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MLS news roundup: Returning U.S. internationals, Clint Mathis, Columbus logo changes and more


Players coming off the U.S. national team’s January camp are filtering back into their clubs;  remember, this camp was almost exclusively made up of MLS men.

For instance, Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez, two starters in Saturday’s 2-0 win over South Korea, will get a few days off before joining their MLS club’s practices on Thursday.

Speaking of American internationals and World Cups and U.S. dudes who scored in them… the Chicago Fire has a new assistant. No word on whether Clint Mathis will be rocking the Mohawk on the sidelines, a la World Cup 2002.

Mathis, whose goal in 2002 helped launch the country’s breakthrough, quarterfinal run, leaves his post with the Galaxy, where he served as the club’s director of camps and clinics.

FC Dallas announced it would meet San Antonio in a March 1 friendly. That’s one week away from the Major League Soccer first kick. Of course, an MLS team meeting a North American Soccer League team in a preseason friendly is nothing unusual. The real reason that match is important enough for us to mention: we get to run a picture of San Antonio’s very cool little stadium, a recently completed, privately funded 8,000-seat ground, which you see above.

(MORE: MLS set to announce Miami expansion Wednesday)

New Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt is throwing down some big hints – not check that … he’s more or less just saying it – that there are branding changes coming for the league’s Ohio club. He said so in an interview with Kyle McCarthy. “We will be introducing some changes to our brand in 2015. We love the name Columbus Crew. We love the colors. We love black and gold. That never changes,” he told McCarthy. “We’re looking at ways we can evolve and change our logo. We want it to represent the Columbus we’ve come to know.”

The preseason matches are starting to happen regularly now; the champs just drew with Portland, 1-1. Kansas City was without three of its U.S. national teamers, who will soon be joining the club’s workouts in Arizona.

Chivas USA has loaned Michael Farfan to Liga MX club Chiapas. Honestly, there’s not much to like about this. A guy who made 15 appearances for the club, who could have provided some good depth, will not be around to help new coach Wilmer Cabrera. More than that, the player is now  gone for which Chivas traded away its first round pick in the last draft. That ended up being the No. 2 overall pick … a place where  a club would be expected to get something considerably better than Gabriel Farfan, no offense to the lesser half of the Farfan brother tandem.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.