Sometimes news is straight-forward. For instance: Team X wants Player Y. Player Y wants a paycheck and likes the scene. So they sign a deal, cookies and punch are served at the news conference and pictures are snapped while everyone stands around like kings of the freakin’ world. All is swell.
Of course, life does get messy, and these things don’t always have such a ice cream-and-cake beginning, middle or end.
So, this is your official “Keep an eye on this one” warning about this difficult-to-dissect situation in Chicago with playmaker Sebastian Grazzini (pictured).
The news is that Chicago has exercised its option to keep Grazzini around Toyota Park for another season. If the Fire is to climb out of Eastern Conference middle class and issue a serious challenge to leaders D.C. United, New York and Sporting Kansas City, the veteran Argentine midfielder will need to play a leading role.
And he will – assuming he’s a happy Argentine midfield camper. Will he be?
Here’s an exhaustive, well-researched examination of the entire, clumsy episode from Tweed Thornton at his Chicago Fire blog.
Meanwhile, here’s the bottom line in the bigger picture: Influential players who are truly unhappy with the state of affairs can turn toxic, and quite fast. The next step is locker room division, players taking sides and a poisonous wedge that does no one any good.
I’m not saying any of this will happen at Toyota Park; it’s just a “heads-up,” something to keep a close eye on.
FYI, Grazzini isn’t with the team for tonight’s match against Sporting Kansas City (8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network) .
Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.
[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]
The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.
Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.
Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).
“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”
Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.
[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]
The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.
More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.
Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.
[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24 ]
That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.
Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.
A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:
“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”
She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.
Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.
There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.
Here’s how we think the draft could play out:
- LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
- LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
- DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
- Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
- Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
- Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
- Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
- New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
- New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
- Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
- FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
- San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
- Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
- Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
- Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
- New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
- Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
- Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
- New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
- Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
- Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
- Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
- Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson
There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.
Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.