By IVES GALARCEP
The CONCACAF Champions League has long been a source of disappointment for Major League Soccer teams, and that same familiar storyline played out again on Thursday in Costa Rica with D.C. United’s destruction at the hands of Alajuelense.
Episode 193 of The SBI Show takes a look back at D.C. United’s 5-2 loss to the Costa Rican side, and digs into the continued issues MLS has with succeeding in CCL play. We also discuss Montreal’s impressive 2-2 tie with Pachuca.
Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also discuss the MLS labor talks, and the likelihood of a strike, which is growing by the day as the two sides reach an apparent stalemate over free agency.
Give Episode 193 of The SBI Show a listen after the jump:
By DAN KARELL
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team got the kind of comprehensive victory they needed to open up the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
In the opening match, the U.S. U-17s routed Cuba, 5-0, with forward Joe Gallardo scoring a hat-trick. Midfielders Christian Pulisic and Luca de la Torre finished with two assists each as well.
Head coach Richie Williams chose to put his side out in a 4-3-3 formation from the start, but the team first scored on a set piece. In the fifth minute, a Pulisic corner kick was headed home by captain Hugo Arellano to put the U.S. in front.
The U.S. U-17s came close to scoring again on multiple occasions in the next 20 minutes, with Pulisic having a goal disallowed due to offside and another chance in the box go over the bar after the ball bobbled on the rough pitch.
By FRANCO PANIZO
Caleb Porter’s reign in Portland started with so much promise, but the unexpected stumbling block that was the 2014 season has the club in need of a bounce-back year.
A slow start to the season and an unhealthy dose of defensive miscues ultimately proved to be too much for the Timbers during the 2014 campaign, as they missed out on the playoffs during the final weekend of the regular season. It was a large disappointment for the Rose City, and for a Portland team that had reached the Western Conference Finals just a year prior in Porter’s first season in charge.
With the aim being to get back into the stacked Western Conference’s elite, the Timbers have addressed what they feel are their areas of need while keeping most of the rest of the roster untouched. Continuity is something the club wanted even after last year’s struggles, and they have that with the likes of Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi all returning.
Portland is currently dealing with a number of injuries to key players, however. Valeri, starting defensive midfielder Will Johnson and his backup Ben Zemanski will all miss at least the first couple of months of the season, leaving the Timbers to have find alternative methods to get by until they return.
That might make it seem like the club is in store for a third straight season in which it comes slowly out of the gates, but the Timbers believe they have the answers to getting off on the right foot en route to successfully returning to the postseason.
Here’s a closer look at the 2015 Portland Timbers:
Photo by Gary Rohman/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen might think that free agency discussions are a waste of time, but the MLS Players Union is far from agreeing on that point.
In the wake of recent comments from Hansen that stated that discussing MLS free agency is pointless given league’s single-entity structure, a players union representative has vowed that it intends to stay the course with what it wants from this round of collective bargaining negotiations.
That means that free agency is still among the chief issues — other forms of player movement and higher finances are others — that needs to be addressed if the MLS season is to start as planned a week from Friday.
“Economics play a big part, don’t get me wrong, but we’re more fighting for the idea that we can choose,” New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles told SBI. “Every other job in America has this ability to go out into the market, put in your resume and, if you have a few different job offers, weigh which one is best for you, best for your family, and then you can go out (and make a decision).
“Then there’s also this idea that that leverage exists, that the market dictates your value and all these things don’t exist right now and if we continue the current system then I think players will continue to fall into a situation where the league determines what their value is. Even though they need a guy that plays 27 out of 34 games and is playing 2-3 positions, but because the league doesn’t deem you to be one of their marquee guys, even though other teams are willing to pay a premium for you, you’re always going to be stuck in a situation of what the league says and what the league thinks.
By CAITLIN MURRAY
Ashton Gotz still lacks an American passport, but it’s looking all the more likely the Hamburg defender will be asked to train with the U.S. Men’s National Team next month.
With U.S. Soccer scout Matthias Hamann overseeing the young German-American’s progress, Gotz is expected to be called in for USMNT friendlies against Denmark and Switzerland at the end of March. His passport likely won’t be in place by then, but he will get to train with the team.
“That way, he can get to know the environment ahead of time so everything isn’t new,” Hamann told Hamburger Morgenpost.
According to Gotz’s agent, the U.S. Soccer Federation is working with Gotz to help him obtain an American passport.
“Jürgen Klinsmann called him and gave him a contact to the federation so he is trying now, with help, to get an American passport first,” Gotz’s agent, Bjorn Gerke, told SBI this week. “Other things will come after this procedure.”
Photo by Chris Nicoll/USA Today Sports
By DAN KARELL
Major League Soccer did not take kindly to what Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen had to say earlier this week.
The league announced on Friday that they’ve fined Hansen an undisclosed amount for saying that the MLS players demanding free agency was a “go-nowhere conversation.”
“The comments made by Mr. Hansen are not permitted under the League’s Constitution,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “We are engaged in constructive negotiations with our players and such comments are not appropriate nor helpful to the negotiations.”
On Wednesday, Hansen was a guest on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City, a station he owns, to discuss RSL and the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations. While on the show, he labeled any discussion of MLS having free agency as a waste of time.