Monday, January 31, 2011


Freddy Adu continues to fall and fall and fall. Today, he has signed with Turkish second division team Rizespor. Amazingly, he'd rather stay in Europe than return to MLS with his tail between his legs. It's unbelievable how far he continues to drop off the radar. I wouldn't be surprised if he was playing in China's Superleague soon.

Big moves of deadline day?

Today is deadline day in Europe, and being a Liverpool supporter, I hope to see Fernando Torres off to Chelsea for the reported £50 million. With Torres leaving, and at 10 AM GMT all Torres promo material was pulled from Liverpool's website, what will the team look like. There is the possibility of Nicolas Anelka coming the opposite way along with cash. Though, Chelsea would prefer to send Daniel Sturridge instead. Regardless of who is sent the other way or just cash, this can only help Liverpool. If you've watched any LFC game this season you've witnessed Torres as an uninterested spectator in most matches. It has only been since the transfer window opened that he has seemed like playing football. The squad needs some vital freshening up, and though I'm not the biggest fan of Luis Suarez I think this will help the club turn their fortunes around. The problem with Suarez is, though he had a good World Cup, he is untested at club football level. He has scored a ton of goals in Holland, but so did Dirk Kuyt;  and hopefully, he won't become the next Dirk Kuyt.

With all the possible moves that Liverpool may make today I wonder whether Kenny Dalglish's reign as manager will continue into next season. It's not wise to buy a load of players if a new manager is coming in next season who may want a host of other players for his system. We've already seen a casualty of Roy Hodgson's reign in Paul Konchesky, who was loaned to Nottingham Forest today. I'm interested in seeing what the club does today who the rumours of Charlie Adam and Ashley Young coming to the club. I'm not sure where Adam would fit as the club have Steven Gerrard that plays a similar style to Adam, though Gerrard has massively under performed this season. Raul Meirelas has been LFC's best player this season and won't be moving out of the midfield/second striker role. Christan Poulsen is definitely expendable and the much under rated/hated Lucas continues to be steady and be the scapegoat of the club. I've never been a big fan of Jay Spearing, but being a local boy he probably won't be moving unless it's a loan deal. I'd actually be surprised if Aston Villa sell Young as they have a great 1-2 punch with Darren Bent and Ashley Young.

A lot may or may not happen today, but it still shows that Liverpool were left in a bad way at the end of Rafa Benitez's time in the hot seat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

So Secretive

Is it just me or is MLS one of the most secretive leagues around right now? Training has opened this week for the 2011 season, and clubs have trialists and signed players in camp being put through their paces. Numerous teams have trialists in camp, but MLS teams won't release who these players are and barely give hints.

I feel MLS teams keep fans from getting excited about their teams by not releasing information such as this. I feel the league needs more transperancy. There's no reason to keep items such as this from us the fans. By giving fans the information to know more about the team they support is how the league gets diehard fans. But I guess MLS doesn't want that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You'll Ruin MLS...

I'm referring to the New York Cosmos. Who are actually not a team, rather they are no more than a name, a brand, a resuscitated fad. New York has hired Cobi Jones and Eric Cantona to their staff; and to make things clear, despite what New York says only Cantona is a football legend. But what are the owners of the name New York Cosmos up to?

Yes, we've heard they want to open football academies all over the US. They want to make football sexy in America. They want to bring back the days of being the original "big spenders" of football. However, there is something already missing from their wish list, and that's a team. This begs the question, what is Cantona actually directing at work today?

I'm afraid for American soccer and the MLS if the New York Cosmos are granted the 20th spot in the league when it expands after 2012. Currently, all signs lead to the Cosmos being that team. But with all the money that is currently being pumped into this dead franchise, can they make it in MLS? New York Cosmos were built on buying the best players from around the world at one time. However, with MLS's strict salary cap policy the team wouldn't be able to spend money as lavishly as they did in the 70's; when it existed as an actual team. If the club can't buy who they want when they want, are these owners and employees in for the long haul in MLS. A league in which many expansion teams struggle for years on end before making the playoffs, sans Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders.

By all logic, it seems the Cosmos are losing money every day. By opening academies all over the US and placing a team in MLS they'd continue to throw money down a giant hole. Not to mention if they field a team where would they play. They've already stated they want to be a New York team which means they probably wouldn't approach New York Red Bulls about renting their stadium or approach the NFL's New York Jets and New York Giants, because those stadiums are located just over the state line in New Jersey. So where do they plan to play other than on Major League Baseball's New York Mets' or Yankees' fields. The money and red tape that would go into building a stadium in Manhattan or any of the five boroughs would be a nightmare. Several MLS teams like DC United can't even get planning permission in their cities which are much less crowded than New York. So how do the Cosmos expect to build a new stadium?

What are the benefits for MLS? Currently, the only one that comes to mind is slight recognition from outside of the States. No one outside of the soccer circles in America, and even many in it have little to no clue who the Cosmos were. They may have heard of them, but I guarantee the Cosmos aren't as well known in their own country like they believe. If MLS is stupid enough to put a second team in New York you will see similar sights to those in LA where the Galaxy and Chivas USA play. Despite the largest city in the USA, LA has a hard time supporting two MLS teams. Empty seats are common for matches their, especially for Chivas USA; who was placed in LA to draw the large Mexican-American and Hispanic immigrant population. MLS loves to try and exploit Hispanic communities. The Galaxy rarely sold-out the stadium prior to Beckham joining the team and the fad of Beckham has waned over the past year. New York currently has a hard time supporting one MLS team. Despite Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and a new $200 million stadium the Red Bulls do draw much support or come close to selling out the stadium. The Cosmos love to spout off that the Red Bulls lack support, because they're not actually in New York. But if you're a true fan of a team you trek from all parts of the city to watch the matches. You don't hear American football fans in New York moan about the teams' stadium being in New Jersey. Putting a team closer to people is not a reason for them to come out to a game. It's just their chance to find another reason not to go.

Already New York Cosmos has achieved the publicity they crave. Hell, I feel awful that I've written about them, because it gives them yet another person who has. But right now all they are is a name and a brand. They're retro, they're hip and cool because they're retro. People love retro shirts and jerseys, but if this team ever kicks a ball I believe MLS and New York Cosmos will find very few truly care about the New York Cosmos.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Savage for Vancouver

The BBC is reporting Derby midfielder Robbie Savage's proposed move to Vancouver Whitecaps is dead in the water, for now at least. Savage has said he may join a new club in the summer following the conclusion of his Derby contract. If Vancouver had landed the 36-year old it would have been a bit of a coup. Though the legs aren't what they were Savage is still an excellent presence on the pitch and a fantastic player in the locker room. He does have a burgeoning media career in England, and he would have been a fantastic addition to MLS' s not so personable media department after his career ends.

Worth the money

Just watch Darren Bent score his first Aston Villa goal 18 minutes into tonight's game with Manchester City. As I wrote this week he'll be the reason Villa stay in the Premier League, and though he cost nearly $30 million he is worth it if staying in the Prem means Villa will earn around $80-$100 million for next season.

Still early in the match and City may come back, but Bent's off the mark for his new club.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Morning...

MLSsoccer, is reporting Edson Buddle has scored in his first goal in Germany for Inglostadt. The club drew 1-1 with Duisburg and remain in the relegation zone with 15 matches to go. As I stated before this is a win-win situation for Buddle. He has doubled his salary LA paid him and if they fight off relegation he will be a major factor for them next season. If they're relegated he has a release clause in his contract (rumored) and he is putting himself in the shop window for other European teams. With the lack of success Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore have had in Europe this might be the best way for Buddle to ease into football in Europe; and with Adu and Altidore's hardships in Europe, many teams think twice before signing a US/ex-MLS striker.

Jeff Cunningham will be returning to the US and possibly will now sign with Columbus who acquired his rights through Nov.'s re-entry draft. Perhaps it was the food, weather or coaches, but Cunningham will now return to MLS and try to turn around the Crews' attack. With the trade of Steven Lenhart I'm not sure the Crew have many ideas right now. But it looks like they'll center around a 34-year old striker.

It appears no one in the Premier League wants Robbie Keane, who has been priced outrageously between $6-$10 million. Could this be Keane's sign to leave England and sign for Vancouver? I doubt it.

Previously, I reported American Mike Grella, of Leeds United, had signed on loan with Scotland's Motherwell. Unfortunately, Grella has already played for Leeds and Carlisle this season which rules him out of a third move. Rules state a player can only play matches for two teams in one season.

It appears Chivas USA has cut three players prior to the season. Most notably Maykel Galindo, who defected to the US from Cuba and signed for USL Seattle Sounders in 2005. However, Galindo burst on to the MLS scene in 2007 as striker partner to Ante Razov in a very exciting, attacking Chivas USA team. However, since then it has been a slow spiral down for the Cuban. At only 29, Galindo could be a cheap attacking option for several teams in the league; but finding the form he showed in 2007 will be the difficult part. Galindo ended his Chivas USA career with 18 goals in 67 matches.

The New England Revolution has waived Emmanuel Osei. This move will open an international slot, but most importantly it allows MLS' cheapest club to cut salary. The club drafted defender A.J. Soares who will most likely take Osei's place.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wait a sec...

I had a thought this morning and I hope someone can explain to me the answer, but why wasn't Edson Buddle included in the MLS re-entry draft in Nov?

No one has even mentioned this and in fact no one knew he was out of contract until this month when he signed with Germany's Inglostadt. I know MLS has a lot of contract rules and other stipulation that regulate contracts in the league. I'm assuming he was allowed to be omitted from the draft, because he has been in the league for over five years. Please correct me if I am wrong. With all the drafts and comings and goings in the league I've just now thought of this and wondered if there was any clarification out there.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday Rounds

-Former Chelsea striker and much rumored to be coming to MLS, Mateja Kezman, will not be signing with MLS; at least for now. He has signed with Hong Kong's South China club.

- USMNT player Jermaine Jones has signed with Blackburn on loan from Schalke 04. Jones had been demoted by Felix Magath to Schalke's reserve team who play in the German fourth division.

- American and former Duke University player, Mike Grella who signed with Leeds United rather than MLS, has signed on loan with Motherwell in Scotland. Grella played well last season in Leeds promotion season from League One. Though, he never could break the strangle-hold Luciano Becchio and Jermain Beckford had on the starting striker spots. Grella has spent much of this season on loan already.

- Colorado's Kosuke Kimura's 15 minutes of fame in Japan could be about over. Fellow countrymen Shinji Kagawa's Borussia Dortmund is leading the pack in Germany's Bundesliga, with Kagawa as their top scorer. A shrewd buy in the summer, Kagawa has proved to be one of the buys of the year. It is now reported he may join Manchester United in the summer for over $30 million. Dormund signed him on a free from Japan's Cerezo Osaka.

- Finally, the Philadelphia Union has signed Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and Colombian defender Carlos Valdes. Mondragon, 39, joins the Union from Germany's FC Cologne. Meanwhile Valdes, 25, comes to MLS from Colombian club Independiente Santa Fe. With the way the club finished last season they should be good enough to make the new 10 team play-offs.

Angel Set for Galaxy

According to ESPN, former Red Bull Juan Pablo Angel has officially signed for LA Galaxy. LA has given into JPA's salary demands and will now be LA's third DP.

Again, LA seems to be getting old with its signings. Arena still needs a central midfielder to run the show if Juninho does not return and they could also use a defensive midfielder to break up the play, and start the counter-attack. It'll be interesting who they can bring in to fill the massive void in the center of the pitch.

Journeymen, I Think Not

MLSsoccer's Kickoff posted a link to an article (written by Martin Rogers) today referring to Aston Villa's Darren Bent. The link refers to Bent as a journeymen football player. As with many MLSsoccer pundits, I have to disagree. The term journeymen tends to have negative connotation, and nothing about Bent's career has been negative in the least. A term that could be used for Bent is opportunistic. When given the chance Bent has moved clubs in which he would make more money and have a better shot at winning silverware. Yes, Bent is on his fifth team; however, it's not as if he plays a match or two and moves on. Not only that, but Bent has been the most prolific striker in the Premier League in the past three years. Only being outdone by Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney. It also seems he has been written off due to the fact he doesn't play for a top four side, nor is he a regular in England's National team. But as we've seen with English football, the top sides tend to sign foreign strikers. Top sides except Tottenham, who Bent played for and scored 18 goals in 60 matches. However, Harry Redknapp made it clear he didn't fancy Bent and pushed him out the door; Redknapp has always loved Jermaine Defoe ever since he managed him at West Ham. Where ever Harry goes, so does Defoe.

So to call Darren Bent a journeymen is to take only in consideration the name and the trophies he hasn't won, as he is trying to better his career by winning silverware and trying to find a team he can do it with. In Bent's early years, we can't criticis him for moving from Ipswich Town to Charlton, still two smaller clubs. Finely he was signed by Spurs, who at the time was fighting relegation. He then moved to Sunderland where he excelled until recently handing in a transfer request, that was originally turned down last summer. He'll now be the reason Villa stay in the Premier League at the end of this season.

In conclusion, if you want to call Darren Bent a journeyman than maybe you should look at four well known players who have played for five or more teams, too.

Eric Cantona- Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nimes, Leeds United, Manchester United

Thierry Henry- Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls

George Best- Best played for 19 teams, wikipedia him if you really want to see them all.

Paul Gascoigne- Gazza suited up for 9 teams, again look them up for yourself.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I like those odds on an ex-TFC player...

With Edson Buddle off to Germany and an impasse in contract negotiations with Juan Pablo Angel, LA Galaxy has done some shrewd business over the past few weeks to fill the void at striker. Though he has bounced around three teams in three seasons, Adam Cristman was once a highly regarded striker in the league. A fourth round pick in '07, Cristman would be shortlisted for the Rookie of the Year award; and look like Taylor Twellman's replacement should he go off to Europe. Unfortunately, Cristman endured a serious knee injury that he still hasn't recovered from, and he has bounced around New England, Kansas City and DC in four seasons. If Cristman can stay fit, iron out his heavy touch and regain his pace he could be a valuable asset for LA. That's if he doesn't get cut in the pre-season. He could be Alan Gordan 2.0.

It is the acquisition of Chad Barrett, however, that could be a masterstroke in the off-season market. I like many have been very critical of Barrett. Say what you will, but a strikers job is to score goals. If a striker is farmed out to the wing it's because they can't score goals and typically once on the wing they can't cross the ball either. Barrett's saving grace has been his pace, but after two and a half seasons in Toronto, the new regime doesn't need to see anymore. LA was happy to take Barrett's wages on as they were still less than the DP contract Buddle wanted.

If you cast your mind back to 2007, LA's Tyrone  Marshall broke Kenny Cooper's leg in a horrendous tackle. Later that night, Marshall was traded to Toronto for Buddle, and many supporters wondered why the club had traded for a striker who hadn't scored in 10 games all season. Buddle was now on his fourth team in three years. But unlike his previous teams Buddle would have better players around him, and would receive the service a striker craves. Buddle would score 42 goals in 87 games for LA and get a call up to the 2010 World Cup. Buddle's career was heading toward USL territory until LA saved it.

Chad Barrett has ventured down a similar path, and now finds himself in LA with last season's Supporter Shield winners. Barrett will have the leagues best player in Landon Donovan feeding him the ball, and it's very likely Barrett could reap the same rewards Buddle did. Since Barrett entered the league he has always had the potential and physical ability. Now he has players around him that can make him a better player and finally fulfill that potential. I don't believe LA will miss a step, and have done well to replace their top scorer. This will be Barrett's break out season, and would only be fitting as numerous ex-TFC players have gone on to greener pastures. Perhaps, that's a good sign for LA.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Proof in the pudding

Yesterday, I wrote about MLS teams assuming people will come out to matches because of DPs and it looks like one team has cashed in with a winning season and no DP to draw in the fans. According to this article, FC Dallas not only has numerous companies bidding for the team's shirt sponsorship, but season ticket sales are up 300%. We all know Dallas had one of the worst attendances in MLS over the past few seasons. Again, as I've said people don't want to see a losing team paraded around when there are other options and with the Texas heat in July and August. I hope Dallas can build on this with another fantastic season.

Stop making it so difficult, MLS

I tend to have a hard time agreeing on most topics with so-called MLS "experts." Don't even get me started on the propaganda machine that is or MLS Extratime Radio; which features three men who know little about soccer and their analysis either is contradictory from week to week, or it's based around the statement that a player or team sucks. It is the podcasts and blogs with MLS in the titled that continually say and post items that drive me crazy. This past weekend I listened to MLS Soccer Talk podcast, which is a decent soccer pod; the list of my favourites are at the bottom of this blog. They brought up a topic that has been discussed to death that many have a short-sighted view of.

I'm talking about the combined topic of DP/attendance/TV ratings/Americans caring about MLS. So many are under the impression that Americans will only come out to MLS matches when known players, such as a DP, are on the pitch. I am so frustrated with this view. Only one player has had the star power to bring people out due to his DP status, and of course that was David Beckham. But that fade has obviously worn off, and fans aren't coming out to see DAVID BECKHAM and the LA Galaxy play random MLS teams anymore. I feel like MLS, teams and "experts" treat the DP like pro wrestling: It's a show, it's not real but people sometimes get hurt. Well, it's entertainment, but it's a game and it means so much more than that to many people around the world. Including many Americans and other who follow MLS. Every season we see MLS teams take time out of their busy schedules to play ridiculous friendlies against European, Mexican and South American teams. These games tend to pack in the fans and they come to watch these teams because they know the soccer will be of a high quality.

My argument is that Americans want winners and if that means not having a DP than they're happy to save the money. A lot of the people who cry out for a DP don't seem to understand in soccer it takes more than one player. Just look at LA Galaxy in Beckham's first and second season in MLS. They wore awful until they were able to bring in better quality in other positions; most notably in defense.

Other than LA Galaxy no other team has seen a solid rise in attendance figures and notoriety over a season. Yes, Blanco helped Chicago Fire reach the Hispanic market they so longed for, and Thierry Henry has made a few more people realize New York still has an MLS team. But Sporting KC, DC United, Houston Dynamo, San Jose and FC Dallas never saw spikes in attendance like was hoped for and possibly assumed. Houston, DC and Dallas have all seen better days while having winning teams and reaching MLS Cup.

We have seen spikes in attendance when teams have challenged for league honors. This happened in Salt Lake City over the past two seasons as they became a bigger presence in the league. Even Columbus was able to draw more during their MLS Cup run and the following season.

In Toronto, we have seen empty seats and less people attending matches due to the failures on the pitch of TFC. They have some exciting players, okay may be one or two, but they featured two DPs last season. But the supporters, no matter how hardcore they are, have stopped coming to watch dire, losing soccer.

With the plethora of sports to watch in America and on TV it's not hard for Americans to over look MLS during the season, whether it's on TV or in the stadiums. But by putting a winning team on the pitch and creating a winning atmosphere with quality-all around players teams can draw fans. Americans who watch European leagues and deride MLS don't do it because of the star names, but they deride it because of the quality of teams and play. You can't improve the league with one superstar on a team, but with 11 quality players on each team. DPs are a short-term fix to a long-term problem. To steal a phrase from the south, it's putting lipstick on a pig. Meaning teams are signing DPs and putting them in shit squads.

There is promise, though, lets not be too negative. We are seeing teams work wisely with their DPs. Salt Lake has signed Alvaro Saborio and FC Dallas is trying to add David Ferreria to DP deals. Not because they're superstars, but as a reward for their fantastic play over the past season. To be honest, there has been so much improvement in MLS over the past three years, however, there's still so much room for improvement.

If MLS puts quality, winning teams on the pitch then you'll see people in the seats. It's not rocket science, so why is MLS making it more difficult than it is.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Homegrown Players

This past week FC Dallas signed their fifth homegrown player, Jonathon Top, to a professional contract. Houston Dynamo are also set to sign two academy players soon. The new relaxed rules regarding homegrown players are fantastic, and it may make the Superdraft obsolete in the future. Since the homegrown rule change it has been championed by everyone, but there really hasn't been much questioning of teams agendas regarding their homegrown talent.

Obviously, the upsides are plentiful in the structure of MLS and it's bringing MLS slightly more in-line with the soccer thinking in Europe. But are these kids ready? It's great to bring a 17, 18, 19- year old kid into a professional environment, and this will do much more for their long term career than college soccer. However, are these players good enough to play with professionals or are they just there to make up the numbers and play in the reserves for lower wages. Not every 17 and 18 year old can play professionally, it takes something special. They're not all Jozy Altidores, and even he didn't play regularly in the beginning for New York. Freddy Adu, though talented, really wasn't as special a player on the pitch with older professionals. The great thing, however, is we've seen Andy Najar, Juan Agudelo and Bill Hamid all look the part. Now it's time to see if they can do it over a prolonged period of time and not just over a season in Najar's case, or less in Agudelo and Hamid's instance.

With the new rules homegrown players can make up roster spots and receive less money enabling the club to bring in more expensive players from abroad. In theory that doesn't sound too bad, but if the young players aren't ready for the professional game it could be deterimental to their careers. Not to mention the cut-throat MLS environment that allows a player to be cut at the drop of a hat, or to be paid peanuts.

I love the idea of young Americans getting a chance to play the game as a professional and I love to see MLS/US soccer become more in-line with the game in Europe and South America. It's a shame teams such as San Jose, New England and Chivas USA haven't gotten on board with the academy idea (if they have it's news to me) to develop their own talent. If there are millions of kids playing soccer as US Soccer likes to claim, then there is plenty of talent to field academies in every state. Even you North Dakota.

I am cynical, however, I know a good thing in MLS can't last. If MLS teams start to thrive with homegrown players I can see MLS entering academy players into the Superdraft as they've made it clear they do not want to get rid of it. Though, even with academies there will still be players who slip through the cracks and won't become physically or technically developed until college. But until a new rule is implemented I hope we a lot of fresh young talent in MLS we may not have seen without the academies.

Winners and Losers

The MLS Superdraft is over and "experts" are throwing out their winners and losers. Give me a break. If there's anything we know from the Superdraft, it's that you can't tell who the winners and losers are until a year or more down the line. Again, the Superdraft shows a few things: 1) The scouting of college players isn't that good in the States, 2) many of the so-called "experts" don't know a quality player from an average player or even below average player and 3) that college soccer does not prepare these kids for life as a pro (with possible exception to the current program at Akron. Which don't get me started on that as it seem Caleb Porter just treats the game like the actually game of soccer and not some American mutation of the beautiful game).

The truth is every one of the players that were selected has just as good a chance to succeed or to fizzle out. As I wrote previously, when looking only at number one picks, only four have gone on to playing in Europe (though we may see Steve Zakuani and Danny Mwanga over seas soon). Only one, Maurice Edu, has fetched a transfer fee ($5 million) and played well for Rangers when fit. Sure, Freddy Adu was also drafted number one and bought for $2 million by Benfica, and as we all know he has not lived up to the expectations.

As I said there are no true winners and losers. No MLS rookie has come into the league and set the league on fire carrying their team to the MLS Cup. Not Freddy Adu, not Chris Gbandi, not Steve Shak, not Marvell Wynn.

Chivas USA drafted Jonathon Bornstein in the fourth round in 2006. Until leaving Chivas USA at the end of the 2010 season on a free he was only one of three players selected in '06 still with the team that drafted him. Not only that but he was taken 37th overall. At the time scouts and MLS teams thought there were 37 better players. Turns out he is as good if not better than the top 12 from the draft. The top 12 was Marvell Wynne, Mehdi Ballouchy, Jason Garey, Yura Movsisyan, Sacha Kljestan, Dax McCarty, Justin Moose, Patrick Ianni, Kei Kamara, Calen Carr, Leandro de Oliveira and Nathan Sturgis

Bornstein has gone on to play for the US Men's National Team and played at the 2010 World Cup. He was one of our best players at the World Cup as well when given his chance. It's beyond me that Chivas USA and MLS didn't attempt to transfer Bornstein as they knew he wasn't about to re-sign with the team. But that shows MLS's shortcomings and naivety that they believe a US born player will stay loyal to the league and play for peanuts. Bornstein is now south of the border playing for Tigres in Mexico.

"Experts" seem to think Omar Salgado, this year's number one pick, will become nothing more than an average player in the league. But no one has any idea how each pick will turn out. It's not like other American sports in which the draft order plays a bigger part.

To close I want to give five high picks that did very little in the league as a brief example of how difficult it is to know what you're getting in the MLS Superdraft:

1. Justin Moose Midfield- picked 7th overall in '06 by DC United. Only featured in eight matches over two seasons. Most recently played for Vancouver, but was released in 2010.

2. Luchi Gonzalez Forward- picked 6th in 2002 by San Jose. Played eight times for the 'Quakes. Traded to Columbus a year later, but cut in pre-season. He bounced around Sweden for two seasons before returning to MLS with Colorado playing 22 times in two season. Followed that by playing a season for Miami FC and Minnesota Thunder respectively. He is currently an algebra teacher.

3. Jason Moore Midfield- The 1999 number one pick by DC United. I have no idea what has happened to him as I couldn't find much information. Obviously he didn't succeed in MLS.

4. Lazo Alavanja Midfield- Dallas Burn selected Alavanja fourth in '99. He played four MLS seasons as an average midfielder before dropping down in divisions. Most recently he has played indoor soccer.

5. Tahj Jakins Defender- Selected number one in 1997, Jakins played five season for Colorado and KC Wizards. Again, another player who dropped down to a lower division and ended his career in '01 after only five seasons.

These are just five players who had rather short MLS careers when they were predicted to be solid players in the league. Yes, there are reasons they didn't succeed as many thought; but the biggest reasons are the ones I've already spoken about and it shows there are NO true winners and losers following draft day. There are players out there who have better quality, but with the college game structured the way it is the difference isn't as great between round one and three or four as it is believed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Red Bulls get a Rooney

In last night's MLS draft John Rooney was selected by New York Red Bulls in the second round. As must know John is the younger brother of Manchester United's Wayne. To begin, I like many found it strange that MLS allowed foreign, non-college US or Canadian players to enter the Superdraft. I also found it strange that Rooney has played professionally in England with Maccelesfield Town. Nonetheless, he was entered into the draft. Last summer Rooney spent time on trial with Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers, but wasn't signed. However, there was enough hype that MLS invited young Rooney to the combine and draft.

Rooney has had great soccer teaching as a player in Everton's academy for six years. After being released by the club he played for Maccelesfield Town in League 2, the fourth tier of English football. He has played at a lower level than MLS, and it will be interesting if he can contribute anything to the Red Bulls and MLS.

It would be a great story if he can conjure up some of the form his older brother has for Manchest United. But I don't see that happening. If you've followed American football or the NFL or even criminal cases you know a man by the name Michael Vick. Michael has a younger brother named Marcus. Because of Michael becoming a millionaire over night with the Atlanta Falcons Marcus was never in the need for money. He was slightly famous due to his brother's ability. Marcus didn't have to worry about anything. Marcus Vick even had some talent, and was signed to play quarterback at Virgina Tech, the same school Michael attended. That's were the wheels began to come off. Marcus, though talented, was never as talented as his brother. He couldn't feel his shoes and Marcus began to get into trouble with the college and the police. Marcus would go on to a short NFL career with the Miami Dolphins while always living in his brother's shadow. Marcus has gone on to have numerous criminal convictions since.

My point is John Rooney can't live up to his brother Wayne, and according to some reports in the British media has gotten himself into trouble from time to time. No where near the level of a Marcus Vick, but I'm invisioning a similar career in MLS that Marcus had in the NFL. I'd love to be wrong, and we'll find out soon.

In the end, this signing by New York is a win-win situation. They bring in the little brother of a well know footballer in Europe and hope he can become something special. Once the draft reached the second round the teams were looking for either players who could surprise them in pre-season and win a contract or players that can fill reserve rosters and hopefully develop. The Red Bulls' pick of Rooney isn't any worse than any other pick in the second round. But it would have been more surprising if it wasn't New York, as they look for anyway to market the team in a major city that doesn't show that much interest in its team.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bryan Arguez

With the MLS Superdraft tomorrow, and the amount of players who may never make it in MLS, I thought about Bryan Arguez. Many will not know who I'm referring to as Arguez never played a competitive MLS match. He was selected 11th overall in the 2007 Superdraft by DC United. Arguez was a product of the IMG Soccer Academy in Brandenton, Florida, and featured at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels for the US national team. Most recently he played at the U-20 World Cup in 2009.

Arguez spent a season and a half with DC United before transferring to Hertha Berlin, who at the time where in the German top-flight. The fee was estimated at around $300,000 which was a great return for a player who had never featured for the first team. Agruez would play one match for Berlin and spend only a year and a half on the books for the club. This past year Arguez signed with Miami FC making seven appearances while also being loaned to Estoril Praia in the lower leagues of Portugal; but now he is without a club, and hopefully looking.

At only 21, it already seems that Arguez may not get another shot a top-flight soccer, even in the US. Arguez may have fallen out of favor with the clubs he has played for over various reasons, but Arguez's career could be in peril due to another reason. It appears his registration is owned by a third party, Traffic Sports, which is becoming  more and more common place in soccer throughout the world. Third party ownership has been in place in Central and South America for a while now. It is the practice of a sports agency signing a player to a contract and holding their registration, therefore, owning the players playing rights and not the club. The agency then loans the player out for a fee while looking to cash in on their investment by selling the player or continually loaning the player and receiving payments for every loan.

Traffic Sports has the right to advertise Arguez to whatever clubs they see fit as they look to make a profit by selling his registration to interested parties. It's basically a glorified pimp/prostitute relationship. Estoril Praia, who play in the lower leagues of Portugal, has a deal in place with Traffic in which they take Traffic "clients" on loan and basically shop them to teams in Europe. ]The most famous third party ownership deal, of recent time, was that of Carlos Tevez who was owned by Media Sports Investment. MSI had the power to loan Tevez to Manchester United during his time with the Red Devils, and it was MSI who sold Tevez to Manchester City and not Manchester United. MSI made a large profit off of the sale. Cashing in somewhere in over $60 million. Javier Masherano had a similar contract with MSI.

Currently, there are two other American players playing for Estoril Praia as Traffic "clients." One is Tony Taylor who has played well for Estoril since joining the club. The other American is 19-year old full-back Greg Garza.

I doubt Arguez will make a return to MLS, but I hope he gets a second chance in the league. He's a player that had a lot of promise when he was originally taken by DC United nearly five years ago. Unfortunately, his career has gone nowhere. Obviously, not getting on the pitch is down to the player; but a once promising 21-year old American youth international not having a club is down to his agents at Traffic. Who don't seem to have the players future in mind at the moment.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MLS Shirt Deals

As the 2011 MLS shirts are slowly being released/leaked we are finding out some news about shirt sponsorships for the upcoming season. Though it may be old news, Chicago Fire will no longer be sponsored by Best Buy. The club was using the sponsorship money to cover wages, and it'll be interesting to see if they will have to make any drastic cuts for 2011 because of it. They are actively looking for a new deal, however, as of now the team's name will replace the Best Buy logo.

Philadelphia Union will announce a $12 million shirt deal with Bimbo. Unfortunately, this takes the best MLS shirt and destroys the beauty it had in the Union's first season.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Combine Day Continues

I find it hilarious that every time I go to that they are plugging the MLS Combine like crazy. Every day it's rising stock/lowering stock or steam this combine match. I know they're trying to get us excited much like the NFL does with their combine and draft. But MLS followers don't care for the draft as much as they care about the off-season signings from abroad or the inner league trades. Many people are becoming aware of the talent available, but as someone wrote the other day: most MLS team coaches haven't scouted or heard of a player unless they reached the quarter finals of the College Cup Tournament. Nor have the fans, and that's if they pay attention to the College Cup. Which most don't, unless they watch the final.

If you think about it it's relatively true. We've always seen diamonds in the rough signed from obscure colleges that go on to have good careers. But recently, especially the past two drafts, you hear about the amazing players from Akron and the great players from UCLA (traditionally). Are the Akron players that much better or are they the best team. Being the best team doesn't mean you have the best player(s). It simply means you've assemble players good enough to be a trophy winning team when put together. I'm not taking anything away from Akron, who has a fantastic program. But that's what it is, a program. To be fair former Zip, Teal Bunbury looks like he will become an excellent player. However, that's going more on what he has done this off season than what he did in the MLS regular season. With the limited MLS scouting, and it seems very limited, teams' scouting of college players is limited to local colleges and the College Cup tournament. It would be nice to see MLS put more stock into the scouting of college players. But as we've said before, with the new academy rules the draft may become obsolete; and many of the teams will draft players they're familiar with that have played with or against their academies.

New Kits

LA Galaxy has released a picture on their new away kits for 2011, and they look fantastic if you ask me. They've done away with the dark/navy blue and gone with a slightly lighter/gray tinted blue.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Going Abroad

It is seemingly common that MLS fans are denouncing former MLS players or US players playing in Europe, when they join certain teams or play in certain leagues. Today's rumor is Edson Buddle could sign with Inglostadt in Germany's second division, the same team Freddy Adu has signed for. I've read a lot about how inferior the Bundesliga 2 is to MLS and how bad Inglostadt are. But MLS players hit a ceiling with the current salary cap, and I'm sure LA Galaxy are willing to let one of their top scorers leave for Europe rather than let him go to another MLS team. With the limit mobility and money available for American players, they aren't going to stick around playing for contracts that are under their value. But it's not just about the money. People forget soccer players are human and many want to try themselves against what could be considered better players. Buddle will find better players here and there in Germany's second division week after week.

Inglostadt may go down, and this could be a win-win situation for Buddle. If he plays and scores goals to keep Inglostadt up he may earn himself a move to a better club. If Inglostadt go down he'll be able to move again as they won't be able to pay Buddle's wages.

Many pods and blogs also seem to have an inflated view of US and MLS players. I've recently heard an arguement that Benny Felihaber must change clubs, because he's too good for his current club AGF Aarhus. If Felihaber is too good for that club then why couldn't he catch on in Germany (Hamburger) or England (Derby) during his stints there? What you're saying is he's better than Denmark's second tier, but not good enough for the top flight in England and Germany. So, may be he's suited for Germany's second division; where Buddle may soon ply his trade.

MLS Draft Not So Super

Thousands of MLS players have been drafted in the 15 years since the draft was introduced in 1996. Some have gone on to fantastic MLS careers, some of gone to Europe. However, many more have fizzled out over the years and ended their careers in the USL or become college soccer coaches.

I've looked at all the drafts over the past 15 years, and in that time only four players that were picked number one have gone on to careers in Europe. Only one can be classified as successful, though that is up for debate.

Steve Shak was the first number one to play in Europe. Shak was the first pick taken by the Metrostars in 2000. Shak spent four seasons in MLS with NY/NJ and Colorado Rapids playing 38 matches. He then signed with Minnesota Thunder before going to Sweden and playing for Bodens BK. That only lasted half a season before he ended up back in the US playing in the lower leagues until 2009.

In 2002, the Dallas Burn selected Chris Gbandi. Gbandi successful six year career in Dallas playing 111 matches. In 2008, he signed with Norway's Haugesund playing 38 matches and scoring five goals. However, in 2010 Gbandi returned to the US and played with Miami FC. At only 31, he could still be a decent MLS fullback.

In 2004, DC United selected Freddy Adu number one. However, unlike Shak and Gbandi he never played college soccer. We all know what has happened to Adu since he entered MLS and left for Europe.

Finally, in 2007 Toronto FC selected Maurice Edu with the first pick. Edu spent one and half season with TFC before being sold to Rangers. Edu it can be said, has been the most successful number one pick to play in Europe. However, injuries have cut short his playing time since joining Rangers.

It just shows the difficulty in taking college players and bringing them into the pro game without a step in between. Everyone assumes the reserve league will help, but with only a limited number of matches in the reserve league it may not. MLS is a cut-throat league and we've seen over the years that MLS coaches and GMs are not afraid to cut a player rather than let them develop over time. Four out of fifteen is a decent rate, I suppose. But when these are the cream of the crop to come from college you'd expect about half. Yes, draftees have gone on to play in Europe; but US college soccer should still be churning out more quality. The USSF loves to brag about the millions of kids playing youth, high school, club and college soccer; but they should brag about the former youth, high school, club and college players that have gone on to successful professional careers. There are a lot less.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 AFC Asian Cup

In most parts of the western world it may have gone unnoticed that the 2011 Asian Cup is taking place as we speak in Qatar. The same Qatar that will be hosting the already controversial 2022 World Cup. I watched the matches from the comfort of my sofa in Eastern Europe and witnessed some average football. But more than the football I was intrigued by how lightly attended the matches were, despite what the official figures stated. Qatar were beaten 0-2 by Uzbekistan and the home nation seemed to have little fanfare. According to statistic the Khalifa International Stadium holds 50,000 people, and 49,143 people were supposedly in attendance. But watching the match on TV the stadium had pockets filled with empty seats and looked more like no more than 20,000 in attendance. It is rather normal for FIFA and its confederations to fudge the results on things such as attendance. But if it is difficult to get Qataris interested in their country's national team now, how will it be in 2022 for a World Cup that is currently scheduled to be held at this time.

I was all for Qatar receiving the 2022 World Cup. Football can break down barriers and taking the World Cup to the farthest reaches of the world can do a lot for a country. The 2002 World Cup was, at the time, a very controversial World Cup. Japan was awarded the World Cup and shortly after began to prepare for the first World Cup in Asia. However, South Korea who has always been in Japan's shadow and has had numerous political and military conflicts since the days of being a Japanese colony, mysteriously was given  the chance to co-hold the cup. Many believe there to have been plenty of under-handed dealings to accomplish this. Though, it seems this has been lost to time much like Mexico '86, showing FIFA has been corrupt for decades. If you read the informative Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma..., you will find how money driven and corrupt FIFA has been since the '60s with the help of Adidas and marketing companies co-owned by Adidas executives.

Despite what may or may not have happened World Cup 2002 was a success. No, not in a football sense as heat, fatigue, time change and diet all affected the players and games. But it was a true success for opening up a country to the western world. Despite hosting the 1988 Olympics, which at the time was Seoul, South Korea's coming out party, South Korea was still an insular country. However, with the new money, tourism and interest in the country the politicians realized they needed to catch up with the times. Prior to the World Cup, outside of Seoul (and even inside it) it was like taking a step back into 1950s America and many people still held true to the ways of the past. It also opened up women to sports as many stadiums were packed with female Koreans while their husbands were at work during the day; giving females a voice they previously may not have had. The market for football in Asia was blown wide up in Asia following the 2002 World Cup with football gear and memorabilia everywhere you look. I have experienced living and working in Korea post-World Cup and despite the openness that it now possesses it is still a very conservative country. It just shows the steps it has made since co-hosting World Cup '02.

Despite how the 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar and controversies of what season it will be held in, the ability to buy beer and the sponsors who will undoubtedly become rich because of it; there is no doubt the western world can use this to learn more about a part of the world that most people, especially Americans, don't understand.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Not a Fan of the Superdraft

As I've stated before I'm not a fan of the Superdraft. It has taken until now for MLS teams to begin their academies which could help put an end to the Superdraft. The problems I have with the Superdraft/college soccer is I don't feel players are developed like they should be like they are in the academies. I know there are players who come out and immediately excel, but compared to the ones who fall off the radar it's not that impressive.

It's hard to develop talent when your goal is to win day in day out. Much like the so called "elite" teams in America it's not hard to have good teams when you take the best talent from one area and put them together. They may be winning and excelling as a team, but they're not improving their individual skills; they're only learning to win together and rely on each other.

I digress as I would like to talk about tweaking the Superdraft. MLS is a league of parity, and it seems that it is time for less parity. It would suit MLS to build stronger teams which in turn could build a full, stronger league. Last year this time, we wondered if MLS would finally grant players free agency. They did in their own MLS way with the re-entry draft. Which was interesting to say the least. It will also be interesting to see if they use the re-entry draft next season.

One way they could tweak the parity of the league is by adjusting the Superdraft and allowing new talent to select the team which they want to join, in a controlled environment. It's a very socialist way that American sports run themselves with drafts. For the most capitalist country in the world it would be more American to run the draft in the opposite direction of the winners taking the top talent. I don't feel it's fair when teams who have worked the hardest and groomed their teams the best to be unrewarded in having a chance at the best college talent unless they make trades to break up their current team.

MLS currently has 18 teams and will have 19 with the inclusion of Montreal in 2012. To make things a bit more even is to group players and teams together. Split the 18 MLS teams into three groups of six. Fifty-four players will enter the draft and they can be split into three groups of 18. The teams should be mixed in regards to where they finished last season. The 54 college players can be mixed by talent/potential. Therefore, we have six teams with 18 players in the group.

Finally, instead of drafting the players the players should be free to sign with any team in their group who is willing to offer a contract. This could possibly give MLS a better chance at signing college players who forgo signing with MLS to go over seas, because they don't want to play for bad MLS teams. This also gives players the chance to select their future with a club that they feel will help them develop as a player; like what happens in Europe.

With the new academies much of the college talent is more impressive than it was in '96, and hopefully the Superdraft's end will be sooner than later. I still feel to become a stronger league MLS needs to put an end to some of the parity it so loves. Continuing to have too much parity will continue to have people looking down on this league.

Freddy Adu on the move finally

Just got word that Freddy Adu has signed with German second divisions side Inglostadt. Seven clubs in his career. What a waste. This will upset numerous people who wanted him to come back to MLS with his tail between his legs.

Spurs About to Make a Terrible Mistake

Tottenham Hotspur is about about to make a bold loan signing by bringing in LA Galaxy's David Beckham on loan. This story has already been beaten to death, and if you watch Sky News or Sky Sports you're probably extremely tired of it. But what isn't being spoken about by most pundits is the ridiculousness of this signing.

Spurs have been a fantastic team this season and are one team most people want to watch due to their exciting football. They have a solid team that needs re-enforcement to allow them to push on to the end of the season in both the Premier League and the Champions League; not to mention they begin FA Cup play this weekend.

Spurs' glaring holes are at the back where they have had a difficult time keeping centre backs healthy since Harry Redknapp took over the North London club. After that, Spurs could use more help up top with the likely move of Robbie Keane and Rafael Van Der Vaart can't keep scoring all the goals.

There are plenty of quality players at Spurs already who cannot get a game. The signing of Beckham is baffling as he will be, possibly, the eight best midfielder at the club. Spurs currently have the likes of David Bentley (the supposed "next" Beckham), Jermaine Jenas, Nico Kranjcar, Jamie O'Hara, Giovani Dos Santos and Sandro all unable to get suitable playing time. Though, several may see FA Cup action this weekend and rumors are Bentley could be on his way out on loan. However, Newcastle who was attempting to sign Bentley has gone a different direction and added Birmingham's Sebastion Larsson.

The clear advantage of signing Beckham will be marketing. There won't be enough Beckham Spurs shirts to go around. This move also allows Spurs to finally market themselves to the farthest reaches of the world as it did with Manchester United and Real Madrid, and most recently LA Galaxy (at least people know who they are now). There are rumors that this move could also help Spurs with their new stadium plans or help them move to the London Olympic stadium that is currently being built.

There's no doubt Beckham's legs are gone. He can still play at MLS level, but there's not a chance he can play 90 minutes at the Premier League level. A lot of people talk about Beckham going on loan and never seeming to play a full season for LA Galaxy. But what they don't say or speculate on is that Beckham is unhappy in LA and realized after signing with LA that he'd made a mistake.

If you cast your mind back to January 2007, Beckham was on the outside of the Real Madrid first team. He'd been told his Madrid career was over. He then signed with LA Galaxy only a few weeks later to make a surprise return to the Madrid first team. Beckham would then play a vital part in Madrid overhauling Barcelona to win La Liga and have Madrid beg him to stay. That is when Beckham realized he'd made a terrible mistake.

Since then Beckham has tried his best to help LA Galaxy in MLS while not truly having his heart in it. He gets a third loan spell now, though, at the moment shorter than the last two. Come March if Spus continue to soar in league and Europe will he be back to MLS before the summer begins.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Scottish Football League Change(s) Could Send Talent to MLS

The SFL has announce they will put changes to vote in an attempt to raise the the profile of Scottish football. The SFL which governs all professional Scottish football is looking to change the topflight, Scottish Premier League, to a 10 team league. The league currently contains 12 teams, and the league officials believe a 10 team league will help restructure TV money allocations to team as well as make the league more competitive. The second division would also be re-configured to 10 teams with the bottom teams in division 1 playing the top teams of division 2 in a playoff to determine promotion and relegation.

Many Scottish clubs and fans have spoken against these league changes. They feel this will make the league rather monotonous with each team playing an uneven schedule in a 38 match season. Many already feel the season becomes boring when teams can play each other 2, 3, 4 or 5 times in a season. Similar to MLS, Don Garber has stated the league may have an uneven schedule to promote rivalry and make the playoffs mean more. However, look at attendance and fan satisfaction in Scotland he should understand why so many are against this idea.

Many of the clubs and fans alike have called for a 16 team top flight with a total of 32 matches. They've also called for a playoff to determine the league champion, which has been denounced by both Celtic and Rangers. The two teams have won the Scottish top flight every season since 1984-85 when Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen broke up the Celtic/Rangers stranglehold. Rangers have amassed 53 Scottish titles to Celtic's 42 in the history of Scottish football. All non-Ranger and Celtic supporters can sympathize with the desire for change.

Another change that many are calling for is a schedule change that would mirror MLS and the Scandinavian countries. Winter weather tends to cause fixture cancellation in Scotland, as well as pitches becoming so torn apart they should be deemed unplayable for topflight football. However, SFA officials seem to think a spring to fall schedule is ludicrous.

If the SFA changes the league to 10 teams it could send Scottish talent to MLS. We've already seen Colorado's Jamie Smith, amongst others, who rather than take a step down in clubs( from Aberdeen) leave Scottish football for MLS. With two less teams in the topflight we could see many Scottish players migrate to MLS. Many Scottish players salary is on par with the mid to higher earning MLS players and last season Robbie Keane became the highest paid player in Scottish football history during his loan spell at Celtic.

Scottish football is in a shambles these days, and if these league changes take affect I think we will see Scottish football all but extinct. However, the good news for Celtic and Rangers is it could finally open up the English Premier League and English Football League to the idea of adding Scotland's two biggest teams.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Impact player

According to DC United, they're looking for an impact player in this year's Superdraft. It rare, however, that find such a player coming out of college. I argue that the true impact players are either players who have gained a few years professional experience outside of college, or they are signed from other parts of the world. The biggest impact player from last season, Andy Najar, was signed from the team's youth academy. It can be argued Tim Ream and Danny Mwanaga were impact players for their respective teams. However, it truly depends on how one defines impact player. To me these players have filled in holes that each team had and were valuable pieces to the team's puzzle. I classify impact as David Ferreria in Dallas or Omar Cummings in Colorado. Neither of these teams could have made the MLS Cup final with out the contribution of these players. Therefore, impact to me is dictated by the final results at the end of the season.

I don't think DC can find an impact player in the draft, until he is atleast developed in the league for a few seasons. However, they can find a valuable piece to plug into a terrible team.

Will Omar Bravo Help SKC?

The 30-year old Mexican veteran became SKC's second DP in their history this past Autumn. Many Sporting KC fans are ecstatic about this signing, though I don't see why. I've read and heard many who are expecting 10-15 goals from Bravo in '11. However, since Bravo's ill-timed move to Spain's Deportivo La Coruna in 2008 he hasn't scored more than five goals a season. The upside to that is he has only played 51 matches in that time for Coruna, UANL and Guadalajara. That's one goal every 10 matches. MLS will play a 36 match regular season schedule. If you go by the stats he will score about 3-4 goals, and not the 10-15 people are predicting. His highest goal total was in '06-'07 with him scoring 22 goals in all competitions (which was 43 matches, one goal in two).

What Bravo can bring to SKC is the ability to take players away from the play and other attackers who can then flourish; if he can stay healthy. The cons of bringing in a "big named" DP is the conflicts that can build in the dressing room and on the training pitch. We also continue to see MLS teams succeeding without DPs. Only one MLS teams has won MLS Cup with a DP (Schelotto and Columbus) and only New York and LA Galaxy have made the Final while employing a DP.

We've seen Bravo's career stutter when he left Mexico the first time and I expect the same to happen again. Though it looked like his career in Spain would catapult him to success in Europe, he ended the season only playing nine matches for Coruna. With the change in training, defense and tactics in the Mexican League to Spain Bravo couldn't recreate the form of his earlier years. Upon return to Mexico Bravo could still not recreate his former magic. He did not make the Mexican National squad for the World Cup.

I expect the same to happen in MLS with SKC that has already occurred in Spain. Being the cynic I am I believe Bravo's signing is more of a marketing move by the SKC front office. I also expect the same to occur with Bravo as did with Claudio Lopez. Signed to a DP contract his first season and then reduced to non-DP for the second. However, I can't imagine Bravo hanging around Kansas City for a second year on a non-DP salary. Sporting KC is becoming a team similar to Blackburn and Wigan in England. A team in a location that isn't the most attractive, thus making it more difficult to sign players. If Bravo does workout I will be surprised, but Sporting's needs are in the back four and not the attack. Hopefully, they can address this before the season begins.

American Youth

MLS's website has an article regarding Preston Zimmerman resurrecting his career in Germany with Mainz's reserve team. It got me to think about many of the US born players who forgo MLS following high school or college to play in Europe. Zimmerman has been able to play for some well respected clubs in Germany and Austria, but he has never played first team football in Germany; though he played 21 games in Austria for Kapfenberger SV's first team. At 22-years old it seems he is one player who should return to the US and have a go in MLS. However, would he be successful in MLS or is MLS's cutthroat management style a hinderance to players like Zimmerman.

Last season, we saw Sal Zizzo return to the US when he signed with MLS and was allocated to Chivas USA. Zizzo did not have much success in Europe, most notably playing eight matches for Hannover '96 in Germany. He played 10 matches for Chivas USA last season scoring no goals for an extremely awful team.

I'm not sure these US players who leave early can be successful if they move to MLS following stints in Europe. We've seen Danny Szetela move to Europe before returning to MLS two years later. Upon return he played four matches for DC United before being released. According to Wikipedia he is a free agent still. At one time Charlie Davies could have been considered the most successful US player to skip MLS and go to Europe following college. However, after his car accident I don't think the same can be said.

I find it interesting we see every year MLS teams unable to sign high school and college players who move abroad. As in Zimmerman and Zizzo, perhaps moving too early has hurt their careers when they should be getting pro experience in their home country's domestic league. These players also flatten out talent-wise and are no longer the best player on their teams which also needs to be considered; and they stop developing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Liverpool, so woeful

Lucas Leiva gets lambasted every week for his play for Liverpool. Yet, Glen Johnson a $35 million purchase of Rafa Benitez continually shows he isn't a Premier League defender. Johnson has just give Kevin Davies of Bolton a free header at the backpost.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

TFC Stand Your Ground

Since Dwayne De Rosario has gone to Celtic to train there has been a massive backlash amongst the soccer blogger, fan, expert and Johny-come-lately in North America. It has been nice to see so many people coming around to the fact that DeRo is a selfish player who lacks tactical awareness, too. I have to wonder, if he is signed by Celtic, which I think is unlikely but it could happen, will he be played in a position in which he can have open range to cover the pitch. Will the strong minds of Celtic players and management keep DeRo in his position on the pitch. If he is played in the hole behind a striker and in front of the midfield he will have that opportunity to roam the pitch; similar to Wayne Rooney's role with Manchester United. But, isn't that where Ljundberg will play?

It's believed by many DeRo plays out of position often, because the talent level around him is lacking. But it is common in MLS for one player's talent level to be much higher than those of teammates. But what looks like DeRo constantly contributing by roaming the pitch to get the ball and trying to create is more what you get in short sided games, ala 5-a side, and not what you want in 11- a side when the team's tactics don't reflect that style. Barcelona is a team with complex tactics that fit the roaming marauding style with players that are always moving into open spaces to stop oppositions from taking the space. For TFC this style has left massive gaps on the pitch and has left TFC already vulnerable defense exposed.

In Houston DeRo seemed to have a more defined role and position, however, since moving to TFC it appears he has played for himself. Almost to create a Mr. Toronto tag for himself. In Houston, DeRo did have better players around him. But, more importantly he had a strong manager in Dominic Kinnear whom had a blueprint and plan for the club. Perhaps that is what DeRo is missing.

Houston dealt DeRo to TFC for Julius James and allocation money in 2008. Houston has been up and down since making the trade. During the time of the trade DeRo had been rumored to sign a new higher salary contract and possible DP contract with Houston. Houston made the move though feeling DeRo wasn't worth the price and hassle it seems, and may have actually made the move due to DeRo's growing power or diva attitude within the locker room. Since the trade in '08 we can't say either DeRo or Houston has truly benefited from the move. DeRo has won the Voyageur Cup on two occasions reaching the COCACAF Champions League, however.

This story between De Rosario, TFC and Celtic will probably be a non-event in the end. If DeRo doesn't sign and returns to TFC most fans will look past this. Outside of the Toronto area do many care about it in the first place. I hope TFC stands their ground on this situation and either sell or trade De Rosario. I know they need talented players, but there's no reason to keep a player who isn't happy and doesn't want to play for you; though he did agree the $300,000 a year contract in the first place. In the end Celtic has already added a player of the similar ilk as DeRo by signing Freddie Ljundberg. Ljundberg will play that attacking role DeRo likes to play and he came on a free transfer. With the financial situations we currently have and Celtic not playing in Europe I see this move as possible at best.