Defoe, Bradley

Grading the graders: who were tops in MLS offseason moves?


It’s still a bit early to grade out Major League Soccer’s offseason. Unlike many leagues around the world, January doesn’t bring the end of Major League Soccer’s primary transfer window; MLS clubs may sign foreign players into May.

Still, as preseason camps are well under way, most of the “players in” and the “players out” movement is done for MLS  teams. And the ranking of how they did in offseason roster enhancement are starting to fall. did the chores here, and it’s difficult to quarrel with their top pick for offseason achievement. Toronto’s splashy signings ruled the day as Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley arrived in the big Tim Leiweke swoop.

There might be a little squabbling after that, however, as the list has Philadelphia second and D.C. United third (followed by Portland and the LA Galaxy). John Hackworth’s Philadelphia Union certainly helped itself, mostly on that hard-fought Maurice Edu deal. But did D.C. United deserve just a little more credit?

In my mind, United’s moves put the RFK bunch at No. 2 based on two elements. The players Ben Olsen and Co. signed are known quantities around MLS. Sean Franklin and Jeff Parke will help stabilize the back line. Eddie Johnson (assuming D.C. United gets him signed, which doesn’t seem certain just now) and Fabian Espindola will help fill the desperate need for goal scoring.

No, Espindola didn’t exactly tear it up at Red Bull Arena last year. But playing alongside talented-but-demanding Thierry Henry can’t be easy.

United also did well in ridding itself of (relatively) big money going out to Dwayne DeRosario and Dejan Jakovic. Plus, Olsen’s club did well in the draft.

Again, it’s a little quibble (United ahead of Philly), but one worth quibbling about.

EURO 2016: Spain, Switzerland earn qualification

<> on October 9, 2015 in Logrono, Spain.
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Catch up on all of Friday’s EURO qualification action, as two more teams have booked a ticket to France.

Spain 4-0 Luxembourg

Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla hadn’t scored a competitive goal for Spain in more than six years, but he scored twice today to help earn his country a berth in EURO 2016. Cazorla and Paco Alcacer scored all four goals for the Spanish, while Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas became Spain’s all-time leader in assists. However, both David Silva of Manchester City and Alvaro Morata of Juventus were forced off with injuries, with Morata’s looking to be serious.

Switzerland 7-0 San Marino

Switzerland led just 1-0 at halftime, but a six-goal second half which included three penalty kicks means the Swiss have secured qualification from Group E for EURO 2016. As expected, Switzerland dominated every aspect of the match against minnows San Marino, and Vladimir Petkovic’s side had seven different goalscorers.

[ MORE: Thursday’s EURO 2016 roundup — Northern Ireland qualify ]

England 2-0 Estonia

England remained perfect in Group E, taking their ninth win from nine matches today at Wembley. Theo Walcott‘s great scoring form from Arsenal carried over to the national side, opening the scoring just before halftime. In the second half, Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy came on as a substitute and assisted to Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, who made it 2-0. With a few minutes to play, Tottenham teenager Dele Alli got a short run in his England debut.

Elsewhere in EURO qualifying

Group C

Macedonia 0-2 Ukraine
Slovakia 0-1 Belarus

Group E

Slovenia 1-1 Lithuania

Group G

Liechtenstein 0-2 Sweden
Moldova 1-2 Russia
Montenegro 2-3 Austria

Sergio Aguero expects to miss a month with hamstring injury

Sergio Aguero
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After scoring five goals against Newcastle United, Sergio Aguero may have to wait a bit of time to get back to scoring in the Premier League.

The Manchester City striker lasted just 25 minutes in Argentina’s World Cup qualifier on Thursday, as he was stretchered off with a hamstring injury. 

Aguero underwent testing in Argentina, and told the local media “I think I’m going to be out for a month.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Manchester City and Argentina teammate Nicolas Otamendi said Aguero was in tears in the dressing room, and some reports have penned the injury as a torn hamstring.

If Aguero were to be ruled out for a month, he would miss City’s Champions League clash vs. Sevilla, as well as the massive Manchester derby away at United on October 25.

To make matters worse for City supporters, David Silva was forced off after just ten minutes while playing for Spain today. Silva took a harsh challenge from behind, and hobbled off with what looked to be an ankle injury. If Silva’s injury ends up being more than just a knock, City could be without their two most important players in the attack.