There were a lot of moves within MLS yesterday. Expect more today, since the transfer window closes tomorrow. Let's get to it:
D.C. United needs to improve defense, but are personnel changes in store? | Soccer Insider
Some pretty good injury news here from Steve Goff, including Bill Hamid apparently getting close to a return as well as potential one-game loans to build fitness for guys like Sean Franklin, Michael Farfan, and Chris Pontius.
He’s an American success story . . . but it’s a difficult path to citizenship | Washington Post
To go with his report from training, Goff also ran this great piece on how Miguel Aguilar went from escaping drug violence in Ciudad Juarez to playing for the Black-and-Red.
How DC United continues to beat the odds | American Soccer Analysis
Coleman Larned tackles a question that has been vexing anyone involved in MLS soccer analytics: How does D.C. United consistently defy an expected goals total that remains very low across several models? Plenty of discussion of just how vital Perry Kitchen is as well.
Sources: D.C. United restructure youth academy’s staff, budget as funds routed towards stadium process | Soccerwire.com
This is potentially troubling news from Charles Boehm, who is hearing rumors of funding cuts for United's academy program (not to mention wage freezes or pay cuts elsewhere). Building a stadium is expensive, but you'd hope that the team could do it without cutting everything else down to the bone. Here's hoping these rumors end up being untrue.
MLS Strength of Schedule: Which teams have the easiest road to the 2015 postseason? | MLSsoccer.com
Let's end the DCU news with something good: United's schedule from this point is in the bottom third in terms of difficulty.
Security incident raises questions | The Brotherly Game
Not for the first time, we have fights and potential danger involving NYRB and Union fans. PPL Park doesn't really have a good place to put away fans, though I'd argue that the current options - "surrounded by home fans on both sides" or "given a gap to throw objects at exiting fans after games" are probably worse than "somewhere else." Obviously road fans should be obnoxious in the right way (i.e. not personally insulting people and throwing objects), so this isn't just the Union's fault.
Also, naturally, part of the problem stems from a past incident involving Crew fans. Friggin' Crew fans.
Armchair Analyst: Panic in Seattle, patience in red & more from Week 22 | MLSsoccer.com
Matt Doyle's wrap-up of the weekend is always a good read. There's not too much United here - understandably, what with a game that defies explanation - but Ben Olsen did win Face of the Week.
Costarican international Johan Venegas joins the Impact | ImpactMontreal.com
Lost in all the Didier Drogba hoopla is that another quite good player has joined Montreal, and this one is not 37 years old. If that name is familiar, it's because Venegas scored back-breaking goals for Alajuelense in both legs against United in the CCL quarterfinals. Venegas may or may not be eligible to play this weekend, and we should hope his paperwork takes a few days to clear. He's a fast, clever player with a versatile skill set. In my book, a great signing by the Impact.
One-time Austrian wunderkind signs with Sounders | Sounder at Heart
Seattle is bringing in Andreas Ivanschitz, who was up until recently was playing in La Liga with Levante. He's not a DP (Seattle's maxed out there) though, so this could be a tidy piece of business. Of course, we always have to remember the Euro player coming over during the Euro offseason caveat. It might not be until 2016 that Ivanschitz makes a name for himself in MLS. And he might not be the only new Sounder working under that caveat.
Tuesday's Practice Pitch Updates: Jack McInerney, More McInerney, a Little Colorado Rapids | Massive Report
Quotes from Gregg Berhalter after the Crew snagged Jack McInerney from Montreal for basically a round of beers.
Chicago Fire and Guly do Prado Mutually Agree to Part Ways | Chicago-Fire.com
Guly is among the strangest players in MLS history. He always looked disinterested unless angered, and even then he just wanted to retaliate. He's a forward, or an attacking midfielder maybe? No matter where he was played, he would just wander around wherever he damn well pleased. It's not the first time I've said it, but Guly basically played pro soccer for Chicago like the random ringer you might ask to jump into your Sunday league game so you don't have to kick off with 10 people.
Official: Gaston Fernandez's Contract Mutually Terminated | Stumptown Footy
This is bigger news than Guly being cut loose by the Fire. Fernandez was erratic, but he could also be a devilishly difficult player to defend. There was even a three or four game window where it looked like he was going to take over in the center and push Diego Valeri to right midfield, but he cooled off and Portland spent a couple million bucks on Lucas Melano.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer reportedly in talks with Toronto FC | Waking the Red
TFC is finally in a position where they should make the playoffs, so naturally it's time to introduce some instability! It's likely that Solksjaer is being considered for a club president job rather than yet another rash coaching change for Toronto, but it must be noted that Solksjaer has been a coach rather than any front office role since hanging up his boots. With TFC, you can never be sure.
AZ Alkmaar and Werder Bremen agree on Aron Johannsson transfer | Stars and Stripes FC
Aron Johansson was linked to an MLS move recently, but it looks like he'll be headed to the Bundesliga instead. Can't really blame the dude for pursuing a move to one of the top two leagues on the planet - the other is Spain, not England as I hope I don't have to tell you - but you also can't blame MLS clubs for not meeting Johansson's reported salary demands. That's the thing for MLS teams: Finding the guys who don't have the leverage to ask for a salary that is out of line with what they'd produce (on and off the field) on these shores.
Jill Ellis, coach of U.S. World Cup championship team, agrees to new contract | Soccer Insider
Win the World Cup, get a new contract. This is not really a surprise. I'm not entirely sure I feel good about it though, since Ellis spent over a year misusing her players and put together a pretty flawed roster for the World Cup. On the other hand, Carli Lloyd and others went out of their way to back her after the tournament, so obviously she's doing a good job inside the locker room. I assume my ambivalence will go away once we see Crystal Dunn unleashed on the rest of international soccer (or increase if we see the return of a 442 that requires Lloyd to not be Lloyd).
I'll close by recommending that you watch Review, which is available on Comedy Central's app without requiring a cable subscription. Season 2 just started, but you can and should watch the whole first season.