Kick Off: US starlet ready to fly nest for European move?
With the leftovers beginning to resurface from yesterday's feast, there’s still plenty of soccer news to chew over on Black Friday.
Perhaps the juiciest story occurred overseas, as Chivas USA and US national team forward Juan Agudelo spoke openly about his future during his training stint with Scottish champions Celtic.
And it seems as if the Red Bulls Academy product already wants a longer stay in Europe based on this television interview with STV: “This kind of move has been on my mind for as long as I can remember. Playing in Europe is what I would like to do. This is, right now, where the best football is being played. I would love to play here.”
Do these comments spell the end for Agudelo at Chivas USA? Only time will tell.
We know David Beckham’s time in MLS is almost up, but where he heads next is a closely guarded secret. Everyday more teams signal their intent to sign Becks, with West Ham and Real Madrid the latest to do so.
Unlike most, South African side Kaizer Chiefs have distanced themselves from a move for the LA star. However they believe it would be “good for the PSL to have a player like him come to South Africa. It would raise the stature of the league overseas and raise the profile of the game in this country."
The Beckham rumor mill continues to churn into overdrive.
And as we reflect on Thanksgiving Day 2012, MLSsoccer.com’s Jonah Freedman thanked Beckham for his impact on MLS in the latest edition of the Throw-In. Cheers, Dave. Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle is thankful for a league on the rise across the board in this week’s Three for Thursday.
Meanwhile, Thierry Henry is at the center of a tug of war once again this offseason, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitting he would love to take the Frenchman back on loan, although he hasn’t spoken to the Red Bulls skipper about it.
New RBNY sporting director Andy Roxburgh isn’t exactly delighted about the prospect of a loan deal: "It depends on the individual, it depends on the circumstances. You cannot say never on that one. But it's unlikely, at the moment, that would happen."
That attitude isn't universal in MLS. Vancouver Whitecaps forward Kenny Miller will stay sharp by practicing with his old club, Rangers, during the offseason.
Miller has an impressive goalscoring record, mostly outside MLS for now, and that’s exactly what D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen will be searching for this offseason. Just days after losing to Houston in the playoffs, Olsen has already assessed his squad's biggest need going into 2013.
“Our forwards gave us good moments this year,” he said. “But none of them had a real complete year from a playing, scoring and production standpoint. In the end, do we need a big-time forward? Yeah.”
Elsewhere, the former head of D.C. United’s youth academy, Richie Burke, has taken the reigns at Scottish First Division side Livingston.
And we move from Scotland to Norway, where two US national team players squared off in Europa League action on Thursday. Although Terrence Boyd bagged his third Europa League goal of the campaign, Rosenborg’s Mix Diskerud had the last laugh as the Norwegian side ran out 3-2 winners.
A former American Export, Ricardo Clark, is on the mend for Houston as they gear up for MLS Cup 2012. Clark missed out on both MLS Cups Houston won in ‘06 and ’07 due to injury and suspension and faces a race against time to be fit by Dec. 1.
“It’s been feeling better … so I’m just taking it day by day,” Clark said. Houston will be hoping their battling midfielder can make a quick recovery to boost their chances of lifting the Cup.
Clark has had huge success since returning to Houston this season, and another American who could be returning to a former club is Brad Friedel. The veteran ‘keeper won’t be joining Blackburn Rovers just yet, though. Friedel was reportedly offered a player-coach role by former teammate and current Rovers boss Henning Berg at Ewood Park. But Spurs boss André Villas-Boas blocked the initial loan move. Expect Blackburn to return with a bid in January as Friedel still has a luxury home in the North West.
Elsewhere, ex-Blackburn manager Mark Hughes can now add Queens Park Rangers as one of his former clubs. QPR chiefs fired Hughes on Friday morning.
Harry Redknapp is the bookies' favorite to replace Hughes with the West London outfit languishing at the foot of the EPL table without a win.
With no MLS action this weekend, you’ll have to settle for watching EPL (and there’s plenty of it). Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu’s Stoke City face Fulham on Saturday (Fox Soccer Plus, 10 am ET), while Sunderland face high-flying West Brom in the early game (Fox Soccer, 7:45 am ET). Junior Hoilett’s manager-less QPR travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United (Fox Soccer, 10 am ET), then Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj’s Aston Villa host Arsenal (Fox Soccer, 12:30 pm ET) in a bumper Saturday of EPL action.
On Sunday, watch as Liverpool travel to Swansea on ESPN2 (8:30 am ET) and finish the weekend ahead of MLS Cup off by seeing how Chelsea’s new boss Rafa Benítez gets on against EPL champions Manchester City at Stamford Bridge (Fox Soccer, 11 am ET).
And finally, with the managerial merry-go-round in full flow this week, spare a thought for French soccer legend and former European footballer of the year Jean-Pierre Papin. He was beaten to the vacant manager’s post at Azerbaijani club Baku FC … by a 21-year-old whose only previous management role was on computer game Football Manager. Words fail us.
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