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New York Red Bulls

20 March 11:55 am

La MLS se germanise. Quelques jours après la signature d’Arne Friedrich à Chicago (il participe à son premier entraînement ce mardi), on annonce aujourd’hui que son compatriote Michael Ballack traversera l’Atlantique cet été.

Michael Becker, agent de l’ancien capitaine de l’équipe nationale allemande, a déclaré que son client « souhaitait évoluer en Major League Soccer » et a même pointé une destination de préférence : New York. Sauf que le club semble lui préférer Stephen Ireland (Aston Villa)… Des déclarations qui ne manquent pas d’animer les débats sur les réseaux sociaux.

Le milieu de terrain de Leverkusen intéresse d’autres clubs de MLS. Il y a quelques semaines, son nom revenait notamment parmi les sérieux prétendants à une place de joueur désigné à l’Impact de Montréal, qui n’est certainement pas seul sur les rangs.

Un autre Allemand fait déjà les beaux jours d’un club de MLS : Torsten Frings, à Toronto. Cependant, en sauvant ce qui ressemblait à un but tout fait ce samedi à Seattle, l’ancien joueur de la Mannschaft s’est blessé : il sera hors-circuit pour quatre à six semaines. Une absence qui risque de peser lourd en demi-finale de Ligue des champions contre Santos Laguna.

12 March 5:48 pm

There were some rumblings on Twitter during NBC Sports Network's first MLS broadcast on Sunday and Keel Cam Part 5 confirmed it: Ryan Meara is essentially Larry Bird in a goalkeeper's kit and gloves.

Don't believe me? Check out the side-by-side photo below of Larry Legend at Indiana State and Meara following his side's 2-1 defeat to FC Dallas.

The best part about it? He joins Mehdi Ballouchy as New York Red Bulls with celebrity doppelgangers. As the Shawn "MLS Insider" Francis pointed out to me a few months ago, Ballouchy bears a striking resemblance to John Oates of Hall & Oates fame.

 

12 March 5:32 pm

My love for all things Keel Cam is well documented. New York's mop-topped defender is simply magnificent at providing behind-the-scene moments with his own brand of humor and some spot-on one-liners mixed in for good measure.

He's done it again with "Keel Cam Part 5," an examination of what tagging along for team bonding at the golf course with the Red Bulls might be like.

My favorite lines:

"That has house written all over it."

"Dax, grab your balls."

"Maybe stand up on your toes, just to get the full flex."

"Does Bruno Mars have any golf game? The club looks as big as he does."

"Can I introduce my caddy, Mehdi Ballouchy?"

As Ryan Meara says, anything for Keel Cam. Let the ridiculousness begin...

10 March 1:10 am

Last year, before the season started, I very cleverly predicted that LA would win the West, the Shield and the Cup. I predicted that Houston would win the East. And I came up with a few other good ones that panned out.

Unfortunately I made these predictions on Twitter, and 4000 posts later, I was no longer able to have my moment of glory. Not gonna make the same mistake this year.

Western Conference
Real Salt Lake

Eastern Conference
Houston Dynamo

Supporters' Shield
RSL

MLS Cup
Seattle Sounders

US Open Cup
Chicago Fire

MVP
Fredy Montero

Golden Boot
Chris Wondolowski

Defender of the Year
Geoff Cameron

Rookie of the Year
Luis Silva

Coach of the Year
Martin Rennie

And the most important question... will another forward come out of the blue and rack up double-digit goals? Wondolowski and Dom Oduro have done so in the last two seasons. This year's version will be... Tommy "Disco" Heinemann.

Feel free to bookmark this and throw it in my face 9 months from now.

Cheers, and enjoy the soccer.

05 March 1:03 pm

Take heart, MLS fan: You are not the only one getting ready for the regular season.

With First Kick five days away, FIFA is getting in the spirit of the season by naming their four stars set to shine in the 2012 season: Juan Agudelo, C.J. Sapong, Brek Shea and Steve Zakuani.

I think those are pretty solid picks. You might not. The best part about First Kick is that for every team and every player, the sky is the limit on Day One; anything can happen.

So channel your inner FIFA and let us know: Who do you think is going to shine in 2012?

02 March 5:33 pm

TUCSON, Ariz. – Juan Agudelo returned to New York Red Bulls practice here on Friday, walking a little taller. Literally.

The 19-year-old striker scored the US Olympic team’s opener in their 2-0 win over their Mexican counterparts in Texas on Wednesday – his first goal in a US shirt since his strike against Argentina nearly a year ago.

And Agudelo gives full credit to the bleached mop rising off the center of his scalp.

“It was just a play that we drew up the day before at practice, actually,” he explained to MLSsoccer.com. “Just a near-post cross off a corner kick and I was able to get my head on it with the Mohawk.”

If that ‘hawk looks like an homage to a certain Wesley Snipes movie to you, you’re not alone. Apparently Agudelo’s ‘do immediately reminded US Under-23 head coach Caleb Porter of the Stallone/Snipes sci-fi action classic Demolition Man.

 

 

And right there, folks, is where the generation gap between the 37-year-old coach and the teenage striker becomes apparent.

“Caleb told me about that – I didn’t really know about Demolition Man,” Agudelo admitted.

Fair enough. He wasn’t even a year old when the movie came out in 1993.

“I searched on Google images and it was like I was staring at myself,” he continued. “It wasn’t what I was going for, but that’s the way it worked out.”

Maybe it's time to add "Simon Phoenix" and "Demolition Man" to Swagudelo's growing list of nicknames.

WATCH: Agudelo on his time with the US U-23s

29 February 2:53 pm

Algunos de ustedes ya saben que por unos días dejé a un lado la pretemporada de la MLS en Orlando para “pegarme la rodadita” a Miami y ver el partido amistoso entre la selecciones de México y de Colombia.

Entre las muchas caras conocidas que vi en el entrenamiento de la selección de México estaba Fernando Fiore, el flamante presidente de la Republica Deportiva de Univisión, y de una vez me dije “imagino que debe tener una opinión muy particular del partido”. Aunque sé que la tiene, no me la dio, pero si tuvimos una pequeña – y ventosa – charla sobre este juego y Rafa Márquez… aquí les va:

28 February 4:30 pm

There are some days when I wish I weren't one of the hosts of ExtraTime Radio. Usually, it's when Simon Borg -- bless his big heart -- starts making absurd declarations like, say, Clint Dempsey should sit on the bench for the USMNT.

But there are other days when, for whatever reason, I miss the show and I really, really wish I could've been there.

Yesterday's episode is one such day. I would've given anything to be there when Sporting KC's Aurelien Collin started giving Simon fashion advice. "Suspenders!" It's the only time I've ever heard Simon ask for advice. Magnifique!

Then, New York Red Bulls manager Hans Backe drops this whopper: He wants to win the US Open Cup. Considering how he shrugged off the USOC last year, that's pretty amazing.

If you haven't heard it, check it out here.  

23 February 10:45 pm

Expect to see more of this as we inch ever closer to the March 11th debut of MLS on NBC Sports. Arlo White, the former voice of the Sounders and the future voice of MLS on the peacock network, joined host Russ Thaler on NBC Sports Talk tonight to discuss some of the big storylines around the league heading into the 2012 season.

And you know what? He looked damn good doing it. Here's to more soccer talk on Sports Talk.

23 February 5:34 pm

In conjunction with today’s Three for Thursday article, it was hard to highlight just three new strike partnerships which could be successful in MLS this year.

Because, oh my, there are plenty of wonderful options to chose from.

So what about some of the new partnerships we failed to mention?

Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper at New York look almost certain to line up side by side when the Red Bulls kick-off their campaign against FC Dallas on March 11. And with Luke Rodgers' chances of arriving back in New York looking slimmer by the day, the Frenchman will have to build a rapport with Cooper sharpish if Hans Backe’s men are going to challenge for a title in 2012.

Meanwhile up in Portland the arrival of Designated Player Kris Boyd means Jorge Perlaza will have a man alongside him who knows how to finish. Boyd has scored goals wherever he has gone, it’s as simple as that. Perlaza will thrive from being given a creative role, and having scored six goals in the Timbers’ first MLS season, the Colombian will hope he and Boyd can make JELD-WEN Field an even more intimidating venue to visit in the upcoming campaign.

The question is, which other strike pairings can set the scoring charts on fire in MLS this season?