With the U.S. MNT in action you might think it was a quiet week for MLS, but you would be wrong. So without further ado here is your latest Big – 5.
• They’re Back
They, being the 57 MLS players that were AWL – Absent With Leave – from their employers, while on international teams for a variety of countries this past week.
Real Salt Lake’s 2-1 home win versus Toronto was just one game that featured missing stars. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando was replaced in net by Jeff Attinella for RSL who also were without Luis Gil, U.S. U20’s, and Alvaro Saborio, Costa Rica.
TFC had to do without two of its big three, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore were with the U.S. MNT, leaving the Atomic Ant, Sebastian Giovinco, to fend for himself.
RSL got the win on an 89th minute goal from Jordan Allen. And in this one case the crowd still came out despite the missing stars, the game was a sellout.
2) Say Bye, Bye.
Playing during FIFA breaks has been an ongoing issue for MLS, one that seems no closer to being resolved despite years of complaints.
With MLS operating on a different schedule than most leagues around the world, scheduling issues are bound to crop up, and most observers accept that.
It does gets a bit confusing though, when you see that on the weekends bracketing the break, 16 teams were in MLS action, meaning that four teams had bye weeks on the weekends of March 22 and April 4.
In contrast all 20 of the league’s clubs were in action last week when those 57 players were scattered across the globe.
3) Injury News
Graham Zusi and Steve Birnbaum, two MLS players with who didn’t receive a call from Jurgen for the U.S. MNT games against Denmark and Switzerland, were injured while on club duty.
DC central defender Birnbaum, who made his national team debut in January, was the more badly hurt of the two, and will miss 4-6 weeks with an ankle sprain suffered in DC’s 1-0 win over Los Angeles. Zusi left Sporting KC’s 1-0 win over NYC FC at Yankee Stadium with a grade one, or mild hamstring strain and should miss two games.
4) Is Harry Shipping Out?
Chicago were bad last year and early indications weren’t much better as 2015 got underway. The Fire lost its first three on the trot before Sunday’s 1-0 home win versus Philadelphia.
Second year midfielder Harry Shipp set up Adailton’s winner with a well placed free kick. Shipp has been the Fire’s one consistent bright spot this season, and rumor has it that the former Notre Dame man has admirers in France.
Even if these rumors amount to nothing, Shipp is turning out to be fine MLS player. A crafty midfielder as likely to to set up a teammate for a goal as to finish one himself, Shipp has one goal and one assist in Chicago’s four games in this young season.
It doesn’t sound like much but the team has scored just two goals to date.
5) On the Road Again With Kenny Cooper
Kenny Cooper was released by Seattle today (Thursday), but it sounds like he won’t be idle for long, Montreal have expressed interest in signing the 30 year old striker.
It is not surprising, it has always been that way when it comes to Cooper, all the way back to when he signed with Manchester United as a teenager. Manchester United liked Cooper enough to sign him as teenager back in 2003, but when Cooper couldn’t break in with United he made his way to Dallas.
Cooper has had some good seasons in MLS, scoring 11 goals in his first season with Dallas in 2006 and 18 for FCD in 2008.
Skillful 6’3” forwards who can score goals will always be in demand and Cooper scored 18 with the New York Red Bulls as recently as 2012. Cooper notched 4 in 10 chances with the U.S. MNT, but as in his club career he didn’t stick.
Cooper was used off the bench for Seattle the past couple of years, never coming close to unseating Obafemi Martins or Clint Dempsey, and so he moves on again. Maybe to Montreal, which would be his sixth MLS team. No one is expecting Cooper to be a star these days, but teams still seem happy to have the 30 year old around.
2003–2004 Manchester United
Years 2004–2006 Manchester United
2004 → Académica Coimbra (loan)
2005 → Oldham Athletic (loan)
2006–2009 FC Dallas
2009–2011 1860 Munich
2010 → Plymouth Argyle (loan)
2011 Portland Timbers
2012 New York Red Bulls
2013 FC Dallas
2014 – Seattle Sounders FC