Wednesday’s Stage 2 MLS re-entry draft could throw up some surprises

4 Comments

One of the quirky things we love about Major League Soccer is the often complex and incredibly unique player movement process which takes place every offseason.

This year is no different.

After Stage 1 of the re-entry process ended last week, five players were taken on their current contracts.This week sees 48 more MLSers put up for auction, if you will, and able to negotiate new contracts for 2014 and beyond with any potential new teams.

And this year there’s some big names up for grabs but more than likely the phone conference which decides which club takes who will consist of a lot of MLS staffs and GMs getting very accustomed to mumbling the word “pass” as the picks go by.

Three former MLS MVPs can be picked up in Wednesday’s draft with Dwayne De Rosario, David Ferreira and Carlos Ruiz up for grabs, whilst several other gems are littered amongst the field of players who didn’t have their options taken by their current MLS side.

But just to clear up exactly how this works, the re-entry order of picks is right here. Plus here are the requirements each players has to meet in order to be eligible to participate in the re-entry process:

  • Players who are at least 23 years old and have a minimum of three years experience in MLS whose options were not exercised by their clubs (available at option salary for 2014)
  • Players who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them at their previous salary (available for at least their 2013 salary)
  • Players who are at least 30 years old with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them (available for at least 105% of their 2013 salary)

Now that’s been cleared up… here’s the list of 48 players available, including three players who have retired but are still in the process because they may wake up one morning, and change their mind. Pablo Mastroeni, Kevin Hartman and Chris Albright, it’s not too late fellas!

So, here’s 48 guys who could get picked up today. Who would you like to see at your club?

Players available for Stage 2 of re-entry draft

Chicago Fire (5): D Shaun Francis, M Joel Lindpere, F Maicon Santos, M Wells Thompson*, M Michael Videira

Chivas USA (3): D Ante Jazic*, D Steve Purdy, M Josue Soto

Columbus Crew (2): M Danny O’Rourke, M Konrad Warzycha

Colorado Rapids (3): GK Steward Ceus, D Brian Mullan, M Jamie Smith

D.C. United (5): M Dwayne De Rosario, D James Riley, F Carlos Ruiz, M Marcelo Saragosa, D Daniel Woolard

FC Dallas (2): M David Ferreira, D Ugo Ihemelu

Houston Dynamo (3): F Calen Carr*, M Alex Dixon, F Cam Weaver

LA Galaxy (3): M Colin Clark, M Laurent Courtois,  M Pablo Mastroeni* (retired)

Montreal Impact (1): M Sinisa Ubiparipovic

New England Revolution (4): F Chad Barrett, F Ryan Guy, M Clyde Simms, M Juan Toja

New York Red Bulls (4): D Brandon Barklage, F Fabian Espindola, GK Kevin Hartman (retired), D Heath Pearce*

Philadelphia Union (1): D Chris Albright* (retired)

Portland Timbers (2): D Ryan Miller

Real Salt Lake (3): D Brandon McDonald, GK Josh Saunders, M Khari Stephenson

Seattle Sounders (1): M Blair Gavin,

San Jose Earthquakes (4): D Nana Attakora, M Mehdi Ballouchy*, D Dan Gargan, GK Evan Newton

Toronto FC (1): F Justin Braun*

Vancouver Whitecaps (2): GK Joe Cannon, F Corey Hertzog

* denotes players who are out of contract, other players had options declined.

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday