Off-Season Progress Report: Mime’s A-Wastin’

For good or ill, here’s the plan for this and future editions of the Off-Season Progress Report. Every Friday, I’ll list all the player moves, trials, and rumors (with a snowball’s chance in Hell of coming together…and some that don’t) that appeared on my screen over the previous week. This feature will continue until – I believe – March 3, when Major League Soccer’s (MLS) teams must have their rosters down to 28 players, as required by league rules.

One category, the trialists, is a little more complicated than the others. To begin, I’m assuming that anyone drafted between the SuperDraft and supplemental draft – all identified here – is, effectively, on trial. I imagine some draftees have gone home already, but ignore them until the final cut comes along…and I may not acknowledge it then (too much to know, frankly). As for all other trialists, I can only name those whose names I’ve seen and I’m confident I’ll miss a couple players per team….all while blaming your team for failing to get out the good word. Given the gap, however, I welcome any and all additions to the record; drop ‘em in the comments field or send to me an email (jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com).

OK, that’s that. All the movement I saw (or cared about) appears after the jump. Current rosters for all teams are embedded under each team’s name.

Chicago Fire
Signed: Andy Herron
Trialist/In-Progress: Tomasz Frankowski
Rumor: Jose de Jesus Mendoza
Thoughts
Whoops. One more thing to add regarding trialists: I’m going to flag players whose names I’m seeing in happy context. Frankowski has been with the Fire for more than a week (I believe), but he scored two against the Columbus Crew in a preseason game. Seems good to point that out. Good stuff. The Fire also did well, in my mind, signing Andy Herron. He’s a bit of a head case, but Herron gives them depth…or, rather, makes Chad Barrett depth. As for the rumors – e.g. Jesus Mendoza along with ongoing talk about Fabrice Pancrate coming to Chicago – it matters less whether those come either true or to fruition than it shows Chicago looking at the right part of the field – e.g. forward.

Chivas USA
Signed:
Trialist/In-Progress: Marko Muslin
Rumor: Bofo Bautista
Thoughts
Sounds like Muslin is doing well…a good thing given the apparent departures of a couple forward options like Takuyuki Suzuki (or something like that) and Jose Cardozo. Muslin’s versatility provides depth at a number of positions. According to one close observer (Luis Bueno), Chivas looks good overall for 2008…and that’s even if Bautista never comes…which strikes me as unlikely on a couple levels.

Colorado Rapids
Signed: Christian Gomez
Trialist/In-Progress:
Rumor:
Thoughts
So, the Gomez signing is so early-mid February….but it’s also the only game in town. Well, maybe it’s more that it just feels that way. Even if Jose Burciaga Jr. doesn’t bring the “Killer D”, he’s just two years removed a pretty stellar season on offense (2006). Then there’s the Chase Hilgenbrinck signing. Yeah, all that’s old news, but it is coming together, as much as it’s likely to, in Rapids-Land. But, still, the swoop for Gomez brings to the fore clichés about eggs and baskets.

Columbus Crew
Signed:
Trialist/In-Progress: Lars Ricken, Roman Friedli, Emanuel Ekpo
Rumor:
Thoughts
The three trialists named above took part in the Crew’s loss to Chicago on Wednesday. Didn’t hear much about ‘em, but count them present. I still feel like the Crew lacks a little somethin’ somethin’ – maybe Ricken, who is feeling better these days, thanks, can provide? He definitely has some big games in his past. I don’t know much about Friedli – or Ekpo, for that matter – but the Crew still seem a polished player or two away in the attack. Alternately, they can keep riding youth; hasn’t worked too well in the past, but Robbie Rogers and Eddie Gaven scored the Crew’s two goals against Chicago.

DC United
Signed: Quavas Kirk
Trialist/In-Progress:
Rumor:
Thoughts
I think these guys did their deals early. Now, they’re jellin’ like Magellan (can I get sued for using that?). UPDATE: Ah! Stop it! Stop it! Turns out DC United did get something for dishing Vanney (see below): Quavas Kirk. Even considering I like Vanney more than most, DC did well for themselves with this one…dammit.

FC Dallas
Signed: Andre Rocha…and Duilio Davino, formally
Trialist/In-Progress:
Rumor: Reinaldo Navia (or notthen again)
Thoughts
Credit Dallas’ Atletico Paranaense pipeline for bringing in Rocha. Judging from a video compilation posted on The Offside Rules, he looks pretty sharp. Thus FCD arms up the attack – perhaps even bringing in Navia, but it’s (really) hard to say what’s happening there. What about Dallas’ traditional trouble spot – defense? Guatemalan defender Gustavo Cabrera came and went, with hints about “not fitting” – or something like that – cited for cause. A lot depends on Davino and how well he does – so let the record show the man has his detractors. This should be fun to watch.

Houston Dynamo
Signed:
Trialist/In-Progress:
Rumor: Benny Feilhaber
Thoughts
All I’m going to say about the Feilhaber rumor is that it’s interesting…and that I can’t see it on a couple levels. Feilhaber doesn’t meet the Dynamo’s biggest need – e.g. forward. Maybe they’ll leverage a top-drawer forward out of another team through Feilhaber – I dunno. What I can’t believe is that they’ll start the season with the current crop of forwards. UPDATE: Dom Kinnear put the kibosh on the Feilhaber rumor. Because this penciled out so poorly – i.e. why get a forward in two steps if you can do it in one? – I don’t think he’s just being coy either.

Kansas City Wizards
Signed: Ivan Trujillo (I heard on Extra Time that he’s only a work permit away)
Trialist/In-Progress:
Rumor:
Thoughts
Good to see Trujillo getting closer to official. Otherwise, I think this team is current…at least I haven’t seen anything. Another club that strikes me as being short on forwards.

Los Angeles Galaxy
Signed: Greg Vanney
Trialist/In-Progress: Alvaro Henrique Alves Pires
Rumor:
Thoughts
Just when I was thinking the Galaxy was standing pat (courtesy of blowing their proverbial wad on four to five players), double-checking another source revealed their interest in “Alvaro.” I know nothing about him. A little further up the same blog (Soccer By Ives…damn it! Let me post!!), came word of Vanney joining LA. I know not everyone is high on Vanney (and I’m sure some DC fans did spit-takes when Ives called him “arguably the best defender on DC’s back-line”), but I’m betting he’ll make LA’s defense a little better…while simultaneously making it a lot slower. Still, good pick up in a spot that needed it….especially with Ty Harden retiring (holy shit! MLS can’t even compete with charity non-profits? What chance do we have against the Scandinavians?!)

New England Revolution
Signed: Joe Franchino (have I mentioned him yet?);
Trialist/In-Progress: Argenis Fernandez, Gabriel Badilla (mm…put ’em down for “maybe”)
Rumor: Victor Nunez (yes? no?)
Thoughts
Talk of the Revs signing any defender trips some trigger in my brain that says, “What? Another one?” Then I realize they’re not all that deep back there. Badilla, the defender in question here, draws generally good reviews; the snag to bagging him might come down to money. Whatever happens, it looks like he’ll maybe, kinda sorta travel with the team to Bermuda along with Fernandez, a forward. (UPDATE: Actually, the new official Revolution site announced who traveled with the club to Bermuda.  No Badilla, no Fernandez.  Trialists named there include Javier Delgado, Jose Angulo, Sam Brill.)  And, lord knows the Revs need forwards to rescue them from the ultimate blunt-instrument one-two of Twellman and Christman.
UPDATE: Just got word the Revs signed a left-sided midfielder from Honduras, Mauricio Castro. I know nothing.

Real Salt Lake
Signed: Nat Borchers
Trialist/In-Progress: Indra Sahdan
Rumor: Reinaldo Elias da Costa
Thoughts
It’s fair to say I watch RSL out of one corner of my eye. And I’ve seen players trickling toward Utah as far back as the middle of last season when “The Three Argies” joined the club. But it took an email from Pat Eyler, who covers the nether-regions of Utah soccer on On Soccer, to appreciate the fact that Borchers’ arrival caps a lot of useful movement, especially in defense:

“What do you think of the backline that RSL has been putting together this off-season?

“Ian Joy, Nat Borchers, Mattia Mantilla, Jamilson Olave, Tony Beltran, Ritchie Kotschau, Dustin Kirby, Chris Wingert, and David Horst.

“To me, this seems like a pretty nice group showing talent, experience, depth, and youth.

“(there’s a great line in the latest AYL podcast about David Horst being so strong, fast, and young that he doesn’t realize what he can do yet, and goes on to talk about him sending Fabian Espindola cartwheeling away from a challenge.)”

For what it’s worth, I think he’s on to something. That’s the defense. I’m plenty intrigued by what’s happening up top with Sahdan. I know something less than dick about Asian soccer – especially once conversation strays to Indonesia – but it could work…right? Anyway, I’ve betting along with a couple others that RSL will be a tougher team in ’08.

Red Bull New York
Signed: Oscar Echeverry
Trialist/In-Progress: Diego Serna (WTF?!)
Rumor: Wason Renteria
Thoughts
I’ll start by acknowledging Ives Galarcep’s ridicule of anyone who thought Renteria could possibly come to the States. On the plus side for the Red Bulls, however, they landed Echeverry who certainly sounds MLS-ready. The site of Serna on trial may have prompted a whiplashing double-take, but that would leave New York with depth to spare at forward….though that assumes the money side of all this can come together. That said, I think this leaves the Bulls thin in my favorite part of the field: midfield. Who will get the ball to all those forwards? Especially with Reyna gone half the time?

San Jose Earthquakes
Signed: Ramiro Corrales
Trialist/In-Progress:
Rumor:
Thoughts
So, San Jose added a national team bubble player (wrong side of the bubble, mind), but I have one question: is the talk of playing Corrales in central midfield serious or just an early sign of panic? Then again, the official site’s article does call Corrales an “MF” and I don’t think they’re talking about his sexual proclivities. Overall, though, I’m seeing so little activity out of San Jose that I’m worried about them fielding a starting eleven through the season. Then again, the line-up from their loss to Houston earlier this week contains several more names than what I’m seeing on the roster….so, the trialists are there…I’m just wondering if they’re worth naming.

Toronto FC
Signed:
Trialist/In-Progress: Josh Wagenaar (yeah, old-ish news, but it’s official now, right?)
Rumor: Craig Bellamy
Thoughts
Bellamy sounds like a little more than a long shot…though one shouldn’t under-estimate the power of Welshness. We may see Andy Dorman in Toronto yet. In all seriousness, TFC strikes me as another team lagging behind the major movers. The season is coming, boyos.

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8 Responses

  1. glad you posted something like this really…i get all confused with the amount of trialists that are in and out of the league right now, I think you hit on most of the big ones out there…

  2. Another hearty thanks as I am having less and less time to keep or become current. You should get carded for your use of “jellin’ like Magellan” which hurt so bad to try to write that I decided instead to cut and paste. Thank God my little 40 yr old brother doesn’t read this as anything I find so irritating he will use @ least a bajillion times in our conversations.
    On another note, I picked DC as the team to beat during last year’s preseason and they came out flat, only to turn it around defensively than relapse when it really mattered (and as I’ve soapboxed, in the USA, the playoffs are the only place it really matters). They often confuse me.

  3. And I hated myself for writing it….much the same way as I hate myself for announcing that I am, in fact, Walking on Sunshine…

    …now, get that out of your head…

  4. Awk! Katrina and ze Waves! I thought the cases of undergrad day nearly frozen Black Label Beer had burned this from my conciousness. But noooo, like the Reanimator, you bring it all horribly back to life. You go where man should not go. You bad man. A pox of Fernando Clavijo-like proportions on you and your Columbus Crew.

  5. Dude, you truly need to cut waaay back on the feamle hockey pics and mainline some footy games.

  6. Ah, Reanimator…haven’t seen that one since…about high school.

  7. […] below…well, at least the ones that interest me. I’ll work with the same categories as last week’s edition, though, with the March 3rd roster reckoning coming down the pike, I’m going to have to start […]

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