We hadn't heard much about developments in the MLS2PDX campaign until something sneaky this way came, in a Dwight Jaynes blog entry:

Leonard says it's in the bag if all goes well with PGE Park. "It's clear to me that it's ours to lose," Leonard said Wednesday."

But without attribution or much follow up--the quote above is 25% of the words of Jaynes' post--I sent an email to Commissioner Leonard to ask about the quote, the meeting and if there was anything he'd like to add.

The ENTIRE e-mail, a video of the Sounders marching band and other news about Portland's competition, after the jump:

"Hi Mark-
I did meet with both Don Gardner, the MLS commissioner, and Merritt Paulson, the owner of the Portland Timbers, last Tuesday in New York City.

The meeting was focused on what issues need to be addressed in order that Portland have a viable application for an MLS expansion team.

It was clear to me that before MLS would award Portland an expansion team, MLS would need a commitment from Merritt Paulson, presumably with the City of Portland as a partner, that would require the modification of PGE park to accommodate a major league soccer team.

Such an expansion would include the addition of stadium seating on the east side of the current stadium, among other modifications.

From the meeting, it was apparent that such a written plan along with a commitment to implement that plan needs to be submitted to MLS before March.

I would expect the City of Portland and Merritt to begin negotiating soon as to each parties role in developing a package that will be submitted to MLS committing to the PGE modifications MLS requires in order to be awarded an expansion team.

I hope that helps, Mark....Randy"

So Commissioner Leonard spilled some boilerplate on his blackberry. There's nothing surprising in the email beyond confirmation that Paulson and the City have held court with Commish Garber (yes, it's a typo above) and the MLS at their New York offices.

The obvious follow-up question is whether every bidding group gets that meeting. I don't know if anyone who knows the answer would confirm it, but I'd say it's pretty likely.

SO: We know that all chance Portland may have for landing an MLS expansion franchise rests on the Stadium plan for PGE park, but talks are continuing and the MLS is focused on the stadium issues.

The MLS has demanded Soccer Specific Stadium plans from expansion franchises since Real Salt Lake and CD Chivas USA joined the League in 2004. RSL just opened the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, and Chivas share Home Depot Center in Carson California, with the David Beckham Traveling Circus. I'm loath to mention that the Seattle Sounders managed to completely avoid the requirement by bribing MLS officials to judge Qwest field an appropriate 'Soccer Specific Stadium' with promises of marching bands and signing over-the-hill Swedish Underwear models.

God damnit I hate the fucking Sounders. MLS2PDX so we can trounce those sorry bastards and their out of tune, overweight marching band. PLus Joe Roth is a dick.

In other news, many people have asked me why FC Barcelona might be interested in an MLS franchise. They would not be the first club from outside the US to invest in the American game--Real Salt Lake has a partnership deal with Real Madrid, CD Chivas USA is the American outpost of CD Chivas de Guadalajara--but their proposed management/ownership relationship would be unique. Beyond opportunities to spread FC Barcelona as a global brand and player development, Barcelona appear to be chasing a unique opportunity: Tax Breaks. Sports Illustrated reports that Barcelona is seeking a tax exemption deal that could net them $2.6 million a year. Smart folks.