Kick Off: Union steal headlines with Adu blockbuster deal
Philadelphia has been the soccer capital of America this week.
First the debut of Jurgen Klinsmann at the helm of the USMNT and now the biggest MLS player acquisition of the summer international transfer window as Freddy Adu joins the Union in what is being reported as a “complicated” deal.
With the press conference slated for later this morning, one reporter in Philly ponders whether the move will make the Union better in a move seen as a straight swap of Adu for Carlos Ruiz.
As the news of Adu’s arrival unfolds on Friday, it will be just as interesting to see Chivas USA’s take. The Goats had first dibs on Adu via the allocation process but owner Jorge Vergara reportedly “balked on his asking price.”
Chivas USA will open the weekend slate of MLS matches against the Seattle Sounders, another club that plays a similar attractive, attacking style of soccer. The Goats can expect to face Sounders forward O’Brian White and defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who return from injury ahead of Saturday’s match at CenturyLink Field (4 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Union welcome FC Dallas in a match between two MLS Cup contenders (8 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). Will Adu's arrival mean more chances for striker Jack McInerney? The teenager scored his first goal of the season in last weekend’s 1-1 tie vs. Houston but is not a regular starter. "I never really had been taken out as a sub in my younger years, and coming here and wondering if I will get in a game has definitely been tough," he said.
The Chicago Fire travel to face the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live) and their coach is still upbeat even though they need a string of wins beginning at Red Bull Arena to have any hope of making the playoffs. “I wake up every morning feeling positive,” Klopas says.
Two old Chicago Fire roommates will meet again at RFK Stadium on Saturday night when D.C. United welcome the Vancouver Whitecaps (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live) in a match in which both clubs face serious goalkeeping questions. DC forward Josh Wolff was a former roommate of Whitecaps interim manager Tommy Soehn, also known as “old touch-tackle Tommy.”
In a similar predicament to the Vancouver Whitecaps’, the New England Revolution need points when they travel to face the East-leading Columbus Crew this weekend (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). One of the Revs’ key players will be Chris Tierney, a former Revs season-ticket holder, who was once told by his college coaches at Virginia to “look at the USL or do something else with my life.”
So is teenage phenom Diego Fagundez ready for a starting spot after scoring a goal and offering a spark for the Revs off the bench? Probably not. “When he’s coming on it’s going to be in a position where he’s in a position to do well. We’re not going to throw him to the wolves,” manager Steve Nicol said.
Will this be the week for Columbus forward Jeff Cunningham to set the all-time MLS scoring record? If he does, here's an idea of how he might dress to celebrate the occasion: a photo of him in a tux vest, cumberband and bowtie from a Thursday event. (PHOTO)
The late match on Saturday sees the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids visiting the San Jose Earthquakes who are winless in 10 matches (10:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). Rapids manager Gary Smith does not know if he will be able to count on his two first-choice forwards after their trips to represent their countries in midweek.
The Earthquakes will get Simon Dawkins back this weekend but manager Frank Yallop is resigned to battling for one of the final playoff spots this season. “The table does not lie. We are going to be a mid-table team unless we spend more money on extra players,” he said.
The lone Sunday game sees Portland Timbers manager John Spencer making his return to Houston, where he was an assistant coach for Dynamo boss Dominic Kinnear. It was through Scottish newspapers delivered to his home in Northern California once a month that Kinnear, who is the son of a Scotsman, first learned about Spencer. “Believe me, I knew who John was a heck a lot of earlier than he knew me,” Kinnear says.
Expansion to Las Vegas may not be dead after all with news of a new stadium project taking shape in the suburb of Henderson. One of the advantages of this new project is that “the land it would be built on is wide open, eliminating the need for expensive parking structures.”
The hopes of any MLS clubs landing Owen Hargreaves have taken a hit after it is revealed that West Bromwich Albion have made a firm offer to the Canadian and are now merely waiting on a decision.
Lastly, as the English Premier League season opens this weekend, here’s a fascinating read from The Wall Street Journal on the acquisitions made this offseason by Boston Red Sox-owned Liverpool. Just like stats guru Bill James is credited for the Red Sox’s success, Liverpool’s management also used stats-based data in its acquisitions employing the principle that “scoring chances = goals = wins.”
The latest edition of ExtraTime Radio with Montreal’s Jesse Marsch and The Sporting News’ Brian Straus
The Throw-In: The trickle-down effect of the CONCACAF Champions League
Ranking of MLS expansion coaches in league history
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