Do you love Saturdays as much as I do? Sleeping in, getting some brunch, and then a full slate of MLS and international friendlies to kick back and watch. Right now I’m watching Red Bulls-Union, with the big headline being Sebastian Le Toux’s first match against his old club. MLSSoccer.com has the story on how Union players feel about their old teammate playing for their biggest Eastern Conference rival.
It may be taking the influx of international clubs and national teams on U.S. soil for summer friendlies, but the media’s ears are finally starting to perk up and realize that soccer is actually pretty popular on this side of the pond and bringing in profits. More news on that from NBC’s ProSoccer Talk below.
Plus, more on Brek Shea’s troubles, and why keeping Shea off the field right now might be the best thing for his future.
From the World Football Challenge to international friendlies on U.S. soil between top clubs abroad and even national teams “the high season of highly profitable friendlies is upon us,” writes NBC’s Pro Soccer Talk, and the media is – finally – all over it.
As a case-study in the increasing media interest in these games, tonight’s passing and trapping from Toyota Park will be live-blogged, and how about that?
A few years ago, a team like Aston Villa could have come over to the United States, and the only media mention would be the maddeningly cliché “Fans like them some soccer” story in the local paper.
Washington Post’s Soccer Insider has a list of all of this summer’s friendlies on North American soil.
Major League Soccer
Sebastian Le Toux takes the field for the Red Bulls this afternoon for the first time against his former club, Philadelphia Union. And his old teammates say that Le Toux’s presence on their Eastern Conference rival’s squad will add even greater motivation to win.
“I think it will be a little more intense,” center back Amobi Okugo said. “I know some fans are still upset with the way he left and everything. But we forgot about that. And now that he’s a New York Red Bull, we’re not going to play him lightly or anything just because he’s our old friend.”
The Red Bulls aren’t done wheeling and dealing since the Le Toux trade. Today they traded forward Quincy Amarikwa to Toronto for a conditional draft pick.
Toronto FC have acquired French forward Eric Hassli from the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and an international roster slot, the clubs announced Friday.
“Adding a player of Eric’s ability gives an immediate improvement to our club,” said Toronto FC head coach and director of soccer operations Paul Mariner in conference call. “He has had a lot of success in this league and we are pleased to bring him to Toronto.”
With the addition of Scottish DP forward Kenny Miller and the emergence of rookie Darren Mattocks, Hassli found himself increasingly relegated to the bench in Vancouver, though Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie admitted the decision to trade the player was not an easy one.
Yesterday we reported on Brek Shea’s recent struggles, and it looks even more like Shea may need some more time away from the field before he can control his emotional outbursts. ProSoccerTalk reported this morning that Shea was dismissed from practice on Friday and could be held out of Dallas’s match with Portland this evening. Manager Schellas Hyndman is no stranger to this type of situation, having dealt with a similar issue with now New York Red Bull Dax McCarty a few years back:
McCarty was benched for his attitude and for general grousing about. Hyndman was still new as FC Dallas’ manager, and he was giving minutes to players who were clearly lesser talented.
The coach was taking a lot of public criticism for it, too. People wondered if the longtime college coach simply didn’t recognize the kind of talent it took to perform professionally.
But Hyndman told me privately at the time that McCarty’s attitude was awful. The coach told me that he could “deal with the problem right now, or that he’d be dealing with it later.”
Long story short, McCarty shaped up, and look at that guy now; he’s having a sensational season for the Red Bulls. McCarty has told me since that he was young and being a brat and needed to be benched.
English Premier League
The rumors about Clint Dempsey to Liverpool continue to heat up, as the Daily Mail today reported that Liverpool could be looking to sweeten the pot for Fulham with midfielder Charlie Adam in exchange for Dempsey’s services. Think we’ll see Dempsey in a Liverpool kit back in the States this summer?
Follow @AerysSoccer on Twitter for more commentary on this weekend’s MLS matchups, international friendlies, and of course, transfer rumors!