Kick Off: MLS Commissioner Don Garber hits YouTube & Dwayne De Rosario in hot water
MLS Commissioner Don Garber will make his now-traditional preseason address on Wednesday evening in New York, but not in any traditional way. Garber's "March to Soccer" address will take place at Google's New York City office and be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com and You Tube at 6 pm ET. After his remarks, he'll take questions from the media via a Hangout, a.k.a. a video conference. Let's hope the world's soccer reporters get out of their sweat pants.
After that, it's on to the action on the field. Or off. It seems D.C. United could be forced to play without former league MVP Dwayne De Rosario when the regular season opens on Saturday, if the Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee decides to extend its reach into altercations during preseason matches.
De Rosario was sent off during a preseason game last weekend following an alleged head butt to the Philadelphia Union’s Danny Cruz, and D.C. officials told media on Tuesday that they’re awaiting word if MLS will shelve the 2011 MVP for the club’s opener on Saturday in Houston.
De Rosario did not address the alleged head butt directly on Tuesday, and there’s reportedly no video of the incident because the game was not streamed by either D.C. or the Union.
“It was a scuffle,” De Rosario said. “It was what it was. There was a lot of pushing going on. It was one of those unfortunate things.”
The big news on the West Coast this morning revolves around Seattle Sounders defender March Burch, who spoke to the media for the first time on Tuesday about an ugly incident in the playoffs last fall when he used a homophobic slur and was promptly issued a three-game suspension by the league. Burch, who will serve the final game of the suspension in the season opener on Saturday against Montreal, said the incident will “always be in the back of my mind,” but that despite his incident, Major League Soccer is ready for an openly gay player.
"I think we'll be the first league to definitely accept it," he said. "I think it will come and go a lot easier than people think. ... It's going to happen."
Down in San Jose fans are still buzzing about a brand new deal for Chris Wondolowski that made him the second Designated Player in franchise history. Wondo was quick to praise the work of American players who have found success in the league while some other, higher-paid players have floundered.
"These are the players who are making it and proving themselves," he said of American stars in MLS. "Sometimes they've been too quick giving foreign players DP money that aren't accustomed to the league and it doesn't quite work out."
Wondolowski shared the headlines on Tuesday with outgoing Toronto FC defender Torsten Frings, who announced his retirement after an 18-year career, citing injury concerns. Frings told the media in Toronto that the hip injury he suffered last year was too much to bear. “I want to be fit, not limping … my whole life. And it’s not fair for TFC. I just want to help the club, and if I’m not 100 percent, I can’t help the club anymore,” he said.
There are reports in Toronto, meanwhile, that the club has signed three new players ahead of their season opener on Saturday in Vancouver, most notably former England U-20 international Hogan Ephraim, who played with TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen at Queens Park Rangers.
Chivas USA announced two signings of their own on Tuesday – they’ve added center back Joaquín Velázquez and left back Wálter Vílchez. Both have played in the Mexican First Division, and Velázquez played under Chivas head coach José Luis Sánchez Solá with Puebla.
The Portland Timbers are eager to see recent signing Mikaël Silvestre make his debut in the team’s season opener Sunday against New York. Silvestre is expected to arrive in the Rose City later this week after the recent approval of his visa.
The news might not be so good up in Vancouver, where veteran center back Jay DeMerit is a question mark ahead of the team’s match against Toronto. He’s battled Achilles tendonitis much of the preseason.
No such concerns for New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry, who told the media this week that he expects to play out his existing contract with the club and will think about retirement only after the contract ends in 2015.
Here’s some interesting news from Columbus, where Crew president Mark McCullers is the subject of a telling piece in the Columbus Dispatch, and he’s talking about the potential for a new naming-rights deal for Crew Stadium:
“There’s one company that is in serious analysis mode,” McCullers says. “We’ve gone from tire-kicking to presentation to evaluation on their part. There’s still some other tire-kicking going on, so it’s much more activity and there’s a better level of activity recently.”
Speaking of candid interviews, Seattle Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer spoke at length on Tuesday about the club’s pursuit of Obafemi Martins and the increased urgency to win MLS Cup in 2013:
"It’s not like we’ve come out and stated that all of a sudden Open Cup isn’t important, Champions League isn’t important, but it does feel like the team has come together and put a pretty big bullseye on MLS Cup,” Hanauer says. “I think getting that next bite last year, sort of getting over the hump against (Real Salt Lake) and then falling short against L.A. has redoubled our emphasis and efforts towards that goal.”
On to international action, where American exports enjoyed a busy and successful day on Tuesday that rivaled most in recent memory. There was perhaps no bigger story than the next positive step taken for Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden, who played 66 minutes off the bench against Peterborough United, marking his longest performance and first league game appearance in 21 months.
Americans Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona also got in on the action during Tijuana’s decisive 4-0 win over Bolivian side San José, with each player scoring a goal in the club’s Copa Libertadores romp. Check out Castillo’s goal here, and here’s the finish from Corona.
Speaking of Americans in Mexico, the US U-20s enjoyed a successful evening in Puebla, with the US knocking off Canada 4-2 in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship quarterfinals to clinch a berth in this summer’s U-20 World Cup. LA Galaxy youngster Jose Villarreal scored two goals to lead the way, while RSL's Luis Gil and Columbus's Wil Trapp also found the back of the net.
Two good long reads today: a great piece in The New York Times about Kei Kamara’s switch to Norwich City, and a look at former Chivas USA stalwart Carlos Llamosa, who talks about narrowly escaping the World Trade Center bombings of 1993 because he went out to lunch.
Two quick bits about former MLS players: Expect to see David Beckham make his first start for Paris Saint-Germain in the club’s Cup de France Round of 16 match against Marseille on Wednesday, and Portland Timbers fans wondering what happened to Kris Boyd can find him suiting up for St. Mirren in Scotland on Wednesday.
Starving for more info about the proposed stadium in Orlando? Of course you are! Check out an inside look at the plans for the new digs down in Central Florida.
On to MLS Jersey Week, which saw two more clubs release new editions of kits on Tuesday. The rave reviews are pouring in for the new Philadelphia Union kit, and there’s some subtle but patriotic differences to the brand new look for Toronto FC.
A note on the Colorado Rapids jerseys that were released earlier this week: There was a bit of a fashion show on the slopes of Breckenridge, with photos to prove it.
And finally, take your pick of the most memorable headline of the day: Mario Balotelli commissioning a life-sized statue of himself for his home, an indoor soccer player confronting a fan in the stands in Chicago, or the Sons of Ben as the subjects of a documentary film in the making.
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