The Clean Sheet: Draft into action
Talk about a harsh reality. D.C. United execs had about 37 minutes to celebrate the club's return to the top of American footie before it already had to finalize who may be exported to Salt Lake City or Planet LA's second team.
Yes, all 10 MLS teams had to submit their Expansion Draft protected lists at the beginning of the week, as on Friday the Chivas and RSL logos will become teams, as expansion folk like to say.
Looking over the list of unprotected players, there is plenty of talent to populate the expansion rosters, but of course much of the flair and stars for the new entries will come via some new signings and possibly some more deals down the road.
TCS can report, however, there has already been some controversy when on Monday evening, the Chicago Fire tried to leave their entire roster unprotected. Can't say I blame them.
But as for Friday, there are plenty of guys I would take a shot at, plenty of young up-and-comers who may be ready for some more time, and plenty of battled-tested veterans who can still do their thing. So forgetting salaries, contract situations and the likes, here is my Unprotected Best XI, and I think it is a team that could hold its own against most MLS clubs (and of course give the Fire a good thrashing).
Goalkeeper: Tony Meola
Defenders: Ryan Nelsen, Ezra Hendrickson, Jeff Agoos
Midfielders: Andy Williams, Antonio de la Torre, Ronnie Ekelund, Oscar Pareja, Brian Kamler
Forwards: Dante Washington, Toni Nhleko
Subs: Henry Ring, Preki, Joey Franchino, Sergio Galvan Rey
OK, let's go through this briefly. Meola may be out of contract and coming off an injury, but he is still among the best in the league. I know Nelsen may be on his bike across the pond, but he would anchor this very adequate back three, which could do a job on any given Saturday.
The midfield is a combination of grit and talent, which could balance adequate wing play with a solid middle. Up front, Washington can still play in this league, and Nhleko gets the nod not because he wore the Dallas colors, but rather because we all know I love any player with a bigger belly than mine.
Off the bench, Ring is an All-Star starter, Preki may be worth the gamble, Franchino gives you some bottle and as for Galvan Rey ... if he truly is the King Of Goals, then after this past season he must be due for about 67 of them next year.
One name you did not see on this list was Jason Kreis, who was dealt this week from FC Dallas to Real Salt Lake. I just want to take a second to tip my cap to the soul of the Dallas Burn and thank him for his many years of service. I hope coach John Ellinger gives him the opportunity he wants, and Major League Soccer's all-time top sniper keeps banging in goals ... well except for a certain few games every year.
THE NEWS: The Yanks and Reggae Boyz draw 1-1 at Crew Stadium.
TCS SAYS: For everyone who doesn't think that the early rounds of CONCACAF qualifying are serious business, why don't you hop a plane to Kingston and see how everyone down there is feeling today?
As shocking as it may seem, the Reggae Boyz are not even advancing to the final round of the regional qualifying. Instead, scrappy Panama is a few more gritty performances and lucky bounces away from tasting the schnitzel in 2006.
Did anyone else have a little déjà vu all over again watching bordering-on-lethargic Jamaica late in the match on Wednesday night? I could have sworn I was back at The Home Depot Center on Sunday watching Kansas City wait for a goal to fall from the sky, despite desperately needing one against a 10-man opposition.
From the Yanks' perspective, it was a mildly interesting evening at best. Always nice to see some fresh faces, including yet another strike from 2005 MLS Golden Boot winner Eddie Johnson.
THE NEWS: According to an article on MLSnet.com, Wizards assistant coach Brian Bliss is interested in the coaching vacancy with Mile High Club.
TCS SAYS: This hire would make a lot of sense for many reasons, so I'd keep an eye on this one. The Rapids could do much, much worse.
THE NEWS: Hear the (true) story that the chairman of a team from Moldova got so ticked after a penalty was called against his team that he drove his car onto the field and tried to run over the ref?
TCS SAYS: Funny, I wondered what Dema was doing in The Home Depot Center parking lot a few minutes after his red card on Sunday ...
The Clean Sheet runs each Thursday on MLSnet.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com. Send any questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.