Kick Off: Toronto clean house as coaching carousel spins
New Toronto FC president Kevin Payne certainly didn't wait until March to start on his spring cleaning.
Payne cleared out most of BMO Field's cobwebs on a wild Monday in Ontario. Paul Mariner was dismissed. Also, technical manager Bob de Klerk parted ways by mutual consent. And finally Queens Park Rangers and former D.C. United center back Ryan Nelsen was brought over from England to be the next head coach of the Reds. The 35-year-old has no coaching experience, but that doesn't seem to be a huge concern as TFC aim for their first-ever playoff appearance.
Not everyone is happy about the news, though. Some people are clamoring for Nelsen to extend his playing career.
Meanwhile, Montreal won't be happy to see their rivals steal their thunder. Before TFC's shuffling established itself as the story of the day, the Impact announced the hiring of Marco Schällibaum as the club's second-ever head coach.
Little is known about the Swiss tactician on these shores, but check out an interview with Sportsnet.ca and Goal.com Canada reporter Nick Sabetti on ExtraTime Radio podcast for insight. Sabetti says expectations will be absolute for Schällibaum: playoffs or bust. All in all, the hire is pretty big gamble by the Impact, according to TSN's Luke Wileman.
On the other side of the continent, the Frank Lampard-to-LA rumors simply refuse to die down. ESPN's Jeff Carlisle reports that the two sides are talking, but that the Galaxy still must beat out a list of similar high-profile suitors.
One player who won't be making a big-money move to MLS is out-of-contract winger Ricardo Quaresma, who was snapped up by Dubai side Al Ahli on Monday.
Kenny Miller is on the books in Vancouver, but he's talking about a potential return to Glasgow this offseason. That's not going to happen, according to the Whitecaps. “As far as we’re concerned, no one has ever spoken to us about that so we just carry on as is,” President Bob Lenarduzzi said. “He has told [Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie] he’s looking forward to coming back, getting a full preseason in and proving that he’s capable.”
Indiana University's Eriq Zavaleta will be on the road to proving himself with an MLS side in a few weeks as well. The College Cup winner became the fifth player to join the 2013 Generation adidas class on Monday. Five other college seniors also inked deals with the league. See who put pen to paper.
D.C. United's Andy Najar took a different route to MLS, signing as a Homegrown player, but he may be close to taking the traditional route overseas. Najar has been training with Belgian giants Anderlecht this offseason, and will now join the side on loan for the month of January.
Fellow US national team prospect Mix Diskerud could also be close to making Rosneborg a permanent home.
Former Toronto FC and FC Dallas man Julian de Guzman is in a similar position. We know the Canadian midfielder is at least training with Mallorca. However, one report says he's already signed.
No such uncertainty for Sounders' goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. He's been welcomed into the Seattle family with open arms despite replacing a legend in Kasey Keller.
Gspurning and the rest of MLS will find out their full slate of 2013 games on Wednesday. Find out what time you'll need to be ready to scour the web for your team's 34-game schedule.
More than 1,500 people showed up to Soccer Night in Newtown on Monday evening, giving those dealing with with aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary a nice, soccer-filled reprieve. It was an emotional night, one that really hit home for Sandy Hook, Conn., native Marcus Tracy. "Newtown is and always has been a soccer town," the San Jose Earthquakes striker said. "It's great to see the response of the US soccer community. And it's important to see people out here, getting the young kids out here and show them a good time again. Sort of restore that sense of normalcy and see them smile and run around and laugh."
ESPN's Bob Ley was master of ceremonies and should also be heavily involved when the US national team travels to Mexico City for World Cup qualifying. The network has reportedly won the broadcast rights to that game.
Monday was a big day for the US women's national team, as Abby Wambach was honored by FIFA as the Women's Player of the Year and Pia Sundhage took home the coaching honors on the women's side then sang her speech.
Finally, check out two stories that prove soccer is much more than a game. The first comes via the BBC, who put together this video about one of the true pioneers in world sport, Arthur Wharton, the man many believe is Jackie Robinson's equivalent from an English perspective.
Then soak up the passion surrounding what may be the biggest rivalry game in the Persian Gulf: Iraq-Kuwait. On Saturday, the sporting, and often political rivals, meet again.
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