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matthew doyle

19 December 2:20 pm

Osvaldo Alonso's trip to Upton Park been called nothing more than a training stint, and in MLS we're more than used to those.

Now, however, it's not just the British press making mountains out of what were previously thought to be molehills. According to a report in eatsleepsport.com, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce intimated that a bid could be forthcoming if he decides that the Honey Badger fits his side's needs:

"We always need a bit of help as a manager," Allardyce reportedly said. "We're never going to turn one down are we? Or two! You've always got to try. If there's anybody there who can enhance or better the team, then we would like to go for them."

Grain of salt alert: First, this is the UK press (no elaboration needed). Second, Allardyce never specifically says that there'll be a bid coming. He's mostly just giving a very political, yet very obvious answer to a pretty straight forward question.
 
Ozzie would absolutely help the Hammers, by the way. And I'd be shocked if they weren't impressed by him. But ... grain of salt, people. Grain of salt.
 
 
18 December 6:51 pm

Deadspin beat us to this one, and for that, we salute you guys. With cheesesteaks.

Honestly, there's not a lot to say about this footage of the 1924 US Open Cup final between the Fall River Marksmen and Vesper Buick besides "wow." And, "I wish there was enough footage of the old ASL for Ken Burns to do one of those eight-hour documentaries that I love so much."

Oh, and, "Who says that America has no soccer history or culture?" As wotnograpefruit, a commenter on the video's YouTube page, points out: This video, which shows that the Vesper Buick players had numbers on their jerseys, predates the previously reported beginning of numbered jerseys, 1928 with English side Arsenal.   

So I guess there's actually a bunch to say about this. I love the US Open Cup. And I love that this video still exists.

18 December 4:23 pm

South Korean legend Lee Young-Pyo said last week that he was "99 percent sure" 2013 would be his last season of professional soccer. And that leaves the Whitecaps in something of a bind, considering that Lee wasn't just a standout defender, but also led the team in chances created in 2012.

Enter mystery man Andres Fresenga. The Uruguay-based Canadian U-23 international (yeah, he was the dude who shut down Brek Shea in Olympic qualifying) is reportedly set to join Martin Rennie's squad in January for an extended trial.

“I had sent Tony Fonseca an email to congratulate him on his new position as CSA technical director and, all of a sudden, the next day, I got an e-mail from Vancouver that stated that they were looking for a right back and that Tony had recommended me,” Fresenga told RedNationOnline.ca. “So I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity and hopefully it works out. I’m going on trial in January, but, if everything goes as planned, it will be a year long loan. They want to see me because outside of my playing with the U23s, they have not really seen me play. The trial will start the first week of January.”
 
It could be a double win for Vancouver if Fresenga is up to the job. Not only would he help take some miles off of Lee's legs in 2013, but he'd help give a bit more Canadian flavor to a team that was sorely lacking in that department last year.
18 December 4:05 pm

Ok, so Rustu Recber only played four games for Barcelona, and that was nearly a decade ago. But still ... Barcelona. You clicked.

Anyway, our good friends at TheBrotherlyGame are reporting that the longtime Turkey No. 1, who actually retired this summer at the age of 39, has been in talks with the Union about a switch to MLS. And that he's already rejected one offer, but is open to something with, perhaps, another zero attached.

It would mark the second time in three years that Philly have brought in a veteran international netminder. Back in 2011 it was Colombian Faryd Mondragón, who went on to lead the Union to their first, and to date only, playoff appearance.

What bearing this would have on Zac MacMath, who struggled in his first season as a fulltime starter, remains to be seen. But it's clearly a spot that could be upgraded.

The Union have already added veteran central defender Jeff Parke, as well as forwards Sébastien Le Toux and Conor Casey this offseason.

EDIT: Of course, this isn't the first time that Recber has been linked to an MLS side. As BrotherlyGame mentioned, there were rumors floating around Turkey that the Galaxy had designs on getting his signature.

As always with these types of things, you have to bring your own grain (shaker) of salt.

14 December 9:19 pm

Credit this one to BigAppleSoccer.com, who've been all over the New York coaching situation since the days of Eddie Firmani taking mid-afternoon naps at his desk.

Acccording to crack BAS reporter Kristian Dyer, the Red Bulls are on the verge of naming Scotsman Gary McAllister the new bossman, in a move that could come as soon as next week.

Should this come to pass, it'll be no surprise. McAllister has been the frontrunner since early November, back when Hans Backe's contract wasn't renewed. He's reportedly close with new RBNY sporting director Andy Roxburgh, and has had previous managerial runs with Coventry City and Leeds United, as well as a caretaker stint with Aston Villa.

McAllister would become the sixth head coach - including two-time interim boss Richie Williams - since Red Bull took over the franchise in 2006.

14 December 8:27 pm

First of all, go ahead and bookmark this site right here: CLICK ME! It's an invaluable resource for anybody who cares about US soccer in general, and the US Open Cup in particular.

And if you don't care about the US Open Cup ... what the hell is wrong with you? It's one of the world's oldest tournaments, features huge upsets pretty much ever year, and is a breeding ground for future MLS stars. Yeah, the MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield may get your juices flowing a little more, but a cup's a cup. Anybody should be ecstatic to win one.

And it looks like, in 2013, the Sounders will have two shots to get back to the mountain top.

Not only are the big boy Sounders automatically drawn into the competition (along with the other 15 US-based MLS teams), but the Sounders U-23s have earned themselves a spot as well. There's no official announcement as of yet (US Soccer tends to take its time with USOC-related stuff), but according to TheCup.us' sources, Seattle's U-23s are in it by virtue of a first-place finish in the PDL's Northwest Division.

Second in the Northwest Division, by the way? That'd be the Portland Timbers U-23s, who are in the Cup (announcement pending!) for the second straight year.

So it looks like we could have two separate cases of fratricide, should the brackets work out just so. And should Cal FC not crash the party this time around.

EDIT: And our good friends at SounderAtHeart just sent us this:

So yeah, US Soccer may not have confirmed yet. But this one sure looks like it's good to go.

12 December 9:19 pm

There have been Claudio Bieler rumors for weeks now. There has also been very, very loud noise from Sporting KC already this offseason.

There's also the obvious fit: Sporting need someone who can and will put the ball in the net. For all of C.J. Sapong's improvement in his second year, he scored just nine times. Kei Kamara grabbed 11 goals, but could have had 25. And for the second year in a row, SKC went crashing out in the playoffs to a Houston team that was able to grab a couple of early goals, then batten down the hatches and count on the Sporting attack beating itself.

Bieler ain't that kind of cat. He's been good for about a goal every other game on every stop of his club career, which includes a 2008 Copa Libertadores crown with LDU Quito (Side note: They beat Jose Torres and Pachuca in the semifinals of the Club World Cup that year en route to a second-place finish. That was a good Quito team).

He's also been on the very fringes of the Argentine national team as recently as 2010, getting a camp under then-manager Diego Maradona (but no cap).

When you have a finisher with that kind of pedigree available, who's just 28 years old, you say "yes." According to Goal.com, that's exactly what's happening on Monday.

Now, it remains to be seen how it'll quite fit, since Bieler has usually played off a target striker instead of as a winger in a 4-3-3. A formational pivot could be in the works, or Peter Vermes could have some other trick up his sleeve.

Either way, though, it certainly looks like Sporting KC are very, very serious about getting better this offseason.

12 December 9:04 pm

I tagged this as "Canadian Exports" because I'm sadistic.

For those Yanks who may not be familiar (I'm going to go right ahead and assume that all our Canuck readers absolutely are): Owen Hargreaves was born and raised in Calgary, living there — and developing as a soccer player there — until age 16, at which point Bayern Munich spotted him and signed him to a youth deal. He made his first team breakthrough early in the 2000-01 season, which just so happened to be the year that Munich won their most recent UEFA Champions League crown.

"Why haven't I heard of this guy in CONCACAF qualifying?" you're wondering.

It's because Hargreaves spurned Canada to play for Wales (yes, Wales). And on the eve of what was to be his first cap for the Welsh youth national team, he went on to spurn them as well, because big ol' England came calling.

Hardcore Canadian national team fans have a very, very nasty nickname for him.

Anyway, Hargreaves was pretty damn good, impressed for England in the 2004 Euros and 2006 World Cup, and seemed to just be entering his prime and was on track to be one of the world's best pure destroyers. He moved from Munich to Manchester United in the interim.

And then the injuries hit. Hargreaves played 17 competitive club games in '06-07, 34 in '07-08, and a grand total of nine since then. In what should have been his prime, he became a salary albatross, first with United and then with Manchester City.

"What's all this got to do with MLS?"

Here ya go:

What about a spell in Major League Soccer in the United States?

Yes. They want me to go and play over there. It is a big move, you have to decide do you want to make the move, a big change. There are so many things I could do there and it would be nice to spend time in Canada.

Hargreaves is "just" 31 years old, but whoever it is that wants him to "go and play over there" may want to do a little more homework. They wanted him to play at Old Trafford and City of Manchester Stadium as well. Add in the indignity of signing the Canadian cross between Giuseppi Rossi and John O'Brien, and it's hard to believe that anyone in MLS would make this move, but most especially any of the three Canadian teams.

But hey ... if he does come to MLS after multiple injury-ravaged years, he wouldn't be the first.

10 December 12:35 am

At worst, he's the third-greatest player ever. Even if he never wins a World Cup, he has a legit shot at No. 1.

Here you go, all 86 (and counting) of Lionel Messi's goals in the 2012 calendar year:

(In case you were wondering:

  1. Pelé
  2. Maradona
  3. Messi
  4. Di Stéfano
  5. Beckenbauer

Let the whinging begin)

08 December 2:46 pm

The Canadian press is all abuzz over this one. As first reported on the Twitter feed of RDS' Patrick Friolet, apparently former Impact head coach Jesse Marsch has an offer to become the boss at Toronto FC:

In case you don't speak French, here's the translation via Nick Sabetti, who covers the Impact and the Canadian national team for Goal.com:

And if that's not enough, CBC.ca contributor Ben Raycroft says that Marsch has also had talks with his old club, Chivas USA:

Our take? Well, it's worth noting that Marsch and new TFC president Kevin Payne go back all the way to 1996, when Payne helped launch D.C. United and Marsch was one of the top midfield subs. They've reportedly been tight ever since.

Payne, however, said in his introductory press conference that current TFC head coach Paul Mariner would stay on for the 2013 season.

“He is a person I have a lot of respect for, competed against for a number of years in the East when he was a key member of the success in New England,” Payne said.

You can watch the entire press conference below: