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07 June 1:46 pm

Eh bien voilà, je préparais tranquillement un texte intitulé « Peter Byers défie l’Amérique » pour vous présenter les éliminatoires de la Concacaf dans les autres groupes que celui du Canada, quand le Toronto FC a encore frappé.

Aron Winter est la victime de cette nouvelle poussée de renvoyite aiguë : le Néerlandais cède sa place à Paul Mariner, qui devient le septième entraîneur d’un club qui joue en MLS depuis à peine plus de 5 ans. Nommé en janvier 2011, Winter détient pourtant un record de la longévité à la tête du TFC.

Il était venu pour construire, prônait un système de jeu chatoyant et a lancé plusieurs jeunes comme Morgan ou Henry, promis à un bel avenir. Winter a hissé l’équipe en demi-finale de la Ligue des champions, a remporté deux fois la Coupe du Canada, mais ce n’était pas suffisant. Ses dirigeants lui font payer les résultats désastreux de l’équipe en MLS… juste au moment où elle commence à prendre des points et de la confiance.

Et maintenant ? Mariner dit qu’il suffit de « quelques ajustements mineurs »… demandant « beaucoup de travail ». Comme le dit une chanson pour enfants : Trois pas en avant, trois pas en arrière, trois pas sur le côté, trois pas de l’autre côté…

07 June 10:13 am

Just suddenly having [Fabian Johnson] on the squad feels like finding a solution to a problem you'd gotten so accustomed to that you'd stopped even thinking of it as a problem. He's the soccer equivalent of laser eye surgery or getting air conditioning for the first time.

Is Fabian Johnson the irrefutable savior of American soccer? Alone, it's unlikely.

But in Brian Phillips' article on the US men's national team at Grantland, he argues that Johnson is just another reason why US soccer is poised to push the limits on how well – and subsequently, how poorly – they can play.

Essentially, with a more attack-centered mentality and a formation to maximize the talent in the midfield, the potential to produce big-time performances (we're looking at you, Scotland) are ever more likely.

With that being said, against powerhouse teams like Brazil – where a 4-1 loss seemed to sting a whole lot less than a scoreless draw with Canada because, well, the team looked better – the risk of being dumped with an unsightly scoreline is also on the rise.

It's time to drop the "up-and-coming" tagline (it's been far too long), start playing up to the talent available (not to say that the US will consistently take down the world's elite, but just ask the past two World Cup champions, Spain and Italy, if they still get a can't-wait-to-play-them feeling in their stomachs when they see the United States on their schedule), and stop accepting losses to teams well below the Americans' capabilities (a la Panama in the 2011 Gold Cup on US soil).

"By gambling that he can teach the USMNT to walk before it's really gotten world-class at crawling," Philips writes, "Klinsmann is taking an already chancy situation and stirring in a fresh vial of crazy."

With the 2014 World Cup as the ultimate showcase of Klinsmann's US side, perhaps straying from the status quo and going for glory is just the type of craziness we need.

06 June 7:58 pm

The 2012 Olympic Games are right around the corner, and although the US men's team won't be featuring in this year's soccer tournament, one of MLS' most recognizable figures just might be. (Not to forget the US and Canadian women, either.)

In a new video from KickTV, LA Galaxy star David Beckham talked about the pride his country is feeling when it comes to hosting the Olympic Games and expresses his hope that he might be able to represent the UK in one of the world's biggest sporting extravaganzas. He's also got a great quote about captaining the England national team, saying, "Captain of my country was one of the best and biggest things I've ever done in my career."

What do you think? Will Beckham make the Olympic squad? Does he have what hit takes to lead the UK to Olympic glory? Will you be following the Games, soccer tournament or otherwise?

06 June 5:50 pm

Manchester United.

That’s the match – back in July 2010 – that many MLS observers still hang on to when it comes to reminding themselves of the promise of former Philadelphia Union striker Danny Mwanga.

But the magical days in a Union shirt for the former No. 1 SuperDraft pick have been few and far between in the last two seasons.

Mwanga’s last goal for Philadelphia in MLS play? It came nearly a year ago (June 25, 2011).

The 20-year-old has been on the field for 61 league matches over three seasons and found the back of the net in just 11 of those games.

One reason for the limited production is injuries. Plenty of them. Rarely will you find a third-year player who has missed matches due to the same variety of injuries: hip, right knee, groin, hamstring, shoulder and a case of sore ribs after falling on them in practice earlier this season.  

If Mwanga’s durability to withstand the physical rigors of MLS is a concern, his lack of production without Sebastien Le Toux is downright alarming. Of his 12 goals in his MLS career, nine came off assists from Le Toux. The other three were unassisted.

In MLS you have to be tough and you have to be ready to adjust to any situation and any player. That’s why the Union are better off with the experienced Jorge Perlaza.

The Timbers highlighted Perlaza's speed when they acquired him at the start of last season and we’ve seen signs of how much of a factor it can be. But not in the goal-scoring department. Six goals in 32 starts – none this year – is nothing to write home about.

However, put Perlaza’s production into perspective: The Timbers are a team that don’t score many goals in general, whether Perlaza is there or not. In fact, only three teams have scored fewer goals than the Timbers this year. It was the exact same story at the end of last year.

Does Mwanga have more upside? Sure. He also brings good hold-up ability and the potential to playmake and create his own opportunities. But that’s also what Darlington Nagbe was expected to bring at the second forward position.

Mwanga’s integration into Portland’s system and his impact on Nagbe’s position will be fascinating to watch. It may not prove as seamless, however, as Perlaza who has the traits to be the perfect partner for hard-working compatriot Lionard Pajoy in the Union attack.

06 June 10:33 am

Maintenant que le match du centenaire contre les États-Unis est passé, le Canada se concentre sur le troisième tour des éliminatoires de la Coupe du monde dans la zone Concacaf, avec deux échéances aussi importantes que proches, ce vendredi à Cuba et mardi contre le Honduras.

Une seule rencontre de préparation contre un autre pays, solide et prestigieux, certes, mais dont le style ne correspond pas vraiment au jeu latino-américain des prochains adversaires : est-ce suffisant ? Heureusement, le Canada disputera son premier match à Cuba, équipe en théorie la plus faible du groupe et qui n’a plus joué depuis le mois de février. Mais tout droit à l’erreur est interdit sous peine de déjà compromettre la qualification.

L’attaquant Tosaint Ricketts ne s’attend pas à un déplacement facile. « Nous sommes préparés à une ambiance chaude : jouer à deux heures de l’après-midi, dans un environnement hostile. Les cubains sont de grands passionnés de football. Mais nous sommes pour la plupart des professionnels jouant dans des pays où nous effectuons des déplacements dans des stades hostiles. Nous devrons respecter la stratégie établie et rester concentrer sur notre match pour obtenir un bon résultat. » Le groupe s’y prépare dans la bonne humeur.

Ensuite, il faudra se mesure au Honduras, véritable bête noire du Canada, qui s’est préparé de la meilleure des manières en s’imposant de manière impressionnante 0-3 au Salvador (vidéo).

La journée d’hier a été marquée par le tirage au sort de la Ligue des champions et l’élimination de New York ainsi que du Cal FC en Coupe des États-Unis.

05 June 9:09 pm

As they say, timing is everything.

On the same day the Houston Dynamo found out that they will face Honduran side Olimpia in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League this summer, the MLS club has reportedly plucked one of Olimpia's most prized possessions.

Honduran international midfielder Oscar Boniek García is apparently heading to the Dynamo after rumors of the deal first surfaced several months back. Diez is reporting that the president of Honduran club Olimpia has confirmed the deal.

The article states that Boniek García, who was one of the stars of the 2011 Gold Cup, will be joining the Dynamo following the second of two World Cup qualifiers on June 12 in Toronto.

He's versatile enough to play in several of a number of positions from holding midfielder, to attacking midfielder and even on the right side of midfield, a position still in flux for Houston in 2012.

05 June 5:00 pm

So first Jimmy Conrad won an MLS Cup. Then he won the Gold Cup. Then he played in the World Cup. Then he challenged professional bad-ass Dana White to a mano-a-mano cage match of sorts.

Okay, so that last one isn't so enviable. But whatever. He got a bunch of press out of it, and probably a bunch of MMA-loving Twitter followers

But now he gets to go to Poland and Ukraine for EURO2012?

Now, I've been to a World Cup, a Confederations Cup, a Gold Cup, and an Africa Cup of Nations. But I've never been to a Euro tournament. They say it's the best of them all, at least on the field. All those great, highly paid Europeans doing what they do best.

But come on, Jimmy. Do you need to go over there and drive around and watch soccer and hang out with fans in Warsaw and Kiev and Gdansk? And someone else is footing the bill? Really?

Yes, Jimmy, I am jealous. Very jealous.

At least bring back some real kielbasa. That's the least you could do.

05 June 1:12 pm

Being an English Premier League cast-off is no guarantee of success in MLS, but it sure is a good way to get a trial.

That's the case for American midfielder Anton Peterlin, who spent the 2009-10 season with Everton after a couple of distinguished seasons with the Ventura County Fusion stateside.

Peterlin never suited up in meaningful competition for the Toffees, and eventually spent the following two years with Plymouth Argyle and then Walsall in England's lower tiers.

Now he's giving it a go in MLS, apparently in camp with Vancouver:

05 June 10:09 am

Régulièrement, je me réjouis de voir des joueurs de l’Impact montrer leurs efforts pour apprendre le français - sur Twitter, notamment. En revanche, j’ai abandonné l’idée de suivre en français les activités de l’Association canadienne de soccer.

L’ACS n’est pas amie avec la langue de Molière. On en eut une nouvelle preuve avant Canada - États-Unis. L’hymne national, Ô Canada, fut chanté entièrement en anglais (quelle idée de le chanter, alors que presque partout ailleurs, on passe la version instrumentale). On ne nous a même pas offert de réaction en français du Québécois Samuel Piette, pour ses débuts en équipe nationale à 17 ans (bravo à lui, en passant).

Un compte Twitter en français quasiment à l’abandon depuis fin mars, des communiqués trop souvent mal traduits ou écrits dans une langue approximative, un site Internet (en réfection, certes, mais ce n’est pas le meilleur moment) qui nous renvoie sur des textes en anglais même si on s’évertue à cliquer sur « français » : c’est indigne d’une organisation de cette envergure dont les employés ne rechignent pourtant pas sur les efforts.

En même temps, comment lui reprocher de délaisser le français alors que les médias francophones n’accordent pas à l’équipe nationale l’attention qu’elle mérite ? Pas une chaîne n’a daigné présenter en français le match du centenaire de la fédération sportive qui compte le plus d’affiliés au pays, dans la discipline la plus populaire au monde…

Dans un tout autre ordre d’idées, les huitièmes de finale de la Coupe des États-Unis se joueront ce soir. De nouvelles surprises à l’horizon ? C’est à suivre sur mlssoccer.com.

04 June 12:50 pm

Buriram United

Anthony Ampaipitakwong's new home is Thunder Castle.

More accurately, San Jose are in negotiations with Thai Premier League side Buriram United over the transfer of Ampaipitakwong to the reigning league champions, which are also known as Thunder Castle and have a stadium to cement that impressive moniker (see above).

All in all, it looks like a solid move for Ampaipitakwong, who was on the outside looking in during his time with the Quakes. He heads to a team with Asian Champions League ambitions, a sweet nickname and a 24,000-seat stadium worthy of the Thunder Castle brand. Buriram United even have an English-language website, meaning Ampai's fans in the United States can follow his every move.