Kick Off: All the comings and goings on a busy day of MLS transactions
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. SUCCESSFUL RE-ENTRY
Stage 1 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft took place on Thursday, and delivered more surprises than ever before in its short history. The list of available players dropped from 68 to 57 before the draft began as more players chose to opt out in the hopes of renegotiating contracts with their clubs but, of those that remained, five were selected by clubs, a new record for the first round. The second round is set for Wednesday, Dec. 18.
2. HOW I WORK
Of those five, Steve Zakuani moving from the Seattle Sounders to his Cascadia rivals in Portland may have been the biggest story of the day. The Timbers had to trade promising defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste in exchange for the second pick in the draft and and Jorge Villafaña so that Zakuani could be reunited with his former Akron boss Caleb Porter and Zips teammate Darlington Nagbe. Porter had apparently been keen on Zakuani for a while, but the move was made even more imperative due to the news that Rodney Wallace will miss a large portion of the 2014 season after undergoing surgery on a torn ACL.
3. A SHIFT IN SEATTLE
The Sounders have lost Zakuani and Mauro Rosales in the past few days -- as well as Marc Burch to the Colorado Rapids -- but on Thursday they picked up a valuable center back addition in the form of Chad Marshall from the Columbus Crew in exchange for allocation money and a third-round SuperDraft pick in 2015. All of which points towards the Seattle Sounders looking quite different in 2014, especially when you consider that only five players remain with the team from its inaugural season.
4. UNITED IN DEFENSE
D.C. United took steps to address their troubling defensive issues on Thursday by taking two proven defenders in the Re-Entry Draft: Sean Franklin and Bobby Boswell. With United already looking stronger for 2014, the club now turns its attention to striking options and is apparently confident it can bring Conor Doyle over on a permanent deal.
5. OTHER MOVES
While the Crew lost Marshall to the Sounders -- a move Crew boss Gregg Berhalter described as financially motivated -- they did bring in Daniel Paladini from the Chicago Fire in exchange for a fourth-round SuperDraft pick. The Colorado Rapids, meanwhile, could add a former player to their coaching staff.
6. INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
The New York Red Bulls were not active in the Re-Entry Draft, but did chose to re-sign forward Andre Akpan. The club has also committed $2 million in order to build a new training facility for its academy and, possibly, a third-division outfit as well. The Red Bulls might be in need of a new left back soon though, as it seems Roy Miller could be on the move.
7. ALL-STAR OPPOSITION
MLS and the Portland Timbers on Thursday officially unveiled Bayern Munich as the opponents for the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game. With the announcement that the current European champions will be playing in Portland, it shines a spotlight on the city and its love of soccer. So, apart from the fact that they’re really good, what three things do you need to know about Bayern Munich?
8. BRADLEY TURNS DOWN 'CAPS
It appears the Vancouver Whitecaps are in still in search of a new head coach after word came down this week that former US and Egyptian national team coach Bob Bradley has turned down their offer to return to MLS. Bradley told The Province this: “At the end, I just felt that the next step needed to be Europe, but it was not easy.”
9. FOUR MORE YEARS
Speaking of the US national team, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Thursday that Jurgen Klinsmann has signed a four-year contract extension that will see him coach the USMNT up to and potentially including the 2018 World Cup in Russia. As part of the new contract, Klinsmann has also become U.S. Soccer’s technical director.
10. REIS’ PIECES
The news of Matt Reis’ retirement this week was almost immediately followed by the news that he would be returning home to Southern California to take up the role of goalkeeper coach with the LA Galaxy. Here's his take on eturning to LA, and when asked about the players he’ll be working with, he has nothing but praise for the Galaxy’s roster of ‘keepers.
11. UNDER THE KNIFE
The Timbers' Rodney Wallace isn’t the only one undergo surgery this week. The Montreal Impact’s Patrice Bernier has also gone under the knife, with successful knee surgery ruling the midfielder out for 4-6 weeks. It also looks like Real Salt Lake's Robbie Findley is also out of action for a while.
12. DASH TO THE FIELD
The Houston Dynamo’s ownership officially announced Thursday that they will be fielding a NWSL franchise in 2014. The Houston Dash will play at BBVA Compass Stadium as the first expansion franchise in the NWSL, and the second one owned and operated by an MLS club. It’s a move that Dynamo president Chris Canetti says is “going to make soccer stronger.” Now comes the process of finding a coach and a squad.
13. STADIUMS ALL THE RAGE
It seems that Minnesota really wants a downtown soccer stadium and the club is using Sporting Kansas City’s Sporting Park as the model example. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rowdies unveiled a new owner on Thursday who promises to help develop the team further while investing in the team's facilities.
14. AMERICANS ABROAD
Could more MLS and US players be on the move? According to the latest reports, Clint Dempsey is heading back to his former club, Fulham FC, this offseason. As is Colorado's Shane O’Neill, but is he training or on trial? And apparently West Brom are keeping an eye on Timmy Chandler. Here’s a roundup of others who are or have been overseas as well.
15. WHO ARE YOU REGISTERED WITH?
After helping to win the MLS Cup for Sporting Kansas City, how did SKC fans show their gratitude to hometown hero Matt Besler? With the defender set to get married on Saturday, fans got hold of the registry and have bought almost every single item on the list.