The 2014 season is in the books, but don’t think for a minute that MLS has gone into hibernation. We’ve already seen Orlando and New York stock up on talent through the expansion draft, and with plenty of news to cover let’s have a look at our first off season MLS -Big 5.
1) Henry Retires!
The French legend had already let it be known that he would not be returning to the New York Red Bulls, or any other MLS team, and late last night Henry announced via Facebook that he would, in fact, be hanging up his boots.
Henry will be returning to London to join Sky Sports, where he is a legend for his exploits in leading Arsenal to two English Premier League titles, including the undefeated “Invincibles,” in 2003-04.
2) DMB Runs from U.S. MNT
Though seemingly ageless, DaMarcus Beasley has decided to retire from the international game, while continuing his club career with the Houston Dynamo.
Beasley resurrected his U.S. career with a 2013 position switch from midfield to fullback, winding up as the starter in Brazil at his new spot.
Beasley played in the 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cup, becoming the first player to see action in four Mundials for the U.S. MNT.
3) Revs Defender to Italy
Now we know why New England left A.J Soares unprotected in the MLS Expansion Draft, and why neither NYC FC or Orlando SC selected the solid 26 year old center back.
Soares is reported to be signing with Serie A club Hellas Verona, where he would become just the fourth U.S. player to join a team in the Italian top flight.
Soares would follow Michael Bradley, Oguchi Onyewu, and Alexi Lalas. Lalas is also in the news today for his move from ESPN to Fox.
Soares will join U.S. MNT nemesis, Mexico’s Rafa Marquez at Verona. This move opens a central defense spot at New England, one that will likely be filled by Andrew Farrell. Farrell was the number one pick of the 2013 MLS draft as a center back, but has slotted in capably at right fullback.
4) Owen Coyle Takes the Reins at Houston
The Houston Dynamo bucked the recent MLS trend of hiring young coaches who have played in the league, when they turned to former Bolton manager Owen Coyle to take over for Dominic Kinnear.
Coyle becomes Houston’s second manager, following Kinnear, who had been at the helm since Houston moved from San Jose. Kinnear returns to San Jose to take charge of the new San Jose Earthquakes.
Coyle, who has managed in Scotland and England, is best known in the U.S for his work at Bolton, where he managed perennially rehabbing U.S. MNT player Stuart Holden.
5) Management Shakeups at RSL and NYRB
Last year coach Jason Kreis left Real Salt Lake to take the coaching position at New York City FC, now General Manager Garth Lagerwey looks to be departing for an undefined role in Seattle. Lagerwey is highly respected across the league for building a club that consistently challenges for titles in a small market. RSL won the MLS Cup in 2009.
Meanwhile Andy Roxburgh is stepping down as Director of Operations of the New York Red Bulls, having taken over in 2012. The former Scotland manager hired current Red Bulls coach Mike Petke, and built a solid team that earned the Supporters Shield in 2013.
Roxburgh’s departure is part of a transition at NYRB, led of course by the retirement of Thierry Henry.