Bonjour à tous et bienvenue sur Coup Franc, la première section en français du site MLSsoccer.com.
Avec l’arrivée de l’Impact de Montréal, la MLS effectue son entrée en terres francophones et il est tout à fait logique de pouvoir suivre ses activités en français. C’est ce que nous nous efforcerons de faire ici.
Si vous voulez tout savoir sur l’Impact de Montréal, nous vous suggérons le portail officiel du club (impactmontreal.com) ainsi que tous les autres sites qui parlent du club, et ils sont nombreux, que ce soient des sites spécialisés, de supporters, de médias,…
L’objectif ici est vraiment de pouvoir vous informer sur tout ce qu’il se passe en Major League Soccer, de vous donner un avant-goût des sommets à venir, des comptes-rendus de chaque journée de championnat, de vous faire partager des moments insolites, de vous familiariser avec les équipes et les joueurs, etc.
Cet espace est fait pour vous, et comme sur MLSsoccer.com, nous attachons une grande importance à l’interactivité, n’hésitez jamais à réagir aux nouvelles et à nous faire part de vos suggestions.
En attendant, nous nous réjouissons d'inviter les 220 millions de francophones venus de tous les continents à venir parler le langage le plus universel entre tous : celui du ballon rond !
De vuelta en Orlando, Fla. para el juego pretemporada entre FC Dallas y Toronto FC, me topé con Zarek Valentin, el defensa del Montreal Impact que nos compartió su alegría por la victoria que obtuvo con el equipo preolímpico de Estados Unidos sobre México en un crucial amistoso esta semana… pero ojo, se le está olvidando el español por estar aprendiendo francés.
The great thing about being in Orlando this week is, surprisingly, not the weather. That's been spotty. Last night a storm rolled through that, while not quite biblical in proportion, was enough to hold Simon Borg and myself hostage in the Sporting KC hotel for far longer than we intended. In the end it was OK though because it afforded me a chance to talk about team chemistry with coach Peter Vermes, who said of all the team's he ever been around the current KC squad is the tightest off-the-field he's ever seen.
Unfortunately for Kei Kamara though the storm put a damper on the pick-up basketball game he was trying to organize with some of his teammates. So much for team camaraderie.
The sun came out today though and after all that rain it's as humid as anything. Even Houston Dynamo players Corey Ashe and Andre Hainault, who should be used to a bit of sticky weather, thought it was a bit much for February.
The Dynamo had some interesting neighbors at today's practice. On one side were pitchers and catchers for the Atlanta Braves --they conduct spring training at the sprawling ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex-- with the Montreal Impact on the other. Funny how Brian Ching came back to Houston only to spend pre-season in the shadow of the Impact; guess his preseason plans would have been the same either way.
Most people would agree that Italians Arrigo Sacchi and Marcelo Lippi are two of the best managers. Ever. Between them, after all, they have six Serie A Scudetti, three Champions League/European Cup titles, and one World Cup.
At the club level, they saw the majority of their success at AC Milan (Sacchi) and Juventus (Lippi).
Ahead of this past weekend's Milan-Juve top-of-the-table clash, La Gazzetta dello Sport (the pink paper) brought the two tacticians in and had them imagine how the match would go using Subbuteo, the classic table soccer game. Check it out:
This, of course, got us thinking: Which two MLS coaches would we like to see sitting across from each other like chess grandmasters, discussing tactics, formations, predictions, and players' strengths and weaknesses, and then leaning forward to move a little painted figurine to demonstrate?"
It would be cool to see the LA Galaxy's Bruce Arena and the Seattle Sounders' Sigi Schmid square off. They are two of the most solid strategists MLS has ever seen.
Or how about hearing the Houston Dynamo's Dominic Kinnear explain the intricacies of his tried-and-true 4-4-2 and how it stacks up against, say, the Ajax-inspired 4-3-3 employed by Toronto FC's Aron Winter.
Or a Rookie Rumble: New England's Jay Heaps vs. Montreal's Jesse Marsch?
Tell us what matchup you would want to see, and we'll look into making it happen. No joke.
The Montreal Impact pulled the trigger and used their top spot in the allocation order to pick up one-time USMNT star Eddie Johnson. But don't bet on EJ taking up French lessons just yet as it seems Jesse Marsch is using him as trade bait.
— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) February 17, 2012
Any guesses on where he'll land?
The Michael Ballack-to-MLS drumbeat is getting a little bit louder now, it seems.
Goal.com is reporting today that the former Germany captain is in discussion with the league to bring him to MLS this season, citing unnamed sources from both sides of the negotiation. The article lists five teams that would be interested in Ballack's services: Chicago, Montreal, New York, Philly and Seattle.
Based on comments from the player himself, though, it seems that his most likely destination is the Red Bulls.
Fans in New York shouldn't be leaping for joy just yet, though. For one, even players that have shown a legitimate interest in the league have been known to spurn MLS (see: Anelka, Nicolas). Secondly, even if Ballack does sign, his contract with Bayer Leverkusen doesn't end until June 30, and his agent, Michael Becker, said that he won't be leaving before the Bundesliga season is done.
That Brian Ching selection at No. 1 in the Expansion Draft clearly didn't work out so well for Jesse Marsch and the Montreal Impact.
So, in hindsight, who were the best 10 players that they left on the table from the pool of names available? Here is our list and most of them would have been guaranteed starters:
10. Michael Lahoud (Chivas USA) – Standout speed in MLS at right back and right midfield. Would have been worth risk despite concussion history.
9. Daniel Paladini (Chicago Fire) – Feisty, box-to-box central midfielder with solid shot from outside and good vision. Solid all-rounder.
8. Steve Purdy (Portland Timbers) – Timbers back-up right back who has the pace and size to match up with most attackers. Ready for primetime.
7. Kyle Nakazawa (Philadelphia Union) – The MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy thought highly enough of "Naka" to trade for the dangerous set-piece taker.
6. Wells Thompson (Colorado Rapids) – Shep Messing won’t agree, but Thompson’s industry and tireless work rate guarantee him minutes anywhere in MLS.
5. Mike Fucito (Seattle Sounders) – Despite injury hiccups, Fucito’s speed and hard work would have provided Jesse Marsch with a different look for a thin Impact forward corps.
4. Ned Grabavoy (Real Salt Lake) – Although he says he’s always warded off expansion teams before these drafts, his experience make him a must-have player.
3. Eric Alexander (Portland Timbers) – Another all-around midfielder with solid technique and still room to grow. His age (23) places him above Grabavoy.
2. Soony Saad (Sporting KC) – Promising youngster worth the investment of an expansion draft pick though not yet a starter.
1. Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy) – Olympic hopeful would have been ready to snag a regular spot in the Impact's XI after two years under Bruce Arena.
I thought Andrew Wenger was going to be a central defender. So did Caleb Porter, apparently – the US U-23 coach played Wenger there during January's camp.
And we weren't alone; I'd say a plurality of people in the world of US/Canadian soccer figured Wenger projected as a surefire star in the middle of the defense. He has ideal tools for a young center back – he's skilled, physical, big, strong and quick, a guy cut straight from the Geoff Cameron mold.
But it turns out that Jesse Marsch has different ideas. He played Wenger up top in the rookie's first action last week, coming right out and saying "I like him as a forward." And Wenger himself has said he wants an attacking role.
So when word dropped today that former Italian international central defender Matteo Ferrari was/is about to sign with the Impact, it just crystalized what was already pretty clear: Wenger's not going to be a defender in MLS.
At least, not yet, and not unless something goes "Chris Albright at center forward"-level wrong over the next couple of years.
For the Impact's sake, let's hope that's not in the cards.
For Porter's sake, let's hope Ike Opara can stay healthy and impress. Otherwise, the US central defense could be in a world of hurt come Olympic qualifying time.
In the meantime, enjoy the highlights of Montreal's scoreless draw with the Portland Timbers:
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?
"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.