Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. DALLAS INTERNATIONAL
David Ferreira’s option was not picked up by FC Dallas following the end of last season. Tough luck for anyone hoping the 2010 MVP might still come back to Dallas or sign with another MLS club, as the former FCD captain signed with Independiente de Santa Fe in his native Colombia. FC Dallas are currently in the United Arab Emirates on a preseason trip that they hope will build long-lasting relationships.
2. EXPANSION EXEMPTIONS
Following David Beckham’s announcement in Miami last week, there are now three new sides at various stages of development waiting to enter Major League Soccer. However, how many of these teams currently meet what many consider the MLS entry criteria? One of those requirements is a stadium and, with two teams heading to Florida, those future venues could one day host MLS All-Star Games, although there are a couple of issues to address first.
3. DONOVAN DROPPING DEEPER
Following the LA Galaxy’s new striker signings, Landon Donovan sees his role at the club changing: “When you look at some of the qualities we have on our team, you would expect that I would play at midfield to some extent.” Staying with the Galaxy, Robbie Rogers' plans for a brighter 2014 suffered a small setback after the midfielder pick up a knock in training.
4. DO YOU BELIEVE?
“They have the qualities, but do they have the belief?” That was Jurgen Klinsmann talking about the players at his disposal for this summer and why so few of them make it on the biggest stages in Europe. Klinsmann believes it will take a strong World Cup to change the outside perception of US players, but one player almost certainly out of the running for a place in that squad is Timmy Chandler after the right back was ruled out for 8-10 weeks.
5. RED BULL READY
The New York Red Bulls will take a break midway through their preseason trip to Florida to return to NYC. Why? Drawing on preseason experiences from his own playing days, head coach Mike Petke believes, “It becomes counterproductive. So we didn’t want that. It’s very much by design. We’re hoping we see results because of it.” With the first week of training in the books, what has Petke made of the clubs new Spanish defender?
6. PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER
D.C. United added a new Spanish defender of their own on Friday, signing 28-year-old left back Cristian Fernández on a free transfer. With that defensive signing taken care of, the most pressing question for D.C. United now becomes how best to utilize all their attacking elements. Also, for anyone who was unduly worried, owner Erick Thohir has publicly denied that he plans to sell his shares in the club to help cover the debts accrued by his other club, Inter Milan.
7. ANOTHER BIG SIGNING FOR TFC?
There could be another big name heading to Toronto FC this season as Brazilian international goalkeeper Júlio César is reportedly considering a loan move to the club. In other TFC news, with the club bringing in three new Designated Players, it seems Matías Laba will almost certainly end up with a different club, most likely on loan, come roster deadline day.
8. LEIWEKE HITS BACK
Toronto FC’s big spending hasn’t been a hit with everyone and following criticism last week from Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, Tim Leiweke hit back: “Everybody has their own marketplace… This is about our business and our marketplace. We knew people were going to shoot at us.” Leiweke also offered some comments on comparisons between Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu.
9. KREIS ON LATEST BUILDING PROJECT
New York City FC aren’t set to begin life in MLS until 2015, but construction of the team is already well underway and head coach Jason Kreis sat down with Manchester City's official website to discuss how that journey is progressing. Among the many interesting things Kreis reveals is the fact that NYCFC could potentially announce their first player signing this summer.
10. WHITECAPS PLAYERS LOOKING FORWARD
With Camilo gone and Kenny Miller not yet fit, Erik Hurtado is looking to stake his claim as one of the Vancouver Whitecaps' starting strikers, and he’s certainly making a good impression so far. Meanwhile, the club's new right back Steven Beitashour believes that regular playing time can help him secure a place in Iran’s World Cup squad this summer.
11. GETTING DEFENSIVE
Alessandro Nesta is lost to retirement, and with no significant reinforcements signed so far, there is an argument that Montreal's defense is currently its weakest element. However, one thing the Impact can count on is the work rate of midfielder Justin Mapp, now entering his 13th season in MLS. Will Valencia’s Pablo Piatti be joining him in the middle of the park? Not according to a statement from the club.
12. JOINING THE UNION
The Philadelphia Union hired Mike Sorber as a new assistant coach. Sorber joins the Union after serving in the same role for the Montreal Impact in 2012 and the US national team in 2010, alongside Union head coach John Hackworth. Could the club be eyeing a new addition to their playing staff as well?
13. BEHOLDING BRADENTON
With the preseason now well under way, a number of teams are down at the IMG academy in Bradenton, Fla., for games and training. Bradenton is making a push to be a long-term partner of MLS, serving as an official preseason hub and, despite the occassional fog, the venue and environment certainly seems to have been appreciated by the players and fans in attendance.
14. PRESEASON PROGRESS
There was also plenty of preseason action over the weekend, including an entertaining Cascadia victory for the Seattle Sounders against the Vancouver Whitecaps. You can catch up with all the action from Saturday and Sunday right here.
15. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
After a stellar 2012, Chris Wondolowski was named MLS MVP and rewarded for his hard work with a Designated Player contract. It's true that 2013 wasn't quite as kind, but the striker still managed to score 11 goals while playing most of the year with a broken foot. With Wondolowski still very much in the hunt for a place in Klinsmann’s World Cup squad, the forward has come a long, long way from his days in the NPSL.
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