Happy Birthday, Landon!
Happy Birthday, Landon!
Following the confirmation of David Beckham’s new team in Miami, he pledged to bring some of the world’s best stars to USA’s east coast. Well, he could be starting to deliver on his promise already. In Sunday’s newspapers the former LA Galaxy midfielder has been linked with bringing Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to Miami.
Other rumors in the tabloids focus on Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney signing a new contract and Robin van Persie potentially rejoining Arsenal.
For these rumors and the rest of Sunday’s transfer gossip, click here.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – MLS executive vice president, player relations and competition Todd Durbin recalled when he first met Mike Magee 10 years ago. Magee joined the league as a promising U.S. youth international, a player brimming with promise and teeming with the skill to fulfill it. His presence on the stage to accept his first MLS MVP award ensured that point had finally arrived.
Magee traveled a long road to fulfill his potential and produce the sort of season (32 games, 21 goals, four assists) worth of this award. He functioned in the shadows behind brighter stars. He revealed his class in fits and starts without pulling everything together. He survived the doubts created by a knee injury seven years ago to commence his ascent toward the top of the league.
“Coming back from that was a lot harder than I thought,” Magee said. “The rehab took a big toll mentally and physically. I had set such a high standard for myself. I tried playing for a long time, but I realized my body wasn’t allowing me to do what I wanted to do. There were some dark times. Waking up, I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do. I just stuck with it. Obviously, it’s paying off.”
Magee emerged as a key figure for LA Galaxy over the past few seasons and played a considerable role in the club’s titles in 2011 and 2012. He filled any gap in Bruce Arena’s lineup and provided the flexibility to tailor the team to fit the task on the day. His contributions often went overlooked in a team with David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, but they were essential to the Galaxy’s success.
His complementary role with the Galaxy transformed into a star turn when he returned to his native Chicago in a high-profile swap for the rights to Robbie Rogers back in May. It took less than a day to figure out how much his professional life had changed. He planned to ask Fire coach Frank Klopas about playing forward more regularly after featuring mostly in the wide areas with the Galaxy. Klopas didn’t give him the chance: the ex-Fire boss asked him where he wanted to play during his first training session with the team.
It proved a wise decision for both club and player. Magee continued to exploit the gaps he located with the Galaxy and polished off the service provided by Dilly Duka, Joel Lindpere and Patrick Nyarko. He grasped the opportunity with both hands on and off the field. And his exploits proved impressive enough to hold off former Galaxy teammate Keane and Montreal striker Marco Di Vaio for his first major honor.
“From the time I got there until now, it’s been absolutely amazing,” Magee said. “I think I’ve had a lot more seasons where there have been more ups and downs, but this year, it just seemed like it kept getting better from a soccer standpoint and a life standpoint.”
Magee hopes the progress will continue into next season. He cherishes the opportunity to play in front of his family and his friends. He harbors hopes of transitioning into the U.S. national team setup (Jurgen Klinsmann hasn’t made contact yet, he said). He wants to help the Fire return to the playoffs under new boss Frank Yallop.
There is plenty still left to do, but the discussions about his ability to meet his potential are done and dusted. The trophy now in his hands proves it.
(Images: US Presswire)
Jermain Defoe’s protracted move to Toronto seems to be the continuation of a new trend in soccer transfers - with players being linked to moves between the Premier League and MLS almost constantly.
LA Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane have recently been linked to loan moves to the so-called ‘biggest league in the world’, as has Seattle Sounders midfielder Clint Dempsey.
This next rumor is a biggy, though. According to one of the Sunday newspapers over in the UK, Champions League winner and England and Chelsea star Ashley Cole is being eyed up by two MLS sides for a summer switch.
Find out who and take a look at the rest of the day’s rumors in today’s Paper Chase.
Your eyes are not deceiving you. That really is a half-naked Omar Gonzalez busting out George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” sax solo in the middle of the wilderness, on Thanksgiving no less.
The same man who celebrated the USA clinching a World Cup spot by chugging a bottle of Bud Light just knows how to get a party started.
— Omar Gonzalez (@Omar4Gonzalez)
And we know what we’re thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving weekend, indeed.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – New England coach Jay Heaps captured the fraught nature of the toil ahead over the next two days as he assessed the Revolution’s situation ahead of the season-defining visit to Sporting Kansas City tonight.
“There’s a lot of work (ahead),” Heaps said earlier this week after his side claimed a 2-1 victory in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal tie on Saturday. “These are playoff scenarios in MLS: you have to be ready for halftime, basically. It’s just a long halftime. It’s a tough task. We have a couple of days to prepare. We’ll go in there ready.”
The entire season for eight teams boils down to the second half of a two-game, aggregate goals series. Each of the four semifinals – yes, even Portland up 2-1 heading into a second leg at JELD-WEN Field – hangs firmly in the balance after the first half. The job isn’t done yet, though. And the way these teams see out the second half will determine the composition of the final four when the last of these conference semifinal ties winds to a close on Friday morning.
New York – Houston (Wednesday, 8:00p.m. – tied 2-2 on aggregate)
How – if at all – will Houston adjust to Jamison Olave’s absence?
New York must take the field without its defensive leader after he procured a red card for his rash lunge on Omar Cummings during the first leg. The corresponding alterations – Markus Holgersson into the middle, Brandon Barklage to fill the void at right back – appear relatively straightforward from the Red Bulls’ point of view. Houston’s amended approach remains a bit more uncertain, though. The most straightforward play involves dropping Giles Barnes or Will Bruin and injecting a bit of pace, but the Dynamo – tried and true in the postseason – could find other ways to exploit the deficiencies without altering its personnel group.
New England – Sporting Kansas City (Wednesday, 9:00p.m. – New England leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Can Sporting Kansas City muster the necessary sharpness in front of goal?
The question isn’t whether Sporting will produce the chance or two required to pull this tie level. The home side will enjoy enough of the ball and send enough numbers forward to threaten at some point. Whether this group can finally break through when presented with the requisite opportunity remains uncertain. If Sporting fails to find its equalizer in due course, then its ambition could prove its undoing with the Revs more than capable of absorbing the pressure with its stout defensive shape and exploiting the resulting space with tidy work on the counter.
Real Salt Lake – LA Galaxy (Thursday, 9:00p.m. – LA Galaxy leads 1-0 on aggregate)
Will Real Salt Lake find a way to translate its possession into goals?
Big matches at Rio Tinto Stadium often unfold along the same, frustrating lines for the home side: plenty of the ball, not enough incisiveness. The infuriating recent history provides further incentive to start well and place the Galaxy under the sword from the outset. The desire to rectify past ills comes with a caveat, though: RSL must carefully monitor where it concedes possession in order to prevent the visitors from dashing through midfield or exploiting the additional space ceded on the edge by penalty area with the return to the 4-4-2 diamond setup.
Portland – Seattle (Thursday, 11:00p.m. – Portland leads 2-1 on aggregate)
How often will Seattle place Clint Dempsey in a position to change this series?
Dempsey posed a constant threat in the first leg without converting in front of goal. Any improbable revival effort – and it is decidedly against the odds given Portland’s formidable home record and its ability to see out these sorts of matches with its work in possession – hinges on whether Dempsey can turn those openings into a more tangible end product. Seattle paid Dempsey handsomely to deliver in these sorts of spots. The formation and the team selection must provide him with the latitude to do so.
Images: USA Today
LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena summed up the tenuous state of the MLS Conference Semifinal ties in his typically succinct way on Sunday night.
“I’d rather be the team ahead,” Arena told reporters after his side claimed a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake in Carson, Calif. “These are always difficult matches. All the games in the league are all competitive going into the second game. It’s going to be difficult. Obviously, having the one goal is a real plus, but it’s going to take a heck of an effort in the next 90 minutes.”
It took plenty of energy to even reach the halfway point in these series, truth be told. All eight teams enter midweek with genuine hopes of booking a place in the final four, but they must heed the lessons learned from a nervy weekend in order to claim it:
New England 2 – Sporting Kansas City 1
Precision provides Revolution with a foothold: New England ceded possession by design (38 percent accrued on the night, according to Opta statistics) in this first leg in a bid to draw Sporting out and exploit the ensuing space. Sporting, for the most part, resisted those urges and retained its shape superbly, but two lapses – one iffy clearance, one instance of poor closing through midfield – invited the Revs to attack swiftly. The tidiness displayed in those sequences – particularly the sumptuous second rounded off by Kelyn Rowe’s outside of the foot finish – punished Sporting for its modest letdowns. If the Revs can produce similarly neat combination play as Sporting eventually commits numbers into the attack on Wednesday night, then they could book a place in the Eastern Conference championship.
Consider the Knockout Round games in midweek as a modest appetizer for the entertainment to come this weekend. The path toward MLS Cup commences in earnest at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night as the final eight sides prepare for the first leg of the conference semifinals.
Each of the four ties possesses the same governing principles (two-legged, aggregate goal series with the potential tiebreakers of two 15-minute extra time periods and penalty kicks after the second leg) and turns on different particulars.
The outcomes will not hinge on the results this weekend, but the answer to one specific question could provide a telling glimpse about the result in the first match and the eventual winner of the tie in midweek:
New England – Sporting Kansas City (Saturday, 8:00p.m. ET)
Can New England find a way to break quickly?
Sporting Kansas City commits numbers into the attack for two reasons: it needs the extra bodies to pose problems and it wants to win the ball high up the field when the opposition wins possession. Those structural concessions create ample room to counter, particularly when Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic foray forward to provide width. There are a couple of ways to exploit the holes – quick inside-out passes through the middle back into the vacated space, long vertical balls down the side line – yet Sporting does a particularly good job of preventing opposing teams from pursuing those avenues by breaking up the play and closing down quickly. New England must find a way to move concisely and neatly enough out of the back to avoid those issues and spark their usually tidy work through the middle of the park.
Seattle – Portland (Saturday, 10:00p.m.)
Is it really a matter of three versus two in central midfield?
(Image courtesy of USA Today)
Leave it to the final weekend of the MLS season to sum up the entire campaign in a nutshell. In this parity-fueled league with little genuine separation between the teams, a compressed table rife with uncertainty serves as a fitting conclusion to eight months of toil.
Small margins in both conferences leave the composition of the playoff field in a state of flux. Most of the playoff berths — all five in the Western Conference, plus two more in the East — are decided, but five teams remain in the mix for the last three berths. Throw in the completely unhinged seeds — no team is locked into a given seed heading into this weekend — and there is plenty of reason to keep a close eye on results this weekend.
If the playoffs started on Thursday:
(1) New York
(2) Sporting Kansas City
(5) New England
(1) Real Salt Lake
(3) LA Galaxy
Photo via Twitter/@Femail
Photo via Daily Mail
You can hardly see it from these photos, but David Beckham got inked up again and his latest tattoo has raised some eyebrows.
According to the Daily Mail, the new tattoo, which covers the right side of his chest, is reportedly said to be a “portrait of Jesus — styled to look like Beckham — being lifted from his tomb by three cherubs, representing his much-loved boys.”
We don’t even know what to say about this one. Getting tattoos to honor his family is nothing new for the retired soccer superstar, but honoring himself?
“I don’t regret any of them,” Beckham once told CNN of his thirty plus tattoos. “They all have meaning. I think that’s what’s important about tattoos. If they have a meaning, you’ll never regret them.”
We’re sure there’s meaning in Becks’ latest ink, too. If anyone can get away with tattoos of themselves as Jesus, it’s Beckham.