By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
As someone who is more or less a neutral when it comes to MLS teams – I vowed to support whatever team is closest to wherever my job is located after graduation, I’m always amused by MLS offseason transactions. Sure, there are always a bunch of Colombians signed, and the odd designated player no one has heard of who is doomed to play 12 matches and then sign with some mid-level team in Paraguay. But the thing I am always struck by is how many stunningly mediocre MLS vets continue to get signed by new teams – probably at or near their already exorbitant wages. Here are a few examples:
John Thorrington (MF, DC United). Previously played for: Chicago Fire, Vancouver Whitecaps. When Thorrington was younger, he was a serviceable winger, but now he’s 33. Last year, Thorrington made $170,000, which is more than All-MLS defender Young-Pyo Lee or up-and-coming midfielder Gershon Koffie made for the Caps – heck, it was almost four times the amount San Jose paid Steven Beitashour, one of the best players in the league. For this salary, Thorrington contributed one assist in 19 games – which was an improvement over the previous year. In the last 7 years, he’s made 89 appearances total. He probably didn’t sign with DC for $170,000, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the figure was still over $100,000.
Maicon Santos (F, Chicago). Previously played for: Chivas USA, Toronto, FC Dallas, DC United. I get the attraction with Santos – he’s big, he’s Brazilian, he occasionally scores goals in bunches. Unfortunately, as his previous four MLS employers have found, when he’s not scoring goals – and let’s face it, 21 in 88 matches does not count as prolific – he does little else. Don’t worry, Fire fans, based on his past history, it’s doubtful he’ll be with the team by the time the playoffs roll around. I’m going to guess and say he’ll be with Columbus. Here’s a video of Maicon Santos in action.
Eric Brunner (D, Houston). Previously played for: New York, Columbus, Portland. At one point Brunner was seen as a rising star in U.S. soccer ranks, but two seasons in Portland exposed him as a lightweight (despite his height) central defender who doesn’t move particularly well and struggles at set pieces. On the bright side, it’s hard to see him displacing Hainault and Boswell in the Dynamo defense, so as long as they stay healthy …
Chad Barrett (F, New England). Previously played for: Chicago, Toronto, LA Galaxy. Oh, Chad Barrett. Perhaps it’s his Wayne Rooney-esque stature that keeps getting Barrett jobs, because it can’t be his goal-scoring. Barrett’s two-year stint in Los Angeles saw him score 8 goals in 45 matches – and that’s with the likes of Donovan, Juninho, Beckham and Keane supplying him. For this, he was paid more than $250,000 each year. By way of comparison, Alan Gordon, who scored 13 goals in 23 matches for San Jose, earned $120,000. With his average of a goal ever five matches and joining a Revs team without LA’s firepower, he’s got to be at least good for 2 or 3 this year.
Dan Gargan and Ty Harden (D, San Jose). Previously played for: Colorado, Chivas USA, Toronto, Chicago (Gargan); LA Galaxy, Colorado, Toronto (Harden). After earning the MLS Supporter Shield last year for best regular season record, apparently Earthquakes execs decided they wanted no part of success this year by signing two players that are undeniably among the worst regular starters (though in fairness to Harden, his time as a regular starter has rapidly faded) in the MLS. I don’t have much in the way of stats to support this argument, except to say that both played regularly for Toronto in the last two years.
Good luck, MLS fans!
1 – 1. Sporting Kansas City (5-0-0 – 15 pts, 8 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat LA Galaxy 1-0. Kansas City escapes from their match with the Galaxy unscathed. Next up is Real Salt Lake, who at least based on form, look like their principal challenger so far. Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday
2 – 2. Real Salt Lake (5-0-1 – 15 pts, 11 gf, 4 ga). This week: Beat Colorado 2-0; Beat Montreal 1-0. Probably most impressive about RSL’s win over Colorado is that except for an early chance for Omar Cummings, the Rapids never really looked like scoring. Up next: At Sporting Kansas City on Saturday
3 – 4. San Jose Earthquakes (4-0-1 – 12 pts, 8 gf, 2 ga). This week: Beat Vancouver 3-1. For most of the first half and part of the second half against Vancouver, the Quakes looked like they were headed for their second loss of the season. Then suddenly they caught fire. Is this a good team? I’m still not totally convinced, but maybe. Up next: At New York on Saturday
4 – 3. Seattle Sounders (2-1-1 – 7 pts, 5 gf, 2 ga). This week: Drew 0-0 with DC United. Aside from David Estrada’s hat trick against Toronto in the opener, Seattle has looked out of sorts offensively. Can Eddie Johnson be the answer? Ha ha, I just made myself spit coffee all over the keyboard. Up next: Colorado on Saturday
5 – 10. New York Red Bulls (3-0-2 – 9 pts, 14 gf, 8 ga) This week: Beat Columbus 4-1. That now makes three straight matches where the Red Bulls have scored four or more against awful defending. Can they do the same against a resolute and composed San Jose defense? Up next: San Jose on Saturday
6 – 6. Houston Dynamo (2-0-1 – 6 pts, 2 gf, 2 ga). This week: Didn’t play. Two bye weeks in a row? That’s the most ridiculous scheduling thing the MLS has done in the last day or so. Houston is playing Chicago without Brad Davis. Up next: At Chicago on Sunday
7 – 5. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-2-1 – 8 pts, 4 gf, 3 ga). This week: Lost 3-1 to San Jose. For 65 minutes, the Whitecaps looked comfortably superior to San Jose, before the wheels came off. Now their shutout streak is up, and they still can’t seem to score. Up next: Kansas City on April 18
8 – 7. Colorado Rapids (3-0-2 – 9 pts, 7 gf, 7 ga). This week: Lost to Real Salt Lake 2-0. Against RSL, Colorado showed worrying signs of the haphazard defense that they exhibited against New York. They can’t afford to do that against the Sounders. Up next: At Seattle on Saturday
9 – 11. Chicago Fire (1-1-1 – 4 pts, 2 gf, 3 ga). This week: Didn’t play. The Fire moved up in the rankings thanks to some less than impressive performances by some of the MLS’ other mid0table clubs. An understrength Dynamo squad should be a good team to rediscover their scoring form against. Up next: Houston on Sunday
10 – 15. FC Dallas (2-1-2 – 7 pts, 6 gf, 8 ga). This week: Beat New England 1-0. Despite the late win against New England, Dallas dominated the contest and deserved a 2- or 3-goal victory, which certainly helps fans forget how awful they’ve been so far. Plus, Brek Shea actually showed up! Up next: Montreal on Saturday
11 – 8. LA Galaxy (1-0-3 – 3 pts, 5 gf, 8 ga). This week: Lost to Kansas City 1-0. A visit from the reeling Timbers represents a perfect opportunity for the Galaxy to turn around their extremely indifferent start to the season. Up next: Portland on Seattle
12 – 13. DC United (1-2-2 – 5 pts, 5 gf, 5 ga). This week: Drew 0-0 with Seattle. United are probably disappointed only to draw against Seattle, which represents a positive step for the team after their rough start. Up next: At New England on Saturday
13 – 9. Columbus Crew (2-0-2 – 6 pts, 4 gf, 6 ga). This week: Lost to New York 4-1. Everyone’s getting thumped by the Red Bulls right now, but how bad were the Crew in that match? Yeesh. Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday
14 – 12. New England Revolution (2-0-3 – 6 pts, 4 gf, 6 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Dallas. After back to back wins, the Revs returned to Earth with a thump against Dallas, though they looked oh so close to grabbing an undeserved point. Up next: DC United on Saturday
15 – 16. Chivas USA (2-0-3 – 6 pts, 3 gf, 4 ga). This week: Beat Portland 2-1. Chivas could very well finish the season with 42 points in 11th place this year, and every week I’ll say the same thing: This team isn’t very good. But they defend OK, at least. Up next: At Toronto on Saturday
16 – 14. Portland Timbers (1-1-3 – 4 pts, 7 gf, 8 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Chivas USA. A visit to the struggling Galaxy represents an opportunity for the Timbers to forget their troubles of the last three weeks. Or lose by three goals. Up next: At LA Galaxy on Saturday
17-18. Montreal Impact (1-1-4 – 4 pt, 5 gf, 12 ga). This week: Beat Toronto 2-1; Lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake. The Impact won one and lost one last week, but played well in both matches. They don’t look like a playoff team, but they can certainly hang with teams like Toronto and Philadelphia. Up next: At FC Dallas on Saturday
18 – 17. Philadelphia Union (0-1-3 – 1 pt, 2 gf, 6 ga). This week: Didn’t play. The Union had the week off. Maybe a little rest – and taking on the still-embarrassed Crew – can see them notch their first win of the year. Up next: Columbus on Saturday
19 – 19. Toronto FC (0-0-4 – 0 pts, 2 gf, 9 ga). This week: Lost to Montreal 2-1. Don’t be surprised of Aron Winter’s “Total Football” experiment comes to a premature conclusion if Toronto can’t beat Chivas this weekend. Up next: Chivas USA on Saturday
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood*Games to watch ^Games not to watch
All times Pacific, as usual
New England (3-5-4 at home) v New York (1-8-4 away). (4:30 p.m.) New York somehow contrived to draw at home with Chicago in a match they might even have been lucky to draw. New England continues to be terrible, getting hammered at Columbus. The Revs are virtually out of the playoff race at this point. New York is treading dangerously close to dropping out of it themselves. But, and this seems to be an ongoing mantra with this team, they should be good enough to win this game. But … Prediction: 2-2
*Columbus (7-4-1) v Philadelphia (3-4-4). (4:30 p.m.) Columbus hammered New England to pull alone into first in the East. Philadelphia is running second after escaping with a home draw against Dallas. This will be an important game in the race for first in the East, though I’m not sure that really matters anyway. Prediction: Columbus 2-1
Houston (7-3-3) v Real Salt Lake (2-3-4). (5:30 p.m.) Houston have been a decent team at home, most recently beating Seattle and Portland there. Real Salt Lake have been disappointing this year, though they figure to be dangerous when they reach the playoffs. Prediction: 1-1
*FC Dallas (8-3-2) v Seattle (5-5-3). (6 p.m.) Dallas should have beaten Philadelphia last week, only to have George John sent off and then conceding a penalty late in the game. They did become the first MLS team ever to win in Mexico after beating Pumas in midweek in the Champions League. Seattle have been good this year, and also won convincingly in the Champions League. The question with this match is, will two sort of tired teams cancel themselves out? Prediction: Dallas 1-0
Colorado (5-6-2) v Chivas USA (3-5-4). (6 p.m.) Colorado continues to roll on. They’ve only lost once in their last 10 in all competitions, and that was a close match against Seattle. They won in midweek Champions League play despite having a player sent off and being horrendous in defense. Chivas have played well lately, though it remains to be seen if Juan Pablo Angel revitalizes one of the weaker attacks in the league. I’m going to say, probably not. But still, they look like they could be a playoff team. Prediction: Colorado 2-1
Portland (6-2-4) v Vancouver (0-4-9). (7 p.m.) Normally this match would be a match not to watch, but given that there is a regional rivalry born in the USL here, and the fact that Portland HAS TO win this match, it could be a fun match. Vancouver could pull this out – Portland are playing their third match in a week, but more likely is that the Timbers will win. Still, they’re probably not reaching the playoffs this year. Prediction: Portland 2-0
LA Galaxy (7-5-0) v San Jose (2-3-5). (7:30 p.m.) This match will be interesting because Robbie Keane – who I expect to be very good in the MLS – is playing his first match for the Galaxy. He makes probably the best team in the MLS even better. San Jose are lousy and are probably one more loss from just playing out the string. You have to feel sorry for Frank Yallop – his player decisions sounded decent in theory, but the players drafted in to replace those moved on just haven’t produced. Prediction: LA 3-0
^Chicago (1-8-2) v Toronto FC (0-6-7). (4 p.m.) Both teams are fairly bad, though Toronto are undefeated in six, which is probably why I have to pick this as a draw. Prediction: 68-68
Sporting Kansas City (5-4-1) v DC United (4-4-3 away). (5:30 p.m.) United are making a serious bid for the playoffs, or possibly (though unlikely) the top spot in the East. Kansas City have also been great since their great road trip to open the season ended. KC are almost done with their enormous stretch of home matches, so they need to get three points here. Prediction: KC 2-1
By Jeremiah Paschke-WoodSimon Dawkins
Team: San Jose Earthquakes (On loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
More: On loan to the Earthquakes from Tottenham until November … has played for Spurs since 2004 … made 11 appearances for English League One side Leyton Orient in 2008-09 … Has 4 four goals in 11 appearances so far for San Jose.
1. As a Tottenham Hotspur player, is there any other club you hate more than Arsenal?
No, just Arsenal.
2. How does playing in the MLS differ from playing in England?
There is not much difference really, except the travelling can get hard at times.
3. Is there any possibility you could extend your stay in the United States?
Anything is a possibility, but I will see what happens when I return to England in November.
4. Aside from Spurs and the Earthquakes, do you have any other favorite club teams?
Barcelona, because they are the best team to ever play the game.
5. What players have you modeled your game after or took inspiration from?
I have not really modeled my game after anyone as I am trying to create my own style, but I have taken great inspiration from Ronaldinho – how he enjoys playing with a smile on his face and is always happy.
6. How do you rate the Earthquakes’ chances of making the playoffs and competing for the MLS Cup?
The chances are very high as long as we can keep getting the results and playing well, we have a great chance.
7. Which do you prefer, London in December or San Jose in May?
London in December is my birthday so it is kind of difficult … Too difficult to answer.
8. If you were allowed a specific song to be played when you were subbed into a match, what would it be?
“I’m going in” by Lil’ Wayne
9. How would you describe your style of play?
Stylish and at times flamboyant.
10. Beyonce or Katy Perry? (Note: “Neither” is an acceptable answer)
I’m going to say Beyonce.
So in two separate trades, DC United acquired Dwayne DeRosario from the New York Red Bulls and Brandon McDonald from the Earthquakes. The Red Bulls picked up Dax McCarty from United. I believe the McDonald trade was done for picks and/or allocation money.
I think it’s likely that United are starting to think they might have a shot at the playoffs. DeRosario adds some offense to the team, though you get the feeling no one loves playing with him too much. McDonald is much-needed on the defensive side of the ball, where DC definitely needs help.
From the Red Bulls’ perspective, maybe this will shore up their ball retention in midfield, or maybe they just needed less ego? I’m not sure.