Costs of MLS leadership changes evident in Berry, Laba, Moffat deals

2 Comments

When ESPN analyst and United States Men’s National Team legend Alexi Lalas revealed Austin Berry cost Philadelphia only $100,000 in allocation money, fans across the league would have been right to ask why their favorite team didn’t get in on the action. A more direct question: How could Frank Yallop, handed the keys to the Chicago Fire this offseason, make that deal?

The obvious answer is probably the right one. Citing defense as an area of need when he traded for former Sounders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni, Yallop didn’t appear to value Berry as highly as his predecessors. Add in the constraints of the league’s salary cap and the need to get players off the books, and Yallop may have just decided to let go. He might have wanted more for the 2012 Rookie of the Year, but with Kennedy, Bakary Soumaré, and Ianni in his squad, the desire to free up a roster spot as soon as possible may have won out.

In an ideal situation, Chicago would have planned ahead for Berry’s departure, knowing he was not a part of their long-term plan. They could have picked a time in the MLS calendar that maximized his value and gotten more than $100,000 worth of allocation. A long-term vision for not only their team but the value they could get for assets would have paid off.

But those kind of plans go out the window when a team’s decision-makers change, and while the Fire undoubtedly had a series of persuasive reasons for moving on from Frank Klopas, those types of changes don’t come without costs. Not only are you embracing the risk that your new hire won’t work, but you’re also accepting the fact that even successful transitions come with inefficiencies.

Berry represents one of those inefficiencies, something Philadelphia took advantage of with this week’s trade. Whereas the Union got a 25-year-old center back they hope can slot in beside Amobi Okugo in their starting lineup, Chicago had to accept a poor return on a player who, five months ago, appeared to be a part of their long-term plan.

source:  Then again, Chicago’s not the only team that’s had to embrace with these types of inefficiencies this winter:

  • Earlier today, Vancouver sent Daigo Kobayashi to New England, a trade that garnered a fourth round pick for a player that was on track to do little more than take up one of the team’s international slots. Under Martin Rennie, however, Kobayashi played 30 games in 2013, and while he failed to live up to the expectations cast on him when he arrived last winter, Vancouver’s willingness to accept a fourth round pick speaks to their sharp change in opinion about the Japanese midfielder.
  • In Frisco, an early offseason trade saw FC Dallas swap Kenny Cooper for Seattle’s Adam Moffat (right), a player that had been sent to the Pacific Northwest from Houston midseason in a cost-cutting move. On Jan. 10, however, Dallas hired Óscar Pareja as their new head coach, a move the precipitated this month’s trade for former Rapids destroyer Hendry Thomas. Now Moffat, thought to be making in the high $100,000-range this season, is an inefficiency, one that may not have been acquired if Pareja had been hired a month earlier.
  • And in Toronto, the transition from Kevin Payne to Tim Bezbatchenko temporarily left Argentine Matías Laba in limbo, with the Argentine midfielder becoming the fourth of three Designated Players after the Reds signed Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, and Brazilian striker Gilberto. On Tuesday, Laba was sent to Vancouver, forced to leave Toronto less than one year after Payne signed the 22-year-old.

The potential benefits to changing coaches, general managers, or chief executives tend to be huge, mostly because teams prone to making those moves are failing on some level. But big transitions are rarely smooth ones, and while Chicago, Dallas, Toronto and Vancouver may see themselves in better hands than they did when the 2013 season ended, their winters have featured the types of inefficiencies that come with a change in approach.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga