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30 July 8:53 am

New York's acquisition of Australian attacking midfielder Tim Cahill was expected to have some knock-on effects. Looks like the first victim in the game of dominoes could be Mehdi Ballouchy.

According to this report on BigAppleSoccer.com, the Red Bulls are set to ship the Moroccan midfielder -- who was acquired from Colorado in 2010 -- to the San Jose Earthquakes. Nothing is confirmed by either club, and no word yet on what the Quakes are giving in return.

Ballouchy has made 16 appearances for NY this year, scored one goal, and posted two assists. In his two and a half seasons at Red Bull Arena, he has made a total of 51 regular-season appearances and five playoff appearances. He has scored four goals and added four assists.

28 July 3:38 pm

Andriy Shevchenko has been regular grist for the MLS rumor mill, including in our very own Rumor Central, ever since he first started having troubles at Chelsea a few years back. Actually, it probably goes all the way back to when he married an American.

Well, starting today, we won't have to hear -- and scoff at -- those Sheva-to-MLS rumors anymore. On Saturday, the Ukrainian icon retired from the game and will now pursue a political career, working with the Forward Ukraine! party.      

"Recently, there has been a lot of talk that I could sign a new contract with Dynamo Kyiv or play abroad," he said. "I can say, with confidence, that neither will happen. Perhaps this will shock everyone: I have decided to bring an end to my football career and to enter politics."

Shevchenko's career will go down as one of the most prolific and successful in history. At the club level, he scored 326 goals playing for Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, and Chelsea, winning five Ukrainian titles, an Italian title, and the 2003 Champions League. 

Internationally, he scored 48 goals in 111 appearances for his country, including his final two in a 2-1 win over Sweden at EURO 2012, which Ukraine co-hosted.  

He won the Ballon d'Or in 2004.

"I want to fulfill myself in politics, share the experience I gained in Europe, and do something for my country," he said, according to the Forward Ukraine! press service. "Forward Ukraine! is the party of the future, a party of young leaders, and it is a definite choice between the past and the future." 

27 July 3:19 pm

MLS clubs continue to make a difference in their communities this week. The Colorado Rapids honored victims of the Aurora tragedy and continue to raise funds for Help Colorado Now while the Timbers partnered with Aston Villa to visit with the Children's Cancer Association. The Philadelphia Union have been busy hosting the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and partnered with MLS W.O.R.K.S. on a community service project in Chester and D.C. United raised $40,000 at the United Celebrity Golf Tournament. Sporting Kansas City players showed their love for animals by supporting the Great Plains SPCA and the New York Red Bulls raised awareness for Street Soccer USA.  It's all here in this week's club highlights:

Colorado Rapids jersey auction to support HelpColoradoNow.org underway

New York Red Bulls raising awareness of the Street Soccer USA National Cup

Friendly Partnership: Portland Timbers and Aston Villa players visit with Children's Cancer Association kids

Stand Together: Timbers and Aston Villa with Children's Cancer Association

Sporting Kansas City players, pets and posters

Rapids, Swansea, fans honor victims of Aurora tragedy

Philadelphia Union Foundation and partners construct playground

Special Rapids t-shirt on sale to benefit Center for Crime Victims

United Celebrity Golf Tournament raises more than $40,000

Colorado Military Appreciation Night

For more community news from around the League, visit the MLS W.O.R.K.S. news section.

27 July 12:15 pm

The New York DP carousel continues to turn. According to a new report from Brian Lewis at the New York Post, the long rumors linking former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaká to the Red Bulls are still very much a reality.

"He wants to play in Red Bull New York," his agent is quoted as saying. "But in the future. Not now."

The price tag would be a steep one – initial estimates top off around $10 million – but his entrance into the league would immediately make him one of the most high-profile players ever to wear an MLS jersey.

27 July 11:57 am

Llegamos al punto medio del año, un momento en la temporada regular donde los clubes de la MLS empiezan a mover sus fichas para buscar llegar a los playoffs. Estos equipos usan este momento para deshacerse de aquellos fichajes que no respondieron a los chances dados en la primera mitad del año.

Desafortunadamente muchos de estos son de los nuestros y eso me tiene decepcionado. Mi frustración más grande es que yo esperaba – como muchos que conocen su talento – que estos jugadores latinos mostraran la casta que los llevó a ser de interés para la MLS… por una razón u otra, ahora se van sin pena ni gloria.

Estos son los que llegaron al inicio de la campaña y se despiden por ahora…

Rafael Robayo (Chicago Fire)

El volante colombiano es una leyenda en el Millonarios de su país y por consiguiente llegó al Fire con grandes expectativas. Sin embargo, nunca fue fundamental en el equipo de Frank Klopas. Robayo no registró goles o asistencias y jugó apenas 439 minutos en 16 partidos donde salió principalmente de suplente. ¿Cómo darle la titularidad cuando solo cinco tiros al arco en ese tiempo?

La continuidad influye y Robayo tiene talento. El problema pudo ser de adaptación y el Fire aun tiene confianza en él, por lo que fue cedido de vuelta a Millos a modos de préstamo.

Federico Puppo (Chicago Fire)

El otro fichaje latino del Fire considerado de alto calibre al inicio de la temporada tampoco sirvió y se va de préstamo de vuelta a Defensor Sporting club de Uruguay, de donde fue fichado originalmente. El delantero no anotó en 11 partidos y salió de titular tan solo una vez. Aunque registró una asistencia, no fue suficiente.  

Muchos se preguntarán si es que al Fire no le gustan los jugadores de estilo latino, pero si es el caso ¿Cómo explicar el éxito de Marco Pappa o Pavel Pardo? Hasta el mismo Sebastián Grazzini, quien esta inactivo por problemas familiares, brilló para los Hombres de Rojo.

Tressor Moreno (San Jose Earthquakes)

Lejos del nivel que solía tener, el mediocampista colombiano no pudo ganarles un espacio en el centro del campo a jugadores jóvenes como Rafael Baca y Simon Dawkins. Aunque los Quakes ganaron mucho en términos de posesión de balón con Moreno en la cancha, perdieron mucho en definición y velocidad, lo cual afectó la titularidad del experimentado cafetero.

Tressor jugó 12 partidos, seis de titular y sumó tres asistencias antes de terminar su contrato con los Quakes.  

Miguel Aceval (Toronto FC)

Lo primero que se notó de este defensa chileno al inicio de la temporada fue su lentitud en comparación a otros defensas, lo cual es algo letal para cualquier zaguero que quiera triunfar en la rápida y física liga norteamericana. Aceval solo jugó cinco partidos y a pesar de darse a conocer por sus excelentes cobros de tiro libre, no pudo ganarse un espacio en la defensa de un equipo de Toronto que está de último lugar en las tablas de la MLS. Un acto de indisciplina en Houston también empeoró su situación en el equipo canadiense que lo dejó ir esta semana.

27 July 11:49 am

The Seattle Sounders currently have three Designated Players under contract – Álvaro Fernández, Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales – but Germany is abuzz with the news that FC Kaiserslautern midfielder Christian Tiffert is on his way to the Pacific Northwest.

Rumors in recent weeks have linked Fernández with a move to Deportivo Cali in Colombia, and those rumblings are starting to make more sense as a DP slot would have to be cleared for Tiffert to be added to the Sounders roster.

That seems to be almost a certainty at this point, with agent Richard Motzkin confirming Tiffert's imminent arrival.

So who makes way for Tiffert? Will Fernández move on? Will Montero finally get a move to Europe? Is this the right move by Sigi Schmid?

Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

27 July 11:03 am

Après une pause étoilée, la MLS revient à la réalité du championnat, avec dès ce vendredi un duel qui s’annonce haut en couleurs : Salt Lake ne devra pas encore penser à son match de Ligue des champions (mardi à Herediano) face à Vancouver qui, à l’image de Camilo, retrouve des sensations offensives.

Mais la soirée de mercredi dernier n’est pas restée sans traces pour tout le monde : face à Columbus, Kansas City sera privé d’Aurélien Collin, même si le courageux joueur français se dit déjà prêt au combat malgré sa blessure au visage.

Déjà vainqueur deux fois de Montréal cette saison, New York s’y déplacera plus que probablement sans son nouveau renfort, Tim Cahill. À Londres pour la cérémonie d’ouverture des jeux Olympiques, David Beckham sera-t-il à Dallas le lendemain avec le LA Galaxy (direct NBC Sports Network) ?

Chez lui, le leader San José comptera une nouvelle fois sur sa colonie hondurienne pour venir à bout de Chicago, qui prend des couleurs néerlandaises. La journée sera bouclée dimanche sur NBC Sports Network, avec la visite de New England à Philadelphie où, après les paillettes de Chelsea, la réalité locale et le cas Adu refont surface.

LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Vendredi 27 juillet
21h00 : Salt Lake - Vancouver
Samedi 28 juillet
16h30 : Toronto - Houston
19h30 : Montréal - New York
20h00 : Dallas - LA Galaxy
20h30 : Kansas City - Columbus
21h00 : Colorado - Seattle
22h30 : San José - Chicago
23h00 : Portland - Chivas USA
Dimanche 29 juillet
19h00 : Philadelphie - New England

Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
Rendez-vous ici pour la disponibilité des matchs sur MLS Live et les diffuseurs locaux
Hors États-Unis et Canada, vous pouvez voir des matchs de MLS via ces diffuseurs ou LiveSport.tv

26 July 10:42 am

C’était la fête à Philadelphie ce mercredi soir, et en plus d’un superbe feu d’artifice au-dessus de PPL Park, les spectateurs ont été gâtés par cinq buts, de nombreux retournements de situation et une victoire de la sélection de la MLS contre Chelsea (voir résumé ci-dessous).

Certes, les meilleurs talents de notre compétition avaient déjà battu le prestigieux club anglais en 2006, mais les Londoniens ont été impressionnés par les progrès de la MLS en six ans. Leur entraîneur Roberto Di Matteo reconnaît que son équipe était la moins affûtée des deux mais accorde du mérite aux joueurs de MLS (voir son point de presse en vidéo).

Chelsea a manqué de créativité en milieu de terrain et les rares fois où Lukaku a été en position dangereuse, Jay DeMerit a sorti l’intervention salvatrice. Alors qu’il devait quitter ses partenaires en cours de partie, le défenseur de Vancouver a joué tout le match suite à la blessure d’Aurélien Collin.

Après l’ouverture du score par Wondolowski, Terry et Lampard ont donné l’avance aux visiteurs. Pontius a égalisé et Johnson a fixé les chiffres à 3-2 dans les arrêts de jeu : il attribue une part du mérite à Ben Olsen (vidéo des réactions dans le camp des vainqueurs).

26 July 12:57 am

Had a chance for a quick chat yesterday with a member of the League's special events staff, the group that does all the planning and preparations for the AT&T MLS All-Star Game. As you might imagine, the game itself requires months upon months of planning, mapping out every possible off-field detail. 

The problem with this of course is that sometimes you run into a situation where what goes down (Like, a 4-1 loss to Manchester United) on the field easily overshadows anything that happened off of it in the build up. The last two editions of this match haven't ended all that well for MLS. 

No such issues in 2012. What a night that was.

Over 19,000 packed PPL Park on Wednesday, creating an atmosphere that went from festive to electric once it became clear that a certain Englishman would be present in the starting lineup. We're not talking about John Terry. Beckham squared off against Di Matteo many-a-time when RDM played for Chelsea. 

1-1 and all to play for as we approached halftime, we caught the ESPN broadcast transfixed on the action transpiring underneath them. Max, Alexi and Kasey know a good game when they see one.

With most of the crowd and surely the lion's share of viewers watching at home preparing themselves for a round penalties, the crew of second half substitutes had other ideas. Zusi, Beckerman, Pontius, Beckerman, Johnson. Goodnight.

As captain of the squad, De Rosario may have been the one to lift the trophy for the All-Stars in front of all the TV cameras, but the night's prized piece of hardware eventually made its way into the hands of the man whose strike delivered it.

Everyone has their own opinion on Eddie Johnson's career path, but there's no arguing he's in as good of a spot now as he's ever been. Here's to continued success.

PPL Park is empty now. Chelsea have departed from their hotel, already on the way to Miami. Tomorrow the players will return to their clubs to prepare for another round of matches this weekend.

The show goes on, but it sure was fun in Philadelphia.

25 July 9:52 pm

Halftime analysis from Chelsea TV: "It feels quite like an exhibition, doesn't it?"

Yes, yes it does.

The MLS All-Star Game is great for the pomp and pagaentry, for the chance to see the guys who are ostensibly the league's best gathered in one spot, and for the chance to heckle one European superstar or another (this year's target, courtesy of the Sons of Ben, appeared to be Frank Lampard. Bold choice that didn't quite work out).

But just as in other leagues, the All-Star Game doesn't quite run in the red. Players have a little more time and space, tackles are a little less meaningful and complaints to the ref are a little less vociferous than they'd otherwise be.

Bear all that in mind when trying to delve into the 90 minutes we just saw, and don't be too firm in the conclusions you've drawn.

With that caveat, here are three things we learned from the 3-2 MLS victory...

Ozzie Alonso can play in any league in the world

Alonso comes up short vs. a number of MLS d-mids in terms of passing ability. He's not a time-keeper like Kyle Beckerman or Dax McCarty, and when he gets frustrated, he'll play it long a bit too often. He never would have hit that pass to Eddie Johnson for the game-winner.

Many coaches would make that sacrifice, however, for his ability to win the second ball. Alonso is simply phenomenal at it, whether it's against Chivas USA or Chelsea FC.

Basketball coaches talk about guys like Kevin Love or — two decades ago — Dennis Rodman, and their "Rebounding Gene." They just, somehow, know how to read the shot, the angle, the momentum, the spacing of players, and get themselves into the right spot to grab the ball.

That's the nearest approximation I can make for Alonso's ability to gobble up everything in midfield. It's uncanny, like a mutant superpower. And while he may not be as well-rounded as other d-mids out there, his ability in this particular area does so much in terms of freeing the rest of the midfield to play higher that it's, at this point, incalculable.

With all that in mind, I'm kind of stunned that no Euro team has made the Sounders an offer they can't refuse. Having that one world-class skill out there would have a multiplying effect on the abilities of the rest of the players on any team. Period.

With All-Star teams, simpler is better

Ben Olsen started his side out in a 4-4-1-1 and basically kept them there all night. It didn't exactly make for elegant build-up (especially against Chelsea's 4-2-3-1), but in those rare moments that the field opened up and the All-Stars got moving forward, opportunities for flowing, aggressive counterattacks were there. That's about the best you can ask for from a team playing with one day of practice under their belt.

Defensively, it was even more important to keep it simple. Chelsea had their chances, sure, but it's worth noting that their goals came off a set piece and a goalkeeper error. That can happen no matter the formation.

Point is, keeping it simple was Olsen's way of keeping his team from making the errors that have plagued the All-Stars the last two times out. It's also why most tactical experimentation takes place at the club level, where coaches have their players for 10 months out of 12, rather than at the national team level, where the best most managers can hope for is a two-week camp. Can't reinvent the wheel on a deadline.

Balance is the most important physical asset for any soccer player

We didn't really learn this today (or the other two, to be honest), but it bears repeating here anyway.

Too often we get caught up in size, speed, strength, leaping ability, etc etc etc. And all of those are valuable (some more than others). But give me an athlete who can stay on his feet when everyone else around him is getting corkscrewed into the ground, and I can build you a soccer player.

The extreme version is Lionel Messi, obviously. His balance is the most outstanding physical trait in the history of the game.

On Wednesday night in Chester, Pa., it was Chris Wondolowski who stood out, particularly on his goal. When he scored, my Twitter timeline filled up with "Typical Wondo goal" and "All he had to do was put it in" and the like.

And, well, yeah. That's the point, isn't it? He was able to get into position in front of goal then stay on his feet in a situation where most strikers would have taken a tumble. Look at how quickly he stops his momentum, squares and finishes. It's not rocket science.

I'll leave you with a thought from the great George Best, talking about — appropriately — former Chelsea and LA Galaxy head coach Ruud Gullit in Andrew Godsell's Europe United:

"Ruud Gullit is a great player by any standards. He has all the skills. He's not afraid to do things with the ball. And he looks as if he's enjoying every second of it. By my reckoning, that's what makes him an even better player than Maradona. Both have the key quality you will find in all the best players: balance."

It's the truth at any level.