Category Archives: Musings

Looking for the next big thing? Why not try India?

Attacking players are often the first to get looks from abroad when the transfer window opens up and MLS teams get worried about losing their best.  Because of this fact, teams are often constantly looking for new attacking talent.  Though traditionally South America and Africa have been the first choices for finding international talent, MLS scouts would do well to look to Asia as well.

Sunil Chetri, a diminutive, 24 year-old striker who also happens to be the Indian National Team’s top attacking threat and the I-League’s top domestic scorer, could be a major coup for an MLS side.  Chetri has been playing in India for the last few months after a trial with Coventry City in England, and he has been linked to Fulham and two anonymous MLS teams in the past.  If Chetri were to make the move to the United States, not only would he be a valuable addition to his squad, his presence in the league would immediately boost the profile of both club and league in India, an emerging international football market.  For Sunil, the move to higher competition could only improve the lethal attacker as a player, which would in turn benefit his national side.

To this point, USL clubs have been much better about scouting Asian talent than MLS teams.  Portland, for example, has brought in several Japanese players, as well as Solomon Islands international Benjamin Totori.  It would be exciting for MLS fans, as well as Asian fans, if MLS started reaching out to more Asian players.

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Gregory Richardson Update

Been wondering where Joe Public Guyanese forward and Champions League stalwart Gregory Richardson is going to end up playing next season?  The answer is simple: Joe Public.

After a fantastic showing in the Champions League against New England, Richardson not only disappeared in that contest, but also only managed 3 league goals all season long in the TT Pro League, failing to make the T&T Express season All-Star team.

Richardson is 26 years old, meaning his days are probably numbered as a striker that relies heavily on pace.  After a few outstanding performances, 2008 was turning into a make or break year for Richardson’s chances to move on to MLS.  With the buzz that momentarily surrounded him completely gone now, it looks as if Richardson didn’t quite make it.

Edit: Richardson has signed with Colorado, but has not yet earned a spot on the bench for any of the Rapids’s matches.  Perhaps he’ll see action in the U.S. Open Cup.

Emilio Izaguirre to New England?

Honduran newspaper La Tribuna is reporting that Honduran National left back Emilio Izaguirre is close to signing with New England, as well as being pursued by European clubs.  Izaguirre had a trial with English Championship side Ipswich Town, but was not given permission by his club to sign a contract in England.  The 22 year-old currently plays for Honduran club Motagua.

If Izaguirra ends up signing with the Revs, that would be their second signing of  a player from a CONCACAF member nation in four months after signing Costa Rican center back Gabriel Badilla.

Check below for a compilation of Izaguirre making simple passes and getting tackled from behind while listening to low-budget trance music

More Emigration? Kljestan Attracting Attention from Europe

…and not just Bundesliga 2 clubs either.  A widely circulated rumor has Anderlecht, Bayern Leverkusen, Celtic, FC Twente, Heerenveen, Monaco, Olympiakos, Schalke, Wolfsburg, and Zenit St. Petersburg after the 23 year-old rising star.  Fresh off being named to the MLS First XI team and garnering more and more attention from USMNT boss Bob Bradley, the most photogenic man in MLS seems to have been able to translate his finer international moments into serious opportunities to advance his career, not to mention the cause of his bank account.

But would a move right now really be the best thing for his game?  Kljestan has the opportunity for a serious pay raise if he makes a move, but his play is not at the level it needs to be to start for, say, Celtic.  To me, Kljestan is still a player defined by his frustrating inconsistency: he mixes flashes of brilliance so often with disappearing acts that he fails to catch the eye for more than one game at a time.  Furthermore, he makes great runs, but often seems to lack a top-notch ability to make decisions in the final third.

Given his flaws, Kljestan may either play on a reserve team, or go out for a loan spell and end up with a lower division team, possibly playing at a lower competitive level than he currently is in MLS.  If he were to stay in Los Angeles, Kljestan could hone his game for a year or two before making the leap to a side where he could make a more immediate impact.  Playing in the Eredivisie may be his best shot at playing right away.

It does, however, seem to be in Sacha’s best interest to strike while the iron is hot.  A move overseas would mean a bigger paycheck, as well as entrance into the European scouting crucible, where he will be most certainly be evaluated by more clubs than he can be right now, even if he is playing second-tier football.

Of course, staying in the States benefits the league greatly, but especially Chivas USA, who could very well be in for a big shakeup soon, even after a second-place finish in the Western Conference last season.  The more talent that stays in the United States, the better for the league.  Adding European money to the MLS coffers cannot balance out losing a young talent like Kljestan whose ability and potential can continue to raise the standard for a league that needs to continue to set the bar higher for itself.

Who is Zack Simmons?

Among the names not listed for January’s MLS Combine was Zack Simmons, UMass’s stellar 2007 Third-Team All-American keeper.  The committee that selects players for the combine still has time to correct their mistake–the list won’t be finalized for a few weeks, when Generation adidas, NAIA, and more NCAA players are added–but IFK believes in both education and justice.  Zack Simmons seems to stand for both of those principles, so darnit if we won’t do our part to support them as well.

Simmons began his UMass career as a true walk-on (not an invited one), but earned significant playing time by his sophomore year.  Over the course of his career, his Goals Allowed Average dropped from around 1.5 to just below .8 goals per game and his save percentage rose from 78% to 85% of shots saved.  Amazingly, his numbers improved from 2007–when he was awarded All-American honors as well as being named the Umbro National Player of the Year and a member of the College Cup All-Tournament team–to 2008.  His play was instrumental in UMass’s second straight Atlantic 10 Championship.

But Simmons isn’t just a star on the field.  In the classroom, he is an Economics and History double major who boasts an astonishing 3.99 GPA and was named ESPN The Magazine’s Top Academic All-American for all sports.

Simmons was named a Second-Team All-American by College Soccer News in 2008 and was selected as their top keeper for the 2008 MLS Superdraft.  At 6’2, he does not have outstanding size, but that is above average for a professional keeper and MLS Keeper of the Year Jon Busch is only 5’9.

If the MLS is serious about improving American soccer, they need to be serious about paying attention to the college game, their best source for homegrown talent.  My guess is that Simmons is going to make a solid if not spectacular keeper some day, and someone is going to question how they missed out on him.  Most likely, a team like Chicago that does an excellent job of scouting the college ranks will pick him up in the middle rounds of the draft.

So tell me again: why wasn’t Simmons one of the seven keepers chosen for the MLS Combine?

Boswell Sure to be Hot Commodity

2006 Cosmo Mr. Bachelor Virginia and occasional central defender Bobby Boswell will be a hot commodity this winter…for employers.  Boswell led the backline for Houston last season, but he is out of contract and with all of the league’s frontrunners in need of central defenders–Columbus, New England, Chicago, Chivas USA, and even Los Angeles all have holes to fill there–Boswell can basically go anywhere he wants.

He may have to fight for a spot in Columbus, as two of the three players the Crew rotated in that spot are definitely returning, with Chad Marshall the wildcard.  If Marshall resigns with the Canaries instead of heading for Europe, Boswell would have to look elsewhere.

In Chicago he would be playing in front of MLS Keeper of the Year Jon Busch, but would be stepping into a defensive unit that will suffer a few losses this offseason, and thus a hit to their chemistry.

New England lost Michael Parkhurst to Europe, but Boswell could team with Costa Rican import Gabriel Badilla to form a solid central duo in Boston.

Chivas USA would probably love to add Boswell to complement Shavar Thomas, but Thomas is not nearly the potential partner that Badilla would be and playing for Chivas may just be the least rewarding experience in the league.

Los Angeles is always in need of defenders and may be too much of a landmine to step into (the Galaxy probably don’t have the money to spend anyway), but Boswell would be on the league’s highest-profile team and having both Boswell and Franklin in defense could be the stabilizing force LA needs.

In the end, Boswell’s best option might be staying in Houston.  If the Dynamo can reload up front, they may have just as good a chance as anyone in the league of holding the 2009 MLS Cup after not making it to the finals for the first time in three years in 2008.

Regardless of where he goes, what will Boswell’s new team be getting?  According to Cosmo magazine:

“I am optimistic, work well under pressure, and am goofy.”

What does Boswell look for in a partner?:

“Confidence and enthusiasm are big for me. I like girls [or teams] who challenge themselves.”

The man has spoken MLS, now go show him what you’ve got.

Garey Should Be Wanted Man This Off-Season

Trivia time: I am a former MAC Hermann Trophy winner as the nation’s top college player.  In my rookie season, I led my club in scoring.  I have scored against both Aston Villa and West Ham, led my Reserve League squad in scoring, and tallied 3 goals this season (including a brace against then league-leading New England) despite only playing the equivalent of 1 1/3 ‘s matches.

Who am I?

I’m Jason Garey of the Columbus Crew, and I deserve some respect.

The Crew relied mostly on the frontline duo of Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno to lead them to their 2008 double, but like any team, they occasionally needed cover for their starters.  When they did, Head Coach Sigi Schmid mostly relied on rookie Steven Lenhart, a successful sub who never settled into the role of starter.  Lenhart has similar size to Garey, but isn’t blessed with the on-the-ball ability, finishing touch, or aerial ability that Garey has showed flashes of.  Production-wise, Lenhart had 4 goals in over two times the minutes that Garey needed to notch 3 scores.

Garey is a goal-scorer, plain and simple.  He led the Crew reserves in scoring, scores when he starts in friendlies for Columbus, and chipped in as a sub when he had meaningful minutes.  With Houston, Salt Lake, and Toronto all in the market for strikers and teams scaling back in anticipation of economic difficulties, Garey would seem to be a viable option as cheap depth, or even a starting strike partner for Toronto’s Chad Barrett.  The Crew have a lack of MLS Superdraft choices, and do not seem to value Garey as much as they did when they made him the third overall choice in 2006, so acquiring him would not be overly complicated.  Columbus is also in dire need of center back help if Chad Marshall does not return, and would probably welcome depth at that position in exchange for their fourth-choice striker.

As a three-year veteran and proven scorer and a player who, at 24, is nearing his prime, Garey would be a solid addition to any MLS squad.  If he doesn’t change clubs, all indications seem to be that he will mostly be seeing action in Columbus’s Champions League run.