MLS to launch new competition, Higuain’s MLS surprise and Austin FC open new home

The MLS is back from its three-week hiatus, which means Planet Sport are also back with all of the news ahead of the weekend's action.

There has been a range of interesting stories throughout the MLS this week, but we'll start with an expansion of the league.

MLS to launch new lower-tier league

MLS are set to introduce a new league that will rank below the second-division USL Championship, with proceedings kicking off in March 2022.

The aim of this new league is to develop young players and bring soccer to cities that do not have a professional team.

This, alongside the new MLS NEXT system, is all part of MLS's efforts to promote soccer throughout North America, providing young players who aspire to reach the big leagues with a proper pathway to make it.

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The teams will include some that are affiliated with current MLS franchises, as well as new teams to help further promote the sport.

In addition to promoting soccer and youth development, the new league will provide more professional opportunities on the business and technical side, with the growth providing new jobs for coaches, referees and executives.

Details of the league name, logo, as well as the participating teams that will make up the inaugural season will be revealed over the course of the year.

Gonzalo Higuain admits MLS is a challenge

Gonzalo Higuain, Inter Miami
Gonzalo Higuain, Inter Miami

Gonzalo Higuain has admitted he was surprised by the level of competition in MLS, saying that he had thought it would be so easy, he could play with a cigarette in his mouth.

While talking with Christian Vieri on the retired Italian legend's Twitch channel BoboTV, he stated that prior to his move, he thought he would "come here and play with a cigarette in my mouth and, instead, it is difficult".

He continued: "It is a tough league. I learned that it is similar to Italian football. In Spain and England it is easier to do well, while in Italy, if you do not know the league, you suffer."

Higuain moved to Inter Miami from Juventus in September 2020, becoming the highest paid MLS player in the process.

So far this season, the Argentinian striker has found the net four times in seven matches, making him Inter Miami's top goalscorer. He has also contributed one assist.

Things won't get any easier for Higuain as Inter Miami's next game is against local rivals Orlando City.

Matthew McConaughey leads the way at Austin FC's new stadium

Austin FC welcomed over 20,000 fans to their new home, the Q2 Stadium, in what was described as an "electric" opening night against the San Jose Earthquakes.

There was a huge tifo draped behind one of the goals, paying tribute to the city's history and culture, while to lead the chorus of loud and passionate fans was none other than Texas' own Hollywood A-lister and Academy award winner, Matthew McConaughey.

McConaughey is a proud Texan and a minority owner of the team. He can be seen at many sporting events throughout the state, lending his support and pumping up the crowds with his own intensity.

He really led by example here. Decked in a green and black suit to match the team's colours, he banged on his djembe drum as he chanted their war cry, "Verde, Listos!" with the sold-out crowd.

While the game played out to a goalless draw, the energy from the night gave the home team the real win. Austin FC next face Minnesota United.

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