Rapids TSII: Waiting on Gomez…

I must thank Steve Goff for this.  As usual, I did nothing…except type.  And do some copying and pasting.  Oh, and I hit the little link icon.

Anyway, according to the latest from the Soccer Insider, the question of whether the Colorado Rapids get Christian Gomez is in the player’s hands.  What do I think?  Let’s just say, it couldn’t possibly hurt.

And DC United might do OK in the deal as well.

BONUS MATERIAL: I am five years old.  And the subtitle is brilliant.

Johnston: Thought Today Was Canada’s April Fool’s Day For a Second

So, I check MLS Rumors, as I often do, and there’s this story about Toronto FC’s Mo Johnston resigning from head coaching duties.

Down at the bottom of the post, there’s a link saying “Here’s confirmation.” That takes me to another blog, one I don’t know at all. So, I consider for a second that there may be a Canadian version of April Fool’s Day and the possibility that day could be today…or whatever the hell day it is across the International Dateline (it’s up there somewhere, right?).

Just as I’m trying to remember that, I check Google News and there it is, in the National Post. That paper, I’ve heard of (though I cannot, in fact, vouch for its quality).

So, it looks like Mo Johnston did indeed resign his head coaching position. But, as the article puts it, he’s “moving upstairs” to a manager/director of soccer role…from which, I am confident, he will make bat-shit crazy trades on a daily basis.

Whoops…and some dude of which I’ve never heard, John Carver, will take over as coach.

BONUS MATERIALS: For those having trouble suppressing unwholesome urges, help is available – on ebay, if I’m not mistaken.

Also, I took this “Hell Test” yesterday – as in, are you going – and scored on the (very) high side of normal (92).  If my memory of some events were better, that might have inched higher…not much, mind, but a little.

Crew TSII: And Then He Kicked ‘Em in the Nuts…

Weird day in Columbus. As of, let’s see, 7:07 a.m. the Columbus Crew had reached an agreement with Scotland’s Celtic FC on a transfer fee for Polish forward Maciej Zurawski. And there was some rejoicing, perhaps a little apprehension about spending so much money on one player, etc.

By 1:06 p.m. a post by the same reporter (the rough-and-ready and, lately, fairly busy Shawn Mithcell) on Covering the Crew found something on Celtic’s website saying that Zurawski is going to Greece, to some club named for a girl to be specific. Maybe Maciej got to talking with Cleetus…

Mitchell promised more information later (in the post, not to me; I don’t know the guy or anything), so we’ll learn more later – perhaps even that “Larissa” (the Greek club in question) was some kind of really bad typo for Columbus.

Getting back to the Columbus Dispatch’s report, there was something else in there I was going to flag, a passage on what a hairy pain-in-the-ass coming to America can be:

“But the negotiations are not strictly among clubs, players and their agents. Each step, to some degree, must be approved by the league office.

For what it’s worth, I think the part in bold is something that needs to change. With teams like the New England Revolution or the Houston Dynamo scrounging for players, it seems a little burdensome and a lot silly, that they have to hit up the league office to sign their 27B-6 on top of negotiating with players and their entourages. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Major League Soccer (MLS) has lost players to that in the past. And the way it diffuses responsibility to the point where players can’t be 100% who’s saying no to a move – as happened with Taylor Twellman (though he’s pretty sure where the buck stopped) – well, I don’t think that brings much comfort to players either.

I’m not saying that’s what happened here. I have no way of knowing as much, for starters. But, if I were a player looking to join a league and I saw the maze of hoops MLS puts in front of player movement, I’m pretty sure I’d hop to Greece too. I’m just saying. The pisser is, it doesn’t need to be this hard: have a salary cap, shift around draft and allocation picks to help with parity, and let the teams succeed or fail. People generally regard micro-managing as a bad thing for a reason.

Looks like the Crew and their fans may yet get to see how “Meet” George Josten and Ricardo Pierre-Louis work out after all…

UPDATE: Curiouser and curiouser…was Columbus ever the destination?  Sure as heck sounded like it.

EPL Window Shut – A Recap, Winners, Losers, Spenders…

Most EPL followers are sitting here bummed that there were no real high-profile moves in the January transfer window. No Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. No David Villa to Liverpool. Hell, Manchester United didn’t even make one single move. But why should they?

Somehow, $300 million were spent on new players by EPL clubs, breaking the previous January record set last year of $130 million. Most of the spending was done rather harmlessly. There was no $100 million spent by Chelsea (about $50 million) and ManYoo, Arsenal, and Liverpool kept themselves from overspending. Who are the big spenders, winners, and losers then?

TOP 5 TRANSFER WINNERS (January 2008)

1. TOTTENHAM – New boss, new money and a team that started the season dismally is now on its way up the ranks. Jonathan Woodgate was brought in from Middlesbrough for a believed $15 million, while right fullback Alan Hutton came from Rangers for $16 million. Young Chris Gunter arrived for $4 million early in January and has already made several appearances, while Gilberto (Hertha Berlin) was a truly ‘deadline’ deal. The long and short of it is that weaknesses were addressed. Gilberto, a strong Brazilian left back, will fill the gaps until Gareth Bale returns to health. Hutton could push Chimbonda into the middle or replace him all together. Both have the attacking prowess that suits Juande Ramos’ style of play too. Going out was a good amount of the dead weight that has only been hurting the wage bill as of late – Hossam Ghaly to Derby on loan, Paul Stalteri on loan to Fulham, the $25 million departure of Jermain Defoe to Portsmouth, underplayed winger Wayne Routledge to Aston Villa, and last but not least Anthony Gardner on loan to Everton. Spent – around $40 million.

2. CHELSEA – It’s too early to tell but the Blues seem to have gotten their man in Nicolas Anelka. $30 million was what it cost to pry him away from Reebok Stadium, but he has already shown – in 2 appearances – what kind of attention is drawn to him on field. If Anelka doesn’t work out, wait a year or two, and new $7 million striker Franco di Santo will gladly take his place. Highly coveted after the U-20 World Cup, this guy has a really promising future. On the defensive side, realizing their mistake with Tal Ben-Haim was the biggest reason Serbian Branoslav Ivanovic was brought in from Lokomotiv Moscow. Depth at defense is a big problem for Chelsea and Ivanovic (with the hope that the 23-year old will be Chelsea’s Nemanja Vidic) will help address that – more so with his versatility at right back, centreback, and in a defensive midfielder role. Spent – $48 million.

3. MANCHESTER CITY – Doing next to nothing was good for a City team that has become a bit erratic but generally has stuck to the course. A big coup for Sven’s men was the arrival of winger Nery Castillo from Shakhtar. Castillo gives them a viable winger option that will draw the pressure and attention away from Elano, whose form has dropped as he struggles to deal with the physical nature of the EPL. City then were in an inch away from grabbing Benjani from Portsmouth for about $24 million, but it fell through at the deadline. Instead, Felipe Caicedo – a 19-year old Ecuadorian from Basel in Switzerland – has come in to help replace the losses of wantaways Giorgios Samaras to Celtic and Rolando Bianchi on loan to Lazio. His prospects are huge as Juventus and AC Milan have both been tracking the youngster at Basel for the past several years. The price tag was a cool $10.5 million. Overall, two big upgrades for a rather tame price. Not bad on Eriksson’s part. Spent – around $15 million.

Biggest Busts

1. NEWCASTLE – Kevin Keegan promised high-profile, new faces. Magpie fans got Ben Tozer, Wesley Ngo Baheng, and Tomas Kadar. Heard of’em?

2. MIDDLESBROUGH – A great signing in Afonso Alves, but with it they might have brought themselves legal problems. Not to mention, WHY would you not address your biggest weakness…defense. Still Alves and Tuncay (as I’ve said before), can make something happen up front.

3. LIVERPOOL – Got a decent centerback in Slovakian Martin Skrtel (who debuted with an own goal), but they lost Momo Sissoko to Juventus and failed to sign Javier Mascherano permanently. All the while Ryan Babel has come out and said he’s not cut out for EPL style play. Recent form doesn’t help either. Hopefully, they can rebound but it looks like it’s a three way horse race for the title and Liverpool are once again left behind. Now the fans are hoping to oust Hicks and Gillett by pooling their money together and buying the club!

MOST ACTIVE

1. DERBY – Brought in no less than 7 players, none of which have helped the cause so far. Key arrivals – Hossam Ghaly from Tottenham, Emmanuel Villa from Tecos, Alan Stubbs from Everton, Mile Sterjovski from Gencerbiligi, Danny Mills from Man City, etc.

2. FULHAM – See a pattern? Cellar dwellars = most active, Fulham opted for 7 new players as well. Key arrivals – Eddie Johnson from the Kansas City Wizards, Brede Hangeland from Copenhagen, Leon Andreason from Werder Bremen, Toni Kallio from Young Boys, Jari Litmanen, Erik Nevland from Groningen, and Canadian Paul Stalteri on loan from Tottenham.

3. WIGAN ATHLETIC – I can’t see Wigan staying up, but there doing their damnedest to try. Three CONCACAF stars in Maynor Figueroa, Wilson Palacios (remember him from CD Olimpia vs. DC United?) and Marlon King have arrived. One on loan, one finally permanently, the other costing $10 million. Seasoned left back Erik Edman came in from Rennes and Norwegian Erik Hagen from Zenit St. Petersburg come in to shore up the defense. Lastly, young Ecuadorian Antonio Valencia arrives from Villareal and is a great grab by the Latics.

MLS Philly: It’s Much More than a Stadium

“It’s like the people from the Publishers Clearing House, and they’ve come down here and they say: ‘You know what? You just won half a billion dollars.’ I’m ready to put a shovel in the ground.

That’s Chester Mayor Wendell Butler’s intake on receiving the funding from the state that they needed to move one step closer to breaking ground. There isn’t only an 18,500 person stadium going in.

A riverfront promenade, 25 apartments, 186 townhouses, boat slips, percentage of ticket revenue to the Chester school system

It’s good to see that there exists a sense of grounding with all the people involved in this, as even Governor Ed Rendell explains, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”. So until they break ground, I will hold my breath…but even then, a good thing is that this project doesn’t hinge on the fact that the MLS awards Philly a team – $25 million is earmarked for the stadium. The fact that MLS has acknowledged that Philly has moved a billion steps closer is a good, good thing.

Garber’s response…

“The Philadelphia market just took a big step forward and is now well positioned to receive an MLS expansion team. The opportunity to be part of a large-scale urban-renewal project along the historic Chester waterfront remains extremely appealing to us. We are eager to continue our conversations with the potential ownership group to finalize an agreement and we will provide more details shortly.

One more piece of funding is yet to be voted on as another $10 million is expected to come from the Delaware Port Authority. Once that is secured, groundbreaking is supposed to take place this fall.

Going down to Rivertown, to see some MLS soccer, sounds nice to me…

African Nations Cup Quarterfinals Set: Some EPL Clubs Sigh with Relief

A couple big absences in the second round – Morocco, Mali, and Senegal. This means good things for some EPL clubs. Senegal’s Diomansy Kamara is going to be returning to a very different Fulham as his the whole frontline – which he is a part of – has been transformed. Kamara will now face off with Eddie Johnson, David Healy, Clint Dempsey, Shefki Kuqi, Erik Nevland, and Jari Litmanen for the two striker positions. Portsmouth will get their midfield talisman Papa Bouba Diop back, a necessity as Chelsea faces Pompey next.

The biggest winner will be La Liga’s Sevilla as they regain the services of their second most potent striker option in Frederic Kanoute (as Luis Fabiano remains on fire) and also Seydou Keita. Mohamed Sissoko, on the other hand, will report to his new club Juventus.

And yet the African Nation’s Cup trucks on with some great match-ups coming up this weekend. See below…

Sunday, February 3rd

Ghana vs. Nigeria
Ivory Coast vs. Guinea

Monday, February 4th

Egypt vs. Angola
Tunisia vs. Cameroon