Around MLS: Offseason Volume #1
As MLS settles in for a bit of hibernation, we sit here in Dallas (or Nashville, in my case) and attempt to make sense of our current offseason. Of course, other teams are trying to do these things as well. Some of these bits are a bit older than others, but that's what you get in the offseason: Slow news turnover.
The Philadelphia Union have reacquired franchise poster boy Sebastien Le Toux via trade with the New York Red Bulls. They let go of some dead weight in the form of Josue Martinez and allocation money.
It's a bit of an odd move for the Union, as they have been looking to youngster Jack McInerney to make a big impact, but then they bring in Mr. Union back. Sebastien Le Toux has a tough demeanor, but he is certainly aging and that's usually not a smart idea for a team building for the future. Is this an attempt to be smart tactically (which is in question given McInerney is likely more talented than Le Toux) or is it more of a move to appease and appeal to a fanbase? Nowak's aloof and standoffish demeanor had fans ready to storm the gates to PPL Park and skewer Nowak's head on a pike as a warning to all future managers.
Now that Nowak the Polish Ogre, Destroyer of Philadelphia is gone, Philly fans must ask themselves if Le Toux is really the right way to go. Josue Martinez wasn't exactly setting the world on fire, but that money might have been better spent in their midfield you'd think.
The word around Red Bull Way is that Rafael Márquez is considering a move to Club León of México, which I think would greatly benefit all of MLS. I'm not a superteam proponent, but I was excited at what Rafa could do for the league in terms of exposure and by having someone of his caliber associated with not only New York, but with the USA soccer scene in general. How quickly things change, as now I can't wait to get rid of him.
Yes, Thierry Henry and Beckham came with a few diva issues of their own, but generally stayed away from the ridiculous arm-stomping, face-punching, team-insulting hijinks that defined Rafa's tenure with New York. Good riddance!
In one of the bigger offseason moves, Sporting Kansas City has acquired Benny Feilhaber from the New England Revolution to replace the departing Roger Espinoza, who is leaving for Wigan Athletic Club in January. Feilhaber had an up and down season in New England, but I don't know how much of that is his fault considering it's the Revs and all.
With a much stronger cast around him in KC, this is a move that can pay off big time for Sporting, though one has to wonder about the money he is going to cost them. Feilhabers don't come cheap these days, and everyone knows Santa Claus hates teams that are not FC Dallas, so I doubt he is chipping into the Benny Fund.
Maybe they should try and make Teal Bunbury a team mascot and cut his salary to save on costs? He would certainly be more useful to them that way.
Up on the MLS website, Iker Casillas is hinting that perhaps he wants to come to MLS later in life to lead a more relaxing career. While I can see the critics destroying him for this and perhaps it takes some legitimacy out of MLS, furthering its reputation as Relaxing Retirement Home for Former Players, I don't care. It would hurt the league if that reputation continues. I get all bent out of shape when people refer to MLS that way and I can't stand it when other leagues' fans mock us in that manner.
However, you'd be a damned liar if you said you would NOT be super excited to see Iker Casillas playing for your home team, retirement or not. I doubt he would ever come here, but it's nice to think about.
Finally, I end with this incredible dive. Possibly the best dive I've ever seen. It takes massive stones and lots of cynicism to pull this off, but I can't help but applaud this brazenness. My Ecuador got called for it, sure, but it was funny. Very funny.
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