If you guessed Eddie Johnson to the Seattle Sounders (in exchange for Mike Fucito & Lamar Neagle) I want to take you to Vegas AND to my local convenience store to buy lotto tickets. And guess what? A few frequenters of Seattle's Facebook page actually called it yesterday when they saw the above photo of EJ with Chris Henderson in a team training photo gallery.
Seriously Juan, Michael & Neil, call me. There is a casino out there that needs us to relieve it of its cash.
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 images of freezing players in Wednesday's Zenit St. Petersburg-Benfica Champions League match would make anyone shiver.
It should also give even the biggest "European-calendar" zealot some pause. For one thing, the temperature was 14 degrees Fahrenheit at kick off. For another, the field at Petrovsky Stadium was a disaster.
Maybe it all gave the Russians a home-field advantage. After all, they pulled off a 3-2 win, thanks to two goals from Roman Shirakov.
But even the Zenit hero himself came out and complained. “Should we play in such freezing cold? I don’t think so,” Shirakov said after the match. “The ball feels like a rock. You could easily break a leg.”
Break a leg? Not good.
The reality is, a game like this is not fun for anyone -- not for the coaches, not for the players, and certainly not for the fans. The conditions aren't that far off from those in, say, Toronto or New England on any given Saturday night in February. Though there would probably be more snow.
So, the question is: Would you really want to go watch games in 17-degree weather? And you, MLS player, would you want to play on that field and kick a "rock"?
Yeah, didn't think so. Neither would I.
Con los Cuartos de Final de la Liga de Campeones de la CONCACAF a la vuelta de la esquina, la pregunta tiene que ser hecha: ¿Quién es mejor delantero: Fredy Montero de los Seattle Sounders o Hérculez Gómez de Santos Laguna?
Este par no tiene demasiado en común: uno es colombiano y el otro mexicoamericano, uno triunfa en EE.UU., el otro en México, a uno le gusta la salsa, al otro el hip-hop, etc., etc., etc.
Sin embargo, estos titanes del gol se estarán viendo las caras el 7 de marzo por la Concachampions y desde ya me tengo la duda sobre cuál de estos dos brillará con más fulgor en la serie de dos partidos que le concederá paso al equipo ganador a la semifinal del torneo regional.
Y es que a ambos jugadores les sobra la motivación. Gómez quiere sacarse la espinita que tiene con el DT de Seattle, Sigi Schmid, de quien dice que un día le aseguró que “debería escoger otra profesión”.
Por su parte, Montero quiere llevar a Seattle a la gloria internacional y, de paso, volverse a ganar un espacio en la selección Colombia, ahora liderada por José Pekerman, algo que considera que podría abrir las puertas del seleccionado al jugador emelesero de ese país.
Tenemos que esperar hasta el próximo mes para verlos en la misma cancha, pero por el momento que dicen: ¿Montero o Hérculez?
There are two topics in American soccer that consistently reappear with all the certainty of death and taxes. One of them is promotion and relegation; I'm not going to touch that with a ten-foot pole.
The other is the notion that MLS should shift to a winter schedule similar to the one used by most of Europe. I say "most of" because there are Scandinavian and Russian exceptions to the rule. For a great read on what you get when soccer is played in stadiums where it is cold enough to hang meat in the stands, check out Jack Bell's latest blog post for the New York Times.
Here's the short version though: players wearing closets full of clothes, cement balls and a pitch that resembles a WWI battlefield.
How playing games --and watching them-- under such conditions could be seen as a viable option in the U.S. and Canada, places where the game is strong but still growing, I'll never know. Call me soft or worse but there is little beauty in watching frigid players endeavor to avoid injury while battling the cold on a rock-hard pitch. Using Russia as an example may seem extreme but when you see comparable temperatures in cities like Montreal, Toronto, Boston and Chicago it's not a total stretch to make the comparison.
I'm not saying soccer shouldn't be played in less than ideal weather but there is a difference between cold and crazy. And staking the future of a young league on February matches in Canada, the Midwest and the Northeast, would fall under the later.
So ask yourself...do you really want a winter schedule?
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.
Last week, I asked Greg Seltzer and Travis Clark to come up with the 18-man rosters they would take to London if the Olympics started today. It seemed like an easy enough task at the time; both guys would cobble together their teams and the rest of us could hem and haw about which players should have made the squad or who didn't deserve the spot they were handed.
Both slaved over their choices for a couple days, emailing throughout to moan about how difficult it was to pare a stacked player pool down to 22 players, groups which included four alternates. And although they didn't always agree on who Caleb Porter should take to the Olympics, both came up with solid sides capable of competing for a medal.
You can find Seltzer and Clark's squads here: Olympic Roster Mock: Who should Porter bring to London?
On Thursday, Porter announced the 23-man squad that will train for 10 days at the end of February before taking on Mexico – a group that is likely to include many of the players who take part in Olympic qualifying. Because of that, I thought it would be interesting to see how Seltzer and Clark's squads matched up with group Porter called in, a comparison you can see below.
Clearly, this is not an exact science. Greg and Travis put together squads that assumed availability from all U-23 players. That was not the case for this camp and Porter's choices, which changes things. So take it with a grain of salt. It's all for fun either way.
Names that match up with Porter's 23-man group were left as is. Players who either guy included but didn't get the call are struck through. Anyone left out by both but called up by Porter is bold in the official roster. Obviously, overage players don't count in this exercise, so they weren't included in the rosters below.
Feel free to give your take in the comments section below.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (7): Greg Garza (Club Tijuana) , Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mikkel Diskerud (Gent), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy)
FORWARDS (8): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Tony Taylor (Estoril Praia)
GOALKEEPERS: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS: Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin),
Danny Potts (West Ham), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact)
MIDFIELDERS: Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union), Mikkel Diskerud (Gent), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union),
Daniel Williams (Hoffenheim)
ATTACKERS: Joe Corona (Club Tijuana),
Josh Gatt (Molde), Joseph Gyau (Hoffenheim), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Andrew Wooten (FC Kaiserslautern)
ALTERNATES: Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund),
Sebastian Lletget (West Ham), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes)
GOALKEEPERS: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS: Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact),
Timothy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union), Gale Agbossoumonde (Carolina RailHawks), Ethan White (D.C. United)
MIDFIELDERS: Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Mikkel Diskerud (Gent), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union)
Josh Gatt (Molde), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund)
ALTERNATES: Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union), Teal Bunbury (Sporting KC),
Andrew Wenger (Montreal Impact), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana)
Well, well, well. Look who's coming back to where it all started.
Eddie Johnson, the former Wizard and 2006 World Cup veteran (not to be confused with the oft-injured Timbers forward of the same name), has signed a new deal to return to MLS.
Now let's be honest: we've heard this before. But something tells me that there will be no backing out this time. Johnson's career has been in a bit of a rut since he scored 5 goals in 16 appearances for Greek side Aris F.C. Since then he's weathered a goal-less loan to Preston North End and suffered the ignominy of being let go by Puebla just days after signing with the club. If he's ever going to come back, if he's ever needed to prove himself, the time is now.
Currently, the Impact sit at the top of the allocation order and with the recent departure of Brian Ching they may actually be interested in Johnson. The question is which Johnson they --or another club-- will get: the confident speedster of his MLS glory days or the less sure, less motivated player he was in Europe & Mexico?
UPDATE: Montreal, not Colorado as originally stated in this post, sit atop the allocation order. Colorado is rumored to be one of the clubs interested in acquiring Johnson.