MLS waiver list released; no huge surprises, but some intriguing names

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There are only little surprises (i.e., no major whoppers) on the MLS waiver list that came out today.

These are MLS men whose contracts have run out or whose options were declined (and who are not otherwise eligible for a December re-entry draft.) It’s all a bit complicated; the entire set of MLS roster rules is here, if you are so inclined.

Long story short, most of these guys simply are not adjudged by their current management as having sufficient MLS-level talent; a few have the talent, but their contract number has climbed too high.  See: “Teemu Tainio” below.

Tainio is probably the top name available, although a couple of the younger guys will surely be scooped up. The list is here. They are all available for selection during Monday’s waiver draft, conducted via conference call.

Don’t expect a bunch of activity, but there are a few intriguing names on the list:

Tainio, New York Red Bulls: Manager Hans Backe loved Tainio’s toughness, although most of us thought Dax McCarty delivered so much more at the holding midfield position; McCarty was clearly a better two-way player and covered vastly more space compared to Tainio, even he if he was not as strong in the tackle. Regardless, the former Finnish international was 32, increasingly brittle and owner of a contract that paid more than $200,000 guaranteed. Oh, and Big Apple Soccer dug up this telling number: the Red Bulls were 1-5-5 in games Tainio (pictured, right) started.

Jan Gunnar Solli, New York Red Bulls: A starter in 2011 in defense who became a backup midfielder this year. At age 31, and nudging up against $200,000 annually in salary, the new management deemed him expendable. Beyond his swell music mixes, they are probably right to part ways with DJ Solli.

Bill Gaudette, NY Red Bulls: He did OK during the Red Bulls injury crisis in goal, although Gaudette was eventually beaten out by a guy who had slipped temporarily out of pro soccer (Luis Robles). Gaudette, 31, was also released by the Galaxy in mid-season.

Carlos Rodriguez, FC Dallas: The young Panamanian international lasted just a year in Dallas, and it wasn’t a terrible one. He started 12 games and got into 12 more. Rodriguez is just 22 years old, so there’s presumably some upside here, although Rodriguez wasn’t anything special going forward, and that’s something FCD manager Schellas Hyndman values in his outside backs.

Julio Cesar, Sporting Kansas City: The steady Brazilian seemed perfectly suited for his role at Livestrong, to sit dependably in front of his two center backs and provide cover for outside backs who frequently spent more time on attack than on defense.  Management apparently decided they could find a man to fill that role for less than $255,000. (Plus, he turned 34 on Sunday.)

Blake Brettschneider, New England: The Revs seemed pretty fired up about getting the young striker this year from D.C. United. He had 10 starts and seven appearances off the bench. Manager Jay Heaps appreciated the 23-year-old’s energy and athleticism, but strikers are inevitably judged by their productivity, and two goals wasn’t sufficient, it seems.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.

Premier League vet Scott Parker calls quits on playing career

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Scott Parker has announced his retirement from soccer after a stellar 20-plus year career in England.

[ MORE: Chile bests Portugal on PKs to reach Confed Cup final ]

The 36-year-old spent almost the entirety of his career in the Premier League, and played with seven teams during his time on the pitch.

“I believe now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career,” Parker said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career that I have and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Parker began playing with Charlton after coming up through the team’s youth academy, before completing a move to Chelsea in 2004.

Throughout his career, Parker also spent time at Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham, before finishing up at Fulham this past season.

Three storylines when Mexico meets Germany in Confed Cup semis

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With a place in the final on the line tomorrow afternoon, it’s all or nothing for Mexico and Germany as they meet in the second semifinal at this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup.

The two nations have had very similar paths in reaching the final four, after both accumulated seven points during the group stage and showed signs of improvement with every match.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s FIFA Confederations Cup action ]

Here are some of the key battles to watch on Thursday when Mexico and Germany square off for a place in the final.

How does Germany’s youth hold up vs. Mexico’s experience?

Even when Jurgen Low released his roster heading into the Confederations Cup, much was expected of the Germans. After a strong run of play during the group stage, Low’s men have lived up to the billing with an exciting young attack and an improving backline to match.

When Germany meets Mexico though, the defending World Cup champions will be taking on an El Tri side that has loads of international experience, and similar to that of Chile, the Europeans will surely receive all that they can handle.

At the tender age of 23, Julian Draxler captains the Germans and has been challenged with leading his nation throughout the tournament. The PSG attacker has been quality thus far, but he and his side will take on a whole different task on Thursday against a quick, feisty Mexican group.

Will Hirving Lozano be the difference in the attack?

Injuries and a key suspension will certain hinder Mexico in the semifinal round, but the bigger question is: how will Juan Carlos Osorio’s side cope with the losses?

El Tri know it will be without winger Andres Guardado due to yellow card accumulation, while striker Javier Hernandez is in question ahead of the Germany clash after reportedly training by himself on Monday.

Although Hernandez likely just needed rest after a busy season of matches in the Bundesliga, Mexico is still seeking a quality playmaker to replace Guardado on Thursday, one that they’re hoping with be Hirving Lozano.

The newly-signed PSV man has quickly become one of the top young faces in global soccer, and with three international goals for El Tri dating back to 2016, Lozano is the spark that Mexico needs.

El Tri must start fast

In all three of Mexico’s group stage matches Osorio’s side fell behind during the first half. While El Tri managed to come away unscathed to remain perfect in group play, it’s difficult to imagine that they will be able to pull off the same feat against a quality German side.

On the other hand, Mexico’s resilience has been impressive. In their opener against Portugal, El Tri pulled off a late winner against the reigning European champions, a result that likely set the tone for the team’s ensuing comebacks versus New Zealand and Russia, respectively.