Welcome to Florida.
The weather is warm and the sun is shining, which can only mean one thing: The MLS Combine has arrived, and so have we.
Unfortunately, Day One at the Combine is relatively slow in terms of action. The games kick off Friday, so Thursday was a time for all the players to check-in, introduce themselves to one another and get settled in for what are now the most important three matches of their career so far.
Here's what we saw, what we heard, and what we're looking forward to on Day Two:
Hotel Lobby = Combine Headquarters
It's true. If you entered the player's hotel anytime between 2 and 6pm ET on Thursday, you were greeted by a throng of this country's top college soccer talent, congregated in the lobby waiting for their entrance physicals.
All the while, agents came and went (Damani Ralph was everywhere today), a few coaches stopped by (Thomas Rongen is here representing TFC) and we asked pretty much every player: If you could have dinner with four people, alive or dead, who would it be?
The responses, as you might imagine, ran the gamut. There were a few Bob Marleys, some Biggies, Messi and then a lot of Taylor Swift, Kate Beckinsale, Mila Kunis, Kate Upton and Megan Fox.
Big Man on Campus
While the vast majority of the Combine prospects gave off a nervous energy on Thursday, there was one who already looks the part of a pro: Eriq Zavaleta.
Son of a former El Salvador national teamer, nephew of Greg Vanney, national champion and newly-minted Generation adidas signee, Zavaleta cruised around like a guy who knows his spot in professional soccer is already booked. We'll see if the swagger translates on the pitch, and how much he can help his stock.
Meanwhile, across the street....
Literally, across the street, coaches and GMs for every club were arriving, and getting straight down to business. While the players met each other with jokes and bro-hugs, there was no nonsense at the "adults" hotel.
We saw Caleb Porter and Gavin Wilkinson looking awfully stern watching opposition technical staff file in, while Frank Klopas and his staff had already commandeered a massive conference room next to the lobby for two reasons: One, so the Fire braintrust could discuss their next moves as a group. Two, so everyone else could see them discussing their next moves as a group. This is fun.
Meet the Press
After the players were treated to a welcome dinner and an introductory speech from Alfonso Mondelo, eight of the top prospects sat down with MLSSoccer.com to talk a little soccer, a little family and whatever else came up.
The most charming? Carlos Alvarez of UCONN, whose big smile is sure to be a hit wherever he ends up. The most interesting, though? Kekuta Manneh. A native of Gambia, Manneh just turned 18, and you could tell. Manneh spoke softly, almost trembling at times, but everyone here says his game does the talking for him, so I guess that's sufficient.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) January 11, 2013
Scottish striker Kenny Miller might be on his way out of MLS if he doesn’t prove he’s worth the Designated Player spot in the coming months.
The Vancouver Whitecaps' prized striker joined the team last July and didn’t quite live up to the goalscoring star club president Bob Lenarduzzi was hoping for. Miller scored just two goals in 13 games and had what Lenaruzzi described a “disappointing” season.
According to Lenarduzzi, Miller's future, "really depends on how well he does."
If Miller’s contract is terminated early, a certain Ibrox side is rumored to have their eye on their former forward. Could this mean another return to the Rangers for Miller? Is three times a charm?
Thierry Henry simply can't be stopped.
Even though the quality isn’t great, this video of Henry in Brazil shows why he is truly one of the best in Major League Soccer.
We're sure Red Bull fans hope Henry brings some of those quick tricks back to New York for the 2013 season.
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 National Women’s Soccer League has released the list of 55 American, Canadian and Mexican players that will be allocated to the eight clubs in the newly formed league. Club assignments will be announced on Friday, January 11.
“The allocation will provide each club with a foundation of talent to build a competitive roster," said NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey. "Ultimately, the goal is to pair the teams and players in such a way that we achieve a fair distribution of talent across all eight teams.”
To ensure the teams are as balanced as possible, each club will be assigned two Canadian national team players, two Mexican national team players, and all clubs but one will receive three US women’s national team players. The inaugural season is set to kickoff this spring.
Here’s the list of available players:
Pos., Player Name
GK, Nicole Barnhart
M, Shannon Boxx
D, Rachel Buehler
M, Lauren Cheney
GK, Ashlyn Harris
M, Tobin Heath
D, Ali Krieger
D, Amy LePeilbet
F, Sydney Leroux
M, Lori Lindsey
M, Carli Lloyd
GK, Jill Loyden
D, Heather Mitts
F, Alex Morgan
D, Kelley O'Hara
M, Heather O'Reilly
D, Christie Rampone
M, Megan Rapinoe
F, Amy Rodriguez
D, Becky Sauerbrunn
GK, Hope Solo
F, Abby Wambach
M, Keelin Winters
Pos., Player Name
D, Alina Lisi Garciamendez Rowold
M, Veronica Raquel Perez Murillo
M, Teresa Noyola Bayardo
F, Maribel Dominguez Castelan
F, Monica Ocampo Medina
GK, Aurora Cecilia Santiago Cisneros
M, Lydia Nayeli Rangel Hernandez
F, Renae Nicole Cuellar Cuellar
M, Teresa Guadalupe Worbis Aguilar
F, Anisa Raquel Guajardo Braff
M, Dinora Lizeth Garza Rodriguez
D, Jennifer Marie Ruiz Brown
D, Luz del Rosario Saucedo Soto
D, Rubi Marlene Sandoval Nungaray
GK, Pamela Tajonar Alonso
D, Marylin Viridiana Diaz Ramirez
Pos., Player Name
D, Melanie Booth
D, Robyn Gayle
M, Kaylyn Kyle
GK, Karina LeBlanc
M/F, Adriana Leon
M, Diana Matheson
D/M, Bryana McCarthy
GK, Erin McLeod
D, Carmelina Moscato
M/F, Jodi-Ann Robinson
M, Sophie Schmidt
M, Desiree Scott
D, Lauren Sesselmann
F, Christine Sinclair
D, Rhian Wilkinson
D, Emily Zurrer
Ça y est, le calendrier de la saison régulière 2013 est sorti ! Je vous invite à le consulter ici.
Le coup d’envoi sera donné le 2 mars à 16h00 avec Philadelphie - Kansas City. Le format de compétition est identique à celui de 2012, avec l’inversion du lieu des rencontres entre les clubs qui s’affrontent une seule fois.
Le week-end des 16 et 17 mars promet d’être particulièrement palpitant puisque huit des neuf rencontres au programme opposeront des clubs rivaux. Parmi elles, l’incontournable Seattle - Portland, mais aussi New York - DC United, Dallas - Houston ou encore Montréal - Toronto.
Comme de coutume désormais, il sera possible de regarder en direct chacune des 323 rencontres, que ce soit à l’antenne des partenaires de télédiffusion nationale, sur des chaînes de télévision locales, via le bouquet Direct Kick ou MLS Live. Certaines rencontres retransmises par ESPN et ESPN2 seront même en 3D !
L’élaboration du calendrier a été effectuée en veillant à ne pas entrer en conflit avec les matchs des éliminatoires de la Coupe du monde. En été, les coups d’envois seront rarement donnés avant 16h00, pour éviter qu’un soleil de plomb n’assomme le stade.
Au soir du 27 octobre, après 35 semaines de compétition et 34 matchs pour chaque équipe, le classement final de la saison régulière sera établi. Pourra alors commencer la phase finale de la compétition, qui durera une semaine de plus que l'an dernier puisque la finale de la Coupe MLS se jouera le 7 ou le 8 décembre.
If you didn’t catch the trailer for American Football after it was accidentally posted in November, it's time to fire up that internet connection and block out six-and-a-half minutes.
The trailer is for an unfinished feature documentary on the Seattle Sounders FC, produced by Levy Films. And, well, the footage is incredible, truly capturing the beauty of the sport. It was shot in a way that makes you feel like you're part of the team – you hear personal struggles from some of the Sounders squad and are even witness to a post-game schooling from head coach Sigi Schmid.
It’s an intimate look at the Seattle Sounders and will surely leave you wanting more. That is, unless you're a diehard Timbers or 'Caps fan.
Hopefully, Levy Films will finish the full doc soon, but it looks like the 2013 MLS season might kickoff before the film. But it seems it will be well worth the wait.
Passion et défi sont les deux mots qui sont revenus le plus souvent lors de la conférence de presse de présentation de Marco Schällibaum, nouvel entraîneur de l’Impact de Montréal.
« Je suis prêt à me battre pour ce club, un club bien organisé et qui a beaucoup de cœur… et ça, c’est comme ma vie privée ». Le principal intéressé a rapidement mis la table, lui qui a aussi déclaré plus tard : « Quand on gagne, on va boire un verre ensemble. Quand on perd, je rentre à la maison tout seul. »
Sa philosophie, sa méthodologie et sa vision du soccer ont convaincu le club de l’engager. Le directeur sportif Nick De Santis a avoué avoir déjà eu des conversations de soccer jusqu’au petit matin avec son nouvel entraîneur.
Ils ont évidemment parlé philosophie de jeu. « Schälli » a déjà fait part de ses intentions offensives avec un « groupe de très bonne qualité ». Cela tombe bien, De Santis ne compte pas y apporter de changements drastiques. « En commençant avec cette équipe-là, on est en bonne position. On veut être assez patient pour voir ce dont on a besoin après quelques semaines voire quelques mois. »
Autre argument qui a plaidé en faveur du Suisse : son passé d’instructeur Fifa. « Le fait qu’il soit un éducateur est une de ses forces, a insisté le président Joey Saputo. Il est important de former nos jeunes joueurs mais aussi nos entraîneurs. »
Ajoutez-y que les trois intéressés soulignent que le contact passe très bien depuis leur première rencontre et vous obtenez la recette d’un mariage aussi harmonieux que celui annoncé lors de chaque présentation d’un nouvel entraîneur. Rendez-vous d’ici quelques mois pour évaluer sa réussite. D'elle dépendra la prolongation du contrat d'un an assorti d'une option signé par Schällibaum.
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.