You might think that with the MLS Cup decided there would be nothing to to report. You might think that, but you would be wrong. In the 10 days since Sporting KC dispatched Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks (7-6), after a 1-1 deadlock, there has been plenty of league news.
With that in mind here is this week’s MLS Big 5.
1) Dempsey Back to Fulham?
Settle down now, we’re just talking about a short term loan. U.S. MNT coach Klinsmann has encouraged players with World Cup ambitions to seek out loans and the scuttlebut is that Deuce is heading back to the Cottage. Fulham could certainly use the help and after Dempsey’s struggles in Seattle, maybe this move will help both parties.
There is not much else stirring in loan news, which could make for an interesting January camp. Klinsmann has described the camp as mandatory for national teamers not otherwise engaged. Landon Donovan let it be known that he intends to rest and allow his ankle to recover. Omar Gonzalez is another who does not seem keen for foreign adventure at the moment, and their L.A. Galaxy coach has said that neither one is going anywhere. Hmmm.
After any season players move on, but when the curtain comes up on MLS in 2014, it will be without some big names , particularly between the posts.
When Real Salt Lake’s Lovel Palmer’s penalty shot clanged off of the crossbar and away from the goal 10 days ago at Sporting Park, Kansas City was MLS champs, with what was the last shot that Jimmy Nielsen would ever face.
Nielsen led a trio of MLS keepers who decided to hang up their gloves after 2013. And while Nielsen retired with one MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award to go with that MLS Cup, the Dane was an MLS novice compared to Matt Reis (New England) and Kevin Hartman (New York).
Hartman entered the league in 1997, Reis followed a year later, both drafted by the L.A. Galaxy. Hartman would backstop L.A. to two MLS Championship’s, winning the Goalkeeper of the Year in 1999. Reis had his best days in New England, and while he never won an MLS Cup or the GK of the Year, the respected keeper was selected MLS Humanitarian of the Year for his work in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Out the field Pablo Mastroeni and Brian Ching lead the list of retirees. Both men were MLS stalwarts and U.S. MNT contributors. A legend in Houston, Ching finished up as a player/assistant coach for the Dynamo, and is expected to take a front office role with the club.
Mastroeni played in the World Cup for the U.S. in 2002 and 2006, famously receiving a red card in a physical match versus Italy in 2006. Mastroeni won one MLS Cup with Colorado, Ching two with Houston.
3) Roster Shakeups
In the days after the MLS Cup names big and small were waived, traded and otherwise shuffled throughout the league. In fact, Lovel Palmer was amongst those on the go.
Palmer was traded to Chicago, just one trade in a flurry of activity around the country. Players like Kenny Cooper, Dallas to Seattle for Adam Moffat, Bobby Convey, Toronto to New York and Bobby Boswell, Houston to DC United were just some of the moves.
4) Vancouver Hires Carl Robinson
The Whitecaps tried to land a big name coach in Bob Bradley, former U.S. and Egypt national team coach, but when that didn’t pan out, Vancouver turned to Robinson.
The Welshman was already on Vancouver’s staff as an assistant and is well respected in the game after a long career that began at Wolverhampton. Robinson played with several teams in England before coming to MLS with TFC and finishing up with New York.
Robinson’s hire may not be the glam move Vancouver exec’s were after, but sometimes the best man for the job is right under your nose. Mike Petke showed that this year with the Red Bulls and the Whitecaps will hope the same proves true with Robinson.
5) Eddie Johnson to DC United
Johnson said, well mimed, “pay me,” instead the Sounders traded him. Earlier in the year Johnson let it be known that he wanted more money, with a little theatrical demonstration after scoring a goal.
Instead, the Sounders decided that Johnson was expendable. With Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle and new addition Kenny Cooper all playing up front, Seattle apparently decided they have other needs.
After a disastrous stint with Fulham, Johnson resurrected his career when he came to Seattle in 2012, scoring 23 goals in 49 games over two seasons. Johnson also played himself back into the national team, scoring versus Mexico in Columbus as the Americans secured a World Cup berth in Brazil.
In joining United, Johnson goes to the worst team in the league, perhaps the worst in league history. DC won just three games last year, while collecting a paltry 16 points. Seattle finished with 52 points. DC coach Ben Olsen and Johnson were teammates on the 2006 World Cup team and DC could desperately use some goals. United tallied just 22 goals in 34 games last year.