Las Vegas Football Club

From the Las Vegas Sun: Las Vegas Sports & Entertainment Group is prepared to wire a $35 million expansion fee to a league account in New York if it gets the go-ahead to start a franchise in the valley.

Mark Noorzai, the sports group's president, said he sent a letter of intent to MLS headquarters two weeks ago and requested a response by today. In the letter, Noorzai highlighted some of his group's ambitious plans, including a $500 million retractable-roof stadium, an adjacent hotel and casino, practice fields and other amenities on 200 acres.

"The proposal on the table is by far the best proposal that this league has ever seen," said Paul Caligiuri, a Soccer Hall of Famer. He says the group "is committed to building a franchise that will compete with teams in the rest of the world, not just MLS." Caligiuri has also gotten Alan Rothenberg, the founder of MLS, to back the sports group's plan.

Speaking from his New York office Wednesday afternoon, MLS President Mark Abbott, who oversees expansion, declined to comment about any prospective ownership group or proposal. "It's fair to say that Las Vegas is a market that's interesting to us. We think it would be very supportive of professional soccer, so it's a market we're looking at."

Potential Targets - Part One

As the MLS transfer window nears, The MLS Zone has decided to take a look at a few names that have been rumored as targets for MLS teams. Some are purely speculation and others just might happen.

Luis Figo, 34, attacking midfielder
The Inter Milan/Real Madrid/Barcelona star initially signed with Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad, but has recently said he will not be joining the club because they didn't respect terms of the contract. He was teammates with David Beckham for several years in Madrid, and could be ready to head to the States if a team shows him some $$$.

Andriy Shevchenko, 30, striker
Still under contract with Chelsea, the Ukranian forward has been under pressure to deliver all year - some have said his hefty salary is not worth the production he is giving the club. He is married to Kristen Pazik, a model from the Washington, D.C. area, and recently gave an interview saying he'd like to follow Beckham over to MLS at some point.

Brian McBride, 34, striker
One of the most successful American players overseas, McBride led EPL side Fulham in scoring for the 2006-07 season, with 12 goals. He spent 1996-2003 with the Columbus Crew, scoring 62 goals in that time. He's signed a one-year contract with Fulham, but is also getting looked at by Bolton. Best guess is that he will play one more year in Europe and come home to end his career with a team in MLS, but might make the jump early like Claudio Reyna did.

Robbie Fowler, 32, forward
The fourth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history, Fowler was linked with a move to the New England Revolution several months ago. Now out of contract with Liverpool, he is being linked to Celtic and Rangers. I'm sure the Revs would still like to have him - paired with Taylor Twellman, the duo could run riot on the rest of the league.

Kasey Keller, 37, goalkeeper
Having watched his club get relegated out of the top-tier of German football, Keller is now pondering his next career move. Real Salt Lake has reportedly made several offers as recent as this week. None of them have even come close to what Keller is looking for. Will he take less money to end his career in the States or will he cash in and sit on the bench in Europe?

Stay tuned for Part Two of the list, which will be ready as soon as I put it together... probably later tonight.

Yallop Not Worried By Slow Start

Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Frank Yallop insists he's not worried about the team's underachieving 1-3-2 start, even with captain Landon Donovan about to miss some serious playing time while he joins up with the national team.
Last year at this time, the Galaxy were 2-4-1 under then-coach Steve Sampson when Landon Donovan was called in for national team duty and the team sank to 2-8-1 before a coaching switch was made.. Without a win against D.C. United this Saturday, the Galaxy will have fewer points than last year's struggling team. So is Frank worried?

"I'm not worried at all, because you've got to do your job and stay positive. We've just got to keep soldiering on. We've got thirteen healthy guys for the weekend. We're going to try to get a result in that game," said Yallop.

Donovan isn't the only one who will be missing for a stretch of games. Called in for Canada's national team are starters Ante Jazic and Kevin Harmse, leaving a defensively woeful side just a little bit thinner than before. Kyle Veris and Ian Russell, both of whom have seen limited action in 2007, will be called on to fill in the holes on the back line.

For his part, Landon Donovan says people should give Frank some more time before judging him too harshly: "At a minimum, he needs a chance to get all his players here and show what he can do. He's good enough and he's been around long enough and been successful enough in this league that he knows what's going on."

Still, a loss against a struggling D.C. United on Saturday night will likely have some Galaxy fans calling for Frank's head.


YouTube, MLS Team Up

Major League Soccer and YouTube have announced that they have reached a strategic content and advertising partnership that will see MLS game and featured highlights uploaded on a dedicated channel, www.youtube.com/mls.

"The worldwide exposure provided by YouTube provides a tremendous opportunity for Major League Soccer to extend our footprint in the new media landscape. This is a platform that our fans requested, and we are excited to join forces with such an innovative company," said Mark Abbott, president of Major League Soccer.

TJ's take: This is another step forward for the league - a league that has been technically deficient for so long. Hopefully, MLS will also post highlights from non-televised games, such as the U.S. Open Cup. For example, the New York Red Bulls/Galaxy qualifier earlier this month was easily the most exciting game I have been to in 2007, but nobody else got to see the great individual performances (Steve Cronin's 14-save masterpiece or Juan Pablo Angel's first goal in the MLS). The only highlights that leaked out were some video clips posted by fellow writer Luis Bueno on... you guessed it, YouTube.

Keller To RSL Or Not?

The ongoing saga surrounding Real Salt Lake's pursuit of U.S. international keeper Kasey Keller has become a bit murkier. Depending on who you believe, either Keller is on the verge of signing a 2 1/2-year deal with the club or he has no intention of doing so.

According to Steven Goff with the Washington Post, "I am hearing that winless Real Salt Lake and Kasey Keller are in the final stages of negotiations and that the veteran goalkeeper is close to agreeing to a deal... the deal would apparently be for 2 1/2 years. Things could still go wrong, one source cautioned, but talks have progressed substantially [over] the past two weeks."

Over at LA Soccer News, Keller was interviewed earlier this week while in camp with the U.S. Men's National Team. Regarding the MLS, Keller had this to say: "[MLS] interest didn't cool at all. They put out an offer that wasn't acceptable... I got an offer from a Bundesliga team that was three times that to sit on the bench, to not even play for the team.

I've spoken with MLS basically for the last five or six months at a time. The last offer I got just wasn't acceptable to come home... Last time I checked, there was no team in Olympia, Washington, or McCall, Idaho, where my two houses are.

There were a couple of teams that I spoke to who said, 'This is what we have.' That wasn't going to work. Then I got into another conversation with Real Salt Lake where I thought that had been cleared up, but it ended up being the same sort of stuff."

It certainly doesn't sound like Keller is excited to make the switch to MLS. Maybe he could just be using the interview as a negotiation tool to get more $$$ out of Salt Lake. Or maybe he needs to switch to decaf.

Besides the goalkeeping situation, the defense in Utah really needs some work. However, the team is taking steps to correct that by signing veteran defender Richie Kotschau. "His experience and his abilites are very important. He's a smart veteran player," said head coach Jason Kreis.


Eddie Johnson Named Player of the Week

Kansas City Wizards forward Eddie Johnson has been named MLS Player of the Week for week 8. Johnson tallied a hat trick in Saturday's game against the New England Revolution, finding the net in the 26th, 38th and 82nd minutes, with the last strike becoming the game winner.
Johnson, recently named to the U.S. roster for the upcoming Gold Cup, is the first two-time winner this season - he also won POW honors in Week 2 for his 1-goal, 2-assist performance in a win over D.C. United.

Johnson doubled his goal total for the 2007 campaign - he now has six goals and is just one behind New England's Taylor Twellman for the league lead. The Wizards will host the New York Red Bulls this Saturday, giving Johnson one more chance to tie Twellman before they both are called into camp for the national team.

Figo Still Looking For Team

Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo is back on the market, according to several reports, after calling off his deal with Al-Ittihad of the Saudi Premier League. Figo claims that the Saudi Arabian Club is in breach of contract and held club partial-owner Sheik Mansour Al-Balawi mostly to blame.

Three Portuguese dailies have published excerpts of a statement from the Inter Milan star, relayed through his manager: "After the agreement reached on January 4th, 2007, Al-Ittihad have not respected the duties that were agreed to in the signed documents... since it was a unilateral violation, no financial compensation is foreseen."

Figo has been rumored to have been contacted by at least one team in MLS in the recent past and could again be a target. The 34-year-old has recorded 32 goals in 127 appearances for Portugal's national team and has played for Barcelona (1995-2000) and Real Madrid (2000-2005), where he was teammates with David Beckham for several years during the height of the club's "Los Galacticos" days.

Marcelo Salas Ready To Train With Fire

Chilean international Marcelo Salas has been invited to train with the Chicago Fire for an indefinite period.

Salas has scored 35 goals in 65 appearances for the Chilean national team, and has played for River Plate, Lazio and Juventus during his career. He was a released from Universidad de Chile in December of 2006, a move that many supporters did not agree with, as he is a fan favorite for the club.

The 32-year-old striker, nicknamed El Matador, also scored four goals in four games in the 1998 World Cup. "We are pleased to have someone of Marcelo's caliber in camp with us and we hope to make a decision regarding his possible signing in the near future," said Fire President/CEO John Guppy.

On Luis Arroyave's blog, Guppy talked about the trial: "We've had several players come in for trials. [Salas] is just the highest profile one we've had. We had Danny Dichio in here and didn't think he was the kind of player we wanted to sign."

For the Fire to sign Salas, he would have to be paid no more than the league maximum as Chicago has already used it's DP slot to sign Mexican sensation Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Blanco is expected to join up with the team in early July.

Roster For China Game Announced

The U.S. Men's National Team roster has been announced for their upcoming exhibition against China. The game will be held at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, CA, on June 2nd, and will air live on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. PT.

- Of the 19 players named to the roster, 13 are also on the Gold Cup roster, including all 11 European-based players.

- Four players will be competing for their first cap: Sacha Kljestan, Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davies and Kamani Hill.

- Four other players have only recorded one cap: Jay DeMerit, Brad Guzan, Jesse Marsch and Frank Simek.

- Four players are currently with Bob Bradley's old team, Chivas USA: Marsch, Kljestan, Ante Razov and Jonathan Bornstein.

- Three players have recorded more than 40 caps: Carlos Bocanegra (44), DaMarcus Beasley (62), and Kasey Keller (97).

Here is a breakdown of the complete rostor, by position:

Goalkeepers - Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Kasey Keller

Defenders - Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu, Frank Simek, Jonathan Spector

Midfielders - DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan, Jesse Marsch, Lee Nguyen

Forwards - Charlie Davies, Kamani Hill, Ante Razov

Yallop Says Galaxy Won't Loan Becks

Keeping up our recent trend of at least one David Beckham story per day...

Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Frank Yallop says David Beckham will not be going out on loan to any club in the MLS off-season, despite reports that several EPL teams are interested in the idea. According to Soccer365.com, Everton, Tottenham, Blackburn and Newcastle have all expressed interest in bringing Beckham over for a few months this winter.

Yallop has firmly turned away the offer: "He won't be going on loan anywhere. He'll be taking a break at that point and getting ready for our pre-season. He's shown he's a world-class player, he doesn't need to go back and go on loan anywhere."

Besides resting and getting ready for the pre-season, the David Beckham-led Galaxy are scheduling a tour of atleast Asia and Australia to capitalize on their latest signing. Perhaps they schedule a few matches in England as well?


Power Rankings - Week 9

Here are The MLS Zone's world-famous power rankings for Week 9 (05/28 - 06/03). Last week's position in is parenthesis.

1. (2) New York Red Bulls
Juan Pablo Angel might be on his way to an MVP award in his first season in the league, if he can keep up his torrid pace of one or two goals and one or two assists per game. And yet Colombia didn't even bother to call him up for Copa America.

2. (1) New England Revolution
Eddie Johnson scorched the Revs for the first hat trick of the season last weekend. Defense gave up four goals against K.C. after only giving up 7 in the previous 8 games. This weekend's home game against sluggish Real Salt Lake should help the team get back on track.

3. (4) Kansas City Wizards
Eddie Johnson is on fire. The team is going to really miss him while he's gone this summer. They've done a good job at getting enough points early to still be in touch with the rest of the East by the time he gets back.

4. (3) Colorado Rapids
The referee helped Colorado defeat the Galaxy by hastily sending Kyle Martino off early in last weekend's match. Still, Herculez Gomez continues to draw fouls and score goals and the team keeps gathering points.

5. (6) Chivas USA
Solid win at home against FC Dallas. Maykel Galindo is the perfect complement to Ante Razov - the duo will take this team far, even if nobody is at the Home Depot Center to see it.

6. (7) D.C. United
Continuing to pick up points they lost by their poor play earlier in the season. The defense still needs work and Luciano Emilio needs to start scoring again.

7. (5) Los Angeles Galaxy
Injuries and call-ups continue keep the Galaxy lineup thin. On the bright side, Abel Xavier should be eligible to play in just two more weeks. On the dark side, Landon Donovan will be gone until mid-July at best.

8. (10) Toronto FC
After playing to their first tie in club history, Toronto FC returns home for their next two games. Wednesday's upcoming game against the New York Red Bulls could be very fun to watch as long as the Red Bulls don't get scared off by all those people in the stands.

9. (8) FC Dallas
Will remain intact through the Gold Cup (minus the already absent Carlos Ruiz) and stand a good chance to run up their point total until the rest of the league is at full-strength again.

10. (9) Chicago Fire
With Blanco looking in fine form ahead of his move to the Windy City, the Fire could offer a contract to Marcelo Salas, who is on trial with the club right now. However, some people around the league are already joking about Toyota Park becoming an old-age home. I say the club needs goals from anyone (young or old) to start winning again.

11. (12) Columbus Crew
With Andy Herron scoring two goals in his first game back, Columbus has some offense again. At the same time, their defense has become more porous - instead of playing to 0-0 ties, now they play to 2-2 ties.

12. (11) Houston Dynamo
Could Houston miss the playoffs? Sure. Will AEG allow that? Not likely. I expect the ownership to bring in a big-name playmaker when the transfer window opens up again. It's not that they are such a bad team, but they are ending up on the wrong side of the score too often.

13. (13) Real Salt Lake
Kasey Keller isn't coming because RSL can't muster up enough money for him, or atleast that's the latest word out of Utah. It's probably a good thing because with the money they were willing to spend on Keller, they could go out and get two or three solid players who could help this team start winning.


Lalas, England Squabble Over Beckham

L.A. Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas has made it clear that he doesn't want David Beckham's recent recall to the English national team to stand in the way of his MLS- and Galaxy-related duties: "I don't want to stand in the way of a player representing his country, but they have to be the appropriate games. We will deal with it from a business perspective but for us to say one of our players is representing England internationally is a great thing."Lalas went on to say, "He has a responsibility on and off the field to our organization and our sport and he recognizes that. There is a bigger picture and I would never stand in the way of any of our players representing their country - I know how important it is and what an honor it is. We will sit down and talk to him."

England is in the midst of a four-team fight for only two spots in their Euro 2008 qualifying group and has four key games scheduled for dates that are either the day of or the day before a Galaxy game. It will be interesting to see, should Becks still have his spot on the English team, whether the Galaxy tries to stop him from leaving as they will be in their own fight for a playoff spot.

Poll Results - Week 8

In last week's poll, we asked "Which Current/Former U.S. International Will Suit Up for an MLS Team First?"

Here are the results:

Kasey Keller - 51%
Oguchi Onyewu - 14%
John O'Brien - 12%

The majority of voters think U.S. international 'keeper Kasey Keller will join an MLS team first. In fact, he might be joining up with a team as early as this coming week - Real Salt Lake has an announcement forthcoming regarding a player signing.

This week's poll asks: "How Will The U.S. Fare In The Gold Cup?" It's located on the left side of the page - go cast your vote!

Week 8 Results

Here are the results from Week 8. Game recaps are from MLSNet. Power Rankings will be updated by the middle of the week.

Chicago Fire 0 - New York Red Bulls 3

Kansas City Wizards 4 - New England Revolution 3
Houston Dynamo 1 - D.C. United 2
Toronto FC 2 - Columbus Crew 2
L.A. Galaxy 0 - Colorado Rapids 1
FC Dallas 0 - Chivas USA 2

Real Salt Lake 0 - Chicago Fire 0

RSL Player Signing Soon?

Real Salt Lake is buzzing with excitement as there is news of a "significant" player signing to be announced in the next few days, according to MLS Underground. The most-likely choice for a possible DP signing would be U.S. international goalkeeper Kasey Keller. Real Salt Lake's 'keeping situation has been awful at best this year and his kept rumors of Keller's return coming up over and over again.Less likely, it could be U.S. international midfielder DaMarcus Beasley or defender Oguchi Onyewu. Any of these players would be a huge addition to the club so it will be interesting to see which player they have signed - My guess is that it's Keller.

L.A. Galaxy 0 - Colorado 1

Kyle Martino was sent off in the 25th minute and the Los Angeles Galaxy were downed by the Colorado Rapids, 1-0, at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night. Colorado got their goal on a Herculez Gomez header in the 71st minute.
Gomez was involved in the altercation that got Martino sent off. Herculez was the victim of a hard tackle from Martino and began his usual rolling around on the ground, trying to get Martino a card. In the process, he put his spikes on Martino's leg and kicked, which caused Martino to respond by getting in Gomez's face and shoving him. Referee Baldomero Toledo instantly gave Martino a red card and Herc got off with a yellow. It was a very questionable call - Martino deserved a yellow and nothing more in my opinion. Former Galaxy star Herculez Gomez spent more time on his back than a Tijuana hooker in this match.

For the rest of the game, the Galaxy couldn't get anything going in the offensive third. They could only manage five shots on goal while Colorado had several quality chances and took 14 shots.

Eventually, the Galaxy defense let up and allowed Herculez Gomez to slip in behind them to get on the end of a Terry Cooke cross which made the game 1-0. "Once again, poor marking in the box shot us in the foot," said defender Ante Jazic. "We lost a valuable point for the future."

As has been the case in most Galaxy games this year, they waited for the last ten minutes to turn on the offense, but they couldn't get anything past Colorado 'keeper Bouna Coundoul.

The best chance to equalize came in the 83rd minute when the ball fell to Nate Jaqua's foot just inside the penalty area. He turned a drilled a hard shot at the goal, but Coundoul was there, diving to his right to make the save.

Robbie Findley also had a number of good chances after coming on in the 75th minute, but he couldn't convert any of them.

Player ratings (scale of 1-10):
Cannon 6
Sturgis 5
Harden 4
Marshall 4
Jazic 5
Jaqua 5
Harmse 6
Vagenas 4
Martino 6
Donovan 6
Quaranta 4

C. Jones 6
Findley 3

The Galaxy fall to 1-3-2 (5 points), a single point ahead of last-place Real Salt Lake. If RSL can defeat Chicago later in the day, the Galaxy will fall to last place in the entire league. The next L.A. home game is Saturday, June 2nd, against D.C. United.

Colorado improves to 4-2-3 (15 points), one point behind FC Dallas in the West. The Rapids head to Canada on Saturday to face Toronto FC.


200th Post

We have reached a milestone here at The MLS Zone - 200 posts! I started this site in February with little expectations and even less readers. Now, visitors from over 70 countries regularly visit The MLS Zone to get Major League Soccer news and more.

I have to say THANK YOU to all of the readers who continue to come back to the site and send me e-mails and leave comments and all of that good stuff. It's not to the point where I can give up my day job solely to write about MLS, but hopefully one day that'll be possible.

Eddie Johnson Nets Hat Trick

In a wild game that saw seven goals between the two teams, the Kansas City Wizards defeated the New England Revolution 4-3.

In celebration of being named to the Gold Cup roster, forward Eddie Johnson scored three times, including the game winner in the 82nd minute. Johnson now has six goals on the season, one less than Taylor Twellman, who notched his seventh in the 23rd minute.

The Wizards went down two goals in the first 23 minutes, but erased the deficit thanks to a Davy Arnaud goal and two from Eddie Johnson before halftime. Shalrie Joseph converted a penalty kick to tie the game at three all, but EJ made sure he would be named Player of the Week by making his third goal of the game a winner.

With the win, Kansas City improves to 5-2-1 (16 points), one point behind New York and New England in the East.

New England falls to 5-2-2 (17 points), remaining tied with New York for first in the East.

US MNT Adds Two Games In Europe

The United States Men's National Team will travel to Europe in October to play a pair of friendlies.

On October 14th, the Nats will take on Catalonia in Barcelona's Nou Camp, the first time these two sides have met. Catalonia is one of 17 autonomous communities within the Kingdom of Spain, with Barcelona serving as it's capital. They are able to call on players from their region that are also eligible to play for Spain and have competed in nearly 200 international matches since 1904.

Three days later, the U.S. will take on Switzerland for the first game between the sides in nearly 13 years. The last time the two sides met, they played to a 1-1 tie with Eric Wynalda scoring the only U.S. goal on a phenomenal free kick. Switzerland is currently ranked 21st in the world by FIFA and are co-hosting the 2008 European Championship. They finished first in Group G in the 2006 World Cup and were eliminated in the Round of 16 in penalites after a 0-0 draw with Ukraine, becoming the first time ever to be eliminated from the tournamen without surrendering a single goal.

"We are always seeking opportunities to challenge our group by playing in different environments and against quality opposition," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. "It should be a great challenge and a fantastic experience for our team."

Both games will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision.

October 14th: United States vs. Catalonia (Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain)
October 17th: United States vs. Switzerland (venue TBD)

Beckham Is Back

England coach Steve McClaren has included David Beckham on the 26-man roster for an upcoming friendly against Brazil and a Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia. Beckham has not been a part of McClaren's side for the past nine games - since England's exit from the 2006 World Cup, but the coach has been left with little other choice after England has failed to impress in recent matches and Beckham has been nothing less than sensational for Real Madrid.
Beckham's great form hasn't been lost on McClaren: "Since Christmas, his form has been very good. I think he can help us win in Estonia and that's why I picked him... we need experience and David certainly provides that. He is in very, very good form. The team needs that."

Still, McClaren may choose to go with Aaron Lennon over Beckham at the right-wing position. Lennon has a twisted knee, but was included in the roster. If he is fit to go, Beckham may end up watching the games from the sidelines.

McClaren also made sure there would be no controversy surrounding the captaincy of the squad. Beckham has been captain of the team for 57 of his 94 apperances for the squad, but won't be getting the armband this time. That is John Terry's for sure, he told reporters.

England will meet Brazil in a friendly on June 1st and will play Estonia in a Euro 2008 qualifier on June 6th.


McClaren May Call on Beckham

Real Madrid's David Beckham may have played his way back into the England squad for the upcoming Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia, as well as a friendly against Brazil. New head coach Steve McClaren promptly dropped Beckham from the squad after taking the reins of the club after their dismissal from the 2006 World Cup, but England's recent downturn and Beckham's continued fantastic form have made the call-up imminent. After signing a mega-deal with Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, Beckham was dropped from Real Madrid's squad unceremoniously by Fabio Capello. But his hard work and determination were rewarded with a return to the starting eleven. Since Beckham's re-insertion into the roster, Real Madrid has been nearly unbeatable. They have risen to the top of La Liga with Beckham's trademark free kicks looking as good as ever.

Capello has had a change of heart about Beckham and is calling on Steve McClaren to do the same: "I can't understand how a player who is playing so well can be left out of any national side. I told David the other day that I thought he has never been in such good form either mentally or physically and he agreed with me."

Facing mounting pressure to get results, McClaren may have no choice but to recall the popular Beckham to the starting squad. "I've never said the door is closed on David Beckham," McClaren declared. "I keep my eye on everybody and I said from day one that David's form would be monitored."

TJ's take: With England on the outside and looking in at qualification into Euro 2008, McClaren has got to take a chance on Beckham. Things aren't as desperate as some would have you believe, but for a country that is considered a world powerhouse in the sport, it's got to be disappointing to be left scrapping with Israel and Russia merely for qualification.

Ramifications on the Galaxy: If Beckham's services should become requested again in England, future Euro 2008 qualifying match dates would clash with the 2007 MLS schedule. For instance, England is set to play qualifying games on 09/08, 09/12, 10/13 & 10/17, all either on the day of or the day before a Galaxy game. England also plays a crucial game against Croatia on 11/21, which is three days after MLS Cup (though reaching the final is the least of the Galaxy's worries right now).

At the very least, it could be an inconvenience for fans willing to shell out the increased ticket prices to see Becks. Worst-case scenario has Beckham out for four key games down the stretch for the G's, who could be struggling to earn a playoff position at that point.

All eyes are now on Steve McClaren, waiting to see if he's ready to admit his mistake and give Beckham a Capello-esque apology. Fabio's job may have been saved by his decision - McClaren's future with the national team could be defined by his.

Should McClaren recall Beckham?


Angel Leads Bulls To Victory

Juan Pablo Angel is on fire. He continued his magnificent play on Thursday night with two more goals and an assist as the New York Red Bulls doused the Chicago Fire, 3-0. The Colombian Angel has scored three times and added two assists in league play since joining the New York lineup, and is an early favorite to win back-to-back Player of the Week awards.

Chicago was down and out almost before the game began, giving up a Jozy Altidore goal in the very first minute and allowing Angel to strike less than two minutes later. The Fire defense was exposed early, but recovered until Angel's second goal on the night (68') made it a 3-0 game.

Red Bull New York improves their record to 5-1-2 (17 points) and share the best record in the league with the New England Revolution. New York is off until next Saturday's road game in Kansas City.

With the loss, Chicago moves to 3-4-1 (10 points) on the season. The team got 10 points out of a possible 12 in the month of April, but has gone 0-4-0 in May, being outscored 11-3 in those contests. The Fire return home to Toyota Park when Real Salt Lake comes to town on Sunday.

Earthquakes Could Return In '08

The San Jose Earthquakes could be re-born in the upcoming off-season and playing in the league by the beginning of next season, according to SI.com. Major League Soccer and Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff are on the verge of an agreement that would allow Wolff to operate an MLS franchise without having a new stadium deal - an idea that the league has long been against.

According to a source, the league is eager to add a 14th team in order to balance the uneven schedule and Wolff's team is the closest to making that happen at this point. They would play in a temporary home while a stadium deal is finalized, but the exact facility wasn't named.

The first edition of the Earthquakes played at San Jose State University's Spartan Stadium, and the aging facility could be used temporarily. Another venue that could possibly host Major League Soccer games is Stanford University's new 50,000-seat stadium, which will host a game between Chelsea FC and Club America on July 14th.

Rangers Down Galaxy

Scotland's Rangers FC defeated the L.A. Galaxy 1-0 on Wednesday night in an international friendly. The only goal of the match came 10 minutes into the second half from Kris Boyd in an otherwise hum-drum match that saw Rangers control most of the possession.

The Galaxy used several reserves in their starting lineup, opting to keep veterans like Pete Vagenas and Landon Donovan on the bench for much of the game. Their inexperience showed - with Robbie Findley and Santino Quaranta up top, the Galaxy had few quality scoring chances early.

In the second half, head coach Frank Yallop went deep into his bench, looking for someone who could provide an offensive spark for the team, and the game began to open up a bit. Perhaps the best chance for the Galaxy to equalize came with little time left in the game as Landon Donovan settled a cross from Santino while in the box, but he pushed his shot at close range over the crossbar. After the game, Donovan explained what went wrong: "I was backtracking so I'm trying to keep it somewhere near me trying to get my feet right and I didn't have time to take another touch. I kind of had to swing at it and I should have done a better job just to get it somewhere on goal. It's frustrating but it happens."

Los Angeles will try to turn things around on Saturday when they head to Dick's Sporting Goods Park to take on the Colorado Rapids.

The next Galaxy home game is versus D.C. United on June 2nd.

Gold Cup Roster Named

The 23-man roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup has been named by head coach Bob Bradley. There are 12 players from overseas clubs and 11 from MLS.

Goalkeepers - Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

Defenders - Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

Midfielders - DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburger SV), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution)

Forwards - Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City Wizards), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)

Gold Cup Schedule
06/07 - USMNT vs. Guatemala (Home Depot Center, Carson, CA)
06/09 - USMNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Home Depot Center, Carson, CA)
06/12 - USMNT vs. El Salvador (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA)


Power Rankings - Week 8

Here are The MLS Zone's power rankings as of Week 8 (05/21 - 05/27). Last week's position is in parenthesis.

1. (1) New England Revolution
A hard-fought win on the road in Houston means the Revs stay atop the power rankings for another week. The Revs will be in for a rough go during the Gold Cup as they'll lose Taylor Twellman, Michael Parkhurst and Steve Ralston for the tournament. They could come back to Earth a little during this period.

2. (2) New York Red Bulls
No changes in the runner-up spot this week, either. The Red Bulls buried a lax Chicago Fire team early last week and Juan Pablo Angel has looked amazing so far. If Claudio Reyna ever gets healthy - and the chances of that are pretty low - this side could cruise deep into the playoffs. Maybe the most fun team to watch in the league right now.

3. (4) Colorado Rapids
Haven't played a league game since May 13th when they upset the Red Bulls at home. Colorado is trying to keep pace with the top two clubs in the league (NE & NY), but I have a feeling they will fade as the season goes on. Still a decent club at this point and a win over my beloved L.A. Galaxy on Saturday would go a long way to convincing the nay-sayers.

4. (5) Kansas City Wizards
Are they contenders or pretenders? Who knows - nobody in Kansas City is watching. They'll lose Eddie Johnson to the Gold Cup, leaving a lot of the scoring responsibility to rookie Michael Harrington. With a good run during this stretch, Harrington could be well on his way to the Rookie of the Year award.

5. (3) Los Angeles Galaxy
What's that sound? It's the sound of forwards running wild through all of the holes in the Galaxy's defense. The loss of Chris Albright hurts... almost as much as tearing your hamstring completely off the bone. There's still a lot of talent on this team, but Frank Yallop hasn't done so well at bringing the best out in his players (Nate Jaqua, anyone?).

6. (7) Chivas USA
I just couldn't put the Goats ahead of my G's. By not losing in the Super Clasico for only the third time in 11 meetings, this team may be back on the right track. Galindo keeps finding the back of the net and Chivas keeps netting points, even if it is one at a time.

7. (9) D.C. United
Crawling back towards the top of the power rankings. A solid win in hostile Toronto didn't hurt their cause. I'm beginning to wonder if they are keeping Jaime Moreno around just to take penalty kicks (3-for-3 at PK's in his last three games).

8. (11) FC Dallas
Since they keep getting results, I have no choice but to bump them up a few spots this week. They're getting wins at home and on the road. Juan Carlos Toja is a very solid player who fits well with this team. I wonder who they'll get from Columbus in return for Carlos Ruiz?

9. (6) Chicago Fire
Justin Mapp has no goals and just one assist this season. Blech. Maybe getting rid of the team's top two goal-scorers from last year wasn't the best idea? Defense has given up 11 goals in the last three games. Blech. Cuauhtemoc Blanco could kick-start the sputtering offense when he joins the team in about a month, but can he play defense?

10. (10) Toronto FC
Mo Johnston continues tweaking his fantasy team, trading away Alecko Eskandarian for Jeff Cunningham. Despite all of the changes, the club has continued to improve and isn't looking so much like an expansion team anymore.

11. (8) Houston Dynamo
The defending champions have only scored four times in seven games, tied for the lowest total with Columbus. A distracting visit to the White House won't do this team any favors, unless President Bush declares all D.C. United members as enemy combatants and sends them to Guantanamo Bay.

12. (12) Columbus Crew
Same problem as Houston: You have to score goals if you want to win games. Can't wait for the imminent Brian McBride-to-Columbus rumors to heat up again this summer. Only this time, the club needs to make it happen.

13. (13) Real Salt Lake
If New England and New York are the heads of the class, Real Salt Lake is always getting detention. Freddy Adu has made it clear that this will be his last season in MLS before he goes overseas and can you blame him? RSL are already the Keystone Cops of the league and trading away last year's leading goal-scorer is a sad, strange move.

Now it's time for you to plead your case. Which team(s) do I have all wrong?

Dynamo to Visit White House

The 2007 MLS Champion Houston Dynamo have been invited to the White House to meet with President George W. Bush on Tuesday, May 29th. They become only the second team to get the invite - the other was D.C. United in 1997.

The visit coincides with Houston's trip to the nation's capital to take on D.C. United three days earlier. As part of the honor, the MLS Cup will be displayed in the East Wing. "We're very honored to be invited to the White House," said Dynamo capitain Wade Barrett. "It was a fantastic achievement for us last year, and another in the latest of championships in the state of Texas. We're glad to represent that with the President."

Reyna to Rangers: Galaxy Are Ready

Claudio Reyna is warning his old club Rangers that they should not tread lightly into the Home Depot Center for tonight's friendly against the L.A. Galaxy.

Reyna told Rangers World: "Any of the players over here who haven't played in Europe and get the chance to play a big European club like Rangers will be really up for it. They will be a good opponent. Overall they're a pretty youthful side and they have in Frank Yallop a good young manager."

Reyna made 64 appearances for Rangers from 1999-2001, scoring 10 goals before being transferred to the EPL.

Rangers finished second to Celtic in the Scottish Premier League for the 2006-2007 campaign. Forward Kris Boyd has been included in tonight's lineup - he led the SPL with 20 goals this past season.


Albright May Miss Season

The L.A. Galaxy have had their share of defensive problems so far this year, but none bigger than Tuesday's news that U.S. international Chris Albright will likely miss the rest of the season due to his hamstring injury.

Albright suffered the injury early in the first half of Sunday's Super Clasico against Chivas USA. He returned to the sidelines in the second half on crutches, never a good sign. An MRI revealed the severity of Albright's injury: "He really tore his hamstring badly, right off the bone. That's another blow to us. He's having an operation on Thursday," said L.A. head coach Frank Yallop.

It is a double whammy for Albright: Not only will he miss out on David Beckham's arrival to the team, but he will also miss Copa America and the Gold Cup. He was expected to be called up to the squad for at least one of the tourneys.

But Albright is keeping his chin up: "It's disappointing, obviously. It's not the best timing, but everybody deals with their fair share of injuries and I'll come out of it a better man, hopefully," he said.

As for the Galaxy, the scramble is now on to replace Albright in the back line. Last week, the team signed Abel Xavier from the English Premier League in hopes of playing him in a more central defender position. Now, Xavier will only be filling Albright's position, leaving rookie Ty Harden and aging Tyrone Marshall in the center. Could another move be in the works?

Eskandarian Swapped For Cunningham

Update: According to a Toronto FC blog, the club has traded Alecko Eskandarian to Real Salt Lake along with a first-round pick in the 2008 draft for Jeff Cunningham. The Galaxy, initially thought to be a third party in the trade, were not involved with the deal. See original rumor below.
The trade winds in Major League Soccer may be blowing again this morning. The hottest rumor involves Real Salt Lake trading Jeff Cunningham to the L.A. Galaxy, possibly in exchange for Nate Jaqua and an unknown player. At the same time, Toronto FC's Alecko Eskandarian is also rumored to be on his way to RSL via a trade.

It is unclear whether there is actually any meat to these rumors, but Stephen Goff of the Washington Post has picked up on it, meaning we could see a deal going down soon.

The Galaxy have been in the market for a proven goal scorer after not getting much production from Jaqua. Last week, rumors of Carlos Ruiz returning to L.A. were swirling, but nothing has come of those yet. Recently, more and more fans have become fed up with Jaqua, so the possibility of him being traded for a goal scorer like Cunningham makes sense to me.

As soon as anything changes, I'll keep you updated.


Shevchenko To MLS?

Ukranian striker Andriy Shevchenko has admitted that he would someday like to follow David Beckham to the United States. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Sheva talked about soccer in America: "I'd like to play there, actually. Soccer is growing in the U.S. and I'd like to be a part of that. I played there last summer against the MLS All-Stars and I saw myself that it's definitely improving."
Shevchenko, 30, married American model Kristen Pazik in 2004 near Washington, D.C. If Sheva decides to make a move to MLS, D.C. United would likely be the club with the best chance to land him. He signed a four-year contract with English club Chelsea in 2006 and has spent time with A.C. Milan and Dynamo Kyiv. He has also scored 33 goals in 73 appearances for his country's national team, including two in the 2006 World Cup.

Juan Pablo Angel is Player of the Week

New York Red Bulls star signing Juan Pablo Angel has been named MLS Player of the Week for week 7.
Angel scored a goal, registered an assist and helped set up another goal in the Red Bulls' 4-0 dismantling of the Columbus Crew on Saturday. It was Angel's first official goal since joining New York from Aston Villa, although he did score on a free kick in the Red Bulls' U.S. Open Cup qualifying match against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Watch Juan Pablo Angel and the New York Red Bulls as they host the Chicago Fire in ESPN 2's Thursday game of the week (7 p.m. ET).

Red Bull Park Opening Pushed Back

The new stadium being built for the New York Red Bulls will not be ready by next summer. According to Ives Galarcep, Red Bull Park will more likely be ready later in the fall of 2008, due to land cleanup issues. New Jersey land in need of severe clean-up? Who woulda thunk it? However - if this coming winter is a relatively warm one, work could speed back up on the project.

TJ's take: If the stadium won't be ready until late 2008, it makes more sense to hold off until 2009 and start the year with a celebration, rather than playing 2 or 3 home games at the new park at the end of the year. It would also give the under-achieving RBNY front office a little more time to get their act together and promote the hell out of the new project.

For those of you wanting to keep an eye on the progress at that stadium's site, there is a webcam you can check out.


Poll Results - Scoring Leader

In last week's poll, we asked: "Who will lead MLS in scoring for 2007?".

Taylor Twellman (NE) 58%
Danny Dichio (TFC) 6%

New England's Taylor Twellman was the overwhelming pick to lead the league in scoring this season. After seven weeks of play, Twellman has notched 6 goals, two better than Chris Rolfe, Kenny Cooper and Clint Mathis.

This week's poll asks: "Which Current/Former U.S. International Will Suit Up for an MLS Team First?". Cast your vote on the left-hand side of the screen and check back on Sunday for the official results.

Week 7 Results

Here are week 7 game recaps from MLSNet. The MLS Zone power rankings will be updated very soon...

Wednesday, May 16
Houston 0 - Toronto FC 1

Thursday, May 17
FC Dallas 2 - Chicago 1

Saturday, May 19
D.C. United 2 - Toronto FC 1
Columbus 0 - New York 4
New England 1 - Houston 0
Kansas City 1 - Colorado 1

Sunday, May 20
L.A. Galaxy 1 - Chivas USA 1
FC Dallas 2 - Real Salt Lake 1


Pele Sees Similarities In Beckham

Pele's journey to America was not so different from the journey David Beckham is about to begin, according to the Brazilian.

In 1975, Pele joined the North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos. This July, David Beckham will be joining the Los Angeles Galaxy. "It's almost the same," said Pele. "The game wasn't as popular when we came. The first year was rough. The league was a new league."

But eventually the league attracted a huge following, with the Cosmos selling out Giants Stadium in August of 1977, before ultimately burning out financially in the early 80's. MLS, always wary of repeating NASL's mistakes, is banking on Beckham to take the league - and the sport - to another level in this country. "In this moment, the MLS is more prepared than it was then," said Enzo Francescoli, chief executive of GolTV. "Ten, 12 years the MLS has in this project. Finally coming here are the best players."

Beckham has maintained that he signed with the Galaxy not to boost his already bulging bank account, but to instead help further the game in America. To Pele, Beckham's approach is almost the same: "There are a lot of similarities."

Whether the league can cash in long-term on it's new-found popularity remains to be seen, but with the increased coverage around the world and interest from a higher tier of players worldwide, MLS - and soccer in America - seems destined to be successful this time around.

Steve Nash Loves Soccer

Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash loves soccer. He credits the sport for teaching him the skills that have made him such a success in the NBA - five-time All-Star and two-time league MVP.
"Soccer taught me a lot of coordinator and footwork, skills and vision," Nash told the San Diego Union Tribune. "It really helped my basketball career. A lot of the skills are the same on the soccer field and the basketball court, so when I was allowed to actually use my hands, it almost felt unfair for me."

Fast fact: Steve's brother Martin currently plays for the USL's Vancouver Whitecaps and has earned 31 caps for the Canadian National Time, according to Wikipedia.


BMO Field Needs Emergency Repairs

BMO Field, home of Toronto FC, is undergoing emergency repairs as bolts and fasteners have falled from the new stadium during games. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment says the stadium is safe and repairs will not have any affect on Saturday's game against D.C. United.

According to reports, Toronto's rabid fans have been stomping on the all-metal floors of the stadium so much that it has caused material to fall. "We have found a total of six objects which fans have turned in to stadium staff," said MLSE executive vice president of operations Bob Hunter.

"It is a big concern for us and the grandstand builder was very quick to jump on the problems, and we are assuming that the problem has now been rectified and there won't be a reoccurrence," said Hunter.

FC Dallas 2 - Chicago 1

FC Dallas continued their fine recent form as they went on the road and downed the Chicago Fire, 2-1. Carlos Ruiz missed the game with a tight left hamstring, but Kenny Cooper finished on a penalty kick and Juan Carlos Toja scored the game winning goal in the 60th minute.

With the win, FC Dallas (4-3-1) jumps back in front of Colorado in the West, though the Rapids do have a game in hand. Dallas hosts winless Real Salt Lake on Sunday evening.

Chicago (3-3-1) remains in fourth place in the East after suffering their third straight loss. The Fire are off until next Thursday, when they travel to take on the New York Red Bulls in next week's ESPN2 Thursday game.

Power Rankings - Week 7

1. (3) New England Revolution
Clearly the best team in the league right now - Taylor Twellman is leading the Golden Boot and MVP races right now. They travel to Houston on Saturday before heading home for their next four games. Could be tough to beat this year.

2. (1) New York Red Bulls
Like their fans, the Red Bulls didn't show up last weekend and an unpredictable Columbus side rolls into town this weekend. Once Juan Pablo Angel gets to work with the team more, the man will be a monster in this league.

3. (2) Los Angeles Galaxy
Their up-and-down season continues. Central defense is become a huge problem for this team, as is defending on free kicks. Abel Xavier should provide some relief in both departments, but not until at least the middle of June.

4. (6) Colorado Rapids
Stole three points at New York but they host a good Wizards team this week. A win will put them back in first place in the West, at least until Dallas plays tomorrow.

5. (5) Kansas City Wizards
Without Jimmy Conrad organizing the back line, Kevin Hartman will be facing more and more shots. The all-time MLS shutout leader will have to come up with some big performances over the next few weeks if K.C. is to stay up with the rest of the East.

6. (4) Chicago Fire
On a three-game skid right now. Tough loss to FC Dallas on Thursday, but they were without Chris Rolfe. After watching that game, I wonder how Jim Curtin still has a job... The Fire will have a real chance to pick up some points when they play Real Salt Lake, Columbus and Chivas USA at home after next Thursday's trip to New York. Blanco could be in the lineup for the July 4th game versus L.A. Galaxy.

7. (8) Chivas USA
Ante Razov continues to rack up goals. He'd do well to come up with a few in Sunday's clash with rival L.A. Galaxy. The Goats are sporting a 1-8-1 record in Super Clasicos since coming into the league.

8. (7) Houston Dynamo
Tough loss in the homecoming for DeRosario and Onstad to Toronto. Houston should be in the market for a DP when the summer transfer window opens. AEG has basically offered a blank check to the club and given recent results, it would be wise if they found the right guy to spend the money on now instead of later.

9. (9) D.C. United
Still haven't really gotten the ball rolling in 2007. Moreno is showing his age and the defense is just not getting the job done. Heading to a hostile Toronto environment won't help them get on track any faster. Still, this team has the talent to turn things around and there is plenty of time for them to make up ground... as long as they don't fall much further behind.

10. (12) Toronto FC
What a difference a week makes. Heading into last weekend, TFC hadn't scored, was giving up 2.5 goals per game and had 0 points. Since then, they have put together a 2-game winning streak, outscoring their oppenents 4-1 in that time. D.C. United will be a good test as to how far this team has come in a short time.

11. (13) FC Dallas
Carlos Ruiz is looking less and less like he'll be in a Hoops uniform at the All-Star break. Rumors are swirling that he may be heading to Los Angeles or - more likely - Columbus. In the meantime, he appears to have lost his starting spot for now and is nursing a tight hammy. But the team keeps rolling, thanks mostly to the play of Kenny Cooper and Juan Carlos Toja.

12. (10) Columbus Crew
Didn't look bad at home against Chivas USA, but haven't looked lately like the improved side I had expected. To be fair, they have only lost one game all season, but they have also only won one. Thirty ties will not be enough points to make the playoffs, and I think this team lacks the clinical skill to finish off opponents.

13. (11) Real Salt Lake
If Jason Kreis' leadership can inspire RSL to play hard against Dallas on Sunday, they could walk out of Pizza Hut Park with their first win of the season. Despite all of this, the club needs to really improve defensively and spend the necessary money to get Kasey Keller to come to Utah. Until that happens, RSL will just be adrift in the sea that is MLS.

Australian Cities Bid For Galaxy Visit

Two Australian cities are battling to host the L.A. Galaxy for an exhibition game when the Galaxy begin their worldwide tour with David Beckham after this season.

Melbourne and Sydney both want to host the game, for obvious reasons. With TV fees and gate takings from a 60,000-plus crowd, the club that hosts the event could gain as much as $1 million (AUS) - quite a large amount that would help any A-League team.

Melbourne Victory chairman Geoff Lord confirmed that his club has been in negotiations to stage the game against the Galaxy. "Melbourne's ability to stage big sporting events is renowned and I am sure we would sell out 58,000 at Telstra Dome for such a game." The Victory were A-League champions last year. "Obviously, we feel we deserve to play the Galaxy."

Sydney FC officials feel that their club should host the game - they believe their team has the inside track in negotiations because Sydney FC part-owner Anthony LaPaglia is a friend of Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas. LaPaglia is one of the stars of the TV show "Without a Trace" and was a goalkeeper in the National Soccer League in the 1980s.

Said Sydney chief executive George Perry, "We have been in talks for some time. Obviously, Anthony has played a pivotal role because of his friendship with Alexi Lalas. I am sure we would get a huge crowd at Telstra Stadium."

Comex to Become Chivas Jersey Sponsor

Chivas USA has announced that Mexico's Comex Group will become the club's jersey sponsor in a multiyear contract worth around $2 million/year. Comex will appear on the front of the uniform while Frazee Paint, a U.S. subsidiary of the company, will become a presenting sponsor. Comex is one of North America's largest architectural paint distributors, with six different brands.

On the new uniform, Antonio Cue, president and co-owner of Chivas USA, said: "Perfect, clean and worthy of a great company. I'm very proud to see a Mexican name on this jersey."

Chivas USA will play the first half of Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Galaxy in their old uniforms and will change into their new threads at halftime.


Houston 0 - Toronto 1

Toronto FC picked up their second win in as many games, downing the defending MLS champions 1-0 on a rainy Wednesday. At BMO Field, Andy Welsh headed home a Ronnie O'Brien free kick in the 25th minute and a much-maligned Toronto defense made it stand up.

Fast fact: The win moves Toronto out of the cellar in the East. It also gives them as many wins as Los Angeles and D.C. United combined (two).

Toronto (2-4-0) will be at home once again on Saturday to welcome DCU to town.

Houston (2-3-1) will head back to Texas to host the best team in the league, the New England Revolution.

American Stars Released

Two of America's brightest stars on the world stage were both released on Wednesday.

Damarcus Beasley is leaving Manchester City and will return to Dutch league champion PSV Eindhoven. He started 13 games for City, tallying four goals.

Oguchi Onyewu was released by incoming Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce on Wednesday. Gooch started seven games and played in four more as a substitute but will be returning to Belgian side Standard Liege.
Could either be eying a move to MLS?

Vote for MLS All-Stars Online

As of today, fans can begin casting their votes for the 2007 Sierra Mist All-Star Game. Fan votes will count for 25% of the total vote - the rest of the vote comes from coaches, general managers, players and the media.

The MLS All-Stars will take on Celtic FC on July 19th at Dick's Sporting Good Park, home of the Colorado Rapids. Celtic has recently claimed its second consecutive Scottish Premier League championship, and 41st overall.

To vote, visit this link and click 'Cast a ballot'.


Toronto Will Not Fight Dichio's Red

Toronto FC head coach Mo Johnston will not appeal the red card given to Danny Dichio during Saturday's win over Chicago.

Dichio, who scored the first goal in Toronto FC history minutes before being the first TFC player sent off, was red-carded for his part in a skirmish involving Fire keeper Matt Pickens and midfielder Diego Gutierrez shortly before halftime. TV replays showed Dichio may have been trying to bite an opposing player during the melee.

With the defending MLS champion Houston Dynamo coming to town tomorrow, Johnston has accepted that he will be without the Scottish power forward. "No one ever wins an appeal on a red card," Johnston told the Toronto Sun.

When asked about Dichio's aggressive style of play, Johnston said: "Danny plays his best when he plays physical. I'm certainly not going to ask him to stop playing that way."

Toronto FC host the Houston Dynamo tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET. Four days later, D.C. United rolls into town for a Saturday afternoon match at 3:30 p.m. ET.


Dynamo To Build Stadium In Houston

The Houston Dynamo have signed an agreement with the City of Houston to exclusively negotiate a stadium deal.

The agreement is the first step in the process to get the Dynamo their own stadium to play in - they currently share Robertson Stadium with the University of Houston. The plan is for a 20,000 to 22,000 stadium somewhere in the vicinity of Minute Maid Park on the city's east end. It would cost roughly $70 million to build.

"It doesn't mean a deal has been reached," Dynamo president Oliver Luck said. "It just means that within certain parameters we've agreed to sit with the city and try to hammer out a deal."

Sources - Bradley To Be Named Coach

According to various sources, Bob Bradley will be officially announced as the newest head coach of the U.S. men's national team on Wednesday - a news conference in New York has been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
Bradley has been in charge of the team since December, leading the team to a 3-0-1 record in 2007, including an impressive victory over rivals Mexico. With the job officially his, Bradley's task now is to prepare the team for two major tournaments coming this summer: CONCACAF Gold Cup (June 6 - 24) and Copa America (June 26 - July 15).

Bradley, two-time MLS coach of the year, will also remain in charge of the U-23 national team that will be looking to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in China.

Known for his stellar one-on-one work with players, Bradley has gotten the seal of approval from Landon Donovan: "He's done a good job with us... Every time I've been out there I've been motivated to play. So from my standpoint, he deserves it."

TJ's take: Absolute right choice. Many people - those expecting nothing less than Juergen Klinsmann - haven't given Bradley the chance he deserves. In his four games this year, the team has shown up ready to play (maybe with a partial exception of the Guatemala game).

The real test will be this summer's tournaments. If Bradley's team doesn't make a strong showing, Sunil Gulati has plenty of time to resume his search for a replacement. It is now, for certain, Bradley's job to lose. Here's hoping BB can do for the national team what he did for the 2006 version of Chivas USA - turn them into winners.

Breaking: Abel Xavier to Galaxy

As speculated last night on The MLS Zone, Abel Xavier has joined the Los Angeles Galaxy on a free transfer from Middlesbrough.
The signing gives the Galaxy some much-needed help in the center of defense. Xavier will likely pair with Jamaican internationl Tyrone Marshall there once he joins the team. He is eligible to play once the Secondary MLS Transfer Window opens on June 15. "I'd like to thank Alexi Lalas, Frank Yallop and MLS for this opportunity," said Xavier. "I'm coming to win. With the great team and wonderful fans at the L.A. Galaxy, everything is possible. I bring heart, hunger, desire and passion. This is me today, tomorrow, and always."

"This is a terrific signing for us and he will bring so much experience, leadership and ability to the team," said L.A. Galaxy head coach Frank Yallop. "People of his quality are not often available for us to sign, so we are really happy that he is going to join us."


Week 6 Results

Week 6 is now over and the last unbeaten team (RBNY) has fallen. See below for game recaps from MLSNet and check back soon for updated power rankings.

Real Salt Lake 1 - Colorado 1

Chicago 1 - Toronto FC 3
Chivas USA 1 - Columbus 1
FC Dallas 2 - Kansas City 1
New England 3 - Los Angeles 2

Colorado 1 - New York 0

Carlos Ruiz to Galaxy?

After losing for the second time in three matches at home, trade rumors involving the Los Angeles Galaxy have once again kicked up.

The rumor that appears to have the most teeth would send Nate Jaqua and Chris Albright to FC Dallas in exchange for Guatemalan striker Carlos Ruiz. It would be the second stint in a Galaxy uniform for Ruiz - he spent 2002 - 2005 with Los Angeles, netting 50 goals in 72 appearances. Ruiz is also the second-highest scorer in the history of the Guatemala national team.

The other rumor involves the Galaxy potentially signing Middlesbrough defender Abel Xavier. The 34-year-old utility back has 20 caps and two goals for the Portugal national team and has apparently drawn interest from the Galaxy and Adelaide United FC, an Australian A-League team.

TJ's take: The Galaxy's most glaring weakness was exposed by Taylor Twellman and the Revs on Saturday night: Tyrone Marshall and Ty Harden in center defense is not getting the job done. A central defender should be the very first priority for the G's. I'm not sure Xavier would be willing to play for non-DP money...

On Ruiz: I shudder to think of Carlos Ruiz in a Galaxy uniform again. I don't like his attitude and his willingness to flop. It seems like every player has been linked with a move to the Galaxy lately... they can find someone of Ruiz's caliber without having to put up with his primadonna attitude.

Poll Results - Surprising Start

Last week's poll: Which team's start to the 2007 season has been the most surprising?

34% Red Bull New York
31% D.C. United

Red Bull New York's red-hot start was picked by our readers over the past week as being the most surprising start of any MLS team, narrowly beating D.C. United's slow beginning.

Thanks for voting, and be sure to participate in this week's poll, which asks: "What player will lead MLS in scoring for 2007?"

Toronto Gets First Goal, And Second, And Third

In front of a lively sell-out crowd, Toronto FC recorded their first-ever victory, a 3-1 defeat of the Chicago Fire.

The team, which had gone all four previous games without getting a single goal, came up big in their second home game. Danny Dichio broke open the party in the 24th minute when he slotted home a pass from Edson Buddle. Most of the 20,071 fans in attendance celebrated by tossing their free commemorative soccer ball-shaped seat cushions into the air, onto the pitch, and at the Chicago Fire bench. "I don't think anyone's ever been killed by a seat cover but it's certainly not pleasant getting hit by them," said Chicago coach Dave Sarachan.Toronto FC's fans have already developed a reputation for their passion and Saturday's scene was just another example. "To me, that rivals any English ground," said Dichio of the atmosphere at BMO Field. On the fans, Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston added, "The fans again were magnificent. I hope they bring that every week, because it's just like a cup final - teams in America won't like coming here."


Galaxy Can't Handle Twellman

Taylor Twellman could not be contained on Saturday night. The Galaxy fell to the Revolution, 3-2, behind two second-half Twellman strikes at the Home Depot Center.

The Galaxy got off to a good start, going ahead in the 14th minute thanks to a Kyle Martino goal. It stood up going into the break, but the Revs came out firing in the 2nd half - Adam Cristman scored his first career goal in the 47th minute and Twellman added another just five minutes later.

The Galaxy dramatically pulled even in the 84th minute when Tyrone Marshall headed home a Landon Donovan corner kick. Even before the celebration died down, Taylor Twellman found the back of the net again less than a minute later, giving the Revs a 3-2 victory and boosting his league-leading goal total to 6 on the season.

TJ's take: Heading into the game, I was fearful that Twellman would shred L.A.'s defense, and he definitely did that. The Galaxy seem to have 15 midfielders and only one or two defenders on their roster at this point. Not having any forwards is becoming an equally big issue; Nate Jaqua's performance has been underwhelming to say the least, and Robbie Findley is only a rookie. Things definitely have to be sorted out the City of Angels before they are ready to move to the next level.

Moreno Called Up for Bolivian National Team

D.C. United captain Jaime Moreno has been called up to the Bolivian national team for their upcoming friendly against Ireland in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Moreno will miss D.C.'s game against the Houston Dynamo on May 26th. "It is always an honor to defend your national team colors," said Moreno.

There is a chance that Moreno will make his country's roster for the upcoming Copa America. If that should happen, he would be absent from the D.C. lineup for atleast three games.

Moreno has struggled to regain his form in MLS this season, scoring just two goals (both penalty kicks) so far in 2007. He is just one goal shy of the all-time MLS mark of 108 set by Jason Kreis.

1 Goal = 20,000 Seat Cushions

Congratulations to Toronto FC for scoring their first-ever goal in Major League Soccer! To celebrate, 20,000 fans at BMO Field proudly threw their seat cushions onto the pitch, causing a small delay. Since then, the Chicago Fire have gotten an equaliser from Chris Rolfe and the score stands 1-1 at the half. Game is live on Fox Soccer Channel - have a look at the festive atmosphere for yourself.

Update: Danny Dichio and Diego Gutierrez have both been sent off after a skirmish near the Chicago goal that also invovled 'keeper Matt Pickens. Replays showed that Dichio may have been trying to bite opposing players during the scrum... seriously. The two teams' coaches got in a heated discussion about the incident... it should be a fun second half.


Las Vegas Expansion in the Cards?

Could MLS be looking to expand to Sin City? According to the Las Vegas Sun, the answer is yes. The Las Vegas Sports & Entertainment Group is aiming to have a team playing in that city by 2010. "We are committed to bringing an MLS team to Las Vegas. I think Las Vegas would be the premier franchise in MLS," said Mark Noorzai, the sports group's president.

The group is hoping to build a stadium with a retractable roof that would be linked with a casino - I'm not sure how well that will mix with the current family-friendly MLS atmosphere. But Commissioner Don Garber has told Noorzai that he doesn't have a problem with the gaming industry, unlike other sports' commissioners.

Garber recently spoke about expanding the league to 16 franchises by 2010 and a 14th club will likely be announced later this year - with Vegas in the running, according to sources. "We continue to work on the right market, the right facility and the right owner," Garber said.

So what do you think? If a team is placed in Las Vegas, would it be successful?


Real Salt Lake 1 - Colorado Rapids 1

The Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake exchanged own goals early on and ended deadlocked, 1-1.

Freddy Adu looked slightly more dangerous in the attack, but nobody else around him showed up to play.

Power Rankings - Week 6

Not a lot has changed at the top of the league - the teams in the middle are shuffling around a bit - the teams at the bottom will have to work harder to avoid relegation... err... yeah. Here's The MLS Zone's power rankings, week 6 style.

1. (1) Red Bull New York
As tempted as I was to swap them with the Galaxy this week, I couldn't do it. I saw Juan Pablo Angel's debut in the Open Cup qualifying game and I have to say that he is going to make a very solid team even better. Give Bruce Arena credit - he's assembled a quality squad. Hopefully more people will take the time to go see them play.

2. (2) Los Angeles Galaxy
The Galaxy let their younger guys tire out a stronger Red Bulls side in their Open Cup qualification game and then Landon Donovan stepped up in overtime with a goal and two assists. Steve Cronin was magnificent in goal... his 14-save performance was magical to say the least. As a reward, he gets to ride the pine some more as Joe Cannon steps back in for the G's in a big game against the Revolution.

3. (9) New England Revolution
Jumping up six places this week, this Revolution side is as good as previous ones, if not better. If they can pull three points away from the warming Galaxy while on the road, maybe nobody can stop them. Taylor Twellman should have a good game against a less-than-stellar L.A. backline.

4. (3) Chicago Fire
Their goal is to keep things steady until Cuauhtemoc Blanco joins the side this summer. So far, they are doing very well. Evin still, I believe Toronto will get their first points when the two teams meet this weekend.

5. (8) Kansas City Wizards
No team has more points than the Wizards, but expect them to come back to Earth as talented defender Jimmy Conrad has been sidelined with his 2nd broken jaw in less than a year. Eddie Johnson is going to have to carry this team, and I'm not so sure he can't do it.

6. (4) Colorado Rapids
Herculez Gomez goes down more than anyone else in the league... except maybe Carlos Ruiz. If he can get more physical while attacking, he'll add to his goal total. I still like his aggressiveness, but his attitude is holding him back.

7. (6) Houston Dynamo
De Rosario is back on track with a new 'do. Trading for Joseph Ngwenya was a smart move for the men in orange and could move them safely into the playoff picture in the crowded West.

8. (5) Chivas USA
Chivas wants their DP spot back after Amado Guevara - shocking! - let his ego get in the way of his game. Back in reality land, Sacha Kljestan's return from suspension will benefit Chivas greatly. I like them to steal three points on the road against Columbus this weekend.

9. (10) D.C. United
Just as DCU started gaining momentum, they run into another bye week. No matter - it will just give them more time to sort out their early problems. Their defense is still troubling, but Goff says DCU officials are scouting a Polish central defender that could solve their biggest problem so far this season.

10. (7) Columbus Crew
Not sure what direction this team is going right now. Alejandro Moreno will certainly see his role increase in Columbus. But Guillermo Barros Schelotto is still getting used the physicality of MLS. Without making any other moves, Columbus could be on the outside looking in for the rest of the year.

11. (13) Real Salt Lake
The final three positions are basically interchangeable for me. I'll give RSL the edge for coming from way behind against the Red Bulls, even if it was slightly controversial. Freddy Adu looked a bit better in Thursday's game against Colorado but couldn't get much support from the team around him. It's only a matter of time before he loses his cool...

12. (12) Toronto FC
Toronto will finally give their fans something to cheer about - I'm thinking a 2-1 win over Chicago. It could be the jump start that this club needs.

13. (11) FC Dallas
Carlos Ruiz has gotten himself benched, atleast for the start of FC Dallas' key clash with Kansas City. When he picks up his next yellow card, he will already find himself facing a 1-game suspension. Sounds like new coach Steve Morrow is running a really tight ship... unfortunately, he's running it right into the ground.

Keller Becomes Available

U.S. international 'keeper Kasey Keller will be free to leave German side Borussia Monchengladbach when his contract ends this summer, according to the team's technical director Christian Ziege.

The club will be relegated at season's end and there was some doubt as to whether Keller would even want to return to play in Germany's second division. "It came as something of a surprise when he indicated that he was prepared to stay," said Ziege. "We had to assume he would no longer be available if we were relegated and so we decided to make the break in goal as well, not least because of the age issue."

Keller is hoping to recover from a muscle tear in his right leg in time to play in his club's last game - but even before he's healed, many people will be debating Keller's next stop. A move to Real Salt Lake would be logical - both for club and player - RSL is hurting for a solid keeper and Keller wants to be close to his homes in the Pacific Northwest.


San Diego on Expansion Map

A development group by the name of Scroll Capital Partners is apparently pursuing plans to build a soccer-specific-stadium in San Ysidro, California. The group has spoken with city and county officials about the plan, which would force the demolition and relocation of two schools in place of an MLS stadium, athletic field and commercial and housing development.

The plan, which is in the very early stages, is for a roughly 30,000-seat stadium to be built on land currently owned by San Ysidro School District. "From our position, this is strictly information and exploratory. Nothing has been proposed in writing," said Gilbert Anzaldua, the San Ysidro School District's interim superintendent, who has spoken with the developers.

So where exactly is San Ysidro? Well, it's a community within the city of San Diego, located in the southernmost part of San Diego County and immediatly north of the Mexican border. Given its proximity from the border and high Hispanic population, S.Y. would seem like a perfect place to expand American soccer, according to David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute. "You're not going to see too many better fits than San Diego," he said. "Soccer in San Diego seems like an inherent fit."

It is not known at this time whether MLS would be interested in moving Chivas USA to another SoCal location with their own SSS - they currently share the Home Depot Center with the L.A. Galaxy and have struggled to tap into the large Hispanic population in southern California.

TJ's take: Moving a team into the San Diego market has got to be a long-term goal for the league. San Diego's 1.2 million people make it the 7th largest city in the country and 2nd largest in California, easily big enough to support their own team. Plus, the potential is there for another great rivalry with Galaxy and/or Chivas. You can definitely see the Riot Squad and/or Legion 1908 rolling down to San Diego to create some havoc!

San Diego expansion is an idea that Don Garber and the league should be focusing on and I would welcome the decision to make a San Diego team the next expansion team and 14th team in the league.

Adu Hit By Golf Ball

Real Salt Lake's Freddy Adu was apparently hit in the head by a golf ball while on the links with teammates on Monday. An RSL spokesperson confirmed the incident yesterday. "It was a wayward drive," John Koluder said. "He's fine. No marks. No bumps. He practiced fully."

No marks, no bumps, and no wins so far this year for the 17-year-old "phenom." Maybe the team's luck will change tomorrow night, as they travel to Dick's Sporting Goods Park to take on the up-and-down Colorado Rapids on ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

Dynamo & Crew Announce Trade

The Houston Dynamo and Columbus Crew have traded forwards, with Alejandro Moreno heading to Ohio and Joseph Ngwenya leaving for Texas.

Moreno has scored 23 goals in his four MLS seasons and has been called up several times to play with the Venezuelan national team. The 27-year-old is a two time MLS Cup champion, enjoying successes with the L.A. Galaxy in 2002 and the Houston Dynamo just last year.

Ngwenya has also spent time with L.A., as he was drafted by the Galaxy in 2004. He found the back of the net five times last year, an has recorded one assist in five games so far this season. Following the 2006 season, Ngwenya had a two-week trial with Getafe and scored in a friendly for them against Real Madrid C. In the end, Ngwenya was not offered a contract and returned to MLS for the 2007 season.

TJ's take: From what I've seen, Houston is getting the better end of this deal. In Ngwenya, the are getting a talented, if somewhat unpolished striker. I'm pretty surprised that Columbus would ship him elsewhere as I had pegged him to be one of the keys to leading Columbus back to success.

I'm not saying Moreno won't also be a help to Sigi Schmid's club, but Houston certainly has improved their sputtering offense.

Toronto FC Apparel Hot Items

According to Adidas, sales of Toronto FC merchandise are three times higher than any other Major League Soccer team launch. Official team merchandise has been selling quickly at BMO Field and in stores across Canada.

Steve Ralph, vice-president of sales and marketing for Adidas Canada, said his company expected a good response but "nowhere near" what happened. "This is just more proof that this market is hungy for professional soccer," Ralph said.

At Toronto FC's first-ever home game, demand far outdistanced supply, but a fresh stock of products will be in kiosks at the stadium in time for Saturday's game between Toronto and the Chicago Fire.

Galaxy Drop Red Bulls In Extra Time

The Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-1 after extra time in a U.S. Open Cup qualifying game on Tuesday night. Galaxy goalkeeper Steve Cronin had a masterful performance, stopping nearly everything the Red Bulls could come up with.

RBNY coach Bruce Arena went with most of his starters to begin the game, while the Galaxy went with a few younger guys - Robbie Findley, Steve Cronin, Mike Randolph. In the first half, Cronin stopped several tough shots - including a Jozy Altidore penalty kick - and kept his team in the game.

In the second half, Cobi Jones received a straight red card in the 54th minute for kicking Dave van den Bergh while he was on the ground. The Red Bulls were also reduced to 10 men when Dema Kovalenko received his second yellow card for pulling Landon Donovan down from behind in the 73rd minute.

The teams played to a 0-0 tie after regulation, and then it was all Galaxy in the overtime sessions. Landon Donovan made it 1-0 with a penalty kick. Later in the first overtime, Santino Quaranta connected with Kyle Martino, who headed the ball home to make it 2-0.

In the second overtime, Juan Pablo Angel - who made his debut a little after an hour into the game - curled home a brilliant free kick to pull one back for RBNY. But the Galaxy added an insurance goal near the end of the second overtime, courtesy Santino Quaranta getting on the end of a Landon Donovan pass, making the final score 3-1 Galaxy.

Sidenote: Over 10,000 fans showed up for the game, a great number for a U.S. Open Cup game, especially on a Tuesday night. It outdrew the average attendance for a Kansas City or a New England home game. That either says a lot about Galaxy fans or speaks to the trouble that KC & NE are in when it comes to attendance.