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simon borg

11 October 7:26 pm

Newly named New York Red Bulls GM Jerome de Bontin was non-committal when he was asked last week about the future of current manager Hans Backe.

But Backe himself sounds like he knows what's happening when his contract expires at the end of the current season.

According to a report in Swedish outlet Expressen, Backe indicated that he plans on moving back to Sweden in December.

"My contract runs out and I have not heard anything, so I will be moving home in December," Backe said, according to an online translation of the article. "There has been a reorganization which brought in Gérard Houllier and Jerome de Bontin and Erik Solér has been fired."

Add to that last week's rumors that tie Harry Redknapp and Gary McAllister to the Red Bulls job and it makes for a pretty major disruption for a team that still hasn't clinched a playoff berth with two matches remaining.

We'll see how the club responds in the coming days.

11 October 1:33 pm

When an England-based media outlet gets a chance to sit down with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, the question du rigueur these days is about Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard.

After his participation in the Leaders in Football conference in London on Thursday, Garber fielded the "Lampard to MLS" question and was bullish about his one day joining the US top-flight (see the video below):

"What a great player," Garber said about Lampard. "It would be great to see him in Major League Soccer but I'm not aware of any conversations going on."

And the Commissioner also shared his thoughts about ex-New England Revolution and current Tottenham Hotspur forward Clint Dempsey, who will lead the US national team in two crucial World Cup qualifying matches.

"For me, personally, I'd love to have Clint Dempsey in Major League Soccer," he said. "I think that the top American today and playing in our league and being an idol for young kids all across the country would be good for Major League Soccer."

See the entire interview below:

08 September 7:45 am

We’ve seen plenty of CONCACAF matches just like that USMNT loss in Jamaica on Friday night: physical, scrappy, disjointed rough-and-tumble affairs.

And those are the games where you need the magical play. Those are the scrums where you need the player who can stand out and make something out of nothing.

Right now the US doesn’t have that go-to guy. Especially when Landon Donovan is not on the field (he’s missing out on the Jamaica home-and-home due to a hamstring injury). Donnie Moore's phonebook-tearing techniques can only take you so far.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT was exposed in Kingston for what it really is: a collection of solid role players who ply their trade in Europe and Mexico. Good overall pros who are not even the undisputed stars of their own club teams. Each does some things better than others, but there’s not one field player who excels at a single facet of the game. No one without gloves who can decide a match with a dominant skill.

Who’s the expert dribbler on the team? Who’s the explosive speedster who can at least draw a foul when he can’t run by someone? Who’s the master free-kick taker? Who’s the head-ball specialist feared by opposing defenders? A passing maestro anyone? How about a pinpoint crosser of the ball?

The USMNT needed someone to pull a rabbit out of a hat against Jamaica becase the team game just wasn’t there. The passing and the movement were not synced up. It wasn’t happening. And they had no one to turn to. The man in which the USA usually confides in moments of despair was watching from home. 

Maybe we have taken him for granted. Maybe we thought the golden boy would always be a boy. But injuries are slowly eating away at Landon Donovan’s career. The passing of the years have eroded his exuberant presence on the field. Even Donovan has hinted at it: A future without LD is closer than you think.

Despite their glaring deficiency, the USMNT and Klinsmann will keep on truckin'. Their heart and optimism, courage and fight, is praised around the world. They’ll show that never-say-die spirit even when the scoreline is unforgiving (see Brazil). They’ll punch above their weight sometimes and gut out a win (see Italy). They’ll hammer the inferior teams (see Scotland).

But all the other stuff in the middle – those evenly matched mucks – will continue to produce results like Kingston, Jamaica every so often. It’s just the reality when you don’t have the one player who can tip the balance of a match.

However, that sold-out Columbus Crew Stadium crowd on Tuesday – that might just be enough to take the stars-and-stripes over the top in the scrappy rematch that ensues. More importantly, home field could be enough to sway a key referee call or even win a penalty kick that decides the match.

All is not lost. Even without a superstar.

15 August 1:23 pm

Michael Bradley wasn't called up to the US national team for Wednesday's match against Mexico because he's busy settling in at Italian Serie A club AS Roma.

Here's how it's going for him so far:

15 August 12:57 pm

If you believe the reports, Clint Dempsey may very well land on Merseyside in England.

Just perhaps not in Liverpool FC colors.

The Daily Mail says that "Everton are considering rivaling Liverpool in the race to sign Clint Dempsey from Fulham."

David Moyes and Everton, big fans of American players over the years, have landed a windfall of cash after the transfer of Jack Rodwell to Manchester City and apparently are looking at potentially throwing some Clint's way as a replacement for Tim Cahill, who recently joined the New York Red Bulls.

It's probably not what the 29-year-old US national team star had in mind with one year remaining on his Fulham contract after making it abundantly clear he wanted to play in the UEFA Champions League.

The news out of England point to a disparity in Fulham's valuation on a transfer (reportedly $14 million) and what the likes of Liverpool and others are willing to offer (circa $7 million).

Dempsey was not called up by Jurgen Klinsmann for Wednesday night's US friendly in Mexico and he continues to train with Fulham's youth squad, apart from the first team.

According to the latest reports, the ex-New England Revolution player won't be there when Fulham opens the English Premier League season at home against Norwich City on Saturday.

15 August 12:35 pm

It's always been pretty evident that Real Salt Lake's Jamison Olave is an incredible athlete. But have you ever fixated on his quads or anyone's quads for that matter?

Turns out Olave's are freaks of nature and ESPN The Magazine decided to highlight them in all their glory in their latest issue.

"My teammates tease me, asking if I got silicone implants in my quads," Olave tells ESPN.

Forget the quads. Real Salt Lake fans only care about one Olave muscle these days - the left hamstring. It's what has him listed as doubtful on the injury report and RSL, on a three-game losing skid in all competitions, need him back in the worst way.

03 August 7:06 pm

A wink. A smile. And an uncontrollable giggle to boot.

That, my friends, is what I call flirting. And Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was the guilty party.

Trust me, this isn't one of those dismissive, formulaic one-liners that we're used to hearing from world stars when speaking of MLS. This, my friends, was an unprompted expression of real interest from Cristiano and there's genuine love in his voice for the USA.

You're going to have to see it for yourself:

01 August 2:16 pm

How often do you see a soccer player stick with one team for a decade? Anywhere?

New England's Shalrie Joseph is one of the few standard-bearers left in the league. You think Revs, you think Shalrie and the dreads.

So should the Revs retire his number? Should they retire it while he's still active? Should they give it to other players to wear?

Vote here.

25 July 2:07 pm

The rumored deal that was set to send Seattle Sounders Designated Player Álvaro Fernández to Colombian side Deportivo Cali has fallen through.

That's the news according to this report in Colombian daily El Pais, which now claims that the club is looking elsewhere for attacking help.

Fernández addressed the situation only yesterday with the Seattle Times in this blog post.

25 July 1:53 pm

When it's splashed all over the cover of Spanish sports daily Marca, we've got to take notice.

Here's what the headline says: "Red Bull gives Kaká wings" (thus the photo).

The rest of it: "The team from New York wants the Brazilian. The player appeals to the US league. ... But it would pay half [his salary]. Yesterday he didn't travel to Oviedo with Madrid. Saturday is d-day."

On Saturday, the Red Bulls also play in Montreal (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).