Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Round-Up, Drama, Rosters and the Columbian Invasion

Brian Ching is back. It took months for the deal to happen, but the Montreal Impact and Houston Dynamo have finally come to terms that will allow league legend Brian Ching to return home to Houston. This allows the veteran to play with the Orange in the opening of their new stadium. It is a story that has been talked to death, but finally has a resolution. Ching played the professional role in saying that he'd do his bit to play for the Impact before he could return to Houston however he'll now be spared the humiliation.

The Montreal Impact sent the goal scorer back to Houston in return for a conditional first-round pick in the 2013 SuperDraft. This ends months of speculation and whispers of political strife over the matter. Marsch for his part, relented and seemingly ate crow as he did not get what he wanted for the striker.

Brian Ching and Dominic Kinnear though, are extremely happy, as well they should be. 

Eddie Johnson, the awkward, dramatic and fickle (former) USMNT striker looks to be returning to Major League Soccer...again. He's in the allocation process and up first to pick is the Montreal Impact. Johnson is damaged goods and in the wake of the Brian Ching fiasco, it would be unwise for Marsch to take such a risk. We'll see though. Keep an eye on it.

Caleb Porter announced his 23-man roster for the U-23 USMNT training camp to take on Mexico. Porter's roster has 15 MLS players, several of whom have experience with the senior team. Further evidence that the league is making an impact on the national team (which is an arguement that should be dead) is that nearly all of the players are notable names of MLS. The roster is as follows:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)

DEFENDERS (7): Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mikkel Diskerud (Gent), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy)

FORWARDS (8): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Tony Taylor (Estoril Praia)

Notable inclusions that might fly under the radar include Ike Opara, Joe Corona and Terrence Boyd. Ike Opara is notable as he is returning from injury and really has not been on the radar at all for the San Jose Earthquakes. Joe Corona and Terrance Boyd are both names that the casual USMNT fan will not know, but certainly warrant some attention.

I'll absolutely say that I'm pleased Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo and Jack McInerney are all on the roster. Each are young and will benefit from playing the Mexicans in strong competition. No disclaimer on Adu though...he needs to shine brightly. No excuses from him.

In other very cool news, the influx of Columbians to Major League Soccer is becoming impressive. Sporting News looked into it with an excellent article by Brian Straus found here. As the league now points out, it harbors 28 Columbian players spread across 19 teams. This should be taken as a sign of encouragement. For a respectable South American soccer country to find MLS as a viable option is a two-fold benefit. The league wins in that it brings in talent with style and flair. The likes of Fredy Montero, David Ferreira and coach Oscar Pareja have found ways to add to the league's quality.

The benefit, as Straus aptly points out, is that as Major League Soccer garners attention from Europe, so do its players. MLS represents a launchpad into other top leagues but becomes a top league in itself. Players from other South American nations must see the success and improvement of MLS and it only raises the profile. Major pluses for South American scouting.