New York Red Bulls
Take heart, MLS fan: You are not the only one getting ready for the regular season.
With First Kick five days away, FIFA is getting in the spirit of the season by naming their four stars set to shine in the 2012 season: Juan Agudelo, C.J. Sapong, Brek Shea and Steve Zakuani.
I think those are pretty solid picks. You might not. The best part about First Kick is that for every team and every player, the sky is the limit on Day One; anything can happen.
So channel your inner FIFA and let us know: Who do you think is going to shine in 2012?
TUCSON, Ariz. – Juan Agudelo returned to New York Red Bulls practice here on Friday, walking a little taller. Literally.
The 19-year-old striker scored the US Olympic team’s opener in their 2-0 win over their Mexican counterparts in Texas on Wednesday – his first goal in a US shirt since his strike against Argentina nearly a year ago.
And Agudelo gives full credit to the bleached mop rising off the center of his scalp.
“It was just a play that we drew up the day before at practice, actually,” he explained to MLSsoccer.com. “Just a near-post cross off a corner kick and I was able to get my head on it with the Mohawk.”
If that ‘hawk looks like an homage to a certain Wesley Snipes movie to you, you’re not alone. Apparently Agudelo’s ‘do immediately reminded US Under-23 head coach Caleb Porter of the Stallone/Snipes sci-fi action classic Demolition Man.
And right there, folks, is where the generation gap between the 37-year-old coach and the teenage striker becomes apparent.
“Caleb told me about that – I didn’t really know about Demolition Man,” Agudelo admitted.
Fair enough. He wasn’t even a year old when the movie came out in 1993.
“I searched on Google images and it was like I was staring at myself,” he continued. “It wasn’t what I was going for, but that’s the way it worked out.”
Maybe it's time to add "Simon Phoenix" and "Demolition Man" to Swagudelo's growing list of nicknames.
WATCH: Agudelo on his time with the US U-23s
Algunos de ustedes ya saben que por unos días dejé a un lado la pretemporada de la MLS en Orlando para “pegarme la rodadita” a Miami y ver el partido amistoso entre la selecciones de México y de Colombia.
Entre las muchas caras conocidas que vi en el entrenamiento de la selección de México estaba Fernando Fiore, el flamante presidente de la Republica Deportiva de Univisión, y de una vez me dije “imagino que debe tener una opinión muy particular del partido”. Aunque sé que la tiene, no me la dio, pero si tuvimos una pequeña – y ventosa – charla sobre este juego y Rafa Márquez… aquí les va:
There are some days when I wish I weren't one of the hosts of ExtraTime Radio. Usually, it's when Simon Borg -- bless his big heart -- starts making absurd declarations like, say, Clint Dempsey should sit on the bench for the USMNT.
But there are other days when, for whatever reason, I miss the show and I really, really wish I could've been there.
Yesterday's episode is one such day. I would've given anything to be there when Sporting KC's Aurelien Collin started giving Simon fashion advice. "Suspenders!" It's the only time I've ever heard Simon ask for advice. Magnifique!
Then, New York Red Bulls manager Hans Backe drops this whopper: He wants to win the US Open Cup. Considering how he shrugged off the USOC last year, that's pretty amazing.
If you haven't heard it, check it out here.
Expect to see more of this as we inch ever closer to the March 11th debut of MLS on NBC Sports. Arlo White, the former voice of the Sounders and the future voice of MLS on the peacock network, joined host Russ Thaler on NBC Sports Talk tonight to discuss some of the big storylines around the league heading into the 2012 season.
And you know what? He looked damn good doing it. Here's to more soccer talk on Sports Talk.
In conjunction with today’s Three for Thursday article, it was hard to highlight just three new strike partnerships which could be successful in MLS this year.
Because, oh my, there are plenty of wonderful options to chose from.
So what about some of the new partnerships we failed to mention?
Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper at New York look almost certain to line up side by side when the Red Bulls kick-off their campaign against FC Dallas on March 11. And with Luke Rodgers' chances of arriving back in New York looking slimmer by the day, the Frenchman will have to build a rapport with Cooper sharpish if Hans Backe’s men are going to challenge for a title in 2012.
Meanwhile up in Portland the arrival of Designated Player Kris Boyd means Jorge Perlaza will have a man alongside him who knows how to finish. Boyd has scored goals wherever he has gone, it’s as simple as that. Perlaza will thrive from being given a creative role, and having scored six goals in the Timbers’ first MLS season, the Colombian will hope he and Boyd can make JELD-WEN Field an even more intimidating venue to visit in the upcoming campaign.
The question is, which other strike pairings can set the scoring charts on fire in MLS this season?
Dato curioso: cada uno de los cuatro clubes de la MLS que disputará el torneo de pretemporada Desert Diamond Cup en Tucson, Arizona tiene en sus líneas a al menos un jugador latino que no jugó en la MLS en 2011.
New England Revolution contará con John Lozano y Fernando Cárdenas, dos colombianos provenientes del América del Cali.
A su vez, los New York Red Bulls tienen a su propio colombiano en el experimentado Wilman Conde, quien ya había jugado en la MLS con Chicago Fire y regresa para alinearse con los toros de la Gran Manzana.
Por su parte, el Galaxy tiene al brasileño proveniente del Alajuelense de Costa Rica Marcelo Sarvas y al debutante mexicoamericano Rafael García.
Por último, Real Salt Lake cuenta con cuatro jóvenes latinos que participaron en el SuperDraft este año: el uruguayo Enzo Martínez, el brasilero Diogo de Almeida, el argentino Emiliano Bonfigli y el colombiano Sebastián Velásquez.
Los clubes emeleseros tendrán la oportunidad de mirar a sus jugadores en acción para tomar decisiones finales sobre quien será titular, quien será reserva y quien se ira del equipo. La pregunta es simple: ¿Quién de estos latinos tendrá el mayor brillo en Tucson?
Speaking from past experience, there are few adventures in sports that trump away days. When I think about all of the hours in my pre-professional blogging life spent on my feet with a song coming out of my mouth the best memories often center around stadiums that were not my club's home ground.
These golden moments don't just happen though as they require an incredible amount of coordination between the clubs, the supporters and (hopefully) a good travel agent. And, for the most part, they aren't the quick, 1-hour jaunts associated with some European leagues.
In a league that connects two coasts and spans two large countries the distance a supporter can travel for a match is more often than not extreme by world football standards. This excerpt from a recent article in The Guardian highlights this fact best:
"The average journey for North American fans is still one of the longest you would undertake in most other leagues; the bigger journeys are more expeditions than road trips; Portland Timbers fans going to New York is the same as going from London to Baghdad. LA Galaxy at Boston is longer than Tokyo to Manila.
The journey those Fire fans made to Toronto clocked in at 1,000 miles round trip, and that's their second closest game; in England, no-one can travel that far at all, and it's pushing the longest trip most European fans would have to make. Only fans in Russia can hold a candle in terms of the distances traveled to see a team play, and even there, the average distances tend to be exaggerated by a small number of teams in Siberia and the far-east."
Seriously, there are fans out there who are logging more air miles than Chelsey Sullenberger these days and I salute them for it. Special acknowledgment to those who travel to and from Canada to be with your team; anyone willing to brave both the TSA and customs for only a 33.3% chance at witnessing a win is alright in my book.
When you're Thierry Henry, you can do stuff. Stuff like score 300+ professional goals, stuff like win a World Cup, and stuff like build a mansion with a four-storey fish tank.
Just like Troy McClure.
While everyone else in the New York area is still dealing with the last remnants of winter, the Red Bulls skipped out of town for preseason preparations in Mexico. To document the proceedings in Cancun, someone came up with the idea to give Stephen Keel a camera and let him go wild.
The result was some absolutely vintage stuff from Keel packed into four episodes of priceless footage.
Highlights in no particular order:
- Red moustaches
- bocce ball
- Remember the Titans
- Alcohol-free Piña Coladas
- Oblivious tourists
- Zip lines
- Fake English accents
- Ball washing stations
- Baby fat
- Designer sunglasses
Keel Cam Part 1 of 3
Team Bonding at Xplor - Agudelo interview