ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient (®) takes the temperature of stress and distress in the streets of Major League Soccer.
Philadelphia Union players: Perhaps manager Peter Nowak is some mad scientist-type genius. We see the stark flashes, but he sees the plan – that kind of thing. Maybe. But who could blame Philadelphia players for not feeling great about the ground beneath their feet? Because the quirky personnel choices keep rolling out of Nowak’s office, this trade of popular team captain Danny Califf being the latest sharp crack of the bosses’ erratic whip. Let’s face it: If Nowak will ship Califf away, anybody’s locker is in danger of being suddenly emptied.
Panic quotient: “Hi, sweetie. What’s that? Oh … uh, sure I remember what day it is … ”
Sporting Kansas City: Whoa! What are you guys doing here? Three weeks ago Peter Vermes’ men were preening around like the bell of the MLS ball. Then a loss at Portland blotted that perfect record – but no worries there, really. Then a loss at home to Montreal raised a concerned brow – but it could still be written off as a glitch in the Matrix. But the way SKC came unraveled in last week’s loss at Chicago just cannot be dismissed. You know what they say: One might be a mistake, two is starting to look like a trend, but three is definitely a problem. It’s not that Sporting is bad, it’s just that they had such a big head start on the Supporters Shield and those up-anted playoff stakes that go with it. Well, that’s all blown out of the Midwest water.
Panic quotient: Long night. Head hurts. Now it’s morning and you can’t find your wallet … which might not be so bad if you could just remember where you were the night before.
FC Dallas: These guys do want to play, right? They are getting tossed out of games like trouble makers out of the Double Duece. (Road House!) Previously FC Dallas was hanging in there, negotiating injuries adequately and picking up points here and there. But habitually going down to 10 men (or 9 men with the match two weeks ago) is too much. Now Dallas has collected just two of a possible 15 points in its last five, and connection with the top teams in the West is getting seriously stretched.
Panic quotient: Your beautiful, wonderful, let’s-you-watch-sports girlfriend calls. “We need to talk.”
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday