Could the long, winding saga that is "Brian Ching vs. the Montreal Impact trade" be headed toward its inevitable conclusion? Earlier today the Impact announced that they'd awarded Ching a leave of absence from camp for unspecified, personal reasons. Now comes talk of a long-desired (by Ching) move back to the Dynamo courtesy of Mark Berman, sports director for Houston's FOX affiliate.
MLS sources tell FOX26 Sports the Dynamo are in advanced talks with Montreal that would send the rights to Brian Ching back to Houston
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) February 13, 2012
Coincidence or conspiracy?
Cheerleaders: love 'em or hate 'em they are an inextricable part of the American sports landscape. But for many of the MLS fans that weighed in on the league's Facebook page yesterday they aren't part of one sport: soccer.
"I don’t understand this notion that cheerleaders don’t belong in soccer. Cheerleaders have been around the game forever. Maybe not in Europe, but if you look at Mexico, Colombia and most of all the other Latin-American countries, you will see that many of those clubs have had cheerleaders for many years and the game didn’t get ruined. They get to cheer the crowd at halftime, when no one has anything to do other than eat, drink and wait for the second half. Cheerleaders are not going to change what happens inside of the field, and that’s what I care about. So I say, sure, bring them on." - Edgar Acero
"When it comes to soccer, cheerleaders are nothing but a distraction. Then again, that's pretty much their purpose in just about any setting. But by that definition, so are concession stands, play areas that give parents a much-appreciated outlet for their offspring and just about anything that happens away from the field during the course of a match. Many people spend 90 minutes fixated on the play itself, but countless others scarf down giant, salted pretzels, play around on Twitter or ogle pretty girls with pom poms. Who am I to say any of those things don't belong? To each his own." - Andrew Wiebe
"I’m opposed to cheerleaders in MLS, but only because I’m opposed to cheerleaders in general. It adds nothing to the product on the field, and anyway, why would you spend money on tickets if your only goal is to see scantily-clad women? You could just as easily stay home and use man’s greatest invention: the interwebz." - Nate Sulat
"I'll admit that as a former Texas high school football player I have a strong association with cheerleaders & pointyball. So as much as I enjoy pretty women, team spirit and soccer it just seems a little odd --not to mention possibly degrading-- to me. Not because it's "Americanizing" the game, as some allege, but because they just remind me of autumn Friday nights in Anytown U.S.A. Also, rejection. - Shawn Francis
What's your take on cheerleaders in soccer? Let us know in the comments below.
Skrifaði undir samning til tveggja ára í morgun, mjög ánægður með það. Nú bíð ég eftir atvinnuleyfi.
— G. Victor Palsson (@VictorPalsson) February 5, 2012
To most of us the Tweet above means about as much as the Latin script on the back of a coin. But send it through Google translate with the knowledge that it's coming from former Hibs midfielder Victor Palsson, who is in Cancun with the Red Bulls, and it becomes a lot more menaingful to non-Icelanders.
"Signed a contract for two years this morning, very pleased with it. Now I am waiting for permits."
There's no word from New York yet but if you read between the tweets --the digital age equivalent of tea leaves-- it certainly seems like more there could be a new addition to Hans Backe's Nordic All Star team.
Chris Birchall wasn't a household name like some of the other internationals acquired by the LA Galaxy a few years ago. But he has been a stalwart of the Trinidad & Tobago national team since 2005, and he put in three more-than-serviceable years for Bruce Arena & Co.
From the looks of this tweet on Monday morning, his time at the HDC is done.
Disappointed to say that I will not be returning to LA Galaxy,I would like to thank everyone for a Superb 3years,fans exceptional!!Thankyou!
— Chris Birchall (@chrisbirchall7) February 6, 2012
A few weeks ago, Arena had this to say about Birchall: “There hasn’t been a decision made on him. Originally he wanted to go back to England, so we obviously agreed to that and didn’t renew his option. He was looking to explore opportunities in England. Perhaps he’ll want to come back.”
Not sure at this point if anything happened in England, but it seems like the manager's final question has been answered.
Okay, so we're still more than a month away from the first games of the 2012 MLS season on March 10. But that doesn't mean we can't start having a little fun.
Check out MLSsoccer.com on Thursday as we reveal our preseason power rankings, looking back at all the offseason moves, injuries and coaching changes that will shape how each team performs in 2012.
And for a refresher course, here's a look at how the teams finished after the MLS Cup last season...
(Before you get bent out of shape about Montreal's absence or any other perceived slight, please remember that these are the final 2011 rankings.)
1. LA Galaxy
2. Houston Dynamo
3. Real Salt Lake
4. Sporting Kansas City
5. Seattle Sounders
6. Philadelphia Union
7. Colorado Rapids
8. New York Red Bulls
9. FC Dallas
10. Columbus Crew
11. Chicago Fire
12. Portland Timbers
13. San Jose Earthquakes
14. D.C. United
15. Toronto FC
16. Chivas USA
17. Vancouver Whitecaps
18. New England Revolution
Forget the official word from the club. Luke Rodgers told fans this morning from his personal Facebook page that he's sorted out his issues in England and will join the club this week.
Further invesitgation indicates that Rodgers, who scored nine goals and added three assists in his first MLS season last year, isn't Facebook friends with Red Bulls newcomer Kenny Cooper. Not yet, anyway.
The deal that brings Sebastien Le Toux to Vancouver appears to be done, if you're asking Le Toux. More details to come...
Just got traded to Vancouver !Saddest day for me in my Philadelphia Union story.... Still can't believe it
— Sebastien Le Toux (@SebastienLeToux) January 31, 2012
"Yes, we talked to Del Piero; yes, we talked to Ballack; yes, we spoke to Anelka; yes, we talked to Trezeguet."
That's Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo telling the story of his team's pursuit of a high-profile Designated Player. Of the four mentioned, three are already out of the mix: Alessandro Del Piero prefers New York or LA, Nicolas Anelka signed for big, big bucks in China, and David Trezeguet is trying to lead River Plate out of the Argentine second flight.
That leaves Michael Ballack, the 35-year-old former German captain who's been on MLS radars for at least two years. Saputo says his team's fans "deserve a Designated Player" - but not at "any price." Ballack is free to leave current club Bayer Leverkusen, where's he's been largely disappointing, but even so he won't come cheap.
Former San Jose Earthquakes, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake forward Arturo Álvarez appears to be on his way to Portugal, thanks to a two-year deal with Rio Ave.
Álvarez, 26, appeared in 16 games for Real Salt Lake in 2011 but struggled to find the form he showed with both the Quakes and FCD from 2005-10, and RSL parted ways with him after the season. (Arturo Álvarez firmaría con club portugués Rio Ave, Elsalvador.com)
We've heard rumors of this in recent weeks, apparently it's true. Is this odd timing, considering the preseason is underway?
— Richard Motzkin (@RichardMotzkin) January 27, 2012