blog

simon borg

03 January 9:31 pm

Fredy Montero maybe never knew it or others purged it out of him: But like it or not, no matter what the formation may show on any given matchday, Montero is an old-school No. 10.

A No. 10 as in a supremely skilled, game-breaker. They may not be the fastest, the tallest or the strongest, but they're capable of that stroke of genius that other players can only dream about.

No. 10s are hot and cold. They're often enigmatic and maddening. They need freedom because they don't fit a specific mold. They can't be judged by the same measure as other players. They're different.

Well, since Montero was counted on for goals (he did score double-digit goals in each of his four seasons), we could instead use the "No. 9.5" label that Michel Platini once coined for Italian Roberto Baggio: the No. 10 who also finds the back of the net.

Whichever label fits him best, it's no secret that tweeners like Montero are dying a slow death in modern soccer, which is increasingly based on athleticism and production. The sport has very little patience any more for the artisans, whose production may not always be reliable or punctual, but whose craft is inimitable.

If Montero's return to Colombia does materialize, MLS will have lost one of its artisans -- the author of some of the best goals in league history. True gems. But these days the Sounders are not interested in art and pretty pictures. They want goals. Goals that win them trophies.

Montero's exit, if it happens, would follow that of No. 10's Sebastián Grazzini (Chicago Fire) and Davide Chiumiento (Vancouver Whitecaps), who departed during the 2012 season. Toronto FC also sent attacking catalyst Joao Plata back to Ecuador in midseason.

Meanwhile, as creative types like Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union) and Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) suffer through existential crises (where and how do they fit in MLS?), there have been rumors of another potential return to Colombia for FC Dallas playmaker David Ferreira.

Real Salt Lake are desperately trying to cling to their No. 10 Javier Morales and the New York Red Bulls looked far and wide before landing 37-year-old Brazilian Juninho Pernambucano.

Who's left out there? Columbus have their fingers crossed that a healthy Federico Higuaín can regain his form, while Colorado hope Martín Rivero can actually find his.

Before we get too alarmed, what we may very well be witnessing could just be a transition phase in MLS. A changing of the guard. The slighter, softer Montero's making way for a new breed of modern gamebreakers who are built stronger (see Sporting's Graham Zusi), bigger (see Toronto's Luis Silva), tougher (see Philly's Michael Farfan) and show up every game.

But finding another Farfan is easier said than done. Good luck, Seattle.

26 December 6:27 pm

Seattle Sounders left-footed genius Mario Martinez has never been afraid to express himself on the field. Or off the field, for that matter.

Earlier this season he openly discussed his dissatisfaction with his lack of playing time. Now he's talking about a move to Europe on Twitter.

On Wednesday, he dropped this line which is sure to grab the attention of the Sounders' front office: "Ufff, would Turkey be a good option?"

When the Sounders signed Martinez on loan from Honduran side Real Espana on August 1, 2012, it was not clear how long the loan would run. But in a year-end Q&A with MLSsoccer.com, Seattle manager Sigi Schmid indicated that he expects Martinez back for a full season.

"Mario Martínez, who came to us in midseason but was in and out," Schmid said. "With him being around a whole season, I think he has a chance to make a major step forward as well."

A move to Turkey was probably not the step forward that Schmid had in mind. We'll see what the club says about this one.

26 December 6:11 pm

The question is often posed: Could soccer ever overtake the NFL in the hearts and minds of Americans?

Well, a recent ESPN ranking just dropped another hint that maybe it's not so far-fetched.

On December 25 the US sports network published its "Cross-Sport Power Rankings" for 2012. It's a list of the 20 athletes who stood out more than all the others.

A look at the Top 10 shows a single NFL player (NY Giants' Eli Manning), just one professional baseball player (Detroit's Miguel Cabrera) and two soccer players: Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

The only other sport with two representatives in the Top 10? The NBA.

Watch your back next year, LeBron.

26 December 3:55 pm

Are Bill Hamid and West Brom rekindling their relationship?

After training with the EPL side at the end of the 2011 MLS season, Hamid is in England once again. Here's the message he sent out via Twitter earlier Wednesday morning.

 

 

[UPDATE: D.C. United confirmed late Wednesday that Hamid is in fact on vacation in England.]

Just a few months after seeing him up close, reports from Birmingham in May 2012 claimed that Hamid was still very much on WBA's radar.

The D.C. United goalkeeper worked out with the EPL side last year for a week and he raved about his stay on ExtraTime Radio back on December 1, 2011.

"From what I believe, West Brom was interested and came forward through emails and different ways to get in contact with me and my agent to take a close look at me," Hamid told ExtraTime Radio. "West Brom came forward and we moved from there."

 

06 December 1:56 pm

The Seattle Sounders are relentless, or so claim the reports from Spain.

The club managed by Sigi Schmid was rumored to be after Espanyol midfielder Joan Verdú in the summer and now they're apparently giving it another go. Inside Spanish Football reports that the Sounders are trying to lure the 29-year-old Spanish midfielder in the upcoming January transfer window.

The same article indicates that Verdú's contract expires in the summer of 2013, but that he's interested in moving to Seattle if provided with "a good offer."

Espanyol currently sit in last place in the La Liga standings and could be looking to offload higher-priced players ahead of a potential drop.

05 December 7:39 pm

If you enjoyed the snippets of Sigi Schmid's locker room talks in the MLS36 featuring Fredy Montero on the NBC Sports Network earlier this season, you'll be watching and re-watching American Football for days.

That's the name of the new documentary being produced by LEVYFilms. The group gained exclusive access to the Sounders, including the team talks which are one of the highlights of the film.

Here's what the founder of the company told ESPN.com last month: The LA speech last week was a full-circle rerun of the Salt Lake speech.

"I have lots of other locker room speeches," he said. "The LA speech last week was a full-circle re-run of the Salt Lake speech."

A trailer of the movie was unintentionally leaked and those who watched it are already raving about it. Stay tuned.

04 December 4:49 pm

The last 24 hours have been gut-wrenching if you've closely followed the story of ex-Pachuca goalkeeper Miguel Calero.

A former standardbearer for the Tuzos, the 41-year-old was first declared brain dead by doctors on Monday and the club confirmed his passing on Tuesday. Calero was initially hospitalized in Mexico City with cerebral thrombosis over the weekend.

Chivas USA forward and fellow Colombian Juan Pablo Ángel tweeted about Calero as a "teammate and friend. An extraordinary human being."

Houston Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear also took a moment to remember Calero during his season-ending press conference on Tuesday in Houston. The Dynamo and Pachuca played in memorable matches in the 2007 CONCACAF Champions' Cup and the '08 and '10 SuperLiga (the old USA vs. Mexico tournament).

But one of the most memorable images of Calero was his performance in the PK shootout that decided the 2007 edition of SuperLiga against the LA Galaxy (watch the video below).

20 November 8:16 pm

The New England Revolution mean business this offseason.

Jay Heaps' squad has been among the most aggressive this offseason, signing midfielders Andy Dorman and Kalifa Cissé already. And another player may be on his way.

According to Revolution blog The Bent Musket, Honduran international Walter Martínez may be next on the shopping list.

"We received a tip from a colleague on the network, who in turn was tipped by a source he'd like to protect, that Honduran international midfielder/forward Walter Martínez met with Jay Heaps recently to talk transfer," wrote Steve Stoehr.

Wait. A potential third midfielder this early in the offseason? Wasn't the backline supposed to be the club's main priority on the transfer market?

Surely, Heaps and GM Mike Burns are far from done.

20 November 6:45 pm

Matt Reis may not know whether he's sticking around in New England, but he's making the most of his time while he's there.

The veteran goalkeeper, who is waiting to hear whether he's in the Revolution's plans for 2013, got a seat in the Liz Bramwell's kitchen for "The Cooking Show," which is shot at Rustic Kitchen Bistro & Bar in Boston.

Bramwell gets Reis involved as she teaches a crowd how to make gnocchi and the long-time Revs netminder is immersed in the task at hand.

"Come on back here gnocchi," he says at one point. "I can do this all night."

Watch Reis in the video below (minute 11:00 to 16:00) and you might even learn something you can use in your kitchen.

20 November 6:23 pm

Among the rumored suitors for the soon-to-be-out-of-contract David Beckham is heavy-spending French side Paris Saint-Germain.

Not so fast.

PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear that his team is not interested in the former England international.

"We did not offer, good luck to him," Ancelotti said, according to a report on Goal.com.

Beckham plays his last match for the LA Galaxy on Dec. 1 in MLS Cup 2012. Where he goes from there is anyone's guess at this point. But fans have chimed in with their own speculation: See where they think Becks is heading in this poll on MLSsoccer.com.