The Philadelphia Union -- in particular, manager Peter Nowak -- have taken a few hits this offseason. Understandly so, considering some of the messy player transactions, such as the sudden flight of goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and the bizarre Sebastien Le Toux situation. I'm still not clear whether Le Toux was forced to go to Bolton or if he just failed and tried to pass the buck. Either way, he's with Vancouver now.
This all comes on the heels of a late overseas training stint for Danny Mwanga, Kyle Nakazawa's trade to LA, Veljko Paunovic's retirement, and the loss of Justin Mapp in the expansion draft. Plus, don't forget the explanations given by Nowak about Carlos Ruiz's transfer to Mexico.
But there has to be a method to the madness, right? Nowak seems sure. He tweeted this out on Monday in response to a fan's question:
“@Doug_Cutaiar: "I don't need details. Can you just assure me you guys know what you're doing with these moves this off season?” Yes.
— Peter Nowak (@Peter_Nowak) February 14, 2012
That response -- "Yes" -- is so perfect. So simple. So Nowakian.
Lest any of the second-guessers forget, Nowak and the Union are still on the correct trajectory for a club born just two years ago. That is, in Year 2, they improved over Year 1, and even made the playoffs.
So despite the departures and the confusing aftermaths, at some point, everyone needs to have a little faith and give Nowak the benefit of the doubt. After all, he's succeeded everywhere he's been. And so far, he's succeeding in Philly.
The first day of the NASL combine started on the training complex of the Ft. Lauderdale strikers, with the level of play high and a few tiring matches in the heat.
For the weekend, we have been split up into four teams. I am in the white team and we have an international mix with Argentines, Brazilians, Australians, Norwegians and, obviously, an Englishman.
Our goalkeeper Steffen Haraldsen works for the Norwegian parliament and plays semi-pro in Norway. Interesting enough back story you might think, however he also is a massive fan of Major League Soccer and MLSsoccer.com and watches videos on the website everyday. The reach of MLS has apparently extended to Norway.
The standard of play was really high in the first game, which we drew 2-2. The same goes for the temperature. The 80-degree sunshine and high humidity made it a cagey opening as both sides didn’t want to over do it in the heat. The need to conserve energy was key considering there are two more games coming up.
But like I said, the standard is high, with former Genoa and Levante players, Serie A and La Liga teams respectively, among the hopefuls trying out for the NASL. There are 50 or so coaches and scouts watching, and everyone is eager to impress.
Tomorrow we have another game and then an opportunity to relax in the evening, and a few of the lads are going to head to the movies.
Stay up to date with the video blog every day, as I will be updating on the latest news from the NASL combine.
Guilty pleasure or not, I watch a lot of Law & Order. My addiction to the show even extends across the pond to the UK version.
This week, I learned that I'm not the only one afflicted with L&O fever. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish appears to be quite a fan, too.
After the club's 0-0 draw with Tottenham on Monday, he was asked to respond to criticism of his controversial striker, Luis Suarez, from a pair of Manchester United stars, Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney. Neville called Suarez "lucky" not to see red for side-volleying Spurs midfielder Scott Parker, and Rooney took to Twitter to give his opinion.
If ref sees that kick from suarez and books him for it it should be red
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) February 6, 2012
Dalglish, ever the gentleman, decided it was best to hold his tongue. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he must have had an image of an angry Mariska Hargitay, because here's what he told the media:
"If Gary Neville or Wayne were standing there and asked me the question, I could answer them. But I don't think you can speak for them. I think I'll just plead the fifth amendment."
Sorry, King Kenny, there is no fifth amendment in the UK. There are no amendments at all, in fact. There is a right to silence, stretching back to the Judges' Rules set down in 1912 and later adjusted by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, but the Fifth Amendment is a purely American thing. It's an integral part of the United States Constitution, which protects people from governmental abuse, including self-incrimination: "No person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."
One can only imagine that Dalglish is pleading the 5th because he agrees with the accusers and he doesn't want to slam his own player. Jack McCoy would appreciate the irony of it all, I'm sure.
This is the first post for the Out of Focus blog here on MLSsoccer. Many MLS fans know I spend a good deal of time arguing with my ExtraTime Radio cohort Simon Borg, but the rest of the time is spent working with a great group of videographers and editors who produce content for the site. (You’ll eventually meet them all on here.)
This blog is now our outlet… our way of taking you behind the camera and telling our stories as we journey around the continent covering the game we love. But it wouldn’t be a video department's blog without a play button, so you should expect to see videos on here more often than not. At times we may ask for feedback on content ideas or players/teams/events you’d like to see featured, but we’ll also entertain you with clips that may not be the right fit for the main site.
Bloopers, outtakes, off-the-cuff debates, classic video that we turn up and anything else we think will amuse you will be found in Out of Focus. I hope you all enjoy it. For now, I’ll leave you with some outtakes from last week’s Daily…
On Thursday's edition of ExtraTime Radio, we all got into a discussion about the best songs by Thin Lizzy, the 1970s rock band led by the incomparable Phil Lynott. (Look 'em up, kids.)
We bandied about "The Boys Are Back in Town," "Cowboy Song," "Jailbreak," and my personal favorite, "Fighting My Way Back." Suffice to say, it was a rocking show, one that I'm sure Houston Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear -- a diehard Thin Lizzy fan -- would appreciate.
In the aftermath, an @ExtraTimeRadio fan on Twitter sent this tweet:
@Gaetjens Glad you guys brought up "Cowboy Song," but "Emerald" is Thin Lizzy's captain and midfield engine.
— Jason (@chestrockwell14) February 3, 2012
That, naturally, set off a back and forth about Thin Lizzy songs and where they would play on the field. Naturally.
So here's the Thin Lizzy Starting XI, according to me and @chestrockwell14.
I'm sure there are plenty of music snobs (don't we all fall into that category, really?) that have a beef or two with this. Fine. What musical Starting XI would you come up with?
En Nueva York, cuando toma el ‘Subway’, uno espera que en algún momento en el camino el tren se detenga y deje de correr. ¿Por qué? Porque ya estamos acostumbrados.
Sin embargo, en el caso del José Adolfo ‘El Trencito’ Valencia, todos quedamos sorprendidos de que este nunca saliera de la estación. Y es que el joven colombiano de 20 años se quedará estancado luego de que se diera a conocer estará fuera de las canchas entre 6 y 12 meses.
Sorprendidos quedamos todos, y cuando digo todos, es TODOS.
Sorprendidos en Colombia, donde ni el médico del Independiente Santa Fe (ex equipo de Valencia) sabía de la condición del jugador, según nos comentó Fabián Rozo del diario El Tiempo en el podcast Tiro Libre.
Sorprendidos los Portland Timbers, que anunciaron con bombos y platillos la llegada de su Jugador Franquicia Juvenil. Cuando el jugador ya había llegado al club, el club lo presentó a la afición y lo tuvieron en varios eventos, sin saber que horas después conocerían la verdad detrás de los problemas en los cartílagos de su rodilla derecha. Este video con la afición salió al aire después del primer día de entrenamientos del equipo:
Por último, ¿debería estar sorprendido el mismo Trencito? Puede que si. Siempre activo en Twitter, el joven delantero documentó varias entradas en la red social, y saltan a la vista unas en particular:
Un jugador dudoso de su estado físico no gritaría a los cuatro vientos (¿eso es lo que Twitter hace verdad?) que se hará exámenes médicos.
Lo único que queda es desearle al Trencito Valencia mucha suerte con la cirugía y una pronta recuperación y aplaudir a los Timbers por no rendirse y velar por su rehabilitación.
En la “Twittermósfera” hemos recibido varios comentarios tildando a Gales y a Bosnia-Herzegovina – próximos rivales de México en su gira por Estados Unidos – como equipos no dignos de enfrentar al Tri. Lee la nota del anuncio AQUÍ
¿Dónde está Italia, Alemania y España? Bla bla bla…
La verdad del caso es que estos dos equipos ofrecen gran competencia para los del Chepo de la Torre, o pregúntenle a Gio Dos Santos, que semana tras semana tiene que ver desde la banca como el galés Gareth Bale deslumbra a la Liga Premier con el Tottenham. Además de Bale, considerado uno de los mejores laterales en el mundo actualmente, Gales cuenta con dos figuras de la EPL que cualquier selección en Norteamérica quisiera tener: Craig Bellamy (Liverpool) y Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal).
Por su parte, Bosnia-Herzegovina tiene su carta de gol en nada más ni nada menos que Edin Dzeko del Manchester City, un jugador que ha anotado cuatro goles más que Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández esta temporada .
Contener a este tipo de jugadores va a ser todo un reto para la zaga mexicana. De la Torre no comete el error de mirar con desdén a nadie y por eso le va bien…
Los dejo con esta: Bale, un volante, también ha anotado más goles que el Chicharito en la EPL esta temporada.
Dzeko, 11 goles
Bale, 9 goles
Hernandez, 7 goles
Craig Bellamy, 6 goles
La camada de colombianos que han llegado a la MLS este año es de muy alta calidad. O si no que lo digan los hinchas del Millonarios, que vieron partir a su capitán y estrella Rafael Robayo al Chicago Fire.
A pesar de sentirse contento con su nuevo equipo, el volante mostró mediante su página de Facebook su preocupación de perderse del radar de la selección Colombia, como suele pasarles a jugadores que llegan a la MLS.
¡Pilas! Este jugador está enterito y Colombia conoce su talento. Es injusto que se le cierre la puerta de la selección solamente porque juega en una liga a la que su tierra no sigue como a las demás.
Duélale al que le duela, la MLS tiene un nivel de competencia que la Liga Postobón ya no tiene…
It's been well documented that the LA Galaxy won last year's MLS Cup with three designated players in their midst. They were the first DPs to ever lift the trophy.
Sporting KC owner Robb Heineman doesn't care. At least not right now.
He tweeted out on Wednesday that Sporting weren't going to ink any DPs during this transfer window.
Unless something dramatic happens in the next two days, we will not be announcing a DP in this window.#SportingKC
— Robb Heineman (@RobbHeineman) January 25, 2012
Say what you will about the value of DPs -- and I, for one, think they are very valuable -- but I'm with Heineman here. Fans often clamor for a DP, as if a high-profile, high-priced player is the magician who can conjure up a trophy like Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin "growing" fruit on his Marvelous Orange Tree. But it must be the right fit.
I enjoyed watching Omar Bravo last year, but only because he fit into Peter Vermes's ego-less setup. For several reasons, Bravo is gone now. But the roster still has no ego, plenty of depth, experience, size, and speed, and three of the most exciting young attackers in the US national team fold in Zusi, Bunbury, and Sapong. And it only got stronger with the addition of Bobby Convey.
No need to unbalance any of that with a big name unless you're sure he fits. Obviously, Heineman and Vermes weren't sure about anyone at this time.