Kick Off: John situation still in limbo for FCD
Leap Day is a chance to try out things you wouldn't during the rest of the year.
Or just to get some postponed work done. For West Ham United that means deciding to buy George John outright or let his loan expire. As Schellas Hyndman explained yesterday, FC Dallas and John himself still don't know which way the London club is leaning. (VIDEO)
Without John, Dallas thrashed Orlando City 4-0. "The irony is that I think we played better football than we did the other night against Toronto," which ended in a draw, Orlando City coach Adrian Heath said.
Heath wasn't the only manager upset by the game. Hyndman took issue with the physical approach used on David Ferreira, and with the refereeing which let it happen, calling it “just a shame." "He took a beating today," Hyndman sighed.
Ferreira has been out of action for the better part of a year. Ditto for Kris Boyd, who hasn't played since last summer. A bum ankle plus what coach John Spencer called “that preseason soreness” will keep the Portland DP out of a friendly against Chivas USA later this week.
Absolutely nothing will keep Timbers fans away. They camped out for a day in (green) tents and sleeping bags in the freezing drizzle to buy regular season tickets. Despite its increased capacity JELD-WEN is expected to sell out every match once again this year.
Tickets are selling out across the league. More than 16,500 seats are gone for Seattle's CONCACAF Champions League clash with Santos Laguna. And the only tickets for the Toronto vs. LA CCL game are suites which cost $1,600 (Canadian).
Yellow-card accumulation means Julian de Guzman is suspended for that match (which he called “the biggest game in TFC history”), so TFC gave its blessing for him to play for Canada against Armenia instead.
De Guzman also missed out on a preseason 3-1 win over BK Häcken. Aron Winter showed off his side's tactical fluidity by moving Torsten Frings into the defense during the win.
In other TFC news, reports in England suggest Manchester United wants to snap up Alen Stevanovic for 6 million pounds from Torino.
We'll leave that quizzical report to the bean-counters. Though they may be a tad busy – teams must cram their 30-man rosters into the $2.81 million salary cap by Thursday afternoon. “This is far different from the old NASL days,” Impact director of soccer operations Matt Jordan said. “Makes for a busy time and we’ve still got decisions to make.”
Another one of Jordan's projects: revamping the stadium by June. Saputo Stadium will cost $40 million total to build and then expand to over 20,000 seats, a steal compared to LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and Red Bull Arena, both of which tipped well over nine digits in cost.
Before then, Montreal will play at Olympic Stadium for its first few games in Major League Soccer. Jesse Marsch revealed a little of his and Jordan's recruiting philosophy when it came to building the Impact's first MLS roster. “I wanted to build a strong veteran group, especially being a young coach,” he said.
Etienne Barbara won't be on that roster, despite Montreal owning his rights earlier. He signed with Vancouver yesterday after spending two seasons with Martin Rennie on the RailHawks. Now he's out to prove himself again, despite scoring 20 goals last season. “Twenty goals in the NASL doesn’t mean anything,” he said.
Some players get an upper hand when it comes to fitness with tips from relatives. Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara is the latest in a long line of MLS players whose extended families included other pro ballers. Check out this New York Times feature on some of the most high profile.
Meara is hoping to enjoy some success his rookie season. He could do worse than to look toward Diego Fagundez. The New England youngster recently featured in ESPN's 18 Under 18 list of athletes impressing under the age of 18.
Fagundez has yet to decide which nation he'll represent internationally. One option is the US, which takes on Italy tonight. Could this be the jersey we see later in the year? (PICTURE)
Several teams are rolling out new outfits. The pick of the bunch is clearly France's away kit. Check out these snazzy pictures.
Back with MLS, The Washington Post profiled D.C. United's newest defensive addition, Emiliano Dudar. He still doesn't remember the game against Basel in 2010 when he suffered a concussion so severe doctors induced a four-day coma afterward.
Dudar is with the team in Charleston. Coach Ben Olsen put the team up downtown, saying he trusts his players. He humorously suggested that if he were on the team he might have chosen the nearby military college for digs instead.
Juninho, meanwhile, is back at his old digs. After a disappointing spell back with São Paulo, the midfielder returned on loan to LA, which he calls his “second home.”
Though not as far as the flight from Brazil to California, the Union's excursion down to Costa Rica was still pretty far. There, Philadelphia beat Costa Rica's U-20 side 3-0. Click to watch some grainy highlight footage.
The preseason friendlies keep coming unabated. No fewer than six games will be streamed live today. Check this handy guide to find details for each match.
Lastly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to wreck havoc wherever he goes. His latest crime? Injuring a Swedish teammate in training by shoving him. (VIDEO)
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