Brandon McDonald

174th ranked Guam shock India in World Cup qualifying with help of two MLSers

12 Comments

Guam beat India 2-1 on Tuesday as the 174th ranked nation in world soccer caused a huge upset in a qualifier for the 2018 World Cup.

[ VIDEO: Nadal shows off skills ]

The tiny Pacific Island nation governed by the United States of America has long been known for its love of the NFL and Major League Baseball but perhaps soccer will now be the up and coming sports among its 165,000 citizens. To put that into context, India has 1.25 billion citizens.

Talk about David vs. Goliath…

Current LA Galaxy defender AJ DeLaGarza lined up for Guam and alongside him was former D.C. United and San Jose Earthquakes defender Brandon McDonald who scored the opening goal of the upset in Hagatna in front of 3,277 fans. A handful of other players from the NASL, USL and across collegiate soccer in the U.S. were also involved for Guam.

Guam is ranked 33 places below India but have now won both of its opening World Cup qualifiers after beating Turkmenistan 1-0 last Thursday.

Those results leave them top of Group D in the second round of qualifying with six games to go in this round. If they qualify for the third round, then 12 teams are split into two groups and the top two teams from each will qualify automatically for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The two third-placed teams will play in a play-off to see who will represent the AFC in the inter-confederation playoffs.

Guam has a long way to go as the likes of South Korea, Japan, Australia and Iran stand between them and qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

That said, for a nation which has the same population as Springfield, Missouri and only joined FIFA in 1996 it is quite the achievement.

 

Major League Soccer’s Top Five overpaid players

8 Comments

The updated MLS salary list came out late last week. We found five under-performers who were notable for not earning their highly-paid keep.

(Check back tomorrow for our list of MLS salary bargains)

The overly pricey players are listed in alphabetical order:

Toronto FC’s Richard Eckersley, $310,000 guaranteed: Anything more than $150,000 for an outside back in MLS needs careful examination. Paying twice that for a right back is just silly. Plus, if we ranked MLS right backs, TFC’s Englishman would be mid-pack at best.

Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber $312,000 guaranteed: He didn’t work out in New England. He’s not exactly working out to plan in Kansas City, where the former U.S. international has been just OK while starting 15 of 24 matches for the first-place side. Depth is great and all, but not at this price.

Chicago’s Sherjill MacDonald, 527,000 guaranteed: You know, for half a mil, Chicago really should get at least one freakin’ goal out of this guy. One goal! The club has pretty much given up, and rightly so after no goals and just one, single assist in 13 appearances. Shame they couldn’t see the truth in this huge salary bust earlier. It’s not like the rest of us weren’t noticing; we told you back in April the guy was a bust.

(MORE: MLS salary analysis in chart, table form)

Real Salt Lake’s Brandon McDonald, $273,000 guaranteed: RSL is paying very little of his salary; D.C. United, which traded McDonald last month, continues to tote most of the note on this one. At Rio Tinto, he’s probably the third or fourth best center back when everyone is healthy (although he is providing some valuable service during the club’s time of back line injury crisis).

New England’s Juan Toja, $295,000 guaranteed: Seriously, guys, what gives? Why is he still around Gillette Stadium, still eating up a roster spot, not to mention all that salary? The Colombian midfielder is absolutely nothing like the guy who was so bright and lively at the 2007 All-Star game. He can’t run, and he’s simply not productive. Pay a guy that much in MLS and it’s fair to demand he be more than a part-time starter. (Toja has started 11 of New England’s 23 matches.) A playmaker, ostensibly, Toja has a goal and no assists this year.

A word about RSL’s just-acquired Brandon McDonald ahead of tonight’s Sporting Kansas City clash

Leave a comment

On the surface, I completely agree with Richard Farley’s initial assessment of Real Salt Lake’s acquisition of Brandon McDonald. Let me boil that down for you: “Whatever.”

Some of this is short-term relief, as Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe both remain out injured. (Watson-Siriboe for the season; Schuler has just been cleared for practice but remains weeks away from starting.) The choices to partner Nat Borchers get fairly limited past that, although Aaron Maund has responded well since his U.S. Open Cup struggles last month.

Looks like Jason Kreis has a choice between Maund and McDonald for tonight’s big meeting with Sporting Kansas City.

Further, I think we can safely assume that D.C. United will continue to eat a substantial portion of McDonald’s wildly substantial contract. That bad boy, which expires this year, guarantees McDonald (pictured, along the left) a hefty $273,000 this year. That’s just a little south of what Jamison Olave makes at New York, and when the big Colombian (formerly at RSL) is on his game he is among the most dominant back line men in MLS. Safe to say, McDonald is no Olave.

What McDonald can be, however, is an adequate MLS center back when partnered with a veteran leader to keep him out of positional trouble. And Borchers is practically gold standard when we start talking “veteran leaders” around MLS.

McDonald’s ability to fit into a locker room hasn’t always been tip-top. But early reports out of Rio Tinto are of the “model citizen” variety – and he’s certainly smart to adopt such a posture, because the guy just got thrown an absolute career lifeline.

No, McDonald will not reap a contract in 2014 anywhere near what he’s making this year. (Assuming he stays in MLS; remember, all that talk of a possible move to Europe was part of the reason he went from San Jose to United on the cheap.)

But if McDonald wants to stay in MLS, if he behaves and if he can be a useful third or fourth center back, the guy just went from one of the worst teams in MLS to one that has emerged as a legitimate contender. And that’s not a bad day’s work, is it?

Lagerway evokes ‘Moneyball’ to explain Brandon McDonald’s acquisition

4 Comments

Brandon McDonald was a major part of D.C. United’s success last season, but amid the downturn at RFK this season, he lost his spot. Before this morning’s trade, the former LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes defender hadn’t played a Major League Soccer game since June 15. Even on the league’s worst team, McDonald had become expendable.

That Real Salt Lake, a team sitting at the opposite end of the Supporters’ Shield standings, took a chance on McDonald was the surprise. Though RSL’s dealing with some injuries at the back (Aaron Maund, Carlos Salcedo, and Chris Schuler out), they have enough to scratch through Saturday’s visit from Sporting Kansas City without adding McDonald to the roster.

But instead of waiting that out, general manager Garth Lagerway’s giving up a third-round pick (2014) and a conditional choice (2015) for the 27-year-old.

“The basic premise of ‘Money Ball’ (sic) is that you try to acquire undervalued assets,” was Lagerway’s curious explanation for a player with a $235,000 base salary. “We’ve had a long track record of picking up pieces that other people don’t want anymore and cultivating their talents …”

That’s indisputable. Lagerway and head coach Jason Kreis consistently take other teams’ cast offs are turn then into valuable depth, with Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Lovel Palmer, Joao Plata, Ned Grabavoy, Khari Stephenson, Abdoulie Mansally and Josh Saunders all giving Kreis meaningful minutes this season. With that track record, RSL deserve the benefit of the doubt with McDonald.

How much of a benefit they deserve all comes down to length of McDonald’s contract. Because terms of the extension he signed in 2011 weren’t disclosed, we don’t know how long McDonald has left on his deal. If his contract runs beyond this season, this is a bad deal for an RSL team who will have to carry that cap hit into 2014. If, however, McDonald is in the final year of his deal, Lagerway may have decided the less than $100,000 the team owes McDonald is the best use of their remaining cap space.

If that’s the case, this does have the look of a Billy Beane-esque deadline deal, looking beyond what would otherwise be a bad contract to see the short-term benefits. And if short-term benefits are the only things RSL have to absorb from this deal, McDonald may prove more valuable than the throwaway picks it cost to get him.

Digging into the D.C. United situation … and wondering about Dave Kasper’s role in the failures

8 Comments

Coaches lose their jobs all the time, and most “get it.” They may not like it, there may have been mitigating circumstances and there may be blame to share … but at the end of the day they are in a “results business,” and they understand being accountable for the bottom line.

When the Ws and the Ls land in unlovely and improper proportions, the manager gets kicked to the curb.

Then again, I’m looking at D.C. United and wondering why the accountability doesn’t seem to migrate upward, into the front office, over manager Ben Olsen’s head? Because D.C. United has been mostly down in the dumps for a long, long time. Only, the accountability factor doesn’t seem to be in effect for GM Dave Kasper, the architect of this failed roster.

This is from Kasper’s bio page:  “Dave Kasper joined D.C. United in 2002 and has been instrumental in building a deep, young, and very talented roster at D.C. United that will reap benefits in the long-term.”

That sound like the team you see today at RFK Stadium, the one dead last in our weekly rankings, speeding toward a league record for offensive ineptitude?

The team’s significant offensive off-season signings were Marcos Sanchez, an aging Carlos Ruiz and Brazilian young designated player Rafael – and all have been pretty dismal failures. They have combined for one goal and no assists. Throw in Rafael Augusto, signed late last year, and that total increases to … no, wait … it doesn’t increase one bit. Still, one goal and no assists.

(MORE: Ben Olsen’s complaints ring hollow)

That one goal, by the way, was from Rafael, an ostensibly promising signing that worked out so well the club the club released him last week. United didn’t help itself here by breathlessly hyping the anonymous 20-year-old as a “major signing.”

Speaking of failed attackers around RFK, should we talk one more time about Lionard Pajoy? Or Hamdi Salihi? Or Branko Boskovic? Perhaps former club president Kevin Payne had bigger paw prints on those major boo-boos, but again, the accountability thing.

The back line at RFK is a big bag of average or worse. Canadian international Dejan Jakovic is passable as a second center back, one who can be serviceable when paired with an A-list central defender. But to go into the season with Jakovic and Brandon McDonald as your starting center backs? Someone needs to be accountable for that one.

Everyone loves Bill Hamid’s big saves. But he’s still young and he still makes mistakes. How many points might have been saved over the last three years with an older, wiser hand in goal, one that allowed Hamid to apprentice and come along slower?

source: Getty Images

We could go on. Suffice to say, up and down the lineup, there’s just is not enough to like. A big run late last year provided some false promise. But that was after Dwayne De Rosario was hurt and the team reshaped into a bunch of grinders who could do the business with 1-0 wins. Once De Rosario got back into the lineup, a year older, that identity was lost.

Isn’t that a GM’s job to see that? Isn’t it Kasper’s job to look at the roster and understand how many Ws can realistically be squeezed out of that bad boy? Shouldn’t someone be accountable?

Here’s what I see happening sooner or later: Olsen (pictured at right) will lose his job. A 2-12-3 record is likely to get worse in about 30 hours when United visits Seattle, and eventually the mark will just be too ugly to stomach.

And if Olsen does lose his job, we’ll be left with a huge mystery – because we still won’t know if Olsen is a good coach. What a shame that will be.

Unless he was making the major personnel decisions, then Olsen was saddled with a team that never had much of a chance at real success.