MLS Results and Moves: A Soft-Lens Impressions

Having been “underground” when Major League Soccer (MLS) Roster Compliance Day came and went (and, to celebrate, I threw out tons of crap, just like the teams I like!), motivation to soberly analyze all those rosters isn’t coming; besides, fans and fan sites have probably did all this to near-death earlier in the week. Moreover, not knowing much about the players coming in, I’m not really equipped to do a hard-data write-up. As such, a looser approach feels more appropriate – or, as I put it in the title, a soft-lens impression, which I’ll form based on what I recall of each team’s results (I’ll provide links when I have ’em) and the moves each team has made so far. I’ll be using Soccer America’s round-up of off-season moves for this last bit.

And away we go…

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The Penultimate Off-Season Progress Report: Best…Off-Season…Ever…

The latest report on all off-season player moves among Major League Soccer’s (MLS) clubs appears 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 tracking the players who get axed…if only half-heartedly. By that I mean, I’m going to ignore waivers of say, Chris Loftus for New England. But any move that strikes me as “big enough” will get record in this and, to a greater extent, future editions.

All that said, I want to throw one bold thought out there: for my money, this has been the BEST OFF-SEASON in MLS history. More exciting/intriguing player moves, more movement in general, teams coming into the season with enough question marks over their heads that you almost have to watch the games to form a serious opinion of what it all means – or maybe it’s just that we finally have sufficient coverage. There’s a potential downside getting some airing, especially where all “them furriners” are concerned: e.g. with so many exports coming in, what will happen to the development of the American player? Marcelo Balboa treated the subject a couple times through a Q & A with USSoccerplayers.com – and it’s an interesting subject, even if a wait-and-see approach strikes me as the right one.

All I know is I’m in drunken piggy heaven herding all these cats. Wonnerful, wonnerful.

Enough about my joy. All the movement I saw (or cared about) appears after the jump. Contrary to past practice, I’m ditching links to the current rosters; all y’all know where to find ’em if you want ’em. As always, if I missed anything big, feel free to correct the record, by flagging omissions in the comments field or emailing me (jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com). I will make the change and give due credit. Here goes… Continue reading

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. Continue reading

MLS Off-Season Progress Report…Well, Most of One…

Thought I’d take some time today to update the latest off-season player movement around Major League Soccer (MLS). I’ll cover every MLS team down below, talking about which players the club has signed – as recorded on their respective rosters – but will only cover changes that have happened since my first off-season progress report. That said, 1) I’m away from my usual post and the notes I keep there, which means 2) I’m missing some details on some rumors, players trials, that sort of thing.

Getting back to that first off-season report, when I typed up each team’s list of incoming players, I divided them into players coming in by transfer and those “acquired” via the Super- and Supplemental Drafts. The approach for this update will look a little different. Judging from what I’m seeing on the rosters and a player movement round-up run on Soccer America on February 5, teams have signed some, though nothing like all, of their draftees. To account for that, drafted players whose names appear in their team’s official site roster PLUS any player a given team brought in via transfer will be listed as Signed. I’m assuming players in this category to be part of the team at this point.

The other two categories I’ll use are Trialist/Wish-List and Out. The first category includes players named in various sources as being associated with a given team, whether through an invite to camp or by rumor; in the cases where the names are either obscure or low-profile (no offense), I might just provide a link to the source. And the “Out” category is what it is: players who have left the team since the first off-season progress report.

As implied above, there will be holes in this. I’m operating from memory on a few calls. Further, some teams simply enjoy better coverage – among them, teams like the Kansas City Wizards (thanks to Hillcrest Road) and FC Dallas (thanks to FC Dallas Updates); those blogs cover everything down to their players’ stool samples. Other teams (think Colorado) are just hard to find because the front office in question just seems to hate their teams’ fans. But I’m mentioning my blindspots mainly by way of welcoming corrections in the comments. If I missed something, let me know and I’ll get the new information in the main post as soon as I can. If you don’t want to use the comments, don’t be shy about emailing information to me (jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com).

Good god, that’s a lot of preamble. A final thing or two and I’ll get to the goods. One, each team’s current roster is embedded in their name. Two, of course I’ll comment on where I think each team is…that’s just a given. No grades, though. Not this time.

Here goes (fixed it!): Continue reading

Crew TSID*: Lars Ricken?

(* “This Shit Is Depressing” seemed more apt than the usual, “This Shit Is Important.” Read on…)

I think it was Monday that MLS Rumors reported on the possibility that the Columbus Crew would add former Borussia Dortmund player Lars Ricken to their roster. Figuring nothing would come of it, I sat on it for a few. The post’s cracks about Ricken being past it only made more sense of that.

With Covering the Crew reporting the next day that Ricken will join the Crew in Florida, the story moves from “possibility” to real-life trial – though I have to confess I’m even more baffled by the Crew’s decision. Here’s why:

“Ricken, who scored a goal in Dortmund’s 3-1 victory over Juventus in the 1997 Champions League final, was demoted to Dortmund’s reserve team last year and later said he would retire from professional play. He currently works in the Bundesliga club’s front office.

Um, what?

OK, to give the benefit of the doubt, Ricken isn’t riding some piddly club’s bench; Dortmund was The Poop a few years back. Still, 31 and already in the FO?

I doing my best to read something other than desperation in this…it’s not coming easily. But, like most Americans, I love second chances. Prove me wrong, Lars. Prove me wrong.

BONUS: I believe it’s important to wash down bad news with something, um, wonderful. Lord only knows, then, why I’m passing on this. In the middle of a Drunk Celebrity Countdown, there’s a clip of the late, drunk Oliver Reed going nuts on some English talkshow (he is dead, right? Yep and some time ago). The most priceless moment comes at the end, when someone screws up the courage to ask Reed why he drinks. Good answer….

And there’s some grim viewing in that countdown…let’s just say the infamous David Hasselhoff video tops off the Parade of Defeat.

The CBA: Can MLS Wait Until…um…Till…um…Then?

…is it 2009 that Major League Soccer (MLS) keeps saying they’ll re-work the collective bargaining agreement with the MLS Players’ Union? 2010? Does it matter? It’s like Jon from the DC United Offside said in his post about DC-draftee Andrew Jacobson bypassing MLS to sign with France’s Lorient:

“Eddie Pope, take notice. Raise the salary floor or this league will get older, and worse.”

It’s not all on Eddie, of course. The idea that the league needs to stop shopping for answers up its own ass is becoming apparent to plenty of people. One almost has to wonder if Frank Dell’Appa got wind of Jacobson’s hop to France ahead of writing his piece for ESPN on MLS accidentally becoming an export league. Dell’Appa’s article mainly explores how MLS’s comparatively low salary cap inherently disadvantages it against the rest of the world – with an apt emphasis on the Taylor Twellman situation – but he ends with the list of solid, young-ish MLS pros who punched tickets to Europe during the current offseason:

“If Chris Gbandi is transfered from FC Dallas to Haugesund in Norway, as expected, this week, he will be the 10th MLS player to move to Europe this month, following Bryan Arguez (Hertha Berlin), Andy Dorman (St. Mirren), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Nate Jaqua (SC Rheindorf Altach), Clint Mathis (Ergotelis FC), Joseph Ngwenya (SK Austria Karnten), Pat Noonan (Aalesund FK), Troy Perkins (Valerenga) and Johnson. Of those players, only Johnson produced a significant transfer fee, and Dorman, Goodson, Jaqua, Mathis, Ngwenya and Noonan departed on free transfers.” Continue reading

The Nut of the Crew’s Striker Search

The Columbus Dispatch’s Shawn Mithcell takes the Columbus Crew’s quest for Maciej Zurawski to the “real” newspaper today, providing impressive detail on where things stand. The apparent pivot point in this deal shows in the following:

“How much Celtic is asking for the transfer and how much Zurawski is asking to be paid has not been made public, although it is estimated that both figures would be between $250,000 and $1 million.”

“McCullers would not divulge any dollar amounts related to the deal, including how much ownership was willing to spend. He said only that Hunt Sports Group was treating the situation in a ‘prudent’ fashion.”

And, it bears noting, Mitchell quotes Columbus coach Sigi Schmid as being “not as optimistic” about the deal as he was a couple days back.

That little slug of information prompts a couple related questions? First, is Zurawski worth as much as $1 million to the Crew? (Or is it $2 million? With all due respect to both Mitchell and the editorial staff at the Dispatch, the language on the money involved isn’t as clear as it could be; would “both” mean the combined figures for the transfer fee and Zurawski’s salary amount to $1 million, or does that mean each of them would total between $250K and $1 million? This isn’t a slam – I’m sure I post baffling language five times a day – but it is a significant distinction.) Second (after the long digression), should the Crew just suck it up and take the chance?

With the “other designated player options” cited by McCullers duly noted, I’d pull the trigger – assuming a $1 million total; push it to $2 million and the other options take on a fresh, new shine. Simply put, the Crew needs strikers. And, if they’re convinced Zurawski is good for it, they should just sign the man.

(UPDATE: For what it’s worth, MLS Rumors is charging Sigi with coyness…albeit very indirectly.  By that I mean, they’re reporting the Zurawski signing as a done deal.  We shall see…we shall see…).