Kick Off: Mind games begin as Expansion Draft looms
Of all the big names left unprotected ahead of the Expansion Draft, none are as big as that belonging to pint-sized playmaker Freddy Adu.
Montreal head coach Jesse Marsch admitted to the press that the US international represents an intriguing option for the expansion Impact. Marsch and his assistant, Mike Sorber, were part of the US coaching staff during the most recent Gold Cup, when Adu dazzled. “We’re analyzing how Freddy would fit,” Marsch said.
Marsch can pretty much cross another US striker off his list of possibilities, though. Brian Ching wants to be in the Houston Dynamo's new stadium come 2012, even if he has to join the front office to do so. He told Montreal he'd retire if selected.
Real Salt Lake skirted Ching's direct approach and have opted for reverse psychology instead. Worried that Montreal may pluck away Ned Grabavoy, goalkeeper Nick Rimando humorously Tweeted: “Grabavoy is a terrible teammate, only thinks of himself and probably wouldn't even make my high school team."
But the team with the most effective method of avoiding any culling is Portland. The Timbers struck up a deal which prevents the Impact from selecting any of their players in the move that sent Ryan Pore to the Impact.
That should mean forward Brian Umony, left unprotected, will still be in Portland next season. Right now, however, the forward is preparing to pay in the CECAFA (Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations). He finished top scorer of the competition for Uganda in 2008. “I will do my best to [score] but let's not forget we are a team. It's not all about me.”
Sigi Schmid has already resigned himself to losing one unprotected member of his team. Any Seattle Sounders taken by the Impact won't be around to see the new turf which will be laid in CenturyLink Field come February. "For sure, the better teams stand a better chance of possibly losing a player," Schmid said.
With that logic, MLS Cup champs LA Galaxy should brace themselves for a departure. Tuesday, the club realized Jovan Kirovski had accidentally been left off the list, and won't be retiring as assumed.
The Galaxy's Cup triumph, which came thanks to a 0.79 goals-against average and 18 clean sheets, means that David Beckham joins an elite crowd to have won titles in three different nations.
Beckham gave a sneak peek into how he and his teammates celebrated. “We had a great player party afterwards and we had a sing-along with the team,” Becks said. "Have you heard me sing? I'm not bad. Robbie Keane is even better, though."
The MLS Cup victory came at the end of Beckham's five-year contract. With the English midfielder still deciding his future, the papers in England are busy lining up potential replacements for LA. The Daily Mail says Didier Drogba could become a Designated Player. The 33-year-old's contract with Chelsea expires in the summer.
But don't expect Drogba's teammate Frank Lampard to move Stateside any time soon: "Whatever anyone says about me going anywhere else, I will be here [with Chelsea], without a doubt."
Of course, trades across the Atlantic go both directions. Bolton Wanderers are reportedly one of six teams to be sniffing around New York defender Tim Ream.
Brek Shea, who is training with Arsenal, has also attracted attention. Not all of it is complimentary: British daily The Guardian gave him the worst hair award for 2011.
Shea's hair is an acquired taste. Slightly more palatable are the Philadelphia Union's newly unveiled jerseys.
Or, if ponytails are your thing, some welcome news out of Peru. Reports suggest Toronto FC could bring Pablo Vitti back to the club. His current team, Universitario de Deportes, owes him six months wages and is in debt.
Vitti has traveled extensively during his career, but even he has never made it out to the Pacific Islands. There, in a World Cup qualifier, American Samoa won their first international soccer match. Thomas Rongen, the former D.C. United coach, helped lead the island nation to reverse 30 consecutive defeats.
On the other side of the globe, the UEFA Champions League continues. Catch Barcelona at AC Milan, 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Soccer Channel, or switch on Borussia Dortmund at Arsenal, 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Soccer Plus.
Lastly, some sad news: Herb Capozzi, the original owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps, died of cancer at age 86 on Monday. “He had an unbelievable presence and when he spoke at functions, people didn't want to speak after him because he was just so good,” said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi.
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