We're a little more than a week from the 2013 MLS SuperDraft and the draft class is continuing to grow.
MLS announced on Monday that it had signed Indiana's versatile forward/defender Eriq Zavaleta to a Generation Adidas contract. Zavaleta scored 18 goals in his sophomore season for the national champion Hoosiers after scoring an impressive 10 goals as a freshman. Although Zavaleta's scoring numbers are impressive, some scouts feel that the 6-foot-1 target forward is better suited for a central defender role in MLS. Zavaleta joins a Generation Adidas list Furman's Walker Zimmerman, Louisville's Andrew Farrell, North Carolina midfielder Mikey Lopez and Virginia Commonwealth forward Jason Johnson.
Zavaleta wasn't the only signing as MLS also inked five seniors in Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez, Boston College midfielder Kyle Bekker, Maryland midfielder John Stertzer and Notre Dame pair Ryan Finley and Dillon Powers.
*The Frank Lampard saga continues to turn as Lampard's agent Steve Kutner told The Guardian that the 34-year-old midfielder will "under no circumstances" sign a contract extension with Chelsea FC. Meanwhile, The British tabloid Daily Mail is looking to a far different source for Lampard's next destination, his fiancé who says that his choices are limited to "L.A.. or Italy."
*The Montreal Impact announced on Monday that Marco Schallibaum will be the club's head coach for Montreal's second season in MLS. The 50-year-old head coach is a veteran of the Swiss Super League, where he played for a decade before becoming a manager. Montreal parted ways with Jesse Marsch in November.
*Soccer By Ives is reporting that Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner will be dismissed by TFC with New Zealand International Ryan Nelsen taking the position. Earlier in the day, the Toronto Sun's Kurtis Larson confirmed that Nelsen will have a role with Toronto in 2013, but did not specify on his role. This news comes as TFC officially announced that Bob de Klerk will not return as the club's technical manager.
*Meanwhile, ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas has reported that Portuguese International Paulo Sousa is "a good bet" to become the new head coach of the New York Red Bulls.
*The Colorado Rapids officially announced the re-signing of Honduran midfielder Hendry Thomas.
*D.C. United confirmed that Andy Najar will go on a month-long loan to Belgian side Anderlecht.
*FIFA held their annual Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich on Monday and U.S. women's national team forward Abby Wambach was named Women's Player of the Year while former USWNT head coach Pia Sundhage was selected as Coach of the Year. Argentina and FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi was awarded the Men's Player of the Year for the fourth year in a row while Spain manager Vincete Del Bosque was awarded Coach of the Year. FIFA also unveiled the world First XI which was a strictly La Liga affair. The complete XI is below...
GK: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid).
DEF: Dani Alves (FC Barcelona), Gerard Pique (FC Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid).
MID: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (FC Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (FC Barcelona.
ATT: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Falcao (Atlético Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).
Three LA Galaxy players took part in "Soccer Night in Newtown" on Monday in an event spearheaded by Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti as a way to help out those members of the Newton community who were deeply affected by the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementry in December.
LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, right back Sean Franklin and midfielder Rafael Garcia were among the dozens of MLS and former U.S. soccer players who took part in the event which allowed Newton residents to meet the soccer players and participate in small sided soccer games, among other activities.
"To be able to put smiles on the families and kids faces again in Newtown, it's truly special. This is a community that experienced a terrible tragedy, but for one day we get to help them turn away from that and focus on something fun and positive," Franklin said in a statement. "It makes me feel honored and privileged to be a part of impacting these lives."
We'll have more on their participation in the event after its conclusion.
At long last, Omar Gonzalez received a well-deserved call-up to the U.S. national team for their annual January camp along with fellow centerback A.J. DeLaGarza and based on Jurgen Klinsmann's comments, the U.S. national team boss is excited to have the LA Galaxy centerback in the fold.
In an interview on Fox Soccer's Goals on Sunday, Klinsmann unveiled his 25-man roster for the U.S. National team's Jan. 29 match against Canada in Houston. During his conversation Klinsmann touched on a number of topics including Landon Donovan's future and the reasons for Gonzalez's inclusion.
The video of the interview is below, but Klinsmann's comments on Gonzalez are as follows:
(On Gonzalez stepping up to the International stage...)
KLINSMANN: "He needs to show us he’s ready for a big step into international football. He needs to show us that he wants to break in. He needs to show us that he’s ready to guide a back line, that he’s ready to communicate a lot and take over the responsibility."
(On whether Gonzalez's knee surgery in early 2012 was the rationale for him being left off the U.S. roster as of late.
KLINSMANN: "If it wasn’t for his injury at the beginning of last year, he would have been with us already on a regular basis. Yes, obviously [he has] tremendous physical abilities. He grew under Bruce Arena into a very good, solid centerback but national team is another level. And so we are happy to have him now finally with us in camp and to see him work on a daily basis.”
Landon Donovan is still deciding his playing future and for that reason, it was no surprise that he was not called up to the U.S. national team's January camp roster ahead of a Jan. 29 friendly against Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The U.S. national team boss announced his 25-man roster on Sunday, which included LA Galaxy defenders A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez, but Donovan was not included. Following LA's MLS Cup victory, Donovan told reporters that he was interested in taking some time this offseason to determine if he was still interested in continuing his storied playing career that includes 144 appearances for the U.S. and 49 goals.
Here is what Klinsmann said on Fox Soccer's Goals on Sunday about the LA Galaxy captain.
"Well, Landon has not been invited, because, obviously, he is taking his break. He is thinking about his future, " said Klinsmann. "And he is not at a point yet where he knows what he wants to do. So it is as simple as that. That is why we didn’t invite Landon. We are as curious as everybody else about what his decision will be in the future time, but right now he is not part of this camp."
What are your thoughts on this development?
Defenders A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez have been called up to U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsman's 25-man roster for his camp at The Home Depot Center which begins on Jan. 7, U.S. Soccer announced on Sunday.
The U.S. team will meet until Jan. 27 when they will travel to Houston for the match against Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium on Jan. 29.
DeLaGarza is coming off a stellar season that saw him make 30 appearances in MLS play playing nearly exclusively at center back for the Galaxy before his knee injury on Sept. 30 effectively ended his season. DeLaGarza had been linked with a potential national team switch to Guam in November. Meanwhile, Gonzalez made a total of 21 appearances over all competitions after battling back from offseason knee surgery. The 24-year-old central defender was at his best during LA's MLS Cup win over the Houston Dynamo as he became the first defender to be selected MLS Cup MVP.
Also called up is former LA Galaxy forward Edson Buddle, who was recently traded to the Colorado Rapids.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (9): Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Connor Lade (New York Red Bulls), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes), Jeff Parke (Philadelphia Union)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (out of contract), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Joshua Gatt (Molde), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Edson Buddle (Colorado Rapids), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
It appears that the LA Galaxy will have three more seasons of Irish forward Robbie Keane.
In an interview with Sky Sports' Fantasy Football Show, the 32-year-old Ireland International stated that he has decided to extend his current MLS contract by signing a two year extension while also ruling out an offseason loan.
"It's been a long season, with the Euros and what have you so I've a few little niggles that need to be sorted out so I don't think at this moment in time it would be right for me to go anywhere," Keane said in the interview, video of which can be seen here. "I had another year left and they offered me a new contract at the end of last season so I've just signed a new two-year contract two days ago."
Based on Keane's comments, the Irish forward's contract would end at the end of the 2015 season when he would be 35-years-old. Keane is coming off a stellar 2012 that saw him score 23 goals and 10 assists in 37 games across all competitions.
During his interview on Sky Sports, Keane also revealed his best 11 players that he has ever played with. The list and Keane's rationalizations for his selections are quite interesting so be sure to take a look.
Before a knee injury felled him in late September, A.J. DeLaGarza was of the constants on the LA Galaxy in the starting XI and ahead of the 2013 campaign; he's hope for more of the same with the back-to-back MLS Cup champions.
During the 2012 MLS Regular Season, DeLaGarza racked up 30 appearances playing nearly exclusively at center back for the Galaxy before his knee injury on Sept. 30 effectively ended his season. In the seasons early months, DeLaGarza became LA’s back four leader with Omar Gonzalez out after undergoing knee surgery. Although he admits it wasn’t always easy, the 25-year-old emerged as a centerback despite playing alongside five different partners in central defense over the course of the season.
With such flux appearing unlikely next season due to health of Gonzalez and the emergence of rookie Tommy Meyer, DeLaGarza is preparing to step up again along the back line.
“I’m about to go into my fifth year right now and if I was in college, I’d be a senior and you’d be a leader,” DeLaGarza recently told LA Galaxy Insider. “With these guys, we have Landon, Robbie and on a back line standpoint, myself, Sean and Todd were in [the lineup] day in and day out with a few other guys. I just need to do better from the start, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish apparently. I think we’d take that start and take this finish, next year.”
With an eye toward next season, DeLaGarza’s lone goal for the offseason is to “stay healthy” ahead of a competitive 2013 preseason which will likely see DeLaGarza battle with Tommy Meyer for the starting spot next to Gonzalez.
That is not the only positional battle that is promised with the departure of David Beckham and continued questions surrounding Landon Donovan and Juninho among others. However, DeLaGarza is confident that LA can battle through any potential adversity—as they did in 2012.
“It happens every year, that’s not to say that some players won’t come back but it happens every year,” said DeLaGarza. “We know that we won’t have David…we don’t know about Landon and a couple of other players, but whoever we have out there will do a tremendous job as we try to win a championship.”
The question of whether or not LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane will go on an offseason loan for the second consecutive year remains unanswered, but it seems certain -- or as close to certainty as you can get during the silly season of the transfer window period -- that he will not be joining the English premier League's bottom side Queen's Park Rangers, at least according to their manager Harry Redknapp.
Keane had been linked to Redknapp in December, but QPR's always entertaining manager told reporters on Friday that he would not pursue Keane, New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill or any other short term loan deals as he attempts to lift his club out of the relegation zone.
"They are both top players but it will only be a short- term loan and that’s the problem," Redknapp said. "You take them for just six weeks but then you lose them at a time when you still have another 10-12 games to stay up. They’d improve any team but I’m not close to doing anything with them.”
QPR are currently mired in last place in the EPL table, a full five points from safety, but are coming off a shocking 1-0 victory over fourth place Chelsea on Wednesday.
Below is more news and notes from Friday...
*Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi will join EPL side West Ham United on a one week training stint according to Yanks Abroad's Brian Sciaretta.
*Former Sporting KC man Roger Espinoza may make his EPL debut with Wigan Athletic as his deal became official on Friday.
*The Montreal Impact added yet another Italian to their squad on Friday by signing Andrea Pisanu on loan from Serie A side Bologna FC.
*Soccer by Ives is reporting that New Zealand International Ryan Nelsen may join the Toronto FC coaching staff. The report comes after England's Daily Mail linked him with a job at Ben Olsen's staff at D.C. United.
*Lastly, remember, U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will reveal his January camp squad at 10 a.m. PT on Fox Soccer's Goals on Sunday show. The lineup is expected to be made up of MLS players and Scandinavian talent.
In a wild season that saw numerous changes along the back line, no player was more consistent than right back Sean Franklin. (Read my review of his season here)
The New Year is a time for new beginnings and reflection and one of the more interesting pieces that I found recently was this video created by U.S. Soccer looking back on all of the federation's goals in 2012.
Give the video below a gander and let me know which goal was the best.