Kick Off: Camps open with Red Bulls still on coaching hunt
The Red Bulls began preseason as the only club in Major League Soccer without a coach. That doesn't appear to worry New York sporting director Andy Roxburgh, even if portions of the fanbase are beginning to wring their hands.
As the club opened training camp, Roxburgh wasted no time addressing the situation at the top in New York, refusing to comment on rumored targets Gary McAllister and Paulo Sousa, but saying the Red Bulls will focus on having a backroom staff with MLS experience.
“I want to address the obvious things. We’re talking to a number of people, a lot with really interesting backgrounds, but we’re still in discussions. We appreciate the fans’ patience, but we don’t want to rush to judgment. There will be an announcement soon. We ask that you be patient just a little bit longer. We want to make sure it’s someone who’s available and who’s appropriate.”
Even if an announcement isn't on the docket for Tuesday, Roxburgh and his staff will still have their hands full trying to identify a few gems in the Supplemental Draft (2 pm ET, live stream and tracker on MLSsoccer.com). After making just one pick in last Thursday's 2013 MLS SuperDraft, New York has six picks, including No. 1 overall.
"We're in a good position," iterim coach Mike Petke said on Monday. "There were a handful of players that we had our eye on. We were a bit surprised they made it through."
Across the country, the Galaxy are prepping for the Supplemental Draft with the knowledge that Landon Donovan will be back in the fold for 2013. The question now is when, something LA head coach Bruce Arena said is still unknown.
“We've given him a little bit more time out,” Arena said. “He's definitely playing this year, we're just working out the return date that makes sense for all of us. ... He just needs a little bit more time.”
Other than the departure of David Beckham, LA's title-winning squad remains intact -- significantly reinforced, in fact -- as high-profile departures make headlines across the league.
Rumors are flying that FC Dallas' Brek Shea could be the latest former MLSer on his way to Stoke City. See where Shea would stack up among the league's recent departures if the EPL club can convince FCD to part with their prized asset. Plus, who will make up the next crop of stars? After all, the league already has plenty of alumni already plying their trade in Europe.
Things aren't going quite as well for another promising young player who had a disappointing 2012, as it appears Freddy Adu has encountered another dead end. For now, Adu is under contract with the Union, but manager John Hackworth said the club is actively shopping the 23-year-old midfielder and hope to complete a deal in the current transfer window.
“Basically what happened was we presented Freddy with a couple of scenarios that we would feel comfortable with bringing him back,” Hackworth told reporters following the team’s open training session Monday. “Freddy came back and said, ‘Hey I’m going to stick with my current situation and play under the current [contract].’
"We made it very clear that was his choice and he has that option. He’s under contract with us. But if he made that choice, then he wasn’t going to be coming back as part of the team.”
Barry Robson is out in Vancouver as well, headed back home after an up-and-down 18 games for the Whitecaps.
Club president Bob Lenarduzzi said Robson floated the idea of returning to Scotland during his season-ending meeting, apparently because of the difficulty his family had settling in British Columbia. Meanwhile, another critical piece from the 2012 season may be on the way out of BC as well.
With Fredy Montero's year-long loan move to Millonarios, it was a matter of when not if. On Monday, the Sounders finally made it official, also announcing Montero had signed a multi-year deal with the club.
Pavel Pardo's career is over, but he already has the next move in mind -- it just won't be with the Chicago Fire. In a radio interview, Pardo said the club offered him a position to stay, but he declined to spend more time with his family. (SPANISH)
Of course, departures may have gotten the headlines, but there were some notable arrivals as well. Caleb Porter's team will certainly have a different look from the one John Spencer fielded to start 2012.
With camps in full swing, the transfer window just 24 hours old and draft picks ready to prove their worth on training pitches, you can bet all 19 rosters will undergo some significant transformation as we build up to the 2013 season.
Predictably, Houston and San Jose are trying to find a way over the hump after banner seasons -- but still ones that ended without a Cup. Houston is staying low key, simply eyeing a postseason return, while San Jose is targeting specifically MLS Cup.
Meanwhile, numbers are short in Columbus as the Crew gather to begin their quest for a playoff return. Montreal are also aiming to be one of five postseason teams -- their manager's job may depend on it -- and named Davy Arnaud captain for the second straight year to lead the charge.
Over in New England, head coach Jay Heaps believes the team culture is set. Now, it's just about finding a way to get results with a roster that's seen a host of improvements. Colorado has undergone some upheaval as well, and they're certainly younger for it. Whether they'll be better remains to be seen.
Every single team did their due diligance at the MLS Combine. Go behind the scenes with Grantland to see what it's really like down in Fort Lauderdale.
Finally, here's an interesting look at MLS' improved television ratings in 2012 and what could be done to continue the upward trend in 2013.
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