Has there been a more compelling storyline in 2012 than the intrigue surrounding the Philadelphia Union forward corps?
When Peter Novak drafted UCLA striker Chandler Hoffman in the SuperDraft a lot of people either scratched their heads or surmised that Danny Mwanga was on his way out of Chester. But then Sebastien Le Toux turns up on TV one morning seated next to Tim Ream behind the Bolton bench and just like that opinion shifts to Le Toux being the one with his bags packed.
But like any good drama, take HBO's A Game of Thrones for instance, there has to be a plot twist to keep it interesting, keep everyone on their toes. Today we received two of them: Bolton boss Owen Coyle signaling the end of his interest in Le Toux and news that Mwanga is off on what seems like an oddly-late training stint with Aston Villa.
I love the intrigue, I really do, but what's really going on in PA? Is it that Philadelphia is no longer big enough for the two of them? Is there a tactical switch on the horizon that requires some personnel shuffling? Maybe Novak is ready to throw Hoffman into the deep end?
I can't say what's going on in the heads of the Union technical staff but that shouldn't stop you from taking a guess at what they're thinking; let us know your thoughts on Philly's Game of Forwards in the comments below. I'll go get the popcorn, let me know if anyone gets the Ned Stark treatment while I'm away.
We've heard rumors of this in recent weeks, apparently it's true. Is this odd timing, considering the preseason is underway?
— Richard Motzkin (@RichardMotzkin) January 27, 2012
The picture above is from the 2010 World Cup but it speaks to today's must-see TV event: the FA Cup face-off between Landon Donovan's Everton and Clint Dempsey's Fulham (FSC 3pm ET). And just to sweeten the pot, FSC will broadcast the match in HD with "Uncle" JP Dellacamera and Eric Wynalda on the call for this unmissable dual between these USMNT stars.
So if you haven't already called out to work today...DO. IT. NOW. Unless you work somewhere where they don't care or encourage you to watch soccer like the MLS Digital office or in a bar. Surprisingly, both have beer but I think MLSsoccer.com might actually have more flatscreens than a lot of places you go to watch soccer these days; 1-nil to MLSsoccer.com.
If internet fan forums and Google translate are to be believed, ex-FC Dallas and Toronto FC striker Peri Marosevic has landed himself a trial with Silkeborg IF of the Danish Superliga. The Jutlanders - who are comfortably mid-table with 26 points from 18 games - have a host of players in for a look as they gear up for the second half of the season. (SIF4ever.dk - 1/26/2012)
This just goes to show you that, if the opposition can sell the alleged infraction, you will always get a card even if the referee is not watching.
All the questions you ever wanted to ask Steve Zakuani.
What did he say to Brian Mullan? How close did he come to the end of his career? Did they actually consider amputating his leg when things got really bad?
And don’t miss when LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena sounds off on Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Omar Gonzalez and Jurgen Klinsmann’s quest to find the American style of soccer.
If you include the Tim Ream transfer to Bolton Wanderers, the New York Red Bulls have arguably executed the three shrewdest business transactions in MLS history.
The club transferred Tim Howard to Manchester United for a reported $4 million, Jozy Altidore to Villarreal for a widely cited figure of $10 million and now Ream for a fee placed at $3 million. The return on investment for each player is stunning.
It’s a transfer sum that should serve as a strong reminder to Erik Soler, Hans Backe and NYRB brass, who have lately been criticized for preferring the international player over up-and-coming young Americans. They have even outwardly expressed their views on the SuperDraft and lack of impact prospects they believe are available. That was not the rationale employed just a short time ago in the case of Howard (assigned to NY in 1998), Altidore (No. 17 draft pick in 2006) and Ream (No. 18 pick in 2010).
That trio weren’t the finished product when they joined the club, but they were shown confidence and allowed to play and make their share of mistakes. Today’s club is reticent to do that with national team regular Juan Agudelo, although, ironically, he may very well be the source of the next massive transfer.
Just days after trading another SuperDraft pick for Kenny Cooper (their first-rounder in 2013) and publicly stating their intention of adding another international to fill Ream’s shoes – Wilman Conde is the name that comes up – the Ream deal should come as a wake-up call.
The Red Bulls are probably waiting until further investment in their academy can produce "higher quality" talent that’s ready to play immediately. But why wait? These talents can also develop on the MLS stage NOW if given the chance. It’s time to renew that commitment to American college and academy products and in some cases give them playing time ahead of the internationals.
History has shown – it’s good business.
Who says you can't go home again?
Former Vancouver Whitecaps DP Mustapha Jarju is returning to the scene of his greatest successes as a footballer: RAEC Mons. The Gambian international scored 34 goals in 99 league matches for the Belgian club between 2008-11. He scored none in 10 appearances for the 'Caps, a record which didn't quite inspire new manager Martin Rennie to keep him around for a second year.
Move over David Beckham. The Galaxy star is not the only MLS player publicizing a new product line this month (Becks has a Super Bowl ad promoting his H&M bodywear).
SJ Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch is coming on the market this month with a new line of GK gloves, glove bags and ‘keeper apparel that will come out under the “Jon Busch Gear.” Get ready for Brand Busch.
The company’s called HPG and it was formed four years ago by Rob Hoehn, who is based in Vancouver and was tired of overpaying for his kid’s goalkeeper gloves. He did something about it and in the last few months convinced Busch to become a 50-50 partner.
“It’s ridiculous. You look at what’s out there and they’re selling gloves for $145 this year,” Busch told MLSsoccer.com. “My glove is the same quality and same everything minus a stripe or swoosh. Except ours is going to be sold for $79.”
The gloves themselves will be solid white with a touch of red and a “Jon Busch” logo. He’ll be wearing them during the MLS season with only one difference: The retail version will feature Busch’s signature and the No. 18, while his will just say “Buschy.”
“Clean and industrial-looking is what I wanted to go with,” he said. “I’m that industrial guy who brings the lunch pail to work everyday and gets the job done. That’s what I wanted our brand to stand for.”
You’ll never guess who’s on the cover of the Feb. 6 issue of Time Magazine! It’s Lionel Messi! Coming soon to newsstands near you! (NOTE: This offer not valid in the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or anywhere you can actually buy a Time Magazine)
At least, you can’t find it if you’re reading this anywhere outside the small, outlying regions known as Europe, Asia or Southeast Asia. That’s because instead of running Bobby Ghosh’s article on Messi on the cover on the United States’ edition of the magazine, the folks at Time are going with an article about the upsides of being an introvert (that’s Myers-Briggs code for being shy) on the cover of the magazine’s US edition.
As somewhat of an introvert myself (I’m typing very lightly on my keyboard right now, as not to offend anyone in the office), I have no problems with an article that (hopefully!) skewers loudmouth dinner guests. And as a soccer fan living in the United States, I’m certainly not stunned Messi won’t get his due on this one, considering I spent the last month reading about the greatness of Tim Tebow, who has the ability to throw a pass a full 15 yards, sometimes right to his intended receiver.
Of course it’s off-putting for soccer fans to see the US left out in the cold here, but think it through. It’s no stunner that the execs at Time wouldn’t bet on a profile of an Argentinian soccer player to reel in the readers, no matter how good some guy named Ray Hudson says he is.
It’s no knock against soccer, folks. But looking at the images of Time’s covers has to remind you just how out of touch the US is with the rest of the world.