Thursday, January 28, 2016

Who's Adding Who - Columbus Crew


D Corey Ashe (12/18/15 - free agency) - Ashe had spent his entire MLS career with the Houston Dynamo until being dealt to Orlando City midseason last year. The two-time MLS All-Star has appeared in over 200 MLS matches since his 2007 debut, and tallied three assists in just nine appearances with Orlando City in 2015.
M Emil Larsen (1/22/16 - free) - Larsen joins the Crew by way of Danish Superliga's Odense Boldklub. The 24 year-old winger has extensive experience with Denmark's youth National Teams and has been capped five times with the senior National Team dating back to 2012.
F Conor Casey (1/26/16 - free agency) - While Casey is no longer the prolific scorer who tallied 40 goals for the Rapids between 2008 and 2010, even at 34 years old, he's still a threat to score. Despite playing only 340 minutes for the Union in 2015, Casey scored three goals and added an assist. The 2010 MLS Cup MVP and 2009 member of the MLS Best XI has 71 career goals, good for 22nd-most all-time.
D Emanuel Pogatetz (12/7/15 - option declined) - Union Berlin (Germany)
M Kristinn Steindorsson (12/7/15 - option declined) - GIF Sundsvall (Sweden)
M Ben Speas (12/7/15 - out of contract)
GK Matt Lampson (12/7/15 - out of contract)
M Kevan George (12/7/15 - out of contract)
F Aaron Schoenfeld (12/7/15 - out of contract) - Maccabi Netanya (Israel)
D Chris Klute (12/11/15 - traded to Portland) - Portland Timbers
F Jack McInerney (1/13/16 - traded to Portland) - Portland Timbers

Who's Adding Who - Colorado Rapids


M Micheal Azira (12/9/15 - Waiver Draft) - The Ugandan-born Azira spent the last two seasons with the Seattle Sounders appearing in 25 regular season matches including 11 in 2015. Now 28, Azira has yet to notch a goal or an assist in MLS.
M Marco Pappa (12/15/15 - trade from Seattle) - The veteran Guatemalan midfielder is entering his eighth MLS season, the last two of which were spent with the Sounders. Pappa has scored at least five goals five times, and recorded as least five assists four times including a career-best six in 2015. Pappa has scored 11 goals for Guatemala an was named the Golden Ball Winner at the 2014 Copa Centroamericana as the tournament's best player.
M Zach Pfeffer (1/15/16 - trade from Philadelphia) - Pfeffer is getting ready for his sixth MLS season despite just turning 21 earlier this month. Signed to a homegrown player deal at the age of 15 with the Union, Pfeffer had his best MLS season in 2015 appearing in 21 matches while also getting playing time for the USMNT U-23s. 


D James Riley (12/3/15 - option declined)
D Drew Moor (12/3/15 - option declined) - Toronto FC
M Nick LaBrocca (12/3/15 - option declined) - Chicago Fire
M Lucas Pittinari (12/3/15 - option declined) - Belgrano (Argentina)
M Vicente Sánchez (12/3/15 - option declined)
M Carlos Alvarez (12/3/15 - option declined)
F Charles Eloundou (12/3/15 - option declined)
F Gabriel Torres (12/3/15 - option declined) - Zamora FC (Venezuela)
D Bobby Burling (12/3/15 - out of contract)
D Michael Harrington (12/3/15 - out of contract) - Chicago Fire
GK Clint Irwin (1/18/16 - traded to Toronto) - Toronto FC
Maynor Figueroa (1/26/16 - traded to Dallas) - FC Dallas
M Juan Ramirez (1/26/16 - loaned to Almeria) - UD Almería (Spain)

Who's Adding Who - Chicago Fire


F Joey Calistri (12/17/15 - Homegrown) - Calistri was a four-year starter for Northwestern and finished his career as the Wildcats' second all-time leading scorer. In total, Calistri ended up with 30 goals and 14 assists including three goals and a career high six assists as a senior.
M Drew Conner (12/17/15 - Homegrown) - Conner was a four-year starter for the University of Wisconsin and served as the team's captain in 2015. In his four years with the Badgers, he amassed 73 starts scoring six goals while tallying 12 assists. 
D Brandon Vincent (1/14/16 - SuperDraft) - One of Jurgen Klinsmann's surprise additions to the January USMNT camp, Vincent enjoyed a stellar senior season for National Champion Stanford that included being named the 2015 College Cup's Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Vincent scored six goals and added two assists in 23 matches for the 18-2-3 Cardinal.
D Jonathan Campbell (1/14/16 - SuperDraft) - A Senior defender from the University of North Carolina, Campbell had a goal and four assists for the 15-2-3 Tarheels who reached the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament before falling 1-0 to Creighton.
D Michael Harrington (1/18/16 - free agency) - The third overall pick in the 2007 SuperDraft, Harrington needs just 4 more starts to reach 200 as he enters his 10th MLS season. Harrington has played with Kansas City, Portland and most recently Colorado for whom he started 14 matches in 2015. Harrington finished third in the 2007 Rookie of the Year voting.
GK Patrick McLain (1/18/16 - free) - McLain was with Chivas USA in 2012 and 2013 and made a pair of MLS appearances for the Goats. He spent the 2015 season with the Sacramento Republic (USL) going 11-8-5 with six shutouts and a 1.25 goals against average. 
João Meira (1/23/16 - free) - Meira is a 28 year-old Portuguese central defender who played most recently for Belenenses, who he helped return to the Portuguese top flight. 
M Nick LaBrocca (1/27/16 - free agency) - The 31 year-old LaBrocca gets ready for his 10th MLS season after previous stints with Colorado, Toronto and Chivas USA. An All-Star with Chivas USA in 2011 when he scored a career high eight goals and six assists, LaBrocca made just six starts in 2015 with the Colorado Rapids.

D Adaílton (11/30/15 - option declined)
GK Jon Busch (11/30/15 - option declined) - Indy Eleven (NASL)
F Jason Johnson (11/30/15 - option declined)
GK Alec Kann (11/30/15 - option declined) - Sporting Kansas City
D Jeff Larentowicz (11/30/15 - option declined) - LA Galaxy
D Lovel Palmer (11/30/15 - option declined) - Indy Eleven (NASL)
M Chris Ritter (11/30/15 - option declined)
D Daneil Cyrus (11/30/15 - loan expired) - W Connection (Trinidad and Tobago)
D Ty Harden (11/30/15 - out of contract)
F Mike Magee (11/30/15 - out of contract) - LA Galaxy
M Matt Watson (11/30/15 - out of contract) - Carolina RailHawks (NASL)
M Patrick Nyarko (1/6/16 - traded to D.C. United) - DC United
M Jack Harrison (1/14/16 - traded to NYCFC) - New York City FC
D Joevin Jones (1/14/16 - traded to Seattle) - Seattle Sounders

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Making Moves

Clint Irwin Traded to Toronto FC - 2015 was a rough year defensively for Toronto FC. A leaky back line and the combination of Joe Bendik and Chris Konopka in goal surrendered a league-worst 58 goals and recorded only five shutouts. Now, in Irwin, Toronto has an All-Star caliber netminder who allowed just 38 goals in 31 starts while posting 8 shutouts for lowly Colorado. The addition of Irwin pairs well with the acquisitions of veteran defenders Drew Moor and Steven Beitashour, as Toronto FC looks to build on their first ever postseason appearance.

Yura Movsisyan Loaned to Real Salt Lake - Yura Movsisyan, an Armenian International, returns to Major League Soccer where he started his professional career. Movsisyan spent parts of two seasons with the Kansas City Wizards before being traded to Real Salt Lake in late 2007 where he eventually helped his new club win the 2009 MLS Cup. The 2012-13 Russian Premier League co-Top Scorer, Movsisyan - who's only 28 - looks to add some firepower to an attack that scored the second fewest goals in MLS in 2015.

Lucas Ontivero Loaned to Montreal - There aren't a lot of big name clubs that loan its players to MLS so the fact that Ontivero comes to Montreal on loan from Galatasaray (the Turkish giants) is a big deal. The 21 year-old Argentine winger is looked at as a dynamic attacker who can play on either side, and previously participated in youth programs for Real Madrid, AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur before turning pro.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2015-16 Champions League Roster Moves

We're just over a month away from the start of the CCL Quarterfinals with four MLS clubs getting set to take the field against their Mexican counterparts. Let's take a look at the offseason moves for each of the four to see how they're setting themselves up for a deep tournament run:

Seattle Sounders - Seattle has parted ways with a number of veterans this offseason losing Chad Barrett, Leonardo González, Troy Perkins, Gonzalo Pineda, Andy Rose, Lamar Neagle, Michael Azira and Marco Pappa. That said, they return the glut of their core contributors including last season's midseason additions Erik Friberg, Andreas Ivanschitz, Nelson Valdez and Román Torres. A solid 2015 Draft Class that includes Cristian Roldan, Oniel Fisher, Andy Craven and goalkeepers Tyler Miller and Charlie Lyon will help the transition phase, as will the addition of the versatile Joevin Jones from Chicago.

D.C. United - Bill Hamid is out for several months with a knee injury, so for the second year in a row, United will enter the CCL Quarterfinals without their starting netminder. While United has added some veterans into the mix in Lamar Neagle and Patrick Nyarko this offseason, Neagle won't be a help in the CCL as he's cup-tied to the Sounders. Additionally, United has yet to make any moves that will offset the loss of midfield stalwart Perry Kitchen.

Real Salt Lake - RSL will be bringing back striker Yura Movsisyan who helped them win an MLS Cup title in 2009 in an effort to bolster their attack. That aside, they've been relatively quiet this offseason, and still have to make up for the losses of Elías Vásquez, Chris Schuler, Luis Gil, Luis Silva and Sebastian Saucedo.

LA Galaxy - By far the busiest club of the four Champions League hopefuls, the Galaxy have added a new starting keeper in Dan Kennedy, veterans in Jeff Larentowicz and Mike Magee from the Chicago Fire, and a young stud in Ghanaian Emmanuel Boateng. They've also been linked to Europeans Ashley Cole, Jelle van Damme and Nigel de Jong. With their only significant offseason departures being Omar Gonzalez and Juninho, the Galaxy look to be pretty good shape.

2016 MLS SuperDraft - Final Results

Here's your 2016 MLS SuperDraftees that we'll be following throughout the 2016 season. Some more notes:

*Three sets of college teammates were drafted to the same MLS team: Cincinnati's Emmanuel Appiah and John Manga (Colorado), Georgetown's Joshua Yaro and Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia), and Washington's James Moberg and Josh Heard (Vancouver).
*The LA Galaxy were the only team to pass on a pick in the third round. The Galaxy made just one pick in the draft when they took Josh Turnley at #41 from Georgetown.
*Clemson, North Carolina, Georgetown and Creighton led all schools by each having four players selected in the draft.
*Overall, six of the 81 picks went unused.
*The Colorado Rapids, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Philadelphia Union led all clubs by selecting six players in the draft.
*Keegan Rosenberry was the top American player selected in the draft at #3, one pick ahead of Brandon Vincent who is currently in camp with the USMNT.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Making Moves - Guardians of the Galaxy Edition

You think the LA Galaxy are satisfied with how 2015 went for them? No, Sir. An early playoff ouster and the prospect of no spot in the 2016-2017 Champions League has left the Galaxy obviously eager to atone for their lack of 2015 hardware despite the losses of Omar Gonzalez and Juninho. With Jeff Larentowicz and Dan Kennedy already signed for 2016, the Galaxy made more noise this past week with these three attack-minded moves:

Alan Gordon - Gordon's penchant for delivering in the clutch was enough to get him a National Team call-up for last year's Gold Cup. Despite making just 12 starts over the past two seasons with LA, Gordon has delivered 10 goals (including four game winners), and he's also added five goals in the 2015-16 Champions League to lead all Americans. There are few players in the league with the sustained ability to impact matches off the bench the way Gordon does, so bringing him back is a huge accomplishment.

Mike Magee - 2015 saw the Galaxy get an aged Edson Buddle into 12 regular season matches in which he did not score, or earn an assist. Magee is a clear upgrade even though he himself was held scoreless in 12 matches with the Fire following his return from a hip injury. Magee is just two years removed from a 2013 campaign when he split time between the Galaxy and Chicago Fire and combined to score 21 goals on his way to being named the league's MVP. While likely to see more time as a reserve in LA rather than being relied upon to be a go-to option in the attack, he's still a proven scorer, a clutch performer (8 postseason goals from 2009-2012) and he's shown he can handle playing in LA.

Emmanuel Boateng - Boateng will turn 22 in 2 days, but already has two-and-a-half years of experience with Swedish giants Helsingborgs IF. Boateng, a soccer and track star in high school, spent one season at UCSB before turning pro. He was the 2012 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year, and even graduated high school a year early. Boateng moved to the U.S. from Ghana in 2009. We saw how much the under-the-radar addition of another youngster, Sebastian Lletget, meant for the Galaxy last season, can they catch lightning in a bottle two seasons in a row?

Making Moves - Portland Timbers Addition

With the MLS Cup in their trophy case, the Timbers aren't sitting idly by this offseason making three more big moves this week. Here's a rundown of who they brought in:

Zarek Valentin - Valentin, a former US Youth National Team member, was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. After parts of three seasons in MLS with Chivas USA and the Montreal Impact, Valentin moved overseas and spent three seasons with Bodø/Glimt of the Norwegian Tippeligaen. A versatile defender, Valentin provides additional depth along a back line that has already lost Jorge Villafaña, likely won't bring back Norberto Paparatto, and hasn't yet signed re-entry draft pick Jermaine Taylor. Valentin, who played for Timbers coach Caleb Porter at the University of Akron, may even be able to challenge Chris Klute for the starting left back spot.

Ned Grabavoy - A veteran of 12 MLS seasons, Grabavoy will help fill the void left by Will Johnson's departure, and brings a veteran presence to the Timbers midfield as well as their clubhouse. A two-time MLS Cup winner, Grabavoy joins Portland after spending 2015 with New York City FC. Grabavoy enjoyed his best statistical season with Real Salt Lake in 2013 when he had 5 goals and 5 assists in 32 appearances.

Jack McInerney - Despite scoring 38 regular season goals before his 24th birthday, Jack Mack can't seem to find a home. In less than two years he's gone from Philadelphia to Montreal to Columbus and now to the Timbers. A member of the U.S. Youth National Teams from 2008-2011, McInerney is the obvious replacement for the departed Maximiliano Urruti, and gives the Timbers another credible striking option to go alongside Fanendo Adi.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016 MLS SuperDraft Results by Team - Rounds 1 and 2

For the purpose of this blog, we're not going to focus on who drafted who, but rather who ended up with who. Here's a quick look at the day's highlights with rounds 3 and 4 scheduled to take place on Tuesday:

*Philadelphia Union walk away with 3 picks in the top 6 grabbing Georgetown teammates Joshua Yaro and Keegan Rosenberry and Creighton midfielder Fabian Herbers.
*Chicago trades the number 1 pick in the draft to New York City FC, but walks away with USMNT hopeful Brandon Vincent at number 4.
*New York City FC ends up with number one overall pick, Jack Harrison.
*The LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City made no picks in the first two rounds. Columbus, Montreal and Philadelphia led all clubs with four picks today.
*Both New York clubs have made all of their picks.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Haiti and Panama Earn Final Copa América Berths

Haiti and Panama each won their respective play-in games on Friday to clinch the final spots in the 16-team field for the 2016 Copa América Centenario. Haiti defeated Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 while Panama upended Cuba 4-0. MLSers Kevan George (Columbus, Trinidad & Tobago), Joevin Jones (Chicago, Trinidad & Tobago) and Anibal Godoy (San Jose, Panama) all appeared for their respective teams while former FC Dallas Striker Blas Pérez scored his 38th international goal for Panama and former LA Galaxy keeper Jaime Penedo started in net for Panama and earned the shutout. Here's a look at all 16 teams that will be participating in this summer's tournament along with their rankings in the latest FIFA poll:

2. Argentina
5. Chile
6. Brazil
8. Colombia
11. Uruguay
13. Ecuador
23. Mexico
32. United States
37. Costa Rica
46. Paraguay
47. Peru
55. Jamaica
65. Panama
70. Bolivia
79. Haiti
83. Venezuela

Four Added to USMNT Camp

Following injuries to San Jose teammates Fatai Alashe and Marc Pelosi, the U.S. National Team added four more players to their January training camp roster: San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham, DC United defender Steve Birnbaum, Stanford's Brandon Vincent and former DC United midfielder Perry Kitchen (currently unattached).  Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know about all four:

Bingham: Bingham led all American keepers in MLS with 12 shutouts in 2015 (finishing third overall), and was one of just four keepers in MLS to start all 34 regular season matches. In four seasons with the Quakes prior to 2015, Bingham had made just five regular season appearances.

Birnbaum: Birnbaum was a finalist for the 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year Award, and followed up his rookie campaign with a solid second season with DC United. Birnbaum made his USMNT debut last January against Chile, his only CAP to date.

Kitchen: Perry Kitchen has been a workhorse for DC United starting at least 30 games in all five of his professional seasons. Kitchen also debuted with the National Team in 2015 earning his first CAP in a February friendly against Panama. Kitchen is currently not under contract with DC United and it remains to see where he'll suit up in 2016.

Vincent: Last, but not least, is Vincent, the least known of the four players added to Klinsmann's camp. Brandon Vincent was a part of Stanford's 2015 National Championship Squad that dismantled Clemson 4-0 in the College Cup Final. Accolades for the young defender include the 2015 College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award, 2015 NSCAA First Team All-American, 2015 NSCAA All-Far West Region First Team, 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, 2015 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, 2015 All-Pac-12 First Team, 2015 Top Drawer Soccer Best XI First Team and 2015 College Soccer News First Team All-American. Vincent appeared in 80 games in his four years with Stanford, scoring six goals in both his junior and senior seasons.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Breaking down the USMNT January Camp Roster - Pros and Cons

Only three of 23 players on the roster for the U.S. Men's team's January camp currently don't hail from MLS clubs: Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Jordan Morris (Stanford) and Jermaine Jones (unattached). And of those three, Jones spent 2015 in MLS with the New England Revolution and Jordan Morris has been linked to the Seattle Sounders, so there's definitely a heavy MLS influence on the roster this go around. Ten players in camp have yet to earn their first senior national team appearances: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps), Marc Pelosi (San Jose Earthquakes), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC) and Kiesewetter. Another seven players have fewer than 10 CAPs with the U.S.: Bill Hamid (DC United), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), and Morris. So other than the sextet of Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones, Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC) and Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), this is, by and large, an untested group. Which when you consider that we're in the early stages of World Cup Qualifying, that's probably what you want to see. Here's three picks I like, and three I don't:


1) Ethan Finlay - Finlay has tremendous pace and is coming off a career year with the Columbus Crew. Whether or not his high speed and hustle game translates to the international level remains to be seen, but he's a big reason the Crew made it to the MLS Cup Final in 2015.

Odds and Ends

Ridgwell to Debut this Weekend?

Portland Timbers center back Liam Ridgewell is on loan until February with English Football League Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion, and may get his first action this weekend as Brighton takes on Hull City on Saturday morning. If he does, he'll have a chance to match up against former Chicago Fire striker Shaun Maloney who joined Hull City in August after spending just eight months in Chicago. Maloney has scored one goal since returning to England.

Copa América Centenario Playoffs

Today Panama City will play host to the final two play-in games for the Copa América Centenario. In the first match, Panama will take on Cuba, and in the second Trinidad and Tobago will play Haiti. Current MLSers Aníbal Godoy (Panama, San Jose), Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago, Chicago), Kevan George (Trinidad and Tobago, Columbus), and Cordell Cato (Trinidad and Tobago, San Jose) will all be suiting up for the matches as well as a number of former/unsigned MLSers including Soni Mustivar (Haiti), Blas Pérez (Panama), Gabriel Torres (Panama) and Daneil Cyrus (Trinidad and Tobago). The actual tournament, which will be held in the United States, will begin in early June.

Making Moves

1. Jeff Larentowicz signs with LA Galaxy - The versatile veteran Larentowicz marks LA's second big addition (goalkeeper Dan Kennedy being the first) in an offseason in which they've watched two of their regulars (Omar Gonzalez and Juninho) depart for Liga MX. The Ginja Ninja will begin his 12th MLS season as one of only 30 field players with over 300 career appearances and he ranks 17th all-time among field players with 26,139 minutes played. Now 32, Larentowicz is coming off back-to-back six goal seasons for the Chicago Fire, but it remains to be seen where he'll fit into the mix with LA who almost certainly isn't done setting their roster for 2016.

2. Brad Davis traded to Sporting Kansas City - Only two players in MLS history have more assists than Brad Davis's 122. They are Landon Donovan (136) and Steve Ralston (135). And now, for the first time in over a decade, the Missouri native won't be suiting up as a member of the Houston Dynamo. Instead he returns "home" following a trade to Sporting Kansas City in exchange for draft picks. Davis, who has six double digit assist seasons in the past seven years, likely became expendable following Houston's recent deal with the Philadelphia Union that brought in both Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger. Now the former U.S. National Teamer and World Cup veteran finds himself on a deep and talented roster that is poised to make a deep Champions League run in 2016. In addition to trading for Davis, Sporting Kansas City has also brought in veterans Lawrence Olum and Justin Mapp, while returning almost their entire roster from 2015.

3. Simon Dawkins signs with San Jose Earthquakes - After spending the past three years in England playing for Aston Villa and Derby County, Simon Dawkins returns to MLS and the San Jose Earthquakes. The Tottenham Hotspur Academy alum was loaned to San Jose for the 2011 and 2012 seasons during which he scored 14 goals out of the midfield and helped the Quakes to the 2012 Supporters Shield. The Jamaican International, who just turned 28 last month, becomes the fourth designated player under contract with San Jose joining Chris Wondolowski, Innocent and Matías Pérez García, but speculation is the Quakes will use the additional cash the league provided to buy down García's DP contract. Dawkins now gives the Quakes yet another offensive weapon as the league's third weakest attack in 2015 continues to make big strides towards a hopefully stronger 2016.