This just in from Kerith Gabriel at the Daily News:
Tweet No. 1: “According to French pub L’Equipe,
@PhilaUnion is said to be vying for the services of @chelseafc forward Nicolas Anelka.”
Tweet No. 2: “Source within
@PhilaUnion camp just confirmed there IS interest but said it’s a stretch given other offers Anelka has received.”
Goal.com said earlier of the report referenced by Gabriel, “French publication L’Equipe claims that MLS franchises Montreal Impact, New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union, as well as Paris Saint-Germain, Anzhi Makhachkala and AC Milan are courting Anelka’s services.” Goal.com also said Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua have ruled out making a move for the Frenchman after it learned AC Milan was interested.
Harkes out, Twellman in for ESPN’s soccer coverage. In related news, you don’t have to eat your green beans tonight because there will be a double helping of collard greens. My biggest pet peeve with Harkes was always how he narrated replays without giving any real analysis. It’s a replay. Not only can I see what is happening, I can see it in slow motion. Twellman steadily improved over the course of the 2011 season, and it will be interesting to see if he can bring an in-depth level of analysis to a national position where he doesn’t get to closely follow one team for 34 matches.
The Union’s protected list includes Keon Daniel but leaves off Freddy Adu and Justin Mapp. Amobi Okugo, Jack Mac and Zac MacMath all retained GenAdidas status.
The Shin Guardian has the full set of protected lists and a mock draft.
In other announcing news, NBC wants Sounders announcer Arlo White as their lead announcer for national broadcasts next season. White has received rave reviews in Seattle.
Frank Giase makes a strong case that Brad Davis should have won MLS MVP.
UEFA Champions League returns today. Bayern Munich can clinch a spot in the knockout rounds by securing a tie against Villareal. The Spaniards are leaking water and haven’t won yet in the competition. The other Group A match has more riding on it. Man City is through with a win over Napoli, but if a tie or a City loss means the English leaders will need to beat Munich at home to have a good chance of advancing.
In Group B, CSKA Moscow advances with a win over Lille and a Trabzonspor loss to Inter Milan. Man United and Benfica have 8 points in Group C, and the winner of their matchup today goes on to the the knockout stages. The loser hopes FC Basel loses to Otelul Gulati. Man United plays Basel in the final group stage match, so they will have the tougher road through if the leaders tie today.
Madrid has Group D wrapped up, and Ajax can go through with a win over Lyon. A loss would leave the Dutchies hoping for points against Madrid in December.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who always knows what he’s talking about, gave numerous reasons why MLS should move to an international schedule:
- “If [US Soccer has] the courage to change, they will do it, they told me.”
- “It would be better for US Soccer, and specifically also for the [United States] national team. And the popularity inside the country.”
- “Now there’s a situation that the best players, and practically the whole national team, they are playing in Europe. And this is not good for American sports. Because the American sport, they want to have their heroes at home. And therefore, this is, I would say, this is very instrumental.”
While the third point is at least a reason, the other two are not. And they are unfounded. Is it really better for US soccer to have matches on football Saturdays and Sundays? Is it really better for US soccer to have teams like Seattle and Vancouver playing home games in the winter? While it’s tough on players to head off and train with European teams as soon as the MLS season ends, that is a chance many wouldn’t have if MLS was aligned with Europe because, let’s face it, the US is not producing many players capable of competing at a top European level. If MLS goes to a European schedule, you will see more talented Americans going abroad to join Edson Buddle on second division German teams instead of going on post-season trials. Blatter is wrong again.
The Timbers Mike Golub was named MLS executive of the year.
Sporting KC sent English striker Ryan Smith to Chivas for a pair of supplemental draft picks.
The Disney Pro Soccer Classic will feature Orlando City, BK Haken of Sweden, and six MLS clubs: Houston, Vancouver, KC, Dallas, Toronto and Montreal. The pre-season tourney runs February 24-March 3, 2012.
Chris Vito reports the big story: The Union are hoping they don’t lose anyone in the expansion draft.