Assessing the Adam Moffat, Servando Carrasco trade between Houston and Seattle

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Adam Moffat was a huge piece of Houston’s personnel puzzle over the last two years as Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo made its way into consecutive MLS Cup finals. Moffat isn’t the best of MLS midfield distributors, but his hard edge and desire was a good fit for Houston’s grinding style, and he sure delivered a few clutch goals courtesy of that well above average long-range shooting.

So something looked askew when Moffat (pictured, along with former Dynamo teammate Ricardo Clark) was traded to Seattle right at last week’s MLS roster deadline for reservist Servando Carrasco and a second-round draft pick. Carrasco is a versatile, third-year midfielder but perhaps not an MLS starter. (Not yet, anyway. Maybe he will be now that he’s not stuck behind the league’s top ball-winning midfielder, Osvaldo Alonso, but we’ll have to see.)

The Dynamo’s midfield was already strong, one of Major League Soccer deepest; it’s the lack of a striker this is currently undermining Houston’s playoff chances. Will Bruin simply is not having a good year, Cam Weaver can’t finish reliably (he missed a couple of absolute golden opportunities last week in Philadelphia, including one with a wide-open goal to shoot at), Omar Cummings’ injury recovery just hasn’t been fruitful to this point and the old Dynamo warrior of a striker Brian Ching is now a limited, role player off the bench.

It would have made more sense if Carrasco was a forward, someone to give Kinnear one more option closer to goal. But Carrasco’s best position is the very same one Moffat played, holding midfielder.

So Seattle got the better part of this trade in the short term. Moffat, a tough Scotsman full of desire, provides a little more cover in the event of injury to Alonso, probably the most indispensable man to the Sounders’ Supporters Shield and MLS Cup chances. He can be what the increasingly immobile Shalrie Joseph just has not been, an experienced, holding midfielder who keeps the dropoff from being egregious if Alonso has to take a seat.

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New Houston Dynamo midfielder Servando Carrasco with his girlfriend, on the right. Maybe you’ve heard of her … U.S. women’s national team star Alex Morgan.

Moffat can also play alongside Alonso if Sounders manager Sigi Schmid wants to reconfigure his midfield according to the situation, something that happens with some regularity around CenturyLink anyway. In that scenario, the versatile Brad Evans would play elsewhere – which, of course, he can.

So why would Houston agree to this? There is about $100,000 of salary cap relief for Houston, as the more experience (and quite popular) Moffat makes about $160,000. And Carrasco is four years older. Otherwise, it must indicate a couple of things.

First, Dynamo coaches have a lot of faith in second year man Warren Creavalle. Versatile enough to play along the back line or as a holding midfielder, he stands to gather up even more minutes now (having already started 11 games this year for Houston.)

Or Houston officials believe Carrasco has more upside; he is already a better passer than Moffat, so there’s that. But will Carrasco get more minutes in Houston? Because while he’s no longer sitting behind Alonso, he’s behind the rangy, effective Ricardo Clark. This also means more of Clark back into his more natural spot, further back in the midfield. That will allow Kinnear to deploy someone more technical, with more attacking craftsmanship into the playmaking areas.

And maybe that’s the point. Guys like Brad Davis, Oscar Boniek Garcia and Andrew Driver give the Dynamo plenty of offensive push along the flanks, but the middle channels don’t always do enough to create. A little better passing, a little more offensive craft from the midfield and maybe one of those strikers will finally find his scoring shoes.

Chicharito says Mexican team “always feels welcome” in the United States

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Mexico will take on Wales on Monday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA as they warm up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Playing in the United States is nothing new for the USMNT’s southern neighbors, and it doesn’t phase them. In fact, they love it.

Star striker Chicharito told reporters that he and the rest of the squad is more than happy playing north of the border, because according to him, apart from a pair of venues, they can’t even tell they’re on the road.

“We always feel welcome here,” Chicharito said. “It’s like our second country, if we can say that, apart from Columbus [Ohio] and apart from the stadium in Miami when we played Colombia…those two stadiums, that’s the only time I’ve felt that we were the away team.”

Chicharito knows that the high population of his countrymen and women in the United States helps the Mexican team feel close to home when they play over the border. He’s all for the melting pot of the US.

“We feel at home [in the United States],” Chicharito said. “We have plenty of Mexicans here, so I don’t know what else to tell you, we feel welcome, we feel glad, happy to be in touch with those people here. They are sacrificing a lot of things, and they are all enjoying their lives that they decide to live in the USA…it’s great. It’s great when you come to another country and you feel like you are home. You see all the stadium green, shouting and screaming your names, screaming your goals, so yeah, it’s great.”

Mexico will play Wales on Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET, and will return home to take on Scotland at Azteca on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

England international Delph expecting child in middle of World Cup

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England international Fabian Delph could face quite the dilemma if England advances past the group stage of the World Cup.

Delph’s wife Natalie is expecting the couple’s third child on June 30, which is two days after their pivotal group stage match against Belgium, and two days before the squad would take the field July 1 for its Round of 16 game should they win Group G. If they finish second in the group, they would play their Round of 16 game on July 3.

When asked what his plans are, Delph joked that his wife would manage on her own. “She’s tough, she’s a Yorkshire lass so she’ll deal with it,” Delph said with a smile.

He then coughed up the truth: they’re not quite sure what the plan is.

“We’re not 100% certain, with a game on the 28th there might be an opportunity to fly back and then get back fast,” he said. “[England manager] Gareth [Southgate] has been fantastic. There’s nothing more important than family to me – family always comes first and always will.”

There’s another dilemma that Southgate must navigate involving Delph. The 28-year-old is a natural winger, but played wing-back in Pep Guardiola‘s title-winning system for much of the year and saw a massive uptick in form in the new role, playing in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy. Southgate must decide where he wants to deploy Delph – if at all – and if he wishes to fit his formation and tactics to mold Delph’s season under Guardiola.

Authorities drop assault charges against Hope Solo

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KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors in Washington state have dropped domestic violence charges against former U.S. national team star goalkeeper Hope Solo.

Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in 2014 after police said she assaulted two family members at a home in Kirkland, east of Seattle. The case was delayed by appeals.

KING-TV reports that city prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday, saying the witnesses in the case wanted to move on with their lives and did not want to participate in a trial. An attorney for Kirkland, Melissa Osman, wrote in court documents that the circumstances were unlikely to be repeated.

The longtime national team goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medalist recently ran unsuccessfully for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. She has called for equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women’s team.

Mark Hughes signs new long-term contract at Southampton

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Mark Hughes has gone from Stoke City outcast to Southampton savior in little under six months time.

The Welsh boss was let go from Stoke City with the Potters 18th in the table and headed towards eventual relegation, but he was picked up by fellow relegation candidates Southampton after the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino. He steered the club to safety, finishing three points above the drop in 17th.

With the Saints in the top flight for another season, the club has announced the signing of Hughes to a new three-year contract.

“Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said of himself and his assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. “Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season. The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”

Hughes guided Stoke City to three consecutive ninth-placed finishes, the highest the club had ever finished in the English top flight, but they finished 13th last year and regressed even further this campaign. The sale of playmaker Marko Arnautovic was particularly damaging, and the club scored just 35 goals in 38 games as a result.

At Southampton, Hughes took over a club that sat in 17th with just eight matches to go. He lost three Premier League games in a row to start his tenure and only won two league matches with Saints the rest of the way, but managed to keep the club barely afloat.