MLS Rumors Watch

A while back, I floated the idea of tracking MLS Rumors’ record for reliability – e.g. I’d check the rumors they report against the number of them that come true. With the off-season doing a number on me – as in, holy shit, something better happen or I better start mainlining trucker speed – I figure I’ll take up this project.

That said, I want one thing to be absolutely clear: I’m not doing this out of animosity to MLS Rumors; frankly, I love the site to death and never ever want it to go away.  How much do I like it?  If they emailed me and asked me not to track their reliability, I’d do it.  Bottom line: this has everything to do with curiosity…and killing time. The real question is how I’ll manage it on the days they run posts containing several rumors (e.g. this could die when I get…when I….what? Can’t recall what I was talking about…something about distraction?)

So, the reliability watch starts….now…or, rather, today with their latest report: John Spencer is new coach for the Chicago Fire.

We’ll see how that one pans out.

To the Superdraft! …and better days ahead…

Like Laurie over on the LA Galaxy Offside, I really, really want to dig into whole upcoming Superdraft explosion, but….well, here I am some considerable yet unknown number of days after Buzz Carrick posted the first of his Superdraft scouting series for ESPN (goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders; forwards are pending) and I’ve still got nuthin’. With all the little links poised on my little on-screen post-it I figure it’s time to just bang out something or those things will wait till my computer goes obsolete several times over.

Now, in real terms, if you want to get smart, read Buzz’s stuff. I have only one thing to add to that data-dump: a half-baked stew of loosey-goosey research with a dash of, possibly, dodgy memory. Here goes:

If I’m not mistaken, most people viewed the 2007 Superdraft class as a little underwhelming, at least up until and immediately after the selections; that’s the memory piece. The research component came with looking over the 2007 draft – still helpfully hanging around MLSnet.com – and here’s what strikes me: some steady starters came out of the top 10, guys like Maurice Edu, Wells Thompson, and Michael Harrington. Keep traveling down the list and the names – Robbie Findley, Ty Harden, Corrie Ashe – keep coming. Hell, you can go all the way to #48 and you’ll still see a player who hung something on the right side of tough in the Rookie of the Year polling: Adam Cristman. Dane Richards, one of the hottest players of 2007, came out of this bunch.

Assuming I’m remembering the pre- and post-Superdraft chatter correctly, all those players came out of Superdraft that was widely regarded as weak. Still, 20 of the 52 players listed picked up some minutes and, at a minimum, 14 played major minutes for their new clubs. And, if I’m correctly recalling the chatter heading into the 2008 Superdraft, the smart set views this as a stronger class; Carrick certainly speaks well of the draft pool for defenders, even if he’s less jazzed about the options at midfield and at ‘keeper; maybe the forwards will be super-hot…I don’t know these things.

So, what am I saying? Get excited, people! The fresh blood smells sweet! Woo-hoo! Woo! Woo. Woo…um…

The problem is, that isn’t working for me. I just think I’m more visual, that I have to see a player before I know what to think about them. In other words, I need games – real ones, ideally, but it takes a stupid beggar to spite a penny. I expect the off-season funk will continue till March. Yeah, March. Things will look better in the lamb/lion season, when those pre-season friendlies and tournaments get started. Then I’ll know what to make of some of the new kids who come through the draft. Ah, who knows…maybe I’ll find some solace in February.

EPL Daily 1.9: Yanks transfer news hits the other side of the pond…

BRAD GUZAN: Brad Guzan’s transfer speculaton hit SkySports for the first time adding credibility from both sides of the pond to his potential suitors. Celtic is the most recently named party interested in the shotstopper, while we have all heard the rumors involving Arsenal. Some other suitors include Liverpool, Auxerre, and Greek champions Olympiakos. In terms of playing time, Guzan’s best bet would be at Auxerre where 26-year old Olivier Sorin mans the net. They have Lyon-product Remy Riou as back-up, but neither have impressed much as Auxerre has sputtered to 15th place. Liverpool and Arsenal would be a grooming back-up role, as would Celtic. The difference with the Hoops, however, is that Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc has recently signed a new deal with a reported “get-out” clause in which if a suitor comes along and gives the right price (number set in the contract), Boruc would move on. Guzan could go in, learn under the wing of Boruc, and wait for his exit someday soon. Olympiakos could be an ideal place as well as age is what will wipe out the two top goalkeepers there now – Antonios Nikopolidis (36) and Tomislav Butina (33). The real question is: if Guzan leaves, what happens at Chivas?

TWELLMAN: Though Preston North End isn’t the EPL, a Twellman bid is something every American fan wants to hear about. PNE would be a fantastic place for Twellman to restart his European career, but the bid was already rebuffed according to Mike Burns. SkySports caught wind of it and placed the transfer fee at $1.5 million.

JOHNSON: Soccer365 has gotten us all confused now. What is different at Derby County (other than a record MLS transfer fee) now that Eddie Johnson would even consider a move to Derby? All things considered, a lot has happened since this article (1/4/2008) was published. Manager Paul Jewell brought in Argentinian striker Emmanuel Villa for $4 million making it unlikely for EJ’s destination to be Derby. There are others interested out there though……..

MOMO SISSOKO: Ever since Javier Mascherano came to Anfield, the big defensive midfielder from Mali hasn’t had the best of times. Raw talent left unused, however, never goes unnoticed as many of the top European clubs watched Momo has he grew not unhappy, but underappreciated, with the Reds. The problem with Liverpool is Mascherano is a question mark in his own right with his contract status pending, so expect Benitez to beg for Sissoko to stick around a little bit longer. Unhappy though? Enter Juventus…

CARLING CUP: Chelsea 2, Everton 1

Everton went down 1-0 early to a Shaun Wright-Phillips 26th minute finish, but all hopes were revived when Jon Obi Mikel unleashed a ridiculous studs-up tackle on Phil Neville which had him sent to the showers. Chelsea was left to survive 40 minutes a man down. Kind of funny isn’t it? – Chelsea fights to keep Mikel around for at least one more game heading into the African Nations Cup and the Nigerian gets himself sent off, offering no help at all. The Blues paid for it as Yakubu fired home a shot, upper-90 after a scrum in the penalty box with about 15 minutes to go. Then it happened…a goofy cross in injury time left Shaun Wright-Phillips unevenly matched in an aerial battle against the big Joleon Lescott. SWP jumped in full-force forcing Lescott in cringe, close his eyes, and head the ball into his own net. A 1-0 win will do it back at Goodison Park, but Everton will be without their rock in the back, Joseph Yobo. Chelsea will be hurting as well, but in terms of depth, one can never bet against the Blues.

Today’s Carling Cup Semifinal – Arsenal v. Tottenham (expect a young Arsenal squad to take the pitch against the Spurs)