Tag Archives: football

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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Week 3 Power Rankings: Power Shifts West

Week 3 Power Rankings:

1. Seattle (3-0-0)- The Sounders continue to roll on the road at hostile BMO Field, even without wunderkind Fredy Montero.  As Freddie Ljungberg returns to form, this team could get even more dangerous.  The only question is whether they have the defensive depth to weather injuries.

2. Chivas USA (3-0-0)- The Goats are somehow managing to win games with an injury list that looks like a starting lineup.  They didn’t look overpowering against Columbus, but winning 3 of 3 is impressive for this league. Perhaps most importantly, they managed to score with Kljestan effectively taken out of the game.

3. Chicago (2-0-1)- As usual, the Fire are the early season class of the East.  Winning a 10-on-11 contest shows that this team has the resilience that last year’s lacked.  There is impressive offensive depth, with Rolfe and Blanco on the bench, but can the defense hold up over the course of the season?

4. New England (2-0-1)- Nipping at the heels of Chicago in the East.  Having to come from behind at home to beat Dallas is worrying, but you can’t argue with the results.  The next contests (DC and RSL) will be better tests of what this team can do.

5. Colorado (2-1-0)- So they can beat LA and Kansas City.  The big test for them will be at Columbus next week.  The Crew will be at home and fighting desperately to regain a shred of respect.  Colorado’s road win over LA was impressive, but most teams won’t give up the easy goals that the Rapids managed to poach.

6. Real Salt Lake (1-1-0)- Two ends of the spectrum from RSL.  Will this be like last season where they dominate at home and flounder on the road?  Benefited from some huge errors by Columbus, but still managed to beat the defending champs 4-1 (does that mean anything right now, though?).  Can Findley and Movsisyan keep it up?

7. Toronto FC (1-1-1)- Showed some flashes in the windy home loss to Seattle.  When will TFC find a consistent goal-scoring threat?  If the Reds can’t beat Dallas next week, John Carver will be in hot water up north.

8. DC United (1-0-2)- Less than impressive in a game where they had a man advantage at home against Houston.  Couldn’t create very much on offense until the end.  Circle the Eagles’ tie with RSL next week as the most potentially enlightening game of the week, as both are in a good position in the standings.

9. Kansas City (1-2-0)- Maybe the Wizards found the right defensive combination against San Jose?  2-0 over the Quakes is impressive, but they’re still one of the worst defensive teams in the East.  Can they be the first to keep Seattle out of the W column next week?

10. San Jose (1-2-0)- How can they score so little when they have so many experienced playmakers?  The Quakes can redeem an ugly road loss to KC at home against Chicago next week.  Paging Bobby Convey.

11. Houston (0-2-1)- The class of the winless ranks of MLS.  There’s plenty of fight in this team, they just haven’t been getting the bounces thus far.  The Dynamo no longer have a consistent midfield presence with D-Ro gone.  Cameron and Mullan are good at times, but neither is much of a revelation.

12. Columbus (0-2-2)- Showed some fight with 10 men against Chivas, but the injuries are mounting and this team doesn’t have the same confidence that it did last year.  Could Sigi Schmid have been the difference maker?  Even Guillermo Barros Schelotto looks off.  A home win against Colorado would be huge next week.

13. Los Angeles (0-1-1)- The talent is there, but it is horribly inconsistent.  Omar Gonzalez’s roller coaster performance perfectly exemplify this.  Can a 35 year-old 2.Bundesliga defender really improve the backline?  Does anyone really miss David Beckham?

14. New York (0-1-2)- The only consolation for The Red Bulls is that they aren’t the worst team in MLS.  However, Houston would seem to be ripe for a road upset.

15. FC Dallas (0-0-3)- There is no consolation for Dallas.  They let a 1-0 lead slip away at New England and now have to travel to Toronto.  Off-season improvements look like a waste at this point.

Los Angeles Signs Jamaican International Ricketts

No longer seeing double in goal, the LA Galaxy signed 31 year-old Jamaican International goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.  The terms of the deal, in compliance with strict, totalitarian MLS policy, were not disclosed, and are subject to Ricketts’s receipt of a work permit, a technicality that has plagued Ricketts throughout his career.

Ricketts was thurst into the international spotlight when he was the backup keeper on Jamaica’s surprise 1998 World Cup squad.  In 2004 he made a move to Premier League side Bolton Wanderers, but never played in a match and was loaned to League Two Bradford City.  Ricketts eventually became a fixture in net for Bradford City, starting 80 consecutive games, and was in line for a move to Queens Park Rangers before work permit complications forced him back to Jamaica.  Back in his home country, Ricketts joined Village United last season and has split time between club and country, taking up the role of Vice Captain of the Jamaican National Team.

In his first match with Village United, Ricketts was replaced after complaining of double vision from being hit in the head with a ball.  Even with double vision, Ricketts could probably still mind the goal better than 2008 keeper platooners Josh Wicks and Steve Cronin who combined to allow 56 goals in 28 games, an even 2 goals allowed per game.  Clearly, Bruce Arena’s latest signing addresses a pressing need for Los Angeles.

Surprise! Warzycha Named Columbus Head Coach

As presumedby IFK last week, the Columbus Crew announced the promotion of Assistant Coach Robert Warzycha (pictured left wearing one of the ugliest MLS shirts ever) to the Head Coach position after Sigi Schmid’s alliteration-perfecting move to the Seattle Sounders.  Warzycha brings several years of experience as both a player and coach in Columbus, along with stability carrying over from the Schmid years and lessons learned during the latter years of Greg Andrulis’s somewhat disastrous tenure.

This can be nothing but good news for Columbus fans, as the official announcement means the Crew can get on with their offseason roster finagling.

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.