The top 11 questions heading into this weekend…
11) European soccer wouldn’t really switch to an MLS-style calendar … would it?
He might be just one bigwig among the many at the top of the European club game, but when Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rumenigge speaks, people listen. And this week he was talking about the potential for UEFA leagues to switch to a spring-fall schedule similar to MLS’ in order to take better advantage of summer weather. It looks like a long shot for now, but this topic is one to watch in the years ahead.
10) Can David Beckham go out with a bang in Paris?
Just when it seemed that Goldenballs had faded out of the limelight with his search for a new team dragging on, the former Galaxy midfielder popped up at uber-wealthy French club Paris Saint-Germain, signing a short-term deal whose wages he will donate to a local children’s charity. At 37, he instantly becomes the oldest non-goalkeeper in Ligue 1, though he’ll prefer to focus on the opportunity it gives him to take part in the UEFA Champions League – assuming he can earn playing time.
9) Just how high is Andy Najar’s ceiling?
The international transfer window closed yesterday amid a flurry of MLS standouts completing moves overseas. Even if the departure of D.C. United’s Homegrown teenager to RSC Anderlecht didn’t draw quite as much hype as the deals in England, his youth, immense potential and encouraging start to life in Belgium suggest that he’ll be sparking much bigger headlines in the not-so-distant future. He might even take the field when his Honduran homeland hosts the US national team next week.
8) Is Brek Shea prepared for life as a Potter?
FC Dallas’ lanky winger was all smiles as the British media’s breathless “deadline day” coverage focused its lenses on him for a bit as he inked his deal with Stoke City FC, though the challenges awaiting him in the north of England may prove tougher than anything he’s grappled with in his topsy-turvy stint in Frisco. Can he find his feet under the uncompromising gaze of Potters honcho Tony Pulis?
7) What’s the next twist in the tangled Toronto FC tale?
Say what you will about the Reds, but they’ve kept it interesting thus far this preseason. New head coach Ryan Nelsen took the job without knowing when he’d actually be able to start (thankfully for his team, it turned out to be fairly soon), goalkeeper Stefan Frei is already calling for “ugly” but effective play to end their long history of underachievement and club president Kevin Payne just lambasted members of the squad for reporting to preseason camp unfit.
6) Which MLS men will Jurgen Klinsmann call in for the USA’s crucial trip to Honduras?
The USMNT’s “B team” wasn’t particularly dazzling against Canada on Tuesday and several European-based regulars are struggling with injury concerns ahead of next Wednesday’s Hexagonal curtain-raiser against Los Catrachos. So Klinsmann needs to get it right as he picks the roster for this dicey visit to perhaps the most dangerous destination in the world.
5) And can the injury-troubled Yanks withstand the slings and arrows awaiting them in San Pedro Sula?
Meticulous security procedures will insulate the Yanks from Honduras’ mean streets. But history says they should expect the Central Americans to roll out every bit of gamesmanship at their disposal both on and off the field, from late-night hotel harassment to unrestrained hostility and questionable sportsmanship at Estadio Olimpico. Unlike the Canada game, a dour draw will be plenty acceptable.
4) Is Dwayne De Rosario back to his breathtaking best?
Kudos are due to the Canucks for their smart, organized blunting of the USMNT in Houston. In fact, their shortage of possession didn’t keep them from looking just as likely to score as their hosts, due in large part to DeRo’s canny performance in a lone striker’s role. D.C. United’s danger man showed little signs of the knee injury that kept him out of last season’s stretch run, which is welcome news for Black-and-Red fans.
3) Which MLS midfield, if any, will find space for Nigel Reo-Coker?
This week the Englishman (at right, in white) was heavily linked to the New York Red Bulls specifically, and MLS in general, and while nothing official has transpired as yet, his free agent status means he could still make a move between now and the league roster deadline this spring. While some would say the 28-year-old is past his prime, don’t forget that Reo-Coker is a former England youth international who reportedly once cost Aston Villa £8.5 million.
2) Does Sigi Schmid need to find fresh bodies for his shorthanded backline?
Patrick Ianni’s freakish foot injury has trimmed the Sounders’ defensive options for the next month or two, and Schmid may have to decide between throwing recent SuperDraft pick Eriq Zavaleta in at the deep end, or reeling in reinforcements. Veteran German international Christoph Metzelder has stated that Seattle reached out to him, but he’s not a free agent until early summer.
1) Have you started planning your MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager roster yet?
Season openers are just one month away, so it’s not soon to begin plotting your path to fantasy domination in the new season. MLSsoccer.com has already laid out some newcomers with rich FSM potential and lots more coverage will roll out in the coming weeks.