Kick Off: Sounders bring longtime Chelsea stalwart on trial
The Seattle Sounders might not be done shopping after all.
As head coach Sigi Schmid’s club hits the homestretch with their playoff seeding still up in the air, the club is apparently interested in former Chelsea and Barcelona midfielder/forward Eidur Gudjohnsen.
The Icelandic import will work out with the club this week as the Sept. 15 roster freeze deadline looms in roughly a week-and-a-half.
The Sounders are one of just a handful of MLS teams who will suit up this week while most squads take a break for the FIFA international date. On Saturday they’ll host a struggling Chivas USA side that has given up 10 goals in the past two games, including a touchdown’s worth in a 6-2 home loss to the Sounders last month.
“I’m running out of things to say,” center back Danny Califf says. “I’m running out of ways to explain how we’re giving up four [expletive] goals on a regular basis.”
Two games highlight the MLS docket on Wednesday night, including another shot for the Columbus Crew to keep moving up the Eastern Conference table with a match against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium (8 pm ET, MLS Live).
The Crew’s freshly minted Designated Player Federico Higuaín earned his latest honor on Tuesday, picking up his second straight MLS Player of the Week nod.
The Revolution, meanwhile, are without their top options at forward this time around, as Saer Sene (knee injury) and Jerry Bengtson (international duty) will both miss Wednesday’s game. That means it’s time for the team’s youngsters to shine up top, including teenager Diego Fagundez.
“Whoever comes to the game and does well is going to get another start,” Fagundez said. “There isn’t any pressure in it. It’s just that you have to show the coach that you can do it.”
The nightcap on Wednesday is a bit of déjà vu for the Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids, who wrap up a unique home-and-home series at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9 pm ET, NBCSN, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com). The two teams first banged heads last Friday in a 1-0 win for Portland at JELD-WEN Field, and the Timbers are tired of talking about grabbing their first road win of 2012 on Wednesday.
“The questions are raised again," midfielder Jack Jewsbury said. "If I said I wasn't tired of talking about it, I'd be lying. Two or three months ago, I was tired of talking about it."
The Rapids, meanwhile, suddenly find themselves in a strange spot: at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. And simply put for a team that won the MLS Cup just two years ago, they want out.
The big news in Canada, meanwhile, involves a new job title for Tom Anselmi. He was officially installed Monday as president and chief operating officer — though the title of chief executive officer remains vacant — of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the ownership group for Toronto FC, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors.
“We all feel the pressure to win. It’s all about team success. That is our priority,” said Anselmi. “This town, when we start winning, it’s going to be amazing.”
But what does it all mean for Toronto FC? TSN’s Jason de Vos tries to make sense of the move, insisting that now the team needs to hire a new president, someone who will effectively take over the position that Anselmi is vacating.
One player who knows the TFC system well is Julian de Guzman, the Reds’ former Designated Player who’s back in Toronto this week with the Canadian national team ahead of a World Cup qualifying match against Panama on Friday. He says that while he has no regrets about his time with Toronto FC, he understands what’s been the root of the team’s struggles since 2007.
“There was a great deal of transition every season and just a general lack of stability,” said de Guzman, who played for five head coaches in 65 MLS matches for TFC. “I really feel for the fans.”
The wheels are still in motion, meanwhile, for a big front office change in Houston. Here’s the latest word from the Bayou City about a potential ownership change.
Let’s head West to LA, where the reviews are in for Swedish trialist Christian Wilhelmsson. He suited up for the Galaxy reserves on Tuesday and played roughly an hour, and proved he could be a worthwhile addition on the wing for LA.
“For him, it's about getting minutes and utilizing this as an opportunity to advance ...,” reserve coach Curt Onalfo said. “I thought he created some things. He's a true wide player, so he got into situations that were good for our team. … You can tell he has a lot of qualities and he's a good and very clever wide player.”
There will be a new face in D.C. United camp soon, too, thanks in part to the team’s new ownership partner and Indonesian media magnate Erick Thohir. It looks like Indonesian midfielder Andik Vermansyah will get a look with the club during a training stint, beginning Sept. 10.
A familiar face is back on the field in Chicago, where captain Logan Pause continues to inch his way back to full health after suffering two broken ribs and a collapsed lung last month.
“If you would have asked me in the first week, I would have said there was no possible way I’d be back in three weeks with just the pain that I was in,” Pause said. “The last handful of days, I had done enough in training, and was confident enough that I could help. It was completely up to the staff whether they wanted to use me.”
One player who hasn’t quite lived up to his expectations yet, meanwhile, is Real Salt Lake youngster Justin Braun. RSL head coach Jason Kreis explained Tuesday just exactly why Braun is behind the curve at this point in his career, and NBC Sports’ Steve Davis retracted his assessment that Braun is Brian Ching in the making.
For all those still wondering about the effects of this season’s Scottish invasion up in Vancouver, here’s a look from the other side of the pond. Anthony Brown of the Edinburgh Evening News shoots down the ideas of those critical of national team striker Kenny Miller’s move to MLS.
“When it comes to the likes of Miller and Barry Robson – two players who have spent the bulk of their careers in the SPL and English Championship – the notion that they have somehow taken a step down in moving across the Atlantic is utterly ridiculous,” Brown writes. “If anything, they have bettered themselves. This league has levels of cash, support and quality which the impoverished SPL can only dream of.”
Here are two quick notes on former MLS personalities: former Chicago Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos is looking for a new job once again, and former Portland Timbers/Philadelphia Union forward Jorge Perlaza has found a new home.
And one quick note on a man some expected to join MLS someday. Looks like Alessandro Del Piero has other plans.
Three days and counting until the US national team takes on Jamaica on Friday in Kingston, and most of the recent talk in US camp has surrounded Clint Dempsey’s recent move from Fulham to Tottenham. Here’s one former Spurs star who says Dempsey should fit right in with the team’s fans.
The word on the Jamaica side involves head coach Theodore Whitmore, who’s been forced to explain his reasoning for leaving Birmingham City striker Marlon King out of the mix this time around.
"We all know that he is a good player, but I think we have to stop thinking about individuals and start thinking about the team,” Whitmore said. “We made a decision to leave him out and it was not personal. It was for the team and for the country."
Will King’s exclusion mean more time for Toronto FC striker Ryan Johnson? Pehaps, and the Reds star is thrilled about the chance. After all, he’s never wavered on his decision to play for the Reggae Boyz.
And last but not least, if you missed the comments from Vancouver Whitecaps winger Dane Richards on Monday, take another look. The MLS speedster is probably only part-kidding when he says that the strong smell of marijuana in the air at National Stadium at Independence Park might just be an advantage for the hosts.
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