The great thing about being in Orlando this week is, surprisingly, not the weather. That's been spotty. Last night a storm rolled through that, while not quite biblical in proportion, was enough to hold Simon Borg and myself hostage in the Sporting KC hotel for far longer than we intended. In the end it was OK though because it afforded me a chance to talk about team chemistry with coach Peter Vermes, who said of all the team's he ever been around the current KC squad is the tightest off-the-field he's ever seen.
Unfortunately for Kei Kamara though the storm put a damper on the pick-up basketball game he was trying to organize with some of his teammates. So much for team camaraderie.
The sun came out today though and after all that rain it's as humid as anything. Even Houston Dynamo players Corey Ashe and Andre Hainault, who should be used to a bit of sticky weather, thought it was a bit much for February.
The Dynamo had some interesting neighbors at today's practice. On one side were pitchers and catchers for the Atlanta Braves --they conduct spring training at the sprawling ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex-- with the Montreal Impact on the other. Funny how Brian Ching came back to Houston only to spend pre-season in the shadow of the Impact; guess his preseason plans would have been the same either way.
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.
The Whitecaps are one of the six MLS clubs currently holed up at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. With Sebastien Le Toux, Eric Hassli, rookie sensation Darren Mattocks and Long Tan among their ranks they posess one of the most blessed attacks in the league.
One of the talking points during today's post-practice media scrum was the 'Caps wealth of attacking options. Does new coach Martin Rennie realize what he has on his hands? Let's just say he's happy with what he's got.
CHARLESTON, S.C. – As the saying goes, you learn something everyday. Today, I learned that alligators pretty much run the show here in South Carolina, and Dwayne De Rosario makes the occasional visit to MLSsoccer.com in his spare time.
How do I know these things, you ask?
Check out the photos I snapped at Blackbaud Stadium below for proof that giant predatory reptiles basically run amok in Charleston. Or at least that's what my imagination and that second alligator depiction are telling me. These signs are literally feet from the pitch and the stands and were posted in front of the dark, swampy field where Crew, Fire and D.C. United players were doing some promotional photos for NBC. It's safe to say things are a little different here. Clearly, I am not in Kansas anymore.
As for DeRo? He – or whoever runs his award-winning personal website – caught wind of Matt "MLS Analyst" Doyle's Countdown to First Kick piece from yesterday that examined whether or not the MLS MVP could repeat his 2011 brilliance in 2012.
De Rosario tweeted the following tonight, linking to this page where you can "Weigh-in on the million dollar question: Can DeRo Do It Again?"
My performance 4 the coming #MLS reg season seems to be all the talk. What you think? VOTE: Will I do it again this YR?
— Dwayne De Rosario (@dwaynederosario) February 27, 2012
I, for one, voted "Ah... Duh... Yeah" but you may have a different opinion, so head on over and make your voice heard.
And, as always, be gator safe and remember that a fed gator is a dead gator!
This week the Insider will be coming to you from the happiest place on earth. I'm in Orlando to take in a week's worth of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in hopes of getting a good handle on who'll be contenders and who'll be pretenders in 2012. I'm also here to spend some time around the players in a somewhat relaxed setting in hopes of seeing --and sharing-- their true personalitites.
First stop: the FC Dallas hotel, home of one of the league's worst Halo addictions.
How bad is it? So bad that the players pooled their money and bought to TV's when the hotel wouldn't let them hook their XBOX's up to their TV's. I'll let goalkeeper Chris Seitz tell you the rest.
Oh and the guy with the mohawk? His name is Andrew Jacobson.
Toronto DP Danny Koevermans knows the secret way to win MLS Cup. After practice in Orlando, the Dutch forward spilled the beans and I have to say, not a bad idea. Who would be your secret weapon?
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?
This is a big year for Brek Shea and the rest of the young Olympic hopefuls. So it makes sense that they are fighting tooth and nail to show coach Caleb Porter that they belong in the squad.
Shea probably doesn't have to go so hard as to get a red card in a friendly against his own club team, though. At least he snagged a goal to make up for it. Check out the highlights:
It took Benny Feilhaber all of about 3 minutes last night to show that he's up for preseason. Soccer's favorite all-American, New York-born, Austrian-Brazilian did his best Lance Armstrong impersonation against LA in the opening match of the 2012 Desert Diamond Cup with an outlandish bike kick goal to put the Revs up 1-0 before most of the crowd had even taken their seats. Hell of a way to start the year.
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?