MLS teams take full advantage of April Fools’ Day

imageThe Rapids announced a spectacular return to their roots Tuesday (Image: Colorado Rapids)

It’s April 1st, so we all know to take every breaking news item with a huge grain of salt, right?

We certainly hope so, or there’s a good chance you were that person that frantically forwarded the following MLS stories along to friends and colleagues, along with an oblivious, “OMG! Have you seen THIS?”

Up first: Orlando City SC, who re-branded themselves the “Manatees” today:

#GoSeaCows, indeed. Who needs another sports team nicknamed “The Lions” anyways? Booooring.

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Vancouver Whitecaps lose player to ‘off-field walking accident’


We’ve all been there.

You’re walking around downtown, without a care in the world, when something across the street grabs your attention.

Maybe it’s a cute girl, or boy. Maybe it’s a shiny new Ferrari (humans love shiny things), or a new frozen yogurt shoppe that just looks so appealing! Whatever it may be, you stare a little bit longer, when suddenly — BANG! — down you go. 

What the heck?! That bike rack came out nowhere!

It’s okay, we all eventually fall victim to the occasional walking hazard. Unfortunately, when you’re a professional athlete, the embarrassing mishap quickly goes viral. Sorry, Nigel Reo-Coker.

According to Major League Soccer’s official website, the Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder faces a short spell on the sidelines after what the league termed an “off-field walking accident.” The club confirmed that Reo-Coker was “looking elsewhere while walking when he tripped over a bike rack, cutting his face and hitting his head in the process.” According to the CBC, he also suffered a slight concussion.

Ouch. That sounds pretty rough, though not nearly as brutal as the roasting he’s sure to receive from his teammates. And from his coach, Carl Robinson, for that matter. “I don’t think he was looking where he was going, which is never a good sign for a midfield player,” Robinson deadpanned to reporters.

At least the former West Ham and Aston Villa player can take solace in this: as far as oddball injuries are concerned, it could have been a lot worse.


Composite: USA Today/FOX Sports - Eddie Hon


Beckham wants CR7 Miami deal


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.


Sadly, David Beckham’s new team is not ‘The Miami Vice’


Ever since David Beckham announced his intentions to bring pro soccer back to South Beach, the rumor mill has been in overdrive. And on Wednesday, nostalgists everywhere got a boost with the news that Crockett and Tubbs may be back to prowl the mean streets of Miami.

On Wednesday, the Palm Beach Post cited unnamed sources that said one of the names under consideration for the team was “Miami Vice FC.” They followed up by posting images purportedly used in the franchise’s presentations to city officials as they try to secure a stadium location.

But just as we were dusting off our white blazers and cueing up Jan Hammer’s iconic theme song, David Beckham’s publicist poured cold water on the whole thing:

Oliveira followed up by strenuously denying any such presentation existed at all. What a shame! Guess we’ll have to leave those loafers and pink v-necks in the back of the closet after all.

Click here for possible “Miami Vice FC” logos and uniforms.

H/T Palm Beach Post.


Julio Cesar considers MLS transfer


Toronto FC look set to add another big name to their roster ahead of the new MLS season. Having captured USA star midfielder Michael Bradley and England striker Jermain Defoe, Toronto aim to seal a deal for Brazil keeper Julio Cesar. The Queens Park Rangers keeper is out of favor with the English Championship side and is looking for regular soccer in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup.

For this rumor and the rest of Saturday’s transfer gossip, click here.


Real Salt Lake places faith in Jeff Cassar

PHILADELPHIA — Cohesiveness, stability and technique formed the basis of Real Salt Lake’s success under Jason Kreis. But Kreis decamped to New York City FC in December — and now, the responsibility for maintaining those philosophies and principles falls to his former assistant, Jeff Cassar.

Cassar ascended to the top job with a brief to maintain the team-first ethos and retain the attacking, possession-oriented style RSL have cultivated over the past few seasons. The former Dallas and Miami goalkeeper knows how to do the job — he helped Kreis to establish them on his arrival in 2007. But now, he needs to implement them quickly on his own.

“It’s been crazy,” Cassar said after wrapping up his first SuperDraft in mid-January. “It really has. I got the job and I had to hit the ground — not running, I was sprinting. I was a goalie, so I’m so slow. I’m sprinting slowly. But it’s been exciting and busy. We still have a lot of work to do.”


Jeff Cassar (R) served as Jason Kreis’ assistant at Real Salt Lake (Image: USA Today Sports/Russ Isabella).

RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey has placed an emphasis on building a firm structure around his first-time coach and former Fusion teammate to ease the transition. Former head coaches Paul Dalglish (current PDL champions Austin Aztex) and Daryl Shore (NASL side Fort Lauderdale Strikers) bring experience and expertise. Ex-RSL midfielder Andy Williams supplies considerable knowledge of the club and the league after spending the past two years as a club scout.

Cassar also benefits from the consistency within the playing squad. All of the key figures from last season’s run to MLS Cup return. The established, veteran spine of the team — goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defender Nat Borchers, midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales and striker Álvaro Saborío — provides leadership and sets the tone in the locker room. The mix of emerging talents (including recent US selection Luis Gil and promising center back Chris Schuler) and trusted figures (fullbacks Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert, midfielder Ned Grabavoy and forward Robbie Findley feature prominently) ensure the depth and the talent remains.

The consistency within the squad places Cassar in a position to succeed without relieving him of the pressure to deliver immediately. Kreis’ success over the past few seasons created a baseline. Cassar now must find a way to meet or somehow exceed it as he adapts to the top job. Lagerwey said RSL must exhibit some patience in order to allow Cassar to find his way.

“It’s fun. It’s an exciting new challenge,” Lagerwey said. “It’s a new group of guys and a very talented team. But we also have to be patient and understanding that Jeff is a new coach. We have to give him a chance to succeed. When we hit the bumps — which everybody does — we have to support him, be patient and understand that we made him the next head coach for a reason.”

It is now down to Cassar to validate that decision over the long haul.

“I’m very humbled by this opportunity,” Cassar said. “There is pressure to perform because our team is so good. I think with the staff I’ve put together and the way I know this team and this city, we should still keep things going.”


RSL’s Jeff Cassar (L), owner Dell Loy Hansen (C) and Jennifer Cassar (R) pose for a photo after Cassar’s press conference (USA Today Sports/Chris Nicoll).


Philadelphia anchors its midfield with Maurice Edu


Philadelphia pursued Maurice Edu for the better part of the January transfer window. Club officials waded through the thicket of MLS regulations and wondered if Edu’s price tag would eventually scupper the deal. They pursued it anyways with the prospect of installing the United States international in the starting XI too promising to ignore.

The process took a bit longer than anticipated, but the Union finally secured its man on Monday. Edu returned to MLS on a 12-month loan deal with an option for a permanent move at the end of the agreement. The terms of his contract with MLS and the Union will make him a Designated Player in 2014, according to a club release.

Edu’s arrival in Philadelphia reflects a pragmatic streak from all of the parties involved. The public spat over Edu’s asking price for a permanent contract and MLS’ reluctance to meet it inspired a creative approach to strike a deal the Union desperately wanted to happen. Stoke’s desire to retain a portion of Edu’s wages paved the way for an inventive agreement designed to satisfy Edu and both clubs.

Philadelphia continues its midfield revamp by adding a player capable of dictating and driving the proceedings from a deep-lying position. Edu controls the game by disrupting the opposition and shuttling the ball onward to his more creative teammates. His robust work offers a different dimension and some much needed protection to an evolving side with Argentine schemer Cristian Maidana already in tow and French conduit Vincent Nogueira in talks to claim the Union’s third and final Designated Player spot.

By reinforcing its midfield, the Union places Edu in a position to thrive ahead of the World Cup. This group possesses the depth and the versatility to accentuate Edu’s strengths without asking him to accept a disproportionate burden. Edu must shake off any lingering rust from his time in the shadows and show the necessary sharpness to influence games, but this set of circumstances provides him with the best possible chance to impress USA coach Jürgen Klinsmann and work his way back into the national team setup over the next few months.

Only time will tell whether Edu can book a trip to Brazil with his displays for the Union. For now, he will take solace in a deal designed to place himself and his new club in a position to succeed in 2014.

Image provide by USA TODAY Sports.