Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Curtin Traded to Chivas USA

Fire defender Jim Curtin has been traded to Chivas USA, according to a source. Curtin spent seven seasons with the Fire and was a starter for the Eastern Conference in the 2004 MLS All-Star game. He played in only 11 games last year due to injury. The trade will reunite him with former Fire teammate and good friend Jesse Marsch.

The Fire has also traded a fourth-round pick in the 2010 SuperDraft for Andy Herron's rights, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The Dispatch reported that Herron might sign with Saprissa of Costa Rica's first division, but I wouldn't rule out a return to the Fire. The guy loved Chicago. From what I hear, he was devastated when he found out the Fire traded him to the Crew before the 2007 season.

Herron might not be the only forward joining the Fire this off-season. I'm told the team is expected to announce a new signing soon. And no, it's not Ante Razov.


NY Red Bull Academy Cost-Free

Players selected to the New York Red Bulls youth academy teams will play cost-free. "We believe by eliminating the cost barrier, top players will be able to develop within our program with a goal of someday playing on the first team for the New York Red Bulls," said RBNY Academy Director Bob Montgomery.

"Top soccer talent will only have to be selected to the program by our world-class coaching staff, said Montgomery. "Beyond that, all of the participation costs will be handled by Red Bull."

Tryouts for the 2009 cycle of teams will be held in the Spring of 2008 for the five Academy teams (U20, U18, U16, U15, U14).

"Red Bull New York continues to commit its resources to the sport of soccer in the United States," said RBNY Sporting Director Jeff Agoos. "Red Bull is firmly committed to player development and helping support youth soccer organizations within the local community.


Gallardo Leaning Towards MLS

According to his agent, erstwhile Paris St. Germain attacker Marcelo Gallardo has his sights set on a move to America.

Borussia Dortmund and San Lorenzo are also in for the Argentina international, who has already ruled out signing for the latter.

"Marcelo won't return to Argentina at this moment," Juan Berros told Goal. "He has already terminated his contract with Paris Saint Germain, and the idea is for him to continue his career in the United States."

The 32-year old has recently been linked with D.C. United, but New York is also apparently in the running.


Osorio Scouting South Americans

New Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio is busy looking into attractive players to bring to MLS, with an eye to South Americans playing in Europe.

While the boss has targeted some playing overseas, the players he's scouting now are in Brazil and Colombia.

"I am looking for a central defender, hopefully left-footed," Osorio told the New York Times. "I'm also looking for a wide midfielder, also left-footed, and we're trying to squeeze in a playmaker."

"I can tell you that we have already found the players we need, but there are restrictions because of the salary cap."


Monday, January 21, 2008

Last Pick a Flier for Toronto FC

Toronto FC had an excellent Major League Soccer SuperDraft on Friday and it could be even better if their final pick, an admitted gamble, Joe Lapira of Notre Dame, decides to sign a contract.

Lapira, 21, is training with Nottingham Forest of England's League One and has expressed an intention to play in Europe. His mother is Irish, and last May he was a late substitution for Ireland in a 1-1 draw in an exhibition game with Ecuador.

In another development, an offer was made to goalkeeper Josh Wagenaar, 22, of Grimsby, Ont., who has been released by his club in Holland, but so far nothing has developed. During the summer, Lapira had a trial with Rangers of the Scottish Premier League that was cut short by a leg injury. Toronto head coach Mo Johnston spoke to Lapira on the morning of the draft and also has talked to those who have coached him before making him the 35th pick overall.


Guzan Set For Hoops Visit

Fresh from backstopping the U.S. to a win over Sweden, Chivas USA keeper Brad Guzan is making his way over to Glasgow for a Celtic trial.

The netminder would likely cost the Parkhead crew upwards of $2 million, with several other clubs milling around the player.

"It's always exciting when a club such as Celtic are in for you," Guzan told the Daily Record."I know all about them, they are a world-renowned team with a great history."

Schmetzer Shmoozes At Combine

Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer was lurking the recent MLS SuperDraft combine, making relationships with players who might fail to make a top flight roster.

Although the Sounders will remain in the A-League for the time being, 2009 brings a chance for all squad members to crash MLS on the expansion team.

"If a guy gets cut during the preseason, we're trying to get the last guys released from MLS rosters," Schmetzer told the Seattle Times."

We're a hot USL franchise right now," he added, giving a thumbs up to the scouting trip. "There was quite a bit of a buzz going on about that at the combine."

Babayaro to LA Galaxy

Celestine Babayaro has agreed a three-year deal with Los Angeles Galaxy after being released by Newcastle United. The left back, 29, will play under Ruud Gullit, who signed him for Chelsea in 1997.

Due to his many injury problems it was mutually decided on December 10, 2007, that Babayaro should be released from his contract at Newcastle with immediate effect and a compensation figure was agreed.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Donovan to Return to Earthquakes?

The Earthquakes still have a "designated player" exemption, which enables a team to pay a star player more than the salary cap allows. Doyle has said the team is willing to use that exemption if the right player comes along.

Which bring us to Donovan, the former Quakes star and main man with the Los Angeles Galaxy until David Beckham arrived last summer.

The stage has grown even more crowded with the Galaxy's acquisition of Carlos Ruiz from Dallas. Ruiz is the talented player who was shipped out from L.A. three years ago to make room for Donovan in the backdoor deal that still burns Earthquakes fans.

This is the Galaxy way: stockpiling stars. It's clearly what team president Alexi Lalas likes to do, but the scuttlebutt is that Lalas has lost power and Paul Bravo is now the lead on soccer decisions.

Star-studded lineups work for some teams, but the Galaxy isn't Real Madrid. The Galaxy's roster has been a bust and the league doesn't have enough star power to put so much on one team.

The Galaxy will devote half of its payroll to Beckham, Donovan and Ruiz, leading to speculation that the team will try to move one of the players.

Donovan has a no-trade clause. Also, we know from experience that he doesn't mind letting someone else be the focal point. And we know how happy and content he is living in Manhattan Beach with his wife, the actress Bianca Kajlich. Donovan likes his comfort level.


Pickens rejects Fire's offer

I don't mean to be a buzz kill after such a great draft for the Fire, but I've learned that Matt Pickens' turned down the Fire's contract offer last night. Pickens is not under contract with the Fire for next season and is currently on trial with Norwich City in England.

"We made what we felt was a good offer last night and his agent turned it down," said Fire head coach Denis Hamlett, who believes talks will continue.

The Fire used one of its first round picks to select Tulsa goalkeeper Dominic Cervi at No. 12.

"We couldn't just sit around and wait," Hamlett said of the Fire's goalkeeper situation. "We needed to protect ourselves.

"We were excited [Cervi] was available at that number."

As for reports that Cervi is considering a move to Europe, Hamlett has a wait-and-see attitude.

"We get the players into pre-season training camp, have them compete for a position, than talk about a contract," said Hamlett. "I spoke with Cervi, but mainly to say congratulations."