US National Team
As befitting a centenary year, the US Soccer Federation has released a special crest commemorating the landmark occasion for American soccer.
It's not a radical departure from the norm – a sash reading "1913 ~ CENTENNIAL ~ 2013" has been placed under the normal crest – but it catches the eye without much change to a recognizable logo.
Of course, a commemorative crest isn't the only thing the USSF has planned to honor the federation's centenary. Though the USSF has yet to confirm them, there are strong rumors floating around that the US men's national team will face off against Germany in May, a match that would pit US manager Jurgen Klinsmann against his former team and former assistant Joachim Löw.
And while that is all well and good, there is still one overarching present that would make the USSF's centenary a truly celebratory occasion: qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which would be the USMNT's seventh consecutive appearance.
What do you think of the crest? Too much? Not flashy enough? Feel free to share your thoughts and any others about US Soccer's centenary in the comments section below.
Rumors have been flying about the future of the US international and Chivas USA striker Juan Agudelo ever since he trained at Celtic in November. Now, it seems the 20-year-old's future could be close to decided.
Although vague and unsourced, Sky Sports reported Friday that Celtic are close to signing one of MLS' most-promising forward prospects. While nothing has been confirmed by Agudelo or Celtic, Agudelo's retweet of the Sky Sports article seems to add some veritas to the rumor.
Chivas USA, meanwhile, told Big Apple Soccer back in November that they weren't interested in transferring the young talent. Agudelo, who is currently training with West Ham before arriving in US camp, would likely welcome the move, if his comments while with the Glasgow club are any indication.
Agudelo told STV at that time that he would love to play for Celtic: "This kind of move has been on my mind for as long as I can remember playing soccer. Going and playing in Europe is what I would like to do. This is, right now, where the best football is being played. I would love to play here."
What do you think? Is it just a matter of time before Agudelo makes the move? Is it the right move for the young striker?
Stuart Holden is back on the field for Bolton, even if he still waiting to step onto the pitch with the first team.
Holden played 65 minutes for Bolton's reserves against Oldham Athletic on Tuesday, a huge step in his quest to return from a knee injury that's kept him out for more than a year. Check out the footage above and comments from Holden after the match below. Needless to say, he's itching to get back but also understands it's still too early to know exactly what the future will hold.
The New Year may bring another much-needed move for Maurice Edu, the former Toronto FC No. 1 pick and 2007 MLS Rookie of the Year .
In August, Edu jumped from Rangers to Stoke City in hopes of gaining valuable Premier League experience. Unfortunately, he’s only seen 10 minutes of playing time with the club.
With World Cup qualifiers inching closer and closer, Edu simply can’t afford to be sitting on the bench. But sources are reporting that Edu may be in luck – Stoke City are open to loaning him out by the end of January, so the versatile defensive midfielder doesn’t jeopardize a spot on Jurgen Klinsmann's World Cup qualifying roster.
Where exactly Edu would end up is still up in the air, but there has been chatter suggesting he could join up with EPL sides poised to lose players to the African Cup of Nations as well as several Ligue 1 clubs.
If you were Edu, where would you want to end up on loan?
Chances are you don't remember Fuad Ibrahim at all. And if you do remember him, it's because he's the answer to the trivia question "Other than Freddy Adu, who's the youngest player ever drafted in MLS?"
Like Adu, Ibrahim's career hasn't exactly gone to plan. After starring for the US U-17s, he bombed out of MLS in three years and just 26 games, and has been toiling in the lower divisions of the US soccer pyramid ever since. This past season he played five times for Minnesota in the NASL.
Now 21, Ibrahim has taken advantage of his dual-nationality status to use his one-time switch and will play (permanently — once you switch you can't go back) for Ethiopia in the African Cup of Nations.
Credit to SoccerAmerica.com for being all over this one.
File this one under "Rossi," or maybe "Subotic." Or maybe nothing at all.
As first reported in Bosnia, and later confirmed by TopDrawerSoccer, RBNY Academy forward Ismar Tandir signed with Sochaux of Ligue 1 last month.
"Ok," you're thinking. "That's going to happen from time to time as academies start producing better players."
And you'd be right.
But here's the thing: It looks like Tandir may not just be leaving the Red Bulls behind, but according to the player himself, he could be done with US soccer as a whole:
CORRECTION: D.C. United has not yet clinched Carolina Challenge Cup championship. I apologize for the confusion. #MLS
— Andrew Wiebe (@AndrewWiebe_MLS) March 3, 2012
It's worth remembering that, even if he plays in an official game with the U-19s, he wouldn't be completely cap-tied. That only happens for official full senior national team games.
Of course, there's no guarantee that US soccer is missing out on anything here. They hadn't called Tandir in yet at any level, and it's not like there's a dearth of quality young attackers coming through the pipeline. Plus the elephant in the room is that he was born in Germany, and if he turns out to be really good... well, generally speaking, players play for the best team that puts them on speed dial.
As we slowly build up to Major League Soccer's 18th season – a scary thought, especially since MLS Cup still feels like such a recent event, for me at least – it's worth taking a look back at how it all started. Rest assured, the goings-on weren't always quite so polished.
Take, for example, the first signing in league history. US Soccer is counting down its top 100 moments as part of the federation's centennial celebration and included an interesting anecdote from president Sunil Gulati about what it took to bring national team star Tab Ramos to MLS. The league and US Soccer wanted Ramos – an national team player with Hispanic heritage and attacking flare – to help give the league an initial foothold with fans as well as other Americans playing abroad.
He certainly helped with both those aims, but when he committed his future to MLS, there wasn't even contract to put pen to paper on. I'll let Gulati explain.
“He was going to sign with Tigres, and what we decided at the very last moment was why not have a handshake to sign with MLS, and we would loan him to Tigres,” Gulati told USsoccer.com. “The league wasn't far enough along to have a contract or a standard player agreement or any of that, so it was just a handshake.”
Just a handshake. Imagine suggesting that to the current crop of agents stocking teams these days. You'd get laughed out of the room.
But after a year-and-a-half with Tigres UANL, Ramos kept his end of the bargain, ending up with his hometown MetroStars for the next seven seasons. It wasn't always smooth sailing – cue Red Bulls fans simultaneously nodding their heads and silently weeping – but Ramos became a pioneer in a league that he helped put on the map.
To think, all it took was a handshake and the belief that professional soccer in the US was worth the commitment.
“I was excited to come home and start a new experience,” Ramos said. “It was coming home and there was the draw of playing at Giants Stadium, where I had watched the Cosmos play and where I practiced with the Cosmos 10 years before. All those things were really important to me. Obviously, having my family here as well.
“And it was fun. It was fun drawing the big crowds the first couple of years. It was fun driving to the stadium, just to be part of the whole thing. It really truly felt like we had a professional league at home and it was going to stick.”
If it's the end of the year, it's time for some obligatory video compilations. Cue the tape.
The latest one comes from the folks at US Soccer, who have put together the best moments from a historic year for the US men's national team, including every goal from the 2012 campaign. Check it out.
Eddie Johnson lives according his own schedule, at least when it comes to announcing US national team call-ups.
After publicly confirming an October call-up for World Cup qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala a bit early, it appears Johnson let the cat out of the bag early once again on Thursday, tweeting that he'd be one of the players Jurgen Klinsmann will run the rule over during January.
While others apparently keep the good news to themselves, Johnson just can't seem to keep his excitement contained to family and friends. Clearly, those 13,852 Twitter followers need to know that their boy is headed back to the big time. And I say good for him. The guy saw some dark days and seems to be rebuilding step by step what was one of the most promising careers to originate in MLS or the US in general. He was a terror for MLS defenses this season, and a bright spot for Klinsmann in the two wins that sealed the US' Hexagonal spot, linking up with long-time friend Clint Dempsey to great effect.
Can he continue that kind of form for the USMNT? That remains to be seen, but I've got no problem with a player having a problem keeping this sort of thing to himself. Excitement is contagious, after all.
What do you think? Did Johnson make a mistake by announcing his call-up early?
Life in Europe hasn't always been hunky-dory for Oguchi Onyewu – see ill-fated spells at Newcastle and AC Milan – but things certainly seem to be looking up for the big man these days.
Surplus to requirements at Sporting Lisbon? No problem. Gooch has happily accepted a slot in the Champions League with La Liga side Málaga, who have already sealed a spot in the final 16 and where he also plays in what he considers the best league in the world.
However, that doesn't mean Onyewu has forgotten his Portuguese slight. Far from it. The US national team veteran discusses the career that's taken him to seven countries in this BBC feature, dropping profound nuggets like the following:
"A lot of times in my career, I have been frustrated, annoyed and upset about how it was going, but at the end, it always worked out for me," Onyewu told the BBC. "That's how I am right now. As angry as I was to have to leave Portugal, I have found myself in an even better situation here in Spain. Life is a journey and, if you are brave enough to ride it, it is going to take you where you need to be."
If you want to check out Onyewu in Champions League action, Málaga take on Sasha Kljestan and Anderlecht on Wednesday in both team's Group C finales (2:35 pm ET on Fox Soccer 2Go).