As we grind our way from the post-Confederations Cup glow to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, things in the American soccer world have slowed down quite a bit. There was the rash of U.S. Open Cup upsets last night, tonight's much-anticipated Seattle SOunders-Portland Timbers Open Cup match, but not much else going on really.
There are still plenty of topics to address, so here are some notes, thoughts and topics to discuss this Wednesday:
Wondering why that player is still on your MLS team's roster even though it seemed by all accounts that the player would be cut today, July 1st, when MLS contracts become guaranteed? You probably forgot that MLS teams are allowed to designate two players into a non-guaranteed mode after July 1st. Of course, the players have to agree to make that switch.
So why would a player agree to have that guaranteed protectection removed from their roster? They could be faced with either agreeing to that or being waived immediately. On rare occasions, such as with John Wolyniec last season, players survive that and stay the whole season. In cases such as Khano Smith, who sources tell me is one of the Red Bulls players to agree to that this season, it just means his departure from the team will come later. In Smith's case, it will probably come once Ernst Obster is eligible to join the Red Bulls on July 15th.
There has been some questioning of why exactly the U.S. national team was given seven extra roster slots for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. According to my sources, the United States never asked for them. For some reason, CONCACAF felt compelled to help the US national team out. So will this mean a 30-player traveling party for the United States? Not really. It simply means that some players will be named who only join the United States for training and games at specific venues. Who might that include? Don't be surprised if Brian McBride makes that list. With the Gold Cup semifinals slated for Soldier Field, it would be a nice touch to have him train with the U.S. team and suit up for a match (assuming the United States gets that far).
Another note regarding the U.S. national team. I know there's growing concern about Michael Bradley and a possible suspension for his alleged altercation with referee Jorge Larrionda. While nobody knows exactly where the FIFA investigation of the incident stands, what I can piece together is that there should be no worries about Bradley missing the World Cup Qualifier vs. Mexico on Aug. 12th. Even if he is suspended by FIFA he would be able to be named to the Gold Cup roster and serve out any suspension during that tournament.
So what exactly happened? What I have heard is that Bradley made some remarks toward Larrionda after the match when the two crossed paths, but that reports of Bradley attempting to "attack" Larrionda (which came from Spanish media) are grossly inaccurate.
More Fire talk: Sources within MLS are denying the SBI report about a French club making a bid for Chicago defender Bakary Soumare. We will stick with our story and see where the big Malian winds up come August.
In more European transfer news, Karim Benzema is on his way to Real Madrid, joining Kaka and Ronaldo (and possibly Franck Ribery as well). Benzema has been a beast for Lyon, but has never really looked THAT impressive for France. It may be hard for Benzema to NOT impress with players like Ronaldo and Kaka around him. What this all means for Gonzalo Higuain remains to be seen.
A special thank you goes out to all SBI readers for helping make June a record-breaking month for us traffic-wise. We will look to keep it going in what continues to be a great summer for American soccer.
That's all for now. Please feel free to share your thoughts on today's Mid-Day Musings in the comments section below.