La MLS se germanise. Quelques jours après la signature d’Arne Friedrich à Chicago (il participe à son premier entraînement ce mardi), on annonce aujourd’hui que son compatriote Michael Ballack traversera l’Atlantique cet été.
Michael Becker, agent de l’ancien capitaine de l’équipe nationale allemande, a déclaré que son client « souhaitait évoluer en Major League Soccer » et a même pointé une destination de préférence : New York. Sauf que le club semble lui préférer Stephen Ireland (Aston Villa)… Des déclarations qui ne manquent pas d’animer les débats sur les réseaux sociaux.
Le milieu de terrain de Leverkusen intéresse d’autres clubs de MLS. Il y a quelques semaines, son nom revenait notamment parmi les sérieux prétendants à une place de joueur désigné à l’Impact de Montréal, qui n’est certainement pas seul sur les rangs.
Un autre Allemand fait déjà les beaux jours d’un club de MLS : Torsten Frings, à Toronto. Cependant, en sauvant ce qui ressemblait à un but tout fait ce samedi à Seattle, l’ancien joueur de la Mannschaft s’est blessé : il sera hors-circuit pour quatre à six semaines. Une absence qui risque de peser lourd en demi-finale de Ligue des champions contre Santos Laguna.
Frankie Hejduk is a legend in Columbus. His eight years playing for the Crew, including captaining them to the 2008 MLS Cup title, made him a fan favorite. (Drinking beers in the parking lot with the diehard supporters when he was suspended for a game didn't hurt his Q rating at Crew Stadium either.)
Now, after he finished his career with the LA Galaxy last year, it looks like the Crew might abide the dude again.
“There’s some Crew players that just resonate,” Crew President and GM Mark McCullers told The Columbus Dispatch recently. “Brian McBride still resonates. Frankie resonates and that certainly has value for us. I would love to have Frankie in the organization."
Add the Colorado Rapids to the list of MLS teams Eddie Johnson has been linked with since his career in Europe went cold.
Back in August, it appeared Johnson was signing with MLS, only for that to sputter before gaining any real momentum. Then it looked like he was preparing to join DaMarcus Beasley at Puebla in Mexico, but that never materialized either.
Today, the Washington Post's Steven Goff tweeted that he was hearing the Rapids were in discussions to bring the former Dallas and Kansas City striker back to MLS. Based on all the false alarms, only time will tell whether Johnson find his way back to the United States, but this is certainly one worth watching.
Hearing the Colorado Rapids are in talks concerning well-traveled USA striker Eddie Johnson. Might have more details today. #mls
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) February 15, 2012
Update: Juninho has returned to LA on loan.
Just as Galaxy fans had come to terms to life without Juninho, reports in Brazil suggest the former LA defensive midfielder could already be on his way back.
Juninho signed a three-year deal with Sao Paulo after his loan stint with LA ended following the 2012 season. He even bid farewell to Galaxy fans via Twitter.
Now, though, a report in Gazeta Esportiva suggests that Juninho is not going to factor into Sao Paulo's plans after all, leaving him open to a return to MLS as long as the details can be worked out between the two clubs.
Skrifaði undir samning til tveggja ára í morgun, mjög ánægður með það. Nú bíð ég eftir atvinnuleyfi.
— G. Victor Palsson (@VictorPalsson) February 5, 2012
To most of us the Tweet above means about as much as the Latin script on the back of a coin. But send it through Google translate with the knowledge that it's coming from former Hibs midfielder Victor Palsson, who is in Cancun with the Red Bulls, and it becomes a lot more menaingful to non-Icelanders.
"Signed a contract for two years this morning, very pleased with it. Now I am waiting for permits."
There's no word from New York yet but if you read between the tweets --the digital age equivalent of tea leaves-- it certainly seems like more there could be a new addition to Hans Backe's Nordic All Star team.
Chris Birchall wasn't a household name like some of the other internationals acquired by the LA Galaxy a few years ago. But he has been a stalwart of the Trinidad & Tobago national team since 2005, and he put in three more-than-serviceable years for Bruce Arena & Co.
From the looks of this tweet on Monday morning, his time at the HDC is done.
Disappointed to say that I will not be returning to LA Galaxy,I would like to thank everyone for a Superb 3years,fans exceptional!!Thankyou!
— Chris Birchall (@chrisbirchall7) February 6, 2012
A few weeks ago, Arena had this to say about Birchall: “There hasn’t been a decision made on him. Originally he wanted to go back to England, so we obviously agreed to that and didn’t renew his option. He was looking to explore opportunities in England. Perhaps he’ll want to come back.”
Not sure at this point if anything happened in England, but it seems like the manager's final question has been answered.
Buried deep in the latest Hot Stove piece from Jack Bell of the New York Times is word of yet another alleged midfield target for the Red Bulls. This time it's not a Scandinavian or Nordic name but one a little more mainstream but equally European: former Manchester City and Republic of Ireland attacker Stephen Ireland.
Could he be Hans Backe's third DP or is he just another name on the always-expanding list of rumored Red Bulls?
Tim Ream sealed his long-awaited move to Bolton this week, but it doesn't appear Sébastien Le Toux will be joining him.
A report from Sportinglife.com on Friday included a quote from Bolton boss Owen Coyle that made a transfer that was once considered likely to go through appear dead in the water.
"Sébastien came in for a couple of days, and to be fair to him he hadn't trained for four or five weeks," Coyle told Sporting Life. "He did fine and that's where it is. We'd have probably needed a longer look."
By the sounds of it, Le Toux won't get that look, which is probably a blessing in disguise for Union fans loathe to lose their talisman.
Le Toux has been one of, if not the most, productive strikers in MLS during the past two seasons, but it was always going to be a huge challenge for him to walk onto an EPL training field and show much of anything when he hadn't played for weeks, especially against players in the meat-and-potatoes portion of their season.
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.
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.