The MLS Grapevine: Donovan deal nears, MLS signs draft candidates and more

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Landon Donovan's proposed loan move to English club Everton is gaining momentum, and it is starting to look more and more like the U.S. national team's two best players will be club teammates come the new year.

Everton has now confirmed that it is in talks to bring the U.S. national team star to the EPL on what would likely be a short loan deal akin to the loan Donovan was on with Bayern Munich last winter. The move would be even more likely if rumors of a potential sale of Louis Saha come true.

As we said when this story first surfaced, a short-term move to Everton would be perfect for Donovan. Not just for the chance to compete in the world's best league, but also because Donovan would be entering a much healthier environment than the one he entered at Bayern last winter.

How so? The board at Bayern never wanted Donovan, and openly questioned then-head coach Juergen Klinsmann's decision to bring him in during the winter. The back-room wrangling did little to provide Donovan with a comfortable situation. At Everton, it would be clear that both manager David Moyes and the Everton front office would be in accord about bringing him over. Throw in the presence of Tim Howard, one of Everton's leaders, and you have a much better environment for Donovan to work in.

Ultimately, we will be talking about a slightly longer than two-month loan deal, and as we listed earlier in the week, that two-month span would include a who's-who of EPL opponents along with FA Cup and Europa League matches. Donovan could make his Everton debut as soon as the Toffee's FA Cup clash vs. Carlisle United on Jan. 2, though the Jan. 9 league match at Arsenal would more likely be the date for a potential debut.


Major League Soccer will soon begin filling up its 2010 draft pool with some of the best young talent in the country, and sources tell SBI that the league has already added one high-quality prospect to the pool.

MLS has signed UConn midfielder Toni Stahl to a contract, sources tell SBI. Widely-regarded as the most MLS-ready defensive midfielder in the nation, Stahl had been believed to be eyeing a move to Europe, but he has agreed to a deal that should make him one of the first midfielders taken on draft day.

Sources have also told SBI that MLS is also close to signing Under-20 national team and Central Florida goalkeeper Sean Johnson. A 6-foot-4, 220 pound junior with excellent quickness and high upside, Johnson could be the first goalkeeper taken in January's draft if he does sign with MLS.

Stahl joins former Rutgers midfielder Dilly Duka as players who have secured deals ahead of the draft. Both are projected to be early to mid-first round picks.


After considering a variety of candidates to replace Tom Soehn, D.C. United looks to be down to a final two, and the front-runner isn't who you might imagine.

Akron head coach Caleb Porter and former Kansas City head coach Curt Onalfo are the leading candidates for the D.C. job, with a decision expected in the coming days.

Porter has helped guide Akron to an undefeated season heading into Friday's College Cup semifinal vs. North Carolina, and some sources believe Porter could be offered the D.C. post some time next week.

Will he accept it? The D.C. job is one of the more high-profile jobs in MLS, but Porter is also said to be weighing the option of taking over as head coach of his alma mater, Indiana University. Given the higher level of job security in the college game, it shouldn't be assumed that Porter would automatically choose MLS over what some say is his dream NCAA gig. (UPDATE-Word out of Indiana is that Porter isn't in the running for the job. So much for this being an obstacle or option.)

As for Onalfo, he has impressed enough to be a finalist and has more experience on the pro level than Onalfo. He also guided Kansas City to the playoffs in each of his two full seasons with the Wizards. That may not matter much to D.C. United though. It is, after all, the same club that hired Peter Nowak as head coach without any coaching experience at all (and all Nowak did was win an MLS Cup in his first season).

So which of the two would you hire? Cast your vote here:

Who would our pick be? We would go with the experienced candidate and hire Onalfo. Porter has impressed on the college level, but Onalfo did better than he gets credit for in KC.


What do you think of these developments? Starting to believe the Everton move is a good one for Donovan? Excited about the 2010 MLS Draft? Who would you hire as D.C. United head coach?

Share your thoughts below.

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53 Responses to The MLS Grapevine: Donovan deal nears, MLS signs draft candidates and more

  1. Dontreadondeuce says:

    Bayern was a dumpster fire last year. Everton could be great for Donovan. Is there any chance that if this happens it could become a longer term deal?

  2. IMSYE87 says:

    DCU hired a coach about a few weeks after theirs leaves

    RBNY still in search after 3+ months

    gotta love it

  3. DC Josh says:

    Excited for Donovan, get the deal done all ready Galaxy FO. I hope it’it becomes permanent. Unless he can find a very good situation in Spain or France, become a Toffee.

    I can’t wait to see this year’s draft class. Last year’s was unbelievable, but this year will hopefully include U-17 youngsters Gil and McInerney among the college elite.

    Well I’m glad DC isn’t going with a foreign coach. I’d want Onalfo before Porter. Although Porter is very young and doing well at Akron, he has no MLS experience. Onalfo has way more experience at higher levels than Porter.

    For you great lakes people, are Akron and Indiana rivals? If he goes to IU, will there be any controversy?

  4. scott47a says:

    Curt Onalfo is a punk.

  5. Scott says:

    What’s this about Saha leaving Everton?

    (SBI-He’s out of contract this summer and there are reports suggesting he could be sold this winter. Doesn’t make much sense, but Everton may try to cash in now rather than lose him for nothing. Not sure if that’s wise considering nobody else can score for them.)

  6. guillermo says:

    I’m still trying to figure out how the great Denis Hamlett is not being mentioned as a top candidate in DC or New York. 😉

  7. BSU SC says:

    Indiana is going to do everything within their power to hire Caleb Porter. IU athletic director Fred Glass has his sights set on Porter. And what Fred Glass wants, Fred Glass gets. He was the driving force behind getting the new Indianapolis Colts stadium built 2 years ago after the Mayor of Indianapolis and the Governor of Indiana could not agree on how to get it done. Being an Indiana guy, I hope the Hoosiers land Porter.

    I believe Onaflo would be a good fit at D.C. United. With no Champions League to worry about this year, and a front office that will provide him with all of the resources needed to put a winning team on the field, D.C. has the opportunity to return to glory. It would be a perfect fit.

  8. EPLOhYeah says:

    Great news for me and Landon.. I no longer have to sit through galaxy games to watch one player and we get to see him matched with decent talent. Bring on 2010!!

  9. cfig says:

    I’m all about the Donovan move, and it’ll be nice to see him in a league where we can actually get to see some of the matches here in the States.

    Ives, where do you see him slotting into their lineup, on the wing or as a striker/withdrawn striker?

  10. Dontreadondeuce says:

    I hope you guys go with Onalfo, because I’d love to see IU snag Porter. I don’t see any controversy if Porter came to IU with it being his alma mater, although it would make future match-ups a little spicier.

  11. japan says:

    Is Everton not interested in renewing his contract? or is Saha rejecting? I agree this isn’t very wise.

  12. I think Donovan will definitely fit best as a withdrawn striker. He is not a pure up front guy, and I believe that is where Bayern tried to use him. He does best creating out of the middle third of the field and using his speed and quickness to make dangerous runs.

  13. Aaron in StL says:

    I’ve read in a few articles that they may look to get it extended to the end of the season, a la Beckham & AC Milan last year.

    If he’s playing regularly, I think we can all agree that would be great. Otherwise, get back to LA.

  14. Aaron in StL says:

    Everton won’t have the money to make the move permanent. MLS will want double (minimum) what they got for Jozy. For marketing appeal alone they’ll hold on to Lando for dear life.

  15. kar says:

    Any rumors or information on whether this loan deal would have a buy-out clause or loan extension option?

    Just curious if Donovan is a lock to return to the Galaxy for the start of the season or if LA could end up with both of their superstars gone through the world cup . . .

  16. Fred says:

    Ives, I’m sort of surprised you’re this head-over-heels for the loan move. If Everton’s got anything, it’s attack-minded midfielders/forwards. Cahill, Pienaar, Osman, Arteta, Fellaini, Billienov or whatever, Jagielka, Neville. I’m probably missing a few, I get a lot of these Everton midfielders mixed up. Of course, they’re ravaged by injuries, but do you really want LD to go somewhere his playing time is determined by injuries to others?

    We all (or most of us) want LD to end up in Europe in the next year or two. Unsuccessful loan deals hurt his chances because they make him look like he can’t hang with the big boys. As much as I love Everton, and as excited as I am about the possibility of a move, I hardly think it’s a slam dunk.

  17. johnson says:

    Donovan to Everton and Beasley to Fulham?

    Also, NYRB is set to hire Tony Adams who will try to lure his former teammate Thierry Henry to the club?

    (SBI-Guess you don’t read this site much.)

  18. David says:

    They certainly need to move up the table a bit before they consider selling the only player on the team that is scoring goals. As a Fulham fan I will offer them Andy Johnson back for Saha straight up. Doubt they would take it though…

  19. Fred says:

    Also, we all know how broke Everton is, so I don’t imagine there’s any way they’d have the $ (or the desire) to make the loan deal permanent.

  20. kpugs says:

    A short term loan deal for Landycakes? What do I not know about his contract? I thought he was going to be available on a free transfer. I didn’t necessarily mind that he was forced to stay in MLS by the league last time around, after all he did sign the contract.

    But the guy needs to go, for his sake and the sake of the national team. If MLS handcuffs him to the league for the rest of his career they should be ashamed of themselves. Of course they should already be ashamed of themselves because this league is a joke and run by idiots. So they’ll probably just remain joyously clueless and keep drooling on themselves.

    (SBI-Was never going on a free. He’s got two more option years on his deal.)

  21. Aaron in StL says:

    Jagielka’s a CB, Neville a defender converted to defensive mid. Fellaini is more defensive (and an emergency forward). Arteta’s knee blew up.

    Cahill, Pienaar and Bily are his true competition. Even if styles vary somewhat, they all bring similar qualities to the game. He won’t be an auto-pick, at least not at first.

  22. Careful what we wish for……As we see with Douche, I mean Deuce, burnout form playing in EPL is a huge factor as to players not doing well with National Teams. Too many games, never any breaks and come June, I hope all is good. If this is temporary, would work but careful on this one. The authors of Soccernomics believe the full slate of games without breaks in EPL is one reason why England does not win majors tournaments. So careful of Burnout! Spain or Holland for the long term if Landy goes to europa!

  23. Phil McCrack'n says:

    Onalfo has more experience than himself?

  24. plug 713 says:

    DC United have lost the program. They dismantled and MLS Cup squad and brought in a group of foreign players who just didn’t cut it. Tom Soehn never really seemed to be able to get the most out of the team he had. The front office has made no prgress on finding an adequate replacement Jaime Moreno. Now they want to hire a college coach. And instead of going 10 miles down the road to hire Sasho Cirovski, who has built a program with two national championships in the past four years and produced players like Omar Gonzalez, Maurice Edu, Chris Seitz, Robbie Rogers, and Rodney Wallace, to name just a few, they pick out a guy with a more limited resume who is being courted by his alma mater. The DC fornt office needs a house cleaning.

  25. patrick says:

    Josh, Gil and McInerney will certainly not be part of the MLS draft, that’s virtually guaranteed

  26. Clizzle Dizzle says:

    Anyone see this one?

    link to

    Beasley wouldn’t play in many league games, but if they can stay in Europa, and with the FA Cup starting, this might get him more looks than Rangers. Plus I would rather see him learning from Hodgson than Walter Smith. Would love to see him productive for the world cup…

  27. francesco says:

    Ives what are the chances of this loan turning into a permanent transfer? Where does Landon stand with his MLS contract? How likely is it that we could see it being a permanent move?

  28. Aaron in StL says:

    So he’s unloading one American bust (Eddie Johnson) to take on a slowed, injured American (Beaz)? Interesting.

    I don’t know if EPL is best for DaMarcus, he’s already beat up and worn down enough. His speed really seems to have diminished the past few years.

  29. Sninho says:

    Yeah, cause Thierry Henry was terrible for France while playing for Arsenal…

  30. Ron says:

    And Kpugy sticks his foot in his mouth again!!!!!!!!

  31. roberto says:

    Seems as though a handful of Everton’s key players started off on loans as well…Arteta, Pienaar… The good thing is that due to his versatility he could slot into a number of positions so even when some of the key players come back LD can still fill other voids. I just hope some hack doesn’t hurt him before the WC. We are playing England after all : )

  32. DCDeacon says:

    Donovan gets taken out by Terry with a terrible studs-up tackle from behind, is lost for the year, and Sam’s Army invades England and captures London inside of a week.

    This will happen.

  33. Route1ball says:

    While their is something to the idea that English players play too many games, England mostly didn’t win majors because they sucked not because of the schedule.

    EPL squads are so large now that good managers need never burn out their players, if things go well. Of course, I will grant you that there are so few good English players (compared to the other big boys) that they do get overused and burned out.

  34. JoeW says:

    Plug 713….about Sasho…..

    1. Why would he leave Maryland? He’s got guaranteed job security and a ton of money with less work. This is one instance where MLS probably isn’t competitive with the college job.

    2. I credit Sasho for doing a great job at Maryland. But I’m also not head over heels for him either–this is the guy who bitterly and publicly criticized the P-40 (now GenAd) program saying it would hurt US soccer by crippling college soccer and no real talent would emerge from it. Instead, we’ve seen the breadth of US talent increase, some real finds out of P-40/GenAd and the quality coming out of college is better. I also am leery of ANY college coach on at least one level–the single biggest factor in major college success is recruiting. If you can recruit well, you’ll be no worse than a good program and even a good coach tactically will be out of a job soon in Division I soccer if you can’t recruit well. I honestly don’t know how much of the talent (Gonzalez, etc.) to attribute to Sasho’s development and how much of it is good recruiting and that’s an honest challenge in evaluating ANY college coach.

    3. As for Caleb Porter, he’s a former MLS player (something Sasho can’t say), a former pro assistant (again, Sasho can’t say he’s coached at the pro level). The rep on Porter is that he’s quite an impressive person and leader–that means more to me than his coaching record (which can be heavily influenced by your recruiting and schedule). As for Onalfo, the only reason he wasn’t a finalist when Hudson left was his lack of experience and youth–he was under 30 with no head coaching experience. But he is “family”, is a former player, USNT assistant, speaks Spanish, was extremely well-regarded by DCU when he was an assistant, had experience coaching youth, has a good rep tactically, put together a solid program with KC (i mean much more than just have a coaching plan and picking an assistant or two).

    I don’t know enough details to be able to say ultimately why he didn’t win this last year with KC. I will say this: evaluating a coach solely on W-L means that Bruce Arena never would have been hired at LA–afterall, his record with NYRB “proves” he’s past it and no longer good as a coach. W-L record “proves” that Ray Hudson was going to be a winner at DCU. W-L record (in Colombia and with Chicago) “proves” Juan Carlos Osorio is a guaranteed winner with NYRB. Yeah, we care about the wins and losses. But you’ve also got to look beyond those. We’ll see if Onalfo or Porter is a good choice. Personally, I’m interested in why Richie Williams still doesn’t have a permanent job with someone.

  35. Hey Brazil, that is deep considering soccer is a team sport. Thinking of one guy? Where did France’s best player ever play? BTW, where is Henry now? And did Henry really do well in Big Tournaments for France while at Arsenal? BTW, where is Henry now? Spain. Why? To prolong career? Where are most best players in world playing that have won world cups and Euro Championships? Not England. Understand the argument…Not saying the league is bad, just, but PROPOSING question as is it good for players regarding national team because of schedule and pace of league? Do the numbers Brazil, who wins big tourneys and where do they play?

  36. Aaron in StL says:

    Longest. post. ever.

  37. Regarding Caleb Porter….the future is the pro game.

    IU is not what it used to be.

  38. john godfrey says:

    Ideal scenario: a protracted labor dispute in MLS that allows Landon to extend his stay through the end of the EPL season.

  39. Rubbers says:

    As an Akron Zips fan, my heart dropped last week when I heard that Indiana’s coaching job was open. Then I read this: link to

    and felt better (SBI’s update also confirms that he is not going to Indiana). Now the possibility is DC United – I went back to the article above and hoped that Caleb Porter was stating that he wasn’t interested in any other coaching job, but his comment seems to be specfic to Indiana. Oh well, if we lose him, I guess it is best that we lose him to the MLS. If that happens, at least it won’t be a Ken Lolla situation – I hate that guy. I am so glad that his team, Louisville, lost in the 1st round – only wish it could have been Akron that knocked them out.

  40. As I stated in first post, it is one one response not doing well in respects to National Team. I love the EPL but it burns out players for national team. English players need to start thinking of playing in other leagues in respect to burnout.

    (SBI-Not sure burnout will apply to Landon since we’re basically going to be talking about two to three months. He will have had five weeks off before he goes there, and will not exactly be facing a congested fixture list with LA when he gets back.)

  41. fischy says:

    One plus to hiring Porter is his familiarity with some of the top players coming out of college in the next few years. While he might have some prejudices, being so intimately involved in the college game should give him a leg up in evaluating the draft prospects.

  42. fischy says:

    Wrong the first time….and, as a United fan, I’d say wrong the second time, too.

  43. fischy says:

    Or, just maybe, Donovan is better than those other guys. I’d say so, and I’m willing to bet he’s going to prove it on the pitch for Everton.

  44. fischy says:

    Deuce’s problem is either related to jet lag, or being played out of position with the USMNT — not used to best effect. With Fulham, Dempsey is able to get into a much more forward position. Somehow, he manages to score when Bradley puts him up top. It’s just that doesn’t happen enough.

  45. fischy says:

    Maybe Sasho isn’t even interested….Sasho didn’t neceassarily “produce” those players. They were among the most highly regarded and recruited players when they chose Maryland. He’d have a much tougher task with United.

    I think your fornt office needs cleaning.

  46. jayrig5 says:

    When will Landon start training? Will he go before January, like he did with Bayern?

  47. bryan says:

    im pretty sure dempsey is not burned out right now. i certainly wouldn’t call it that. you are confusing club play for country.

  48. bryan says:

    i dont understand the logic. currently, he has been playing regular minutes off the bench (even started in the CL this week) for Rangers. he would be in the same exact situation at Fulham.

    having said that, EPL > SPL, so even coming off the bench in the EPL would be better than the SPL.

  49. I am not confusing anything. Players risk being burned out when reporting for NAT duty? I seem to recall Demps being lethargic and so many wanted him sitting until he poached the goals in ConFed cup. He sure seems pretty out of it when with Nats. So all I am saying, those that go to EPL, be careful! No winter breaks and lots of games can equal burn out come WC time. Hopefully not, but will stand by my theory. And Jet lag was not factor in SA last summer. Same time zone! Be careful what we wish for!

  50. Fredy Montero says:

    I am a much bigger punk.

  51. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    I admit I get a good laugh out of the folks who question Porter’s lack of pro coaching experience. Apparently, they have forgotten who is the coach of the current MLS Cup Champions. Porter has played in MLS, been a head coach at a solid college program, and seems to know young talent when he sees it. To me, his biggest plus is he isn’t part of the MLS coaching “good ol’ boy network”. We need fresh coaches with fresh ideas, not more John Hackworths and Dave Sacharan’s.

  52. Scott A says:

    Good to see MLS signing these young guys