For all we soccer geeks, this 72-hour off-season for Major League Soccer is about the best thing this side of free wi-fi.
OK, it was a little longer than 72 hours – but not much.
From last kick of 2012 MLS Cup until Saturday’s first kick of 2013, a mere three months has gone by. (For clubs and players, the down time was somewhere between six and 10 weeks, depending on when they bombed out of the post-season picture; preseason practices began around Jan. 18 for most clubs.)
For those of us who find a little more pep in our step once MLS regular season passing and trapping begins anew, the freshly compressed off-season time frame is a whole lot of awesome. It does, however, add some element of difficulty as clubs go through the off-season paces of roster fortification.
The league’s shortest off-season yet has made it more difficult for teams to get their rosters set within a more ideal time frame.
Thus, quite a few clubs continue to make significant roster moves, still adding and trimming, continuing to create the best possible personnel assembly, never mind that first kick is now about 24 hours away.
We find this, for instance, in Seattle, where the Sounders continue to finalize plans on importing Obafemi Martins into Century Link Field. “We are on the verge of finalising everything and it should be another step in my career,” Martins told BBC Sport.
We told you this morning about Portland Timbers adding English league veteran Frédéric Piquionne, who will not be available for the Timbers opener Sunday against New York.
Of course, there are all kinds of comings and goings in Toronto, where the makeover will apparently stretch into … well, hard to say how long. Just yesterday, Torsten Frings announced his retirement, subtracting one of the club’s most experienced men.
And if you believe the reports today, Welsh international Robert Earnshaw is on his way to BMO Field. (Earnshaw is pictured above.) (FYI, the wise Bobby McMahon from Fox Soccer Report calls Earnshaw the “poor man’s Robbie Keane.” Brilliant.
Elsewhere, some late preseason signings are just now signing up, such as Andrew Driver in Houston, who made his first Dynamo practice just this very morning.
More moves are certainly on the way. Remember, whereas the international transfer window closed Jan. 30 in many parts of the world, it remains open in MLS through May 6. Plus, players out of contract may move into MLS at any time.