Hi, we are back! After a bit of a summer vacation, your trusty MLS scribe has returned and just in time for his week’s All-Star Game and a couple of turns on the MLS Coaching Carousel involving two of the most successful American managers not named Bruce Arena or Bob Bradley.
1) Sigi Schmid Out in Seattle
Seattle fired the winningest regular season coach in MLS history on Tuesday when they showed Schmid the door in a move that had begun to seem inevitable with the Sounders mired in ninth place in the 10 team Western Conference.
Schmid is the only coach Seattle has known since entering the league in 2009 and while he coached the Sounders to the playoffs in each of its six seasons in the league and led the side to four U.S. Open Cup titles, ultimately it was his failure to bring the MLS Cup to Seattle that cost Schmid his job.
With a resume that includes two MLS Cup wins, 2002 L.A. Galaxy and 2008 with the Columbus Crew, two MLS Coach of the Year trophies, those four Open Cup wins and three College Cups with UCLA, Schmid won’t be unemployed for long.
2) Kreis Lands in Orlando
As one MLS Cup winning coach leaves the scene (for now) another returned to the sideline with last week’s word that former Real Salt Lake and New York FC manager Jason Kreis had been tabbed to take over from Adrian Heath in the land of Disney.
After taking the hit last year when first-year NYCFC failed to secure a playoff position, it feels a bit odd to see Kreis replace Heath at second year Orlando, where many observers feel that Heath suffered the same scapegoat role as Kreis had in 2016.
Speculation was rife that Orlando’s Brazilian owner Flavio Augusto da Silva would look to make an international splash with a new manager, instead, he went for the well-regarded local.
It seemed a smart strategy when Manchester City owned NYC entrusted Kreis with the job for its 2015 debut season but the Sheikh Mansour gave Kreis precious little time to build an expansion team, will da Silva show more patience?
3) Former Rev Trades Norway for Denmark
After a deal to move to Serie A club Hellas Verona fell through last year defender AJ Soares landed with Norwegian club Viking. It was a disappointment to miss out on Italy but Soares shook it off to become a mainstay at the Tippeligaen outfit and now has stepped up to Danish Superliga side AGF Aarhus, Benny Feilhaber’s old club.
AGF has long been a Danish power but has struggled in recent years and Aarhus sporting director Jens Andersson sounds as if he believes that Soares can help with the club’s resurgence, saying in a team statement:
“We have been looking for a tactically wise, prudent and character strong defender, and we have found one with A.J. Soares. He complements our other central defenders really well and fit well into our style of play. He comes with solid experience of Scandinavian football, and therefore we expect that he relatively quickly falls into the squad and competes for a starting place.”
4) MLS Homegrown Squad Face Mexico U20’s
Tonight at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium the MLS Homegrown team will test themselves against a U20 Mexico selection. How will the Landon Donovan coached side do? It is hard to know because too many of these “prospects” see little to no action in the league.
MLS does have some regular contributors, though, led by Seattle and U.S. MNT striker Jordan Morris. Below are the two rosters.
MLS Homegrown Players
Goalkeepers (2): Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Maxime Crépeau (Montreal Impact)
Defenders (6): Danilo Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Aaron Guillen (FC Dallas), Phanuel Kavita (Real Salt Lake), Jalen Robinson (D.C. United), Tyler Turner (Orlando City SC)
Midfielders (7): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake), Jay Chapman (Toronto FC), Coy Craft (FC Dallas), Zachary Herivaux (New England Revolution), Christian Lucatero (Houston Dynamo), Raul Mendiola (LA Galaxy), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes)
Forwards (4): Joey Calistri (Chicago Fire), Jordan Hamilton (Toronto FC), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)
Inactive: Aaron Kovar (Seattle Sounders FC), Harrison Heath (Orlando City SC)
Goalkeepers (2): Abraham Isai Romero Gonzalez (Pachuca), Christian Herrera (Pachuca)
Defenders (6): Jose Villegas Cruz (Pachuca), Edwin Lara Barrios (Pachuca), Pablo Jaquez Isunza (Pumas), Cesar Ulises Hernandez Perez (Chivas), Bryan Salazar Haro (Chivas), Aldo Yanin Benítez Montes (Toluca)
Midfielders (7): Miguel Angel Tapias Davila (Mineros), Andres Iniestra Vazquez (Pumas), Jorge Alberto Escamilla Moreno (Pumas), David Israel Avalos Toro (Chivas), Luis Alberto Márquez Quezada (Chivas), Ruben Dominguez Lopez (Chivas), Ian de Jeses Arellano Lira (FC Juarez)
Forwards (4): Omar Islas Hernandez (Pumas), Daniel Armando Rios Calderon (Chivas), Luis Fernando Cruz Ontiveros (Zacatepec), Ulises Jaimes Huerta (Morelia)
5) Arsenal Challenge All-Stars in San Jose
Thursday’s main event features Arsenal, one of the most popular Premier League sides in the U.S. facing the MLS All-Stars for the first time. Gunners fans will be keen to get a look at new signing Granit Xhaka, with American fans anxious to gauge the progress of U.S. Youth international Gedion Zelalem.
Given Wenger’s comments at Tuesday’s press conference, U.S. fans should get what they want.
“I think he’s (Zelalem) a player who has quality, top quality,” Wenger said on Tuesday. The 19-year-old midfielder spent 2015 with Scottish side Glasgow Rangers, where Wenger felt “he did quite well.”
The venerable Arsenal coach would like to see slender Zelalem gain a bit more strength but said, “overall, I’m convinced that he’ll have a great career. Will he play (against the All-Stars)? “Certainly,” Wenger said, “(he’ll be) part of the game.”
Thursday, July 28 (7:30 pm ET on ESPN, UniMas, TSN and RDS).
Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution), Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Kaka (Orlando City SC), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
Forwards: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact), Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), David Villa (New York City FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Goalkeepers (3): Petr Cech, Emiliano Martinez, David Ospina
Defenders (7): Hector Bellerin, Krystian Bielik, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal
Midfielders (9): Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock, Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka, Gedion Zelalem
Forwards (4): Chuba Akpom, Joel Campbell, Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott