MLS Next for Keller?

Already sidelined by a torn muscle in his right thigh, Kasey Keller's Borussia Moenchengladbach side has been relegated to the German Second Division for the second time since 1999.

The team's contract with Keller, 37, expires in June, leaving open many options for the American international who has appeared in four World Cups ('90, '98, '02, '06). He could re-sign with his current club, could find employment elsewhere in Europe, or could come home to the USA to play in the MLS.

Real Salt Lake has recently admitted contacting Keller to discuss a possible contract, but the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on money. Keller is looking for a salary that would put him in Designated Player range, and many clubs aren't convinced that a goalkeeper - even one as established as Keller - should command such a high salary.

Keller has said he would prefer to play close to his U.S. homes in Washington and Idaho - the closest market for him to play in would be Real Salt Lake, 800 miles away, or a 2-hour plane ride. As we know, RSL is desperate to fix their 'keeping situation, and Keller would certainly help.


Week 4 Results

Week four is over in MLS - D.C. is still winless. New York is still unbeaten. See MLSNet's game recaps below. MLS Zone power rankings will be updated within 24 hours.

Toronto 0 - Kansas City 3

Red Bull New York 1 - Dallas 0

Kansas City 1 - Toronto 0
D.C. United 0 - Columbus 1
Chivas USA 1 - L.A. Galaxy 3

New England 1 - FC Dallas 0
Chicago 1 - Houston 0

Galaxy Top Chivas In Super Clasico

Landon Donovan led a re-energized L.A. Galaxy side to a 3-1 win over rivals Chivas USA on Saturday night.

Donovan got the scoring going early when, in the 8th minute, Chivas defender Claudio Suarez and 'keeper Brad Guzan got tangled when trying to deal with a Kyle Martino cross. The two collided and the ball squirted free where Landon Donovan was in the right place at the right time to slot it home and give the G's a 1-0 lead.

Donovan was involved in the second Galaxy goal as well, with a nice give-and-go pass to Kevin Harmse who beat Guzan at the near post in the 17th minute.

Things settled down after that, and in the second half, Chivas USA looked to pull one back. In the 63rd minute, a Chivas corner kick got bounced around to several players in the box. Ante Razov's header hit the near post and ricocheted back into the scrum where Jesse Marsch fired toward the goal. This time, Claudio Suarez was in the right place, as the ball caromed off his thigh and into the goal to make it 2-1.

But Landon Donovan proved to be too much for Chivas to handle again. In the 78th minute, Donovan was off to the races, hurdling a tackle from Lawson Vaughn and placed the ball perfectly on the foot of a streaking Cobi Jones, who beat Guzan for the night's final goal.

TJ's take: It was an electric atmosphere for the first Super Clasico of the year. I can't wait for the second one to take place, in about a month's time. Donovan looked spectacular and I was also impressed by the hustle of Kyle Martino. He was constantly running for the entire game. All in all, the G's were in the best form of their young season. They now have two weeks off before taking on the New England Revolution at home.


Toronto Can't Buy A Goal

Toronto FC has dropped to 0-4 on the season after losing to the Kansas City Wizards for the second time in less than a week. This time at home, the Canadian side looked much better early on, but still couldn't find a way to put the ball in the back of the net. Eddie Johnson notched his third goal of the season in the 81st minute, tying him for the league lead with Taylor Twellman.

With the loss, Toronto falls to 0-4-0, while Kansas City improves to 3-1-0, a single point behind the undefeated Red Bulls of New York in the East.

Next game:
Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire (May 12th)
Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew (May 5th)


Beckham Stars In Malaria PSA

David Beckham's latest commercial is a PSA called "We Need Nets." It asks for $10 in order to purchase one mosquito net, a life-saving item in Africa - Malaria is the leading killer in Africa, with over 3,000 children dying everyday from the disease which can be easily prevented with a simple mosquito net.

Beckham's contribution follows up with Major League Soccer taking on malaria as an issue. You can view the commercial below.


Klinsmann Lands a Job

Jurgen Klinsmann has signed a two-year contract to be a commentator with pay-TV channel Arena, which owns rights to the Bundesliga and broadcasts games from other foreign leagues. "I had a lot of offers after the World Cup to return to Europe, but Arena is the first partner to have convinced me with its concept," Klinsmann said.

Klinsmann was considered almost a sure-thing to replace Bruce Arena as head coach of the USMNT, but shockingly turned down Sunil Gulati's offer after some media outlets had already reported it as a done deal. It now appears that Bob Bradley's job is secure... at least until 2009, when Klinsmann will be in the unemployment line once more.

Red Bulls Continue To Run

Bruce Arena's Red Bull New York side has continued their fine form to begin the 2007 season with a solid 1-0 victory on the road against FC Dallas. The lone goal came from Hunter Freeman in the 79th minute, blasting a shot past Shaka Hislop and into the top corner.

New York has not allowed a goal in all four of their games this season (360 minutes), an MLS record for longest shutout streak to begin a season. In addition, goalie Ronald Wattereus has been in net for 315 of those shutout minutes, also an MLS record.

With the win, RBNY improves to 3-0-1 on the year, the best record in MLS. FC Dallas is, for the moment, one point clear of Chivas USA for the lead in the West, but Chivas has two games in hand as they head into the first SuperClasico of the year against the L.A. Galaxy on Saturday night.

RSL Stadium Deal Dead Again?

The on-again/off-again Sandy stadium deal for Real Salt Lake may be off-again... again. This time, the team is balking at the initial deal, specifically $7.5 million pledged by the team for new youth fields in the deal, and is proposing a list of items "before we move forward with the charitable donation," which RSL now deems an "investment."

Among the new demands:
- Revenue streams from parking and concessions.
- Land at or near the project site for a soccer academy.
- Management of naming rights and sponsorships.
- A practice field for RSL at the project.
- Detailed business plans that demonstrate the ongoing viability of the complex.

Also complicating matters, environmental insiders claim that a high water table could sink the whole plan - something that city engineers are denying.


Kansas City 3 - Toronto 0

In a rainy Wednesday night match-up, the Kansas City Wizards defeated winless Toronto FC, 3-0 in Kansas City. Eddie Johnson tallied his second goal of the season to get the scoring started.

Toronto FC has completed their season-opening road trip, going 0-3-0, 0 points, 0 goals. They now head north of the border to open BMO field on Saturday against these same Wizards, looking for the first win... or point... or goal... in their short history.

Sacha Kljestan, Andy Herron Suspended

The Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee has announced fines and suspensions for the past week in league play.

- Columbus Crew forward Andy Herron has been suspended for four games and fined $3,000 for connecting with an elbow to New England Revolution defender Jay Heaps. Revs' midfielder Shalrie Joseph was fined $500 for shoving Herron in the face after the incident.

- Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan has been suspended for two games and fined $1,000 for his poor judgment when tackling Real Salt Lake's Andy Williams from behind. Kljestan was originally served with a yellow card during the game, but after review, the committee felt that the challenge was an unequivocal red card offense and suspended him accordingly. Williams will miss the next 4-8 weeks with a high ankle sprain.

TJ's take: I was in the stands when Williams was tackled by Sacha and I fully expected Kljestan to pick up a red card. Unfortunately, his suspension will keep him out of this Saturday's SuperClasico against the L.A. Galaxy. I was hoping Chivas would be able to field all of their "stars" so it would feel that much better when the Galaxy rip them a new one.

Angel Still Waiting

Newly acquired Colombian forward Juan Pablo Angel has not been able to train with Red Bull New York because he is still waiting for a work visa. He has been resigned to watching the team practice and will not be making the trip with the team for Thursday's game in Dallas.

The Red Bulls hope Angel will be playing in the next two weeks, but Angel can not practice or play until he gets the visa. "We wanted it to happen Monday to be honest," team technical director Jeff Agoos said. "When you turn it over to the U.S. government, it's out of your control again. It's in their hands and we're trying to push it through as quickly as possible."

In the meantime, the Red Bulls will be in action on ESPN2 tomorrow night against FC Dallas. They hope to add to their near-perfect 2-0-1 record on the season.

Keeper Switch in RSL?

Real Salt Lake coach John Ellinger is pondering putting rookie 'keeper Chris Seitz in net over Nick Rimando after a 4-0 beatdown at the hands of Chivas USA on Saturday night. Rimando has given up a total of six goals through RSL's first three games, but looked particularly awful at times in their last game. He positioned himself too far off of the near post and about a foot behind the line when attempting to make a save on Ante Razov's 100th goal, for instance.

Unfortunately for RSL, Seitz will be leaving in June to compete at the U-20 World Cup in Canada. "You hate the thought if (Seitz) were to win that position, and boom, he's gone for three or four games," Ellinger told Deseret News. "But if that's what we need to do, that's what we need to do."

Ellinger could find himself on the hot seat sooner rather than later and really needs to get some results from this team in his third year. I wouldn't be surprised if we see Seitz in net within two weeks if Rimando's struggles continue.


Galaxy Top Crew in Open Cup Qualifying

The Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Columbus Crew 1-0 in a U.S. Open Cup qualifying game on Tuesday night in Columbus. The Galaxy got an early goal from Nate Jaqua in the 17th minute and held on the rest of the way. Both teams rested several starters, and Columbus didn't sub in three of their top offensive players - Joseph Ngwenya, Ned Grabavoy, and Kei Kamara - until after the 60th minute.

The Galaxy will next take on Red Bull New York as they attempt to make it back to the U.S. Open Cup finals.

Power Rankings - Week 4

So it's only taken me three weeks to realize RSL is a joke and Chivas is for real. I'm still not giving up on Real Salt Lake, but geez... what a lackluster performance on Saturday. We also have a new team on top of the power rankings.

1. (3) Red Bull New York
They are for real. Altidore could end up being an MVP finalist this year at this rate. Many experts (of which I am not one) are placing them as an early favorite to go all the way. Solid team from back to front.

2. (1) Colorado Rapids
The Rapids attack looked very weak against FC Dallas. Maybe Conor Casey's arrival can change things up top, but this team may have already peaked.

3. (6) Chivas USA
Ante Razov hit the 100-goal milestone on Saturday night in Chivas USA's 4-0 romp over RSL. Maykel Galindo and Panchito Mendoza looked especially potent in the attack. Brad Guzan is the best goalkeeper in MLS right now, hands down.

4. (2) Los Angeles Galaxy
Maybe a week off will be a good thing for the Galaxy. Several key players have sustained injuries in the first few weeks of the season, leaving the G's with just one point heading into the first Superclasico of the year. Against their rival, I expect them to come out firing, unlike last week's game against FC Dallas.

5. (5) Houston Dynamo
A loss to Red Bull New York on the road is nothing to panic about. Pat Onstad allowed his first goal of the season, but he should bounce back on Sunday against Chicago.

6. (4) D.C. United
Blame the poor start to this season mostly on their defense. They travel to Columbus this week, a Crew team that is severely underestimated. Could it be three losses in a row to start the season? It might happen...

7. (9) Chicago Fire
Another win for the Men in Red. They're making believers out of me and I can't wait to see Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Justin Mapp on the same pitch together. Still, I don't see this team quite making it to the MLS Cup.

8. (11) FC Dallas
Wins against two of the better teams in the West (L.A. & Colorado) in their first three games has me believing that this team could contend. Their defense/goalkeeping situation is shaky at best, but Dario Sala will be back soon, his suspension is half-over.

9. (10) Columbus Crew
Three ties to start the year off, what better time to get a win than this weekend at home against D.C. United? Saturday's game should be the last for the Crew before Guillermo Barros Schelotto arrives from Argentina. Ngwenya, Kamara and Grabavoy have this team ready to succeed this year.

10. (12) New England Revolution
Taylor Twellman continues to find ways to score. Sunday's game on the road in Dallas will be a good test as to how far this team can go in 2007. I'm still bearish on this team.

11. (8) Kansas City Wizards
K.C.'s slid downward this week is more a result of other teams moving up, not bad play by the Wizards. Eddie Johnson has cooled for the moment and will need to get hot again if this team intends to make the playoffs. Going on the road to Toronto could be dangerous for K.C. - I believe TFC will put all the pieces together for the first time this year, especially if Ronnie O'Brien is healthy enough to play.

12. (13) Toronto FC
They've had time to lick their wounds from New England's 4-0 beating, made some personnel changes and are ready to open BMO Field with their first home game. Alecko Eskandarian will finally wake up and find the back of the net for the first time this season against Kansas City and Toronto will be undefeated at home after one game.

13. (7) Real Salt Lake
If I could move them into 15th place on this list, I would. There is such promise for this team, but it all comes down to goalkeeping. Nick Rimando is horrible, absolutely horrible. Chris Seitz should see a lot of playing time this year, starting with Monday's home game against Colorado. Their showing against Chivas lacked any heart whatsoever. I still feel that this team has potential and can snap out of whatever slump they are in, but for now, they are bringing up the rear in my Power Rankings.


Maykel Galindo Player of the Week

Maykel Galindo has been named MLS Player of the Week. The Chivas USA forward scored the first two goals of his MLS career, the first one just 28 seconds into the game, in a 4-0 stomping of Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.
Galindo, 26, sought political asylum in 2005 when as a member of the Cuban national team he left the team hotel in Seattle and was taken in by a Seattle family.

TJ's take: I was at the game on Saturday night and was thoroughly impressed with Galindo. Along with Razov, Kljestan and Panchito Mendoza, their offense is firing on all cylinders right now, and could make the Goats the team to beat in the West, and maybe the entire league.

USMNT Will Travel To Sweden

The U.S. Men's National Team will play their first game on European soil since last year's World Cup when they travel to Sweden for a friendly. The game will take place on August 22nd and will be a warm-up for the Swedish national team for their European Championship qualifier against Denmark, to take place two weeks later.

"We always strive to have as strong opponents as possible and the USA is a strong nation with a good team," Sweden coach Lars Lagerback said.


Week 3 Results

Week three in the MLS has come and gone. See below for game recaps from MLSNet.com. MLS Zone power rankings will be updated tomorrow morning... some changes are in store.

Thursday's game:
New England 2 - Columbus 2

Saturday's game:
Houston 0 - Red Bull New York 1
Kansas City 1 - Chicago 2
Real Salt Lake 0 - Chivas USA 4

Sunday's game:
Colorado 1 - FC Dallas 3

Beckham Returns, Has Game-Winning Assist

David Beckham has returned to Real Madrid's lineup, appearing to be fully recovered from knee ligament damage he suffered several weeks ago. With his team locked in a 1-1 tie against fourth-place Valencia, Beckham came on in the 66th minute. Six minutes later, it was Sergio Ramos who found himself on the end of a trademark bending Beckham free kick, heading home what would be the winning goal on the night.

Below is a clip of the winning goal. The first shot is blurry, but stick around for the replays and watch just how much the ball bends. The goalie looks as if he was ready to come out and cut it off, but the ball just kept bending away from him. Beautiful goal!

With the win, Real Madrid moves into second place, two points behind leaders Barcelona. It kept alive title hopes for the Galacticos, who haven't won a major trophy since David Beckham arrived in 2003.

Comex Likely Jersey Sponsor For Chivas

From an article in the Orange County Register, Chivas is expected to select Comercial Mexicana de Pinturas (Comex) as its front-jersey sponsor. According to the article, the finalizing of the contract is in the latter stages, with new jerseys to be unveiled at home sometime in the near future.
About Comex: The company has grown to be an international leader and one of North America's largest paint manufacturers with almost 3,000 paint stores.


Chivas Routs RSL - Razov Hits 100

It took Chivas just half a minute to get on the scoreboard against an abysmal Real Salt Lake team, and they didn't stop there. Chivas USA went on to score three more on the night en route to a 4-0 romp.

Cuban defector Maykel Galindo was responsible for the first two tallies. Ante Razov scored the third Chivas goal - it was number 100 for Razov, making him the third player in league history to reach the milestone (Jason Kreis and Jaime Moreno are the other two). Matt Taylor added a late insurance goal for the Goats.

Freddy Adu was nowhere to be found. He spent most of his night on the flank as opposed to central midfield. Jonathan Bornstein did well to keep Adu quiet, but there wasn't much hussle coming from #11. Very disappointing start to the season for RSL, and the goalkeeping situation isn't helping. Rimando definitely does not look like the answer right now.

Overall, Chivas USA played a very good game and look strong heading into next weekend's Superclasico with the L.A. Galaxy.

Conor Casey Traded To Rapids

Conor Casey has become the latest player to be traded out of Toronto. He was shipped to Colorado in exchange for a third round pick in the 2008 SuperDraft, an allocation, and the rights to Canadian player Riley O'Neill.

Casey made the move to MLS in the off-season from German side FSV Mainz. He played a total of 58 minutes through Toronto FC's first two games, not factoring into their 2-0 loss to Chivas USA or their 4-0 spanking by New England.

TFC head coach Mo Johnston has made a number of moves in the last few weeks, running his side as if it were a fantasy team. Maybe they'll be able to get a goal on Wednesday in Kansas City before going back to Canada for their home opener on April 28th.


New England 2 - Columbus 2

In this week's ESPN2 primetime game, New England and the Columbus Crew fought to a 2-2 tie. It was the third tie in as many games this season for Columbus. Taylor Twellman continued his fine form by adding his third goal of the young season. A late equalizer was scored by the Crew's Kei Kamara in the 86th minute, giving both teams one point.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto did not play. The new Crew signing is expected to make his MLS debut on May 5th in Kansas City.


Beckham Back In Training

David Beckham appears to have fully recovered from a sprained right knee ligament. He completed a full training session today and will be available for Real Madrid's home game on Saturday against Valencia. Madrid needs his help as they are five points behind leader FC Barcelona with eight matches remaining.

The Los Angeles Galaxy also need his help, having picked up just one point through their first two games.

Beckham Brings $13.3 To Galaxy Already

The Los Angeles Galaxy have reported an additional $13.3 million in revenue since the announcement of David Beckham's switch to the side. That covers his salary for about half of his 5-year deal, worth $5.5 million annually. "We've already made our money back," said Tim Leiweke of AEG, owners of the Galaxy. "We were never worried about our financial commitment."

Other interesting facts:

- Galaxy Assistant General Manager Tom Payne said he expects ticket revenue to double this season to about $10 million.
- New sponsors include Delta Airlines Inc. and AutoTrader.com Inc. Sponsorship sales are expected to triple from last year to about $10 million.
- John Skipper, ESPN's executive vice president of content, says the TV audience for Galaxy games will rise between 25-50% from the MLS average of 197,000 U.S. households last season.
- Adidas' sales of MLS-related products may also triple, with half of that from Beckham-related merchandise, said Chris McGuire, vice president of marketing - U.S. "Beckham will create a global demand for MLS products, which didn't really exist before," McGuire said.

Revs Still Looking

The New England Revolution are continuing their search for international talent - head coach Steve Nicol says the club is in the hunt for several foreign players. The Boston Globe reports that one possible target is a Brazilian playing with Deportivo Alav├ęs.

"We would like to make something happen, but there is no sense of urgency," asserted Nicol.

The Revolution travel to Columbus tonight to take on the Crew at 7:00 p.m. EST, live on ESPN2. I'm predicting a 2-1 Columbus win, but I wouldn't put any money on it given my track record so far this year.


Houston & Toronto Trade

Toronto FC has shipped midfielder Richard Mulrooney to Houston in exchange for Kevin Goldthwaite and the Dynamo's first round pick in the 2008 draft. Toronto pulled the trigger on the deal just a day after trading for RBNY's Marvell Wynne.

It looks like Mo Johnston is serious about getting this team some defensive help. TFC has given up six goals this year, which also happens to be six more than they've scored.

And The Zizou Rumors Continue

The mainstream media has picked up on the widespread rumors that Zinedine Zidane may be on his way to the L.A. Galaxy. Reports say the G's have made an offer to the 35-year French star who is seen as a soccer god in most of the world. He has been retired since his unceremonius sending-off in the World Cup final and several teams have tried to lure him back to the pitch, but the latest round of rumors appears to have more teeth to it.

AEG everyman Tim Leiweke may have traveled to France to speak with Zidane's representatives. He told Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, "We have contacted his entourage about coming to play for us this year."

Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas: "I can't comment about specifics of any of the negotiations we have. All I can say is we continue to court the best players we possibly can. I would certainly think this player would be an asset to any team."

Toronto Signs Dichio

Toronto FC has inked another forward - this time it is veteran striker Danny Dichio. The 32-year-old center forward had been with Preston North End before the move and has also spent time with QPR, Sampdoria, Barnet, Sunderland, West Brom and Derby, among others.

On his new contract: "It's a very good contract that they've offered me for my family and me personally. It's a fresh opportunity and adventure for me and at this stage of my career this is what I think I needed."

According to the Daily Telegraph, the 6'3" Dichio has signed a three-year deal with MLS.

Frank Yallop Already On Hot Seat?

I was just reading an Andrea Canales article on LASoccerNews.com about Galaxy head coach Frank Yallop and what is expected of him this season. After only two games, the team already has to dig themselves out of a small hole.

When asked about Yallop, Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas said, "He'd be the first person to tell you that he understands the expectations and he understands the job of head coach of the Galaxy is very different than any other team in the league in terms of the pressure and in terms of the high standards that we've set here... I fully expect him to live up to and surpass that (high) standard."

Lalas has fired two coaches in his three stints as a general manager, including current USMNT head coach Bob Bradley, who lost his job with New York/New Jersey MetroStars when Lalas was sheriff in town.


Power Rankings - Week 3

Here is the third weekly edition of The MLS Zone power rankings. Parity has caused a shuffling of the rankings this time around.

1. (3) Colorado Rapids
Fernando Clavijo's side moves up by default this week. Down to 10 men against Chicago, they appeared ready to still pick up three points - until a late soft goal forced them to settle for the tie. I predicted good things from Herculez Gomez, and so far it's come true. Herc has scored twice as many goals this season than the entire L.A. Galaxy roster has.

2. (2) Los Angeles Galaxy
Not a very good showing on national television against a weak FC Dallas side, but the team appeared to wake up in the second half. Rookie Robbie Findley showed his speed alone can cause problems when he's inserted late in a game. If Donovan comes around and the wings can provide better service into the box, L.A. will be at the head of the table before long.

3. (5) Red Bull New York
In just about the worst weather imaginable for the second straight week, RBNY showed some character. Clint Mathis has showed flashes of his old self and Josmer Altidore IS the real thing. Adding a healthy Claudio Reyna and Juan Pablo Angel into the mix has RBNY set to pick up some hardware this year.

4. (1) D.C. United
Got completely blitzed by the enigma that is Eddie Johnson. The back line doesn't have enough speed to support a 3-5-2 lineup, and the scoreboard is showing it. Luciano Emilio can be a star in this league. Fred may not quite be there yet, but if the current pieces are moved around, this team can re-gain the swagger that surrounded them all off-season/pre-season.

5. (8) Houston Dynamo
The men in orange keep moving up the power rankings. Brian Ching is the new Brian McBride - he's lethal in the air when he wants to be. With a proper DP signing in the summer transfer window, Houston could be back-to-back MLS Cup winners. I'm not completely won over yet.

6. (6) Chivas USA
Where's Amado Guevara? Was he worth giving up a DP spot? I'm still waiting for him to make his debut - for now the midfield is Sacha Kljestan's on this squad. The Goats are still solid, despite dropping a close one to Houston on the road.

7. (4) Real Salt Lake
So I picked them to win the West and I'm not ready to eat crow after two games. Any deficiencies in defense or the goalkeeping area's should be offset by Adu and Cunningham. But until they get on the same page, RSL's slide continues.

8. (11) Kansas City Wizards
Holy schnikees, somebody get Eddie Johnson in to a USMNT camp now! Is this the same kid that looked feeble just a few weeks ago and had everyone screaming for him to be pulled from the national team? One game does not a season make, but it did go a long way towards shutting up one of his most vocal critics - me.

9. (9) Chicago Fire
Up a man against Colorado and they couldn't get much going until very late in the match. Maybe it was a good job by the Rapids to shut this team down, but I just don't feel like Chicago can do much more than sneak into the playoffs. Cuauhtemoc Blanco's arrival will give the team a needed boost in the dog days of summer. But how long will that last?

10. (7) Columbus Crew
They've finally locked up Guillermo Barros Schelotto and can count on him to be a catalyst for this young team. Somehow the Crew kept their DP spot - it has Brian McBride's name all over it, come summer 2007.

11. (12) FC Dallas
Fought hard for a road win at the Home Depot Center. Maybe they got lucky with a questionable penalty kick call in the first half, but they managed to hold off a hard-charging L.A. side. Their road trip ended three days later with a thud in a hurricane in New York, but Kenny Cooper and Carlos Ruiz are a deadly combination right now.

12. (13) New England Revolution
A 4-goal showing against Toronto has helped the Revs leapfrog the Mounties, but most other teams in MLS will be able to contain Taylor Twellman better than TFC did.

13. (10) Toronto FC
Defense looks bad... really bad. Maybe Marvell Wynne can help change things? Team will continue to suffer until Ronnie O'Brien returns. Really looking like an expansion team right now.

Crew Signs Schelotto

Columbus Crew general manager Mark McCullers has confirmed that they have signed Guillermo Barros Schelotto to a two-year deal. The move is not a surprising one as rumors of Guillermo's move to MLS preceded the official announcement by weeks. But what did come as a surprise is that Columbus did not use their Designated Player slot to secure Schelotto, leaving open the option of another shot at landing Brian McBride, or trading the DP spot away.

"We do have him under contract," McCullers said. Schelotto must obtain a work permit, which should take a few days, but he may be available to play against the Los Angeles Galaxy in a U.S. Open Cup game in Columbus on Tuesday.

Schelotto comes to Columbus from Boca Juniors, where he is a 10-year veteran with the popular Argentine club.

Breaking News - Marvell Wynne Traded To TFC

Breaking news from Ives Galarcep: Marvell Wynne, Red Bull New York defender and the #1 pick in the 2006 MLS Draft, has been traded to Toronto FC for a package of loonies and Tim Horton's. After the exchange rate has been applied, that equals Toronto's second-round draft pick in the '08 draft and a partial allocation.

Toronto FC badly needs the defensive help: They gave up four goals on Saturday to the New England Revolution.

MLS Attendance Analysis - Updated 08/27

Here is a week-by-week look at (reported) attendance #'s from Major League Soccer.

Week 1 - 6 games - Average attendance - 16,109
Week 2 - 7 games - Average attendance - 16,827
Week 3 - 5 games - Average attendance - 13,848
Week 4 - 7 games - Average attendance - 14,971
Week 5 - 7 games - Average attendance - 11,304
Week 6 - 6 games - Average attendance - 14,455

Week 7 - 8 games - Average attendance - 17,272
Week 8 - 7 games - Average attendance - 13,222
Week 9 - 6 games - Average attendance - 15,773
Week 10 - 6 games - Average attendance - 16,317
Week 11 - 7 games - Average attendance - 17,752
Week 12 - 7 games - Average attendance - 13,599
Week 13 - 6 games - Average attendance - 11,573

Week 14 - 12 games - Average attendance - 15,984
Week 15 - 6 games - Average attendance - 14,649
Week 16 - 4 games - Average attendance - 12,472

Week 17 - 4 games - Average attendance - 13,974
Week 18 - 6 games - Average attendance - 15,372
Week 19 - 5 games - Average attendance - 25,406
Week 20 - 7 games - Average attendance - 23,740
Week 21 - 9 games - Average attendance - 17,381

Total - 138 games - Average attendance - 15,897.83

Highest Single Game:
Los Angeles Galaxy @ New York Red Bulls (08/18) - 66,237

Lowest Single Game:
Colorado Rapids @ Kansas City Wizards (07/22) - 7,101

Juan Pablo Angel Signs With Red Bull New York

Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel has officially been introduced as the newest member of Red Bull New York. Angel, a 31-year-old Colombian, should be able to play within two weeks, with the delay due to getting government paperwork in order.

"I'm extremely excited about this opportunity," said Angel. "All the big names going to the league... When I had the opportunity to talk to Bruce [Arena], I wanted to be a part of what they were trying to do."

Angel should help attract new fans to the team from New York City's large Colombian population. He is a regular on his country's national team, which has played in New York 10 times since 1996.

Week 2 Results

Here is a recap of MLS - Week 2.

FC Dallas 2 - LA Galaxy 1

Columbus 0 - Real Salt Lake 0
Kansas City 4 - D.C. United 2
Toronto FC 0 - New England 4
Chivas USA 0 - Houston 1

FC Dallas 0 - Red Bull New York 3
Chicago 1 - Colorado 1


Herculez Gomez is No Cobi... or Fred?

Colorado Rapids midfield Herculez Gomez will no longer be allowed to use his unique first name on the back of his jersey, according to the Denver Post. MLS has made exceptions to this rule in the past, including Cobi Jones' use of 'Cobi' on the back of his jersey and now 'Fred' on the back of Brazilian D.C. United signing Helbert Frederico Carreiro da Silva's jersey.

"It's just a shame. It's just a bit of a double standard," said Gomez, who scored in the Rapids home opener last Saturday. "It's just one of those things, I've gotten the runaround with the league, and I'm over it."

Laurent Merlin Joins Chivas

Laurent Merlin, the French forward who briefly survived the tryouts held by the Los Angeles Galaxy in February, has officially joined Galaxy rivals Chivas USA after training with the club for more than one month. With his signing, Chivas USA now has five strikers on the roster, including rookie standout Maykel Galindo and veteran Ante Razov.

Merlin will be able to play in Saturday's game against Houston, pending the approval of a work visa. He is a native of Marseille, France.


FC Dallas 2 - L.A. Galaxy 1

FC Dallas defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy on Thursday night, 2-1. Dallas got goals from Carlos Ruiz on a questionably-called penalty kick and Kenny Cooper. L.A.'s goal was scored by Robbie Findley.

I was there and I will be filing a full report on everything from Justin Guarini's national anthem to the Riot Squad heckling ESPN anchors by shouting "Eric Wynalda" during the pre-game - look for the report later tonight.


Galaxy/FC Dallas Preview

I'm going to be ducking out of work early so that I can be immersed in the hell that is the 91 freeway at rush hour - I'm hoping to get to the Galaxy/FC Dallas game on time. I am fortunate enough to have front row seats at midfield, so I'll have a good vantage point to give a full report from.

Here's what I'm expecting: A Galaxy romp in their home opener. The defense of FC Dallas will be exploited at will by Landon Donovan and Kyle Martino. Joe Cannon may get another shut-out if Carlos Ruiz doesn't steal a last-minute goal against the G's like he did against RSL. Final score will read 3-0 Galaxy, with goals from Donovan (2) and Martino.

The game will be televised on ESPN2, starting at 7 p.m. PST. Keep an eye out for the 'Free Eric Wynalda' signs in the Riot Squad section.

American Idol Meet MLS

According to a recent press release, American Idol season one runner-up Justin Guarini will be singing the national anthem before tomorrow night's FC Dallas - L.A. Galaxy clash. And ESPN2 will be there to catch it all.
Seriously. Go back up and read it again. I had to read it four times before it set in. Really, I've got nothing else to say to this.

Galaxy VIP Entrance

The Los Angeles Galaxy have decided to build a "VIP Only" entrance to the Home Depot Center, because of all the celebrities expected to turn out to see Pete Vagenas later this year... what? Here's a look at the new entrance, courtesy LosAngelesSoccerNews.com:

Pretty glamorous, huh? Of course we don't want the Hollywood A-List to have fraternize with the general population. Can you imagine Jennifer Lopez waiting in line for a beer next to Tommy Mack from the Riot Squad? I'd pay extra to see that.

Stars that are reported to have bought season tickets to see the G's besides Jennifer Lopez include Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise. No word on whether there will be a Scientology night in the future, but I wouldn't rule it out.


Power Rankings - Week 2

Here is the second weekly edition of The MLS Zone Power Rankings. Last week's ranking is in parenthesis.

1. (1) D.C. United
Despite their sub-par performance against Colorado, D.C. is still the team to beat in the league. Getting off the road should help rejuvenate this club and get them back to their winning ways.

2. (2) L.A. Galaxy
Holding the defending MLS champs to a scoreless tie on the road is a decent result to begin the year. Head coach Frank Yallop rolled out a bit of an unexpected lineup for the game, but Thursday's upcoming home game against FC Dallas should result in the first win of '07 for the G's.

3. (5) Colorado Rapids
I thought they would be strong on Saturday - they dominated the first half and then held on late. Bouna Coundoul has the atleticism and instincts to be one of the top keepers in the league over the next few years. Herculez Gomez showed a lot of fire - with his skills in midfield and with his mouth - and will be a solid performer all year.

4. (4) Real Salt Lake
Jeff Cunningham has picked up right where he left off last season, scoring both of RSL's goals against FC Dallas. If Freddy Adu can catch fire with Cunningham this year, RSL may not be able to be stopped in '07.

5. (3) Red Bull New York
Not a bad effort against Columbus in less-than-perfect weather, but not getting on the scoreboard highlights their need for a true striker up front. John Wolyniec will not cut it all season - expect RBNY to bring in their DP striker this summer.

6. (7) Chivas USA
Impressive 2-0 win, albeit against an expansion team. The offense looks very good, especially young star Sacha Kljestan and soon-to-be-star Maykel Galindo. Keeper Brad Guzan may just be the best keeper in MLS and showed on Saturday why he was recently called into camp with the USMNT. This weekend's trip to Houston will be a good early test for Preki's team.

7. (6) Columbus Crew
I still pick Columbus to be the surprise of the year - most people have them picked as last or second-to-last in the East. Rumor has it that Boca Juniors winger Guillermo Barros Schelotto is on the verge of joining the team. He should help Columbus score a few goals - something they were unable to do on Saturday. Maybe using their DP to bring Kasey Keller over from Germany would have been more productive?

8. (9) Houston Dynamo
Solid start to the season for Houston. Pat Onstad looked lost on a few plays and looked spectacular on others. That kind of inconsistency doesn't bode well for the defending champs, who are looking to Brian Ching for offense. Am I the only one who thinks Dwayne De Rosario isn't the same guy we saw even last year?

9. (12) Chicago Fire
Originally had them pegged much lower than they should have been. They are the biggest jumpers this week, up three spots, but I want to see if Chris Rolfe and Justin Mapp are the real thing before saying they are a playoff team.

10. (8) Toronto FC
Not the team I had expected to show up. TFC really could have used a healthy Ronnie O'Brien against Chivas. Still, if not for Brad Guzan's spectacular saves, TFC could've stolen a point in this one. Look for this team to get going once their season-opening road trip is over.

11. (11) Kansas City Wizards
The extra week of preparation probably won't be enough to stop what D.C. is going to throw at them on Saturday. Still, K.C.'s defense is probably the team's strongest feature and maybe has a chance to pick up a point??

12. (13) FC Dallas
It was a toss-up between FC Dallas and the Revs for the last two spots. I gave FCD the edge as they actually picked up a point and NE didn't. Still not playoff material.

13. (10) New England Revolution
Too many injuries. This team needs to be completely overhauled.

Crew To Make DP Signing?

Various reports have the Columbus Crew about to ink a deal with Boca Juniors winger Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The Argentinian, about to turn 34 years old, has lost his starting spot with his domestic side and has said in the past he would like to go to another team where he could see more time on the pitch. MLS Underground reports that the deal would be for two years with a salary of $1-2 million/year. I'm not sure how that fits into Designated Player rules, which state that a DP contract must be for 1, 3, or 5 years, but it could be a 1-year contract with an option for another year.

TJ's take: Columbus finally makes a move into the DP market. Not sure if this one will pay off, but if it's only a one-year contract, I don't think it could hurt. I don't know much about Guillermo, but at 34, I'm not sure how much he's got left in his tank (in contrast to Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who still has a starting spot for Club America at 34), but if it's a flop, it's only for this year.

It must be much harder to convince a "name" player to come to Columbus as the city doesn't quite have the allure of maybe a New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. This could become a problem in a few years time if the big names are only willing to flock to the three major cities, as the rest of the league could be left wading through a lower tier of players if they want to use a DP.

Jeff Cunningham Named Player Of The Week

Real Salt Lake's Jeff Cunningham has been named MLS Player of the Week for Week 1. He scored both of his team's goals in a two-all tie against FC Dallas.

Cunningham has been named Player of the Week nine times in his career, tied for the most-ever with the L.A. Galaxy's Cobi Jones. He was also the Golden Boot for last season, when he scored 16 goals over the course of the year, most in the league.

TJ's take: I didn't get to see any of the FCD-RSL game, but my player of the week would be Sacha Kljestan. The kid had a beautiful goal (his first goal ever) and an assist in Chivas USA's impressive defeat of Toronto FC.


Week 1 Results

Here's a recap of Week 1 results from around the league:

D.C. United 1 - Colorado 2

Red Bull New York 0 - Columbus 0

New England 0 - Chicago 1

FC Dallas 2 - Real Salt Lake 2

Toronto FC 0 - Chivas USA 2

LA Galaxy 0 - Houston 0

Solid wins for Colorado, Chivas and Chicago in Week 1. Most disappointing loss goes to D.C. United, but I'm sure the CCC games and time away from home had something to do with it. FC Dallas stole a point in Utah, but I have a feeling their defense will be exposed on Thursday vs. the Galaxy. The power rankings will be updated either tonight or tomorrow, so keep checking back for those. Thanks to all who have written to me at TheMLSZone@gmail.com, especially all you Chicago Fire fans who took issue with their position in the power rankings.


What Global Warming?

On Saturday, MLS begins its 12th season with good things forecast for the league this year. But there is something else in the forecast for three MLS cities hosting home openers today: SNOW. Here are the forecasts for host cities in Week 1, from weather.com.

Saturday's games:
RBNY @ Columbus - High of 34. Windy with occassional snow showers. Winds 20-30 mph.
Game-time temperature should be around 33, with snow showers and wind.

D.C. United @ Colorado - High of 34. Variably cloudy with snow showers. Winds 5-10 mph.
Game-time temperature should be around 31, with snow showers.

New England @ Chicago - High of 34. Snow flurries or snow showers. Winds 15-25 mph. Game-time temperature should be around 31, with flurries.

FC Dallas @ Real Salt Lake - High of 68. Partly cloudy. Winds 5-10 mph.
Game-time temperature should be around 66, partly cloudy.

Toronto FC @ Chivas USA - High of 67. Cloudy. Winds 5-10 mph.
Game-time temperature should be around 60, mostly cloudy.

Sunday's game:
L.A. Galaxy @ Houston - High of 56. AM Rain. Winds 10-15 mph.
Game-time temperature should be around 54, cloudy.


Cancela Shipped To Colorado

Toronto FC has sent midfielder Jose Cancela to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for a Youth Development roster spot secured until 2009. Cancela spent last year with the New England Revolution, but was chosen by Toronto through the expansion draft.

From the press release: "A composed playmaker, Cancela combines great technique with superior field vision and precise touch, all qualities that have become his trademark during his career."

Houston Falls To Pachuca

The Houston Dynamo have been eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions Cup after a tough 5-2 loss to Pachuca. Pachuca was far too aggressive for the men in orange throughout much of the game. Two of Pachuca's five goals were via Christian Gimenez penalty kicks, including a controversial call on Brad Davis after taking down Gimenez on the corner of the box.

But still, the Dynamo clawed their way back and even re-took the aggregate lead after Brian Ching's header in the 79th minute. But shortly before the end of regulation, Gabriel Caballero struck for a second time, sending the game to two fifteen-minute overtime periods.

Gimenez struck for his third goal just before the end of the first overtime period. Replays showed the official was about to blow the whistle to end the period, but at the last second, he let the play continue. Dynamo 'keeper Zach Wells couldn't even manage an attempt at stopping the perfectly-placed shot into the top-left corner.

Despite being completely outplayed in front of a rabid Mexican crowd, the Dynamo still nearly pulled it out. Instead, Pachuca advances to meet Chivas de Guadalajara in the final. Houston will be back in Texas for their MLS season opener against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday afternoon.


Power Rankings

Here are my power rankings, which will be updated after each week of play. Feel free to debate them in the 'comments' section. You might even change my mind.

1. (-) D.C. United
Despite being knocked out of the CCC, DCU still has all of the tools to dismantle most teams in the MLS. The forecast for Saturday's game is SNOW showers, which I'm sure the Brazilians (Emilio and Fred) will love.

2. (-) L.A. Galaxy
Even with the loss of Alan Gordon for two months, the Galaxy have assembled a strong (and healthy) squad while they await David Beckham's historic arrival. I might be giving the G's too much credit this early on, but Landon Donovan has been on fire for the national team and he will be eager to maintain that form in Houston on Sunday.

3. (-) New York Red Bulls
Bruce Arena seems to be relying on aging stars (Reyna, Mathis) to bring out the best in his club's youth, but there is more than enough talent present to push this team to the top half of the table. An opening week trip to surging Columbus should be a good early test for RBNY.

4. (-) Real Salt Lake
Freddy Adu finally gets to assert his *cough* leadership on a team and I expect good things all season from his club. Luis Tejada and Jeff Cunningham have the potential to be the best duo of forwards in MLS, but RSL's season will likely hinge on how well (or not) the defense plays.

5. (-) Colorado Rapids
Opening their new stadium in the snow isn't quite Plan A, but the new-look Rapids could surprise in a Western Conference full of parity. They've cracked the top five, but the play of Zach Thornton will decide if they stay there for long.

6. (-) Columbus Crew
A blistering pre-season has shed light on Joseph Ngwenya's talent - he could be a leading scorer in '07 - and Columbus will surprise a few people with the positive results they'll score on pitch.

7. (-) Chivas USA
U.S. international defender Jonathan Bornstein hasn't fully recovered from his knee injury yet, but may be back for The Goats' second game. They will get stronger as the season goes on under first-year head coach Preki, and should sneak into the playoffs.

8. (-) Toronto FC
Sure, Ronnie O'Brien is out. But Mo Johnston has a few more weapons in his arsenal to make Canada proud. Injuries are the only thing that can slow this team down, but when they're at full strength, they will be a force in the East.

9. (-) Houston Dynamo
Five goals allowed against Pachuca? Not exactly the way you want to back into the season opener vs. a rejuvenated Galaxy. The reigning MLS champs will be regretting turning AEG's blank check down. Could you imagine Blanco in Houston instead? Just holding your ground isn't good enough when everyone else around you has improved.

10. (-) New England Revolution
New England was the hardest team for me to place in this first power ranking. The team has been plunged into turmoil amidst a flurry of injuries, off-the-field problems, and Shalrie Joseph's one-man soap opera. Still, could Matt Reis and Taylor Twellman carry this team to the MLS Cup for a third straight year? Not happening. Aim low... the playoffs are still within reach.

11. (-) Kansas City Wizards
On the bright side, Eddie Johnson may have played his way out of the national team picture for at least one of this summer's tournaments. But on the negative side, Eddie Johnson remains the best scoring threat for the stagnant KC side, and Kevin Hartman can't stop EVERY shot he sees.

12. (-) Chicago Fire
Blanco can't arrive earlier than July 1st? Really?? It's gonna be a long spring in Chi-town. I'm not saying they won't turn things around after Blanco's arrival, but for now, the East cellar will be their home.

13. (-) FC Dallas
Will not be competitive. Steve Morrow will be pulling the remaining hair from his scalp by May. Positive note: Pizza Hut Park is lovely. I'm betting they'll go from first to worst in the West?

Look for the next edition of the power rankings sometime next week.

Ronnie O'Brien To Miss Season's First Month

Toronto FC midfielder Ronnie O'Brien, obtained from FC Dallas in the offseason, will miss no less than the first month of the season after partially tearing a ligament in his right knee. O'Brien had perhaps his team's best performance during last week's Carolina Challenge Cup and had emerged as the squad's top midfielder before his injury.

In his absense, new signing Carl Robinson will have an increased role in TFC's midfield. Robinson broke off his contract with English club Norwich City two years early to join Toronto, and has been getting rave reviews in the pre-season. Head coach Mo Johnston says other coaches have already crowned Robinson the best midfielder in the league and calls him "a tremendous player." Says Robinson, "I'm quite happy to play under pressure because it brings out the best in me."

Toronto will open their first season this Saturday on the road against Chivas USA.

FSC To Debut New Soccer Tools

Fox Soccer Channel's telecasts of "MLS Saturday on FSC" will be featuring some new tools for U.S. viewers. Thanks to TrackVision's play analysis and revolutionary virtual tracking capabilities, soccer fans "will be able to gauge ball velocity and see dynamic virtual offside lines on their screen for controversial plays. In addition, Fox Scocer Channel's coverage will spotlight the 10-yard circule between the ball and the defensive wall during free kicks, as well as measure the distance of the ball from the goal. In total, 'MLS Saturday on FSC' will be shot using a combination of 13 cameras for on-site coverage."

The first edition of "MLS Saturday on FSC" will feature the Chivas USA vs. Toronto FC game this Saturday, airing at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.


DC United Eliminated From CCC

D.C. United has been denied a spot in the final of the CONCACAF Champions Cup by Chivas de Guadalajara after a 2-1 loss in Mexico City last night. Chivas will now go on to face the winner of tomorrow night's Houston Dynamo vs. Pachuca game (Houston leads 2-0 on aggregate).

After fighting for a 1-1 tie in the first leg of the semifinal, D.C. United got off to a good start in the second leg - Jaime Moreno's spectacular bicycle kick found the back of the net at Estadio Jalisco after 35 minutes. The goal was set up by a strong run on the left side from Luciano Emilio. But the celebration wouldn't last long, as Adolfo Bautista equalized just six minutes later, making it 1-1 at the half.

In the second half, it was all Chivas. Bautista and striker Alberto Medina gave the lagging DCU defense fits, penetrating deep into the attacking third repeatedly. In the 51st minute, Gonzalo Pineda's powerful shot from good distance went through 'keeper Troy Perkins' hands in the rain and trickled over the line - it proved to be the winning goal.

Fred, DCU's new Brazilian acquisition, made his debut in the second half, but wasn't much of a factor.

Also of note, Josh Gros came off in the first half with a possible concussion. He flew back to D.C. for futher evaluations while the rest of the team went on to Denver for their MLS opener against Colorado.

John Kennedy Denied Move To Toronto

Toronto FC head coach Mo Johnston has revealed that the club's bid for Celtic defender John Kennedy was unsuccessful, with the primary reason being that TFC's pitch is made of artificial turf, which could increase the chance of Kennedy's knee woes recurring. The Scottish international reportedly had agreed to join the MLS side to continue his rehab at a high level, before his team decided the risk of injury was too great. "They took advice from the specialist and the word then came back that he could not be risked on that surface at this stage of his career," Johnston told the Toronto Sun.

Kennedy has not played for Celtic since March of 2004 after destroying his knee in his Scotland debut against Romania.

Wizards Sign Carlos Marinelli

From our friends at MLS Underground, the Kansas City Wizards have signed 25-year-old midfielder Carlos Marinelli from Argentina. He excelled as a teenager and has played for Middlesbrough and Torino, but has never completely lived up to the hype.

It has also been confirmed that Marinelli will not take up a DP spot - K.C. will need to save theirs for next year if they plan on keeping U.S. international forward Eddie Johnson around (He made $875,000 in '06 according to the Washington Post).


Russell Plucked From Retirement

The Los Angeles Galaxy have signed midfielder Ian Russell out of retirement. The 31-year-old played underneath head coach Frank Yallop with the now-defunct San Jose Earthquakes, winning two MLS Cups. He retired prior to the 2006 MLS season, but has been called upon to suit up for the G's.

"Ian is a player that I know very well from our time in San Jose and that I have tremendous respect for," Yallop said. "He is a true professional and a proven winner who will play an important role in this club's success in 2007."


Alan Gordon Has Stress Fracture In Foot

Los Angeles Galaxy forward Alan Gordon will miss 2-3 months after sustaining a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. He had missed the Galaxy's last nine pre-season games and has undergone surgery to repair the fracture.

Gordon was expected to figure prominently in the Galaxy's new 4-3-3 formation, but will now have to watch from the sidelines. It looks like Gordon's main task will be to model the Galaxy's new jerseys, prominently featuring the Herbalife bumper sticker.

Blanco Set To Play With Fire

It's about to be official: Cuauhtemoc Blanco will become the league's newest Designated Player signing when he inks a deal with the Chicago Fire tomorrow. The contract signing is expected to take place during the club's media luncheon at the Hilton Chicago at 10 a.m. CT.

Blanco is still under contract with Mexican side Club America and will be eligible to join the Fire after June 30. He was scheduled to meet with fans and sign autographs at Toyota Park this evening.

2007 Preview - Toronto FC

2006 record: N/A ('07 is first year in league)

Key additions: Edson Buddle (Red Bull New York), Ronnie O'Brien (FC Dallas), Conor Casey (FSV Mainz), Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United), Andy Welsh (Sunderland)

Key losses
: - none -

For an expansion team, Toronto FC looks very strong on paper. Head coach Mo Johnston has assembled some talented young players to build the first Canadian-based MLS team around. Their home turf, BMO Field, will become the sixth soccer-specific-stadium in the league. Already, interest is high in the club - all 14,000 season seats made available have been sold out for weeks now, making them the most successful club in MLS history on that front.

With an offensive core of Edson Buddle, Ronnie O'Brien, Conor Casey and Alecko Eskandarian, Toronto FC appears to be an offensive-minded team at the outset. Add to that mix Abbe Ibrahim and draft pick Maurice Edu (when he returns from a cracked pelvis), and TFC could be hanging three or four goals on their opposition in any game.

TFC's defense looks less certain, with USL standout Greg Sutton being called upon for 'keeping duties. The mostly Canadian back line has little MLS experience, and could be a weak spot this season.

Still, I see the lads from up north finishing the season strong and securing a playoff position in their first year. They will trail D.C. and New York but will still make a decent showing.
TJ's project finish: 3rd in the Eastern Conference, 7th overall.


2007 Preview - Los Angeles Galaxy

2006 record: 11-15-6 - 39 points (5th in the West)
-- missed playoffs.

Key additions: David Beckham (Real Madrid), Joe Cannon (Colorado), Nate Jaqua (Toronto FC)
Key losses: Herculez Gomez (Colorado), Ugo Ihemelu (Colorado), Kevin Hartman (Kansas City), Cornell Glen (released)

After missing the playoffs for the first time in team history in 2006, the Galaxy grabbed worldwide headlines by signing David Beckham away from Real Madrid. In the ensuing chaos that followed the announcement, the Galaxy have managed to sculpt what should be one of the strongest teams in the league this season.

Head coach Frank Yallop has done well to trim the fat from a bloated Galaxy roster and he's managed to bring in a solid forward in Nate Jaqua. Team MVP Landon Donovan will be used as a recessed forward in the new 4-3-3 formation that will see Beckham slotted into center midfield when he arrives in July.

U-20 standouts Nathan Sturgis and Quavas Kirk have returned but will likely have to battle for playing time on a Galaxy roster full of talent. They will also be absent from the roster during the U-20 World Cup this summer.

The weak spot for the G's is their defense. Promising young center-back Ugo Ihemelu was traded away in December. Chris Albright is likely to be called-up this summer for national team duty, leaving aging defenders Tyrone Marshall and Ante Jazic to be the core of the back line. However, the G's finally addressed this weak spot and traded for Shavar Thomas from Kansas City recently.

It will be a season to remember in Los Angeles. They will play quality football from beginning to end and should be a force come playoff-time. A third MLS Cup would be the best send-off for Cobi Jones in his last season.

TJ's projected finish: 2nd in the Western Conference, 4th overall.

Can Adidas Lure Zidane to L.A.?

I have tried to ignore this story for a few days, but can do so no longer: Adidas is reportedly trying to lure Zinedine Zidane out of retirement to play alongside David Beckham with the Los Angeles Galaxy. It was first reported in German daily tabloid Bild-Zeitung, which is Europe's best-selling newspaper, according to Wikipedia.org.

Bild says Adidas is in talks with MLS and Galaxy about sponsoring a deal that would pay for the majority of Zidane's contract, to help further the growth of soccer's popularity in the United States. From tribalfootball.com, "The German sportswear giant has already sounded out Zidane about coming out of retirement for the venture and have been encouraged by the Frenchman's initial response."

TJ's take: Although HIGHLY unlikely, a midfield pairing of Beckham and Zidane would be sensational for the Galaxy and for the league. If Adidas is willing to shell out most of the cash for a 1-year contract, the Galaxy and MLS should jump at the offer. I'll wait until I see this story run by a more credible news source before I put any stock into the idea.

Red Bulls After Marcelo Salas?

According to Chilean daily La Tercera, Red Bull New York may be in the running for Marcelo Salas. Salas, 32, is somewhat injury-prone, but has been a prolific scorer at every point in his career. In his latest stint with Universidad de Chile, he scored 26 goals in 37 appearances. He was released by the team in December 2006 by the law-imposed administration, a move that was criticized by team supporters who claim that Salas is the team soul, best player and fan favorite.

Red Bull New York has already agreed on a transfer fee for another potential DP - Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel - but negotiations over Angel's salary have stalled talks, for now.

Galaxy-Rangers Friendly Confirmed

The Los Angeles Galaxy have added another fixture against a well-known European club to their schedule. On May 23rd, the first MLS "Superclub" will take on Scottish Premier League powerhouse Rangers Football Club at the Home Depot Center. It will be included as "Bonus Game 2" for full-season ticket holders.

"Galaxy fans are consistently exposed to the best domestic and international players and teams," L.A. Galaxy President and General Manager Alexi Lalas said. "Rangers bring a competitive team with a passionate fan base and we look forward to having them as our guests."

On a related note, Rangers star and Croatian international Dado Prso has been linked with a move to the G's... but who hasn't at this point. Prso agent, Ranko Stojic told PA Sport the striker would consider offers if they were forthcoming from the U.S. and wealthy Far East clubs.