. "I feel they embraced me," Jackson said. "RG3, DeAngelo Hall reached out to me and made it feel like it was home. After everything that was going on the past couple of days, and the last week, thats a big step. ... I think the biggest thing about this move is finding a place where I can be happy and go out there and just be myself." Adding Jackson to an offence that includes Griffin, Garcon, Andre Roberts, Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris should make the Redskins fun to watch again. Adding him to a locker room culture undergoing yet another overhaul might be the greater challenge. The Redskins are getting a three-time Pro Bowl receiver with speed, someone who singlehandedly can change a defences approach. He set career highs with 82 catches for 1,332 yards last year for the NFC East champion Eagles. And Jackson, who led the NFL in punt return average in 2009, can give a badly needed boost to Washingtons special teams, although his production in the return game has waned over the last three years. "Its an exciting time to be a Redskins fan and a part of this team because of the firepower that we have," Griffin said in a statement to reporters. "Everyone needs to understand that we havent won anything yet, and these next few months will be about building those bonds and chemistry so that we can." The Redskins are also getting a player not afraid to speak his mind who isnt shy about his talents. He had a history of off-the-field issues in his six seasons with the Eagles. Among the lowlights: In 2011, he was deactivated for a game for being late for a team meeting and dropped more passes than usual, part of a season-long spillover from his unfulfilled desire for a new contract that led to an 11-day training camp holdout. Last year, in Chip Kellys first season, Jackson fumed at members of the coaching staff on the sideline during a game and had to bee restrained by two teammates, upset because he didnt get the ball when he was wide open.dddddddddddd. He later lobbied for yet another new contract -- just two years after getting a five-year, $48.2 million deal that included a $10 million signing bonus. The Eagles decided enough was enough and tried unsuccessfully to trade Jackson. They released him last week, which Jackson called "a humbling experience." Regarding his reputation in the locker room, he said: "Im not really here to address that. I feel the people that really know me and know what type of player I am, they respect me and know Im a team guy." The day the Eagles let him go, Jackson issued a statement quashing another off-the-field report, denying involvement in gang activity near his hometown in Southern California. "I just felt that was the right thing to do at the right time, and eventually I think people will understand and see the real DeSean Jackson and not see the painted picture that was put out on me," Jackson said Wednesday. On his conference call with reporters, Jackson went out of his way to point out some of his positive endeavours. He cited his foundation that raises money for research into pancreatic cancer, which claimed his fathers life in 2009. He also mentioned his book, "No Bullies in the Huddle." One serious matter to resolve -- at least in the eyes of the fans -- is whether Jackson will wear No. 10, as he did with the Eagles. Griffin already has that number in Washington, and Jackson suggested that perhaps "RG3 will wear No. 3" from now on. Griffin responded later in the day via Twitter, saying: "Fans everywhere please calm down." Griffin said he wouldnt be changing his number and that Jackson "will kick off his new beginning with us in a new one." The Redskins are coming off a 3-13 season overwhelmed by bad chemistry between coach Mike Shanahan and franchise player Griffin. Shanahan was fired and replaced by Jay Gruden, who will be trying to set a new tone in the locker room. The Redskins have weighed the risk-reward of talent-with-baggage before, with mixed results. Hall was known as much for his temperament as his talent when he arrived midseason in 2008, but hes emerged as a team leader, made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and was re-signed last month. But there was also Albert Haynesworth, who signed a massive contract in 2009 and gave the team one headache after another over two seasons. The Redskins are losing one of their veteran leaders, linebacker London Fletcher, who has announced plans to retire. Fletchers replacement, leadership-wise, might be safety Ryan Clark, who agreed to terms earlier this week and signed his deal Wednesday. 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