With all the excitement of the World Cup, we neglected a couple of things, a big one being our own domestic league, Major League Soccer. To wit MLS is back, and so is the Big 5.
1) Orlando Lands Kaka.
The expansion franchise that represents Mickey’s favorite city has signed the former World Player of the Year to a 3.5 year contract to be the Lions first Designated Player.
A 2002 World Cup winner with his native Brazil, Kaka enjoyed his best years while playing for AC Milan. Kaka saw his reputation take a hit following a frustrating move to Real Madrid, a four year period that saw the 2007 World Player of the Year spend more time sitting on the bench than he would have liked.
His down time in Madrid led to Kaka’s omission from Brazil’s 2014 World Cup side, but the attack minded midfielder’s return to Milan last season, at least partially restored his reputation.
The 32 year old Kaka’s friendship with Orlando owner Flavio Augusto da Silva played a part in getting this deal done. Kaka will be loaned to Sao Paulo, his first team, where he will try to keep sharp until he reports to the Lions for pre-season camp in January 2015. Financial terms have not been disclosed.
2) MLS is Back!
Actually the league ended its two week World Cup break on June 25th, two days before the U.S. wrapped up group play with that 1-0 loss to Germany.
And while it is understandable if you missed it, Vancouver hosted Montreal that night in a 0-0 affair. Two nights later Aussie World Cup legend Tim Cahill returned from Brazil to set up New York’s 90th minute equalizer with, what else, a header, as the Bulls tied Toronto 2-2.
Now it is business as usual for MLS, with games Wednesday night and a full weekend schedule.
3) U.S. Loss to Re-stock League
Tuesday’s night’s defeat to Belgium will sting for awhile, but as the saying goes, you have to get right back up on the horse, or is it the bike?
Either way, Wednesday night is too soon to expect Bradley, Dempsey and the rest of the U.S. 10 man MLS contingent to be available to their clubs, but with a full slate of games over the 4th of July weekend, maybe one or two national teamers will make an appearance.
4) MLS is Still at the World Cup
Now, we know it is not the same as rooting for the stars and stripes, but MLS fans can try to shake off their World Cup blues by pulling for MLS talents still playing in Brazil.
Costa Rica for example. The Ticos lost their leading scorer, Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio, to injury before the Cup, but they still flew to Brazil with three MLS players on board.
Columbus Crew defender Giancarlo Gonzalez has been outstanding for Costa Rica, while his Columbus teammate Waylon Francis is available off the bench. Unfortunately New York Red Bulls fullback Roy Miller picked up an injury.
And if the surprising Ticos don’t do it for you, why not pledge your allegiance to Brazil, and goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Cesar looks set to return to English club Queens Park Rangers, but keep in mind that the Brazil number 1 completed his World Cup prep work with a loan spell for Toronto FC.
5) Success Begins at Home
And finally. Whether you are a long-time soccer fan or a recent convert to the beautiful game, don’t wait until Russia 2018 for your next soccer fix. Get out to the stadium and support your local MLS team, or give them a look on television.
And if you find yourself too far from an MLS team, check out the NASL, the USL PRO, etc. And play the game, and work on your skills. Because, if you’ve been watching these last couple of weeks, you’ll know the nats can use some creativity.