Talking about all things Soccer. Its Soccer, its serious… but not always.
James Keep – 13/05/2016
This story escalated quickly. It started on Saturday during the Columbus Crew’s 4-4 draw with the Montreal Impact and involved Kei Kamara, who had already scored two goals in the game, basically having a tantrum when Federico Higuain wouldn’t let him take a penalty to potentially secure a hat-trick. Higuain himself took it and scored to make the score 4-1, but the extreme delay and bickering between the two may have had some impact on the outcome of the game as the Crew proceeded to surrender their three goal advantage, with Kamara’s output following the incident noticeably dropping.
That heat of the moment dispute would have been fine in itself but then Kamara committed the cardinal sin of airing his grievances in the media, coming out post game and accusing his fellow designated player of being selfish in a rant that hinted at much deeper problems between the two.
From then on it seemed the writing was on the wall for Kamara. Gregg Berhalter was non-comital on Kamara’s future with the team when discussing the incident on Monday and on Tuesday it emerged that the Crew SC were looking to shop Kamara to other teams. That same day the club announced that their Sierra Leone international would be suspended for one game, but expected to stay with the club, a punishment that Kamara announced he disagreed with, once again talking in the media. That may have been the final straw as, on Thursday, it was announced that, just prior to the MLS transfer window closing, Columbus Crew SC had traded Kamara to the New England Revolution in exchange for a number of considerations. Throughout the drama Higuain has taken the high road, and is still refusing to bad mouth his former teammate, but Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt has stated that last weeks incident is just one of the reasons the club has chosen to part ways with Kamara.
SHOW SOME HEART
D.C. United brought in a Kamara of their own this week, adding some attacking reinforcements in the dying days of the transfer window. In a move that was either highly commendable or rather questionable the club signed 22-year-old Sierra Leone international striker Alhaji Kamara. The reason the move could be seen in two ways is that Kamara has previously been diagnosed with a heart condition that both FIFA and UEFA felt was serious enough to force the player into retirement.However, MLS doesn’t follow the same rules regarding heart conditions and, following a new diagnosis from an American doctor, Kamara has been cleared to play.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. United ironically lost one of their former strikers, Eddie Johnson, to a heart condition last year and it would be interesting to know just what Kamara’s new diagnosis said. The condition must surely still exist in some form and so don’t expect the striker to be playing in the extreme conditions of Denver or Houston anytime soon. Hopefully the MLS club know what they’re doing, because the last thing anyone wants is a repeat of the tragic news this week about Cameroonian midfielder Patrick Ekeng.
CONCACAF MOVES ON
It was a hugely important week for CONCACAF, who elected Victor Montagliani as their new President on Thursday. Montagliani, who became the first non-Caribbean President of the federation, won the election 25-16, claiming a strong majority of the 41 member nations at the ordinary congress in Mexico City. During his campaign he promised to ensure greater support for all CONCACAF teams, he also wants to raise the number of teams in the Gold Cup from 12-16 and is a proponent of a new Caribbean pro league.
More good news for the President came just days prior to his election with the announcement that CONCACAF has sold their marketing rights to Soccer United Marketing through to 2021. That move will not only help bring in future revenue for the regional governing body but also saw their existing funds unfrozen as a result, although FIFA continues to withhold $10m in payments until further conditions are met.
Another of Montagliani’s preferences was to work together across the federation to ensure that, whether it be the US, Mexico or Canada, World Cup 2026 comes to the region. However, the precise host of that tournament is a long way from being decided as FIFA has delayed the selection of the tournament host until 2020.
FROM CHELSEA TO CHELSEA?
It’s not been a good week for Frank Lampard in terms of his public perception in MLS, as it was revealed this week that Lampard will be joining the BBC to provide studio analysis during the European Cup this summer. Now, in fairness to Frank, he’s staying in New York to provide that analysis and the MLS season has a break during two weeks of the tournament thanks to the Copa America Centenario taking place in the US. With it looking like Lampard’s career could be winding down through continuous injury you can’t really blame him for starting to think about his post playing career options. Or apparently you can, as more and more are jumping on the bandwagon to label Lampard the worst DP signing in MLS history. There was some good news for Frank though, as he has finally returned to training with New York City and could make his first appearance of the season sooner rather than later.
Another of Lampard’s former Chelsea and England teammates, John Terry, is apparently considering MLS for the next stop on his dwindling career. Terry has stated he won’t play for another Premier League club and Chelsea seem pretty adamant he’ll only get an extra year with them if he accept a significantly lower contract, so it seems that MLS could come calling. It was said earlier in the week that Terry would need to lower his wage expectations if the aging defender wanted to land a spot with an MLS side but it seems that the New York Red Bulls, who already appeared to have addressed their defensive issues with the Aurelien Collin signing, have looked across the city at NYCFC’s Lampard debacle and thought “Yeah, we could do with some of that.”
PARKES AND WRECK
Oh dear, what on earth was Romeo Parkes thinking? If you want an example of how to derail your career in 20 seconds then look no further than the Pittsburgh Riverhounds striker who, following an incident with Karl Ouimette, went into full meltdown. Both men were sent-off following a fracas on the field but, with Ouimette walking away ahead of the Jamaican striker, Parkes lost the plot and kicked Ouimette full force in the base of his spine, studs and all. Ouimette was removed from the field on a stretcher and, as video of the incident quickly started to spread around social media, the repercussions started to come in for Parkes, who was first suspended by the Riverhounds and then had his contract completely terminated after receiving a year long suspension from the USL, with club owner Tuffy Shallenberger revealing he had wanted to dispatch his unhinged forward immediately regardless of the sanction.
Now, Ouimette wasn’t innocent in all of this, and the Canadian defender has received a three game ban for his part in the brawl, with the referee report noting that Ouimette had initiated a fight with closed fists. The good news though is that Ouimette seems to have escaped any permanent damage from the cowardly attack, offering his own updates on his health following further medical checks.
MAKE ROOM FOR ZLATAN
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaving Paris St Germain this summer, is he bound for MLS? Well, according to Sky Italia, a deal to bring Ibrahimovic to America is “90% done” and will likely see him land with the LA Galaxy. Two things that should make you question this story: 1) Its a report from Italy – never a reputable source for news 2) The LA Galaxy don’t exactly have much, or indeed any, room to manuvere right now. Considering the balancing act they already have trying to accommodate Gerrard, Dos Santos and Keane along with De Jong and Ashley Cole, both on the field and in the balance sheets, they literally can’t afford Zlatan right now… unless another MLS rule change is on the horizon.
In other transfer news, the Philadelphia Union have confirmed their interest in 19-year-old Colombian striker Mateo Casierra
David Beckham’s Miami project suffered another set back at the end of last week as negotiations on the potential MLS side’s stadium hit a snag. The latest hold up concerns a package of local economic benefits Miami-Dade county wants in exchange for the land, with Beckham’s negotiators apparently unimpressed with the sheer amount being demanded. Yet, despite this latest set-back, it seems that Beckham’s MLS stadium plan is supported by the vast majority of Miami-Dade voters. So that’s good news.
Speaking this week, former Spain international and Real Madrid superstar Raul claimed that the US needs idols in order to help become a true soccer nation. Hmmm, if only we’d had one of those in recent years….
In completely unrelated news, Landon Donovan will once again be coaching the Homegrown squad at this years All-Star festivities when they take on a Mexico U20 side in San Jose. This week also saw the former US national team star (*cough* idol *cough*) make his LA Galaxy broadcasting debut, working as an analyst during his former team’s 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union.
UP FOR THE CUP
The 2016 US Open Cup started in earnest this week, with the highlight of Round One seeing Detroit City FC triumph 3-0 over local rivals the Michigan Bucks. There was plenty of other drama among the teams duking it out in round one as well but, maybe it’s the romantic in me, seeing the way Detroit City FC celebrated their win, that’s what the Cup is all about and hopefully more teams can capture that magic going forward. Now that Round One is done and dusted the scene is set for Round Two, with US soccer also announcing potential pairings for Round Three which, if results go their way, could see Minnesota United taking on Saint Louis FC, Detroit City meet the Indy Eleven and FC Cincinnati take on the Tampa Ray Rowdies as just some of the highlights in that round.
In classic US Open Cup style, there was also drama off the field, as one team was disqualified prior to their game beginning (but apparently not soon enough to save the visiting team from making the trip), and the LA Wolves launching a protest over their opposition fielding an ineligible player.
That wasn’t the only cup competition getting underway this week though, as the Amway Canadian Championship also commenced, with the Ottawa Fury beating FC Edmonton 3-0 in the first leg on this year’s play-in game between the two second-division sides (This competition desperately needs three more Canadian teams to make it interesting).
Will Las Vegas ever land an MLS expansion side? Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman believes so, as she expressed her confidence this week that the Oakland Raiders NFL team will relocate to Vegas and the new stadium will play host to both the NFL team and a new MLS side.
While the Atlanta Silverbacks may have dropped down a couple of divisions and Atlanta gets ready to welcome it’s new MLS side next year, could the NASL be looking to land a new franchise in the city as well? A report this week say that it’s a distinct possibility and that the new side could bear the throwback moniker of “the Atlanta Chiefs”.
Orlando City announced a partnership with an EPL side at the end of last week. No, not Manchester United, Chelsea or Leicester… it’s Stoke City. It’s not surprising given team President Phil Rawlin’s past connection to Stoke City and the affable Englishman extolled the virtues of the new deal, as did Stoke CEO Tony Stokes, who claimed “...I know that Stoke City are already followed by many Orlando fans.“… Poor Orlando fans. Still, while Phil Rawlins may be responsible for inflicting the Potters on the unsuspecting Orlando sports fans, he and his wife Kay are giving far more good back to the local community to outweigh that small blemish.
Things seem to be going ok for Orlando City on the field as well, with Adrian Heath hoping to have Pedro Ribeiro back before the end of the season (maybe in time for a playoff run) and a strong friendship rekindled between the club’s two young Canadian players.
A COYLE’D SPRING
Last week we suggested that Owen Coyle could be the first managerial casualty of the season if results didn’t improve for the Houston Dynamo and so, of course, the Dynamo went and beat Sporting Kansas City 2-0 on Saturday. Things went back to normal on Wednesday though, as the Dynamo lost 3-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes with Tyler Deric earning a second red card in three appearances this season. It seems Coyle is back exactly where he started then but it a situation could be developing that would work out well for both the Dynamo and Coyle as, if the latest rumor is to be believed*, Coyle could be in line for a return home to Scotland and the vacant managerial job at Celtic.
*It’s not though, as it comes from a highly questionable source.
MINNESOTA VOTES YAY
There was good news for Minnesota United this week as two key components needed for their Stadium passed this week, first up was the stadium property tax break, which passed in the senate 37-30, and second there was the stadium liquor licence, which passed in the house 125-0 on Thursday. The only part still outstanding is a tax break on construction costs, with that bill looking set to be added to the property tax break bill during conference committee. Should all three of those pass then the club will be all set to begin construction on their new home later this summer, with an anticipated opening in time for the 2018 season.
In honor of the first round of the US Open Cup, and all the “little guys” trying to make it as far as they can, here’s the story of a new, semi-pro team, formed just last year, and their quest to qualify for the US Open Cup by 2020. If you’re wondering, their first game in the NPSL ended in a 1-1 draw last Sunday.
Also, Steve Zakuani, a cruel victim of injury and fate, seems to be finding some happiness after his career was sadly cut short.
ONE TO WATCH
FC Cincinnati vs the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (4pm ET, YouTube)
Here me out on this one. One day, when Cincinnati get promoted to MLS, they’ll adopt Columbus Crew SC as their main rival but, for now, in the USL, they’re out to make a big deal of their game against Pittsburgh. It’s a 4hr 30 minute drive between the two cities, which is about right in terms of rivalries and Cincinnati, already league leaders in attendance, had sold more than 10,000 tickets for this game by the middle of the week. (with the latest word being more than 15,000).
Pittsburgh aren’t exactly lighting things up in the USL’s Eastern Conference right now, but a potential rivalry game could help them turn it up a notch and the team will be keen for a positive performance following Romeo Parkes disgraceful moment last weekend. Either way though, the game presents a good opportunity to check of FC Cincinnati’s team, many of whom could still be considered MLS calibre players but, for one reason or another, have found themselves cast off to the USL, looking to prove themselves once again.
If that doesn’t take you fancy though there are plenty of good MLS games this weekend. I would recommend the rivalry games between DC United vs New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps for some interesting moments or check out FC Dallas vs the Seattle Sounders – traditionally a strong Western Conference tie.