Graham Zusi may be a newcomer to the USMNT setup but he's definitely making an impression early on by adding creativity to a midfield that sometimes lacks in ideas. He's also adding goals to the scoreboard which also tends to help your cause.
Check out Zusi's game-winner against Panama tonight; it's a strike so deliberate that if the ball killed someone on the way into the back of the net he'd be charged with murder instead of manslaughter.
Earlier today the Red Bulls announced their latest signing, little-known American keeper Jeremy Vuolo. Where did they find him? The Finnish Ykkönen or first division.
So let's recount the membership of Scandinavian-connected contingent currently calling Harrison, NJ home:
- Sporting Director Erik Soler (native of Norway)
- Head Coach Hans Backe (native of Sweden)
- Assistant Coach Jan Halvor Halversen (native of Norway)
Players: under contract
- Markus Holgersson (native of Sweden)
- Jan Gunnar Solli (native of Norway)
- Teemu Tainio (native of Finland)
- Brian Nielsen (native of Denmark)
- Jonathan Barrajo (spent 2010-11 with Hamarkameratene of Norway)
- Joel Lindpere (spent three seasons with Tromso of Norway)
- Roy Miller (spent 2005-09 with clubs in both Norway and Sweden)
- Jeremy Vuolo (spent 2011 with Finnish side AC Oulu)
Players: unsigned, currently in camp
- Willis Forko (spent 2008-10 with FK Bodø/Glimt of Norway)
Players: unsigned, linked to the club
- Victor Pálsson (native of Iceland who claims to be negotiating with the club)
It's a shame this is all happening with the Red Bulls. Not because these are bad players or anything like that. It's just that if there was ever a club screaming out to have "IKEA" slapped on the front of its jersey this is it; I hate to see good kit sponsorship potential go to waste.
Did you watch the live broadcast of the 2012 All Star game press conference yesterday? Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz was absolutely beaming.
And why not? After all the guy did play a pivotal role in bringing soccer to Philly, even funding the first four months of the endeavor on his personal Amex card, so you'd expect that he'd be as happy as an unmarked forward in the 18 yd-box.
But what about the fans? How do the Philadelphia faithful feel about the league's summer showcase coming to town?
"It's going to be fantastic," says Liverpool native and Son of Ben Mark Jenkinson. "It's great that they're all starting to take place in purpose-built stadiums."
Now knowing where Jenkinson hails from you will be in no way shocked to learn who his choice of dream ASG opponent is.
"Obviously Liverpool," he offers with a laugh, "or any really top-tier club. I'd really like to see East v. West again though. It may not have the draw of playing against a Real Madrid but it's definitely in the spirit of what an All Star game is all about."
He's not alone in his desire to see Liverpool trade in the Mersey for the Delaware River.
"I'd love to see Liverpool, Barcelona of course. Pretty much anyone except Manchester United."
Those are the words of Union fan Kelly Christine Delaney who is something of an all-inclusive All Star game fan.
"I was at the NBA All-Star game when it was in Philadelphia, I was at the MLB All Star game when it was at Veteran's Stadium and I'll be at the NBA All Star game again this year," says Delaney. "It's fun. They always feel like a Harlem Globetrotters game, even the baseball one, because there's a lot of showboating and everyone is there to have a good time. At the end of the night I can go home without being upset whether we won or lost."
Different people do different things in the offseason. Some players go to Vegas while others go hard in the gym. This year, one player went on TV.
Following a 2011 campaign that saw him stuck behind Jon Busch on the depth chart, former San Jose Earthquakes and D.C. United keeper Andrew Weber spent his winter traveling the world as a competitor on CBS' The Amazing Race. His teammate for the 25 day around-the-world race toward a $1 million cash prize? Twin brother Elliot.
Having seen the inside of many, if not all, MLS away team hotels I'm sure Andrew knows a thing or two about travel and how to make it tolerable. But 25 days through maybe a dozen different countries with your brother is a recipe for drama...which is precisely why I'll be watching when the show debuts on Feb. 19th.
Good luck to them and good luck to Andrew in Seattle, where he is currently in camp with the Sounders.