By MIKE DONOVAN
Real Salt Lake could soon be bolstering their roster with a veteran player that has played at the highest levels.
Former Jamaican captain Ricardo Gardner has joined RSL this week on a trial basis. Gardner is best known for playing 14 seasons with the Bolton Wanderers and his performance in the 1998 World Cup for the Reggae Boyz. Despite being 35 years-old and having not played in 2013, Gardner might provide depth at the outside back positions.
Head coach Jason Kreis told the Salt Lake Tribune that the team struggled when starters Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert missed time recently.
“We have to look at the results we had and ask ourselves a question whether we should be trying to get stronger in the back,” he said. “Because when we missed our main guys we gave up a whole lot of goals. It’s an evaluation process we have to do, and we have to consider at least trying to get better.”
Here are some more news and notes from around the Western Conference heading into MLS Week 25 action:
Bobby Burling made his return from concussion Sunday, as the defender played seven minutes in Chivas USA’s 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids. It was the first time the 28-year-old had seen MLS action in a month. Unfortunately for Burling, he sustained a knock to the head in the Goats’ reserve match on Monday.
“I felt pretty good. I came back from a concussion and just like that I got kicked in the head in the last play there, so for precautionary matters, they kept me away from the game and from coming right back in,” Burling told the club’s website. “But I felt pretty good to get some fitness back and to get back into the group and it definitely felt good to play a game.”
Less than a week after signing with the Colorado Rapids, Uruguayan forward Vicente Sanchez made his MLS debut in Colorado’s 1-1 draw with Chivas USA Sunday night. Sanchez, who came on as a second-half substitute, rattled the crossbar in his debut.
“First of all, I felt good physically,” the 33-year-old Sanchez told the club’s website. “I have to thank my teammates and the coaching staff that in one week, they gave me the confidence to be able to play.”
FC Dallas has emerged as the city of Dallas’ choice to operate a youth soccer complex that is being built in the Northwest part of the city. The $31 million Elm Fork Athletic Complex will be ran by the club and will host the annual Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup.
The terms of the deal, which were disclosed by the Dallas Morning News, show that the city of Dallas will pay the subsidiary of Hunt Sports Group $818,008 a year for the next five years, with two more five-year renewable options to operate and maintain the site. The contract will likely be signed by the city council in September.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The LA Galaxy’s struggles with set-piece defending throughout the season came to a head Sunday as the club conceded three times to FC Dallas on set pieces. It was also the second time this season that FC Dallas has taken points from LA after scoring on a set piece.
“It’s been the story of the whole year, our set pieces, where we end up falling asleep and they end up getting a goal,” centerback Omar Gonzalez told the club’s website. “It’s just a matter of putting everything you have into that, into that, 15- or 30-second play. It just has to be better. Our fight has to be better more so than the guy we’re going up against, and [in this game] it just wasn’t there.”
It has been one year since the Timbers acquired goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from the Montreal Impact in exchange for Troy Perkins. And a year in, the trade has paid dividends for both clubs.
“As you evaluate it over the length of the time of the trade, I think it’s been beneficial to both organizations,” Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson told the Oregonian. “Troy has done very well in Montreal and I think they’re happy with him. I think Ricketts has done very well for us and we’re delighted with how he is performing at the moment.”
Ricketts is currently second in MLS in numerous statistical categories including goals against average, saves percentage, and shutouts.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Despite the academy season being in the offseason, the Earthquakes hosted more than 70 players for a combination camp and tryout at the beginning of the month. Local college coaches from Stanford, Cal, and the University of San Francisco were on hand to speak to the players. The U-18 version of the club is heading into just its fourth season of competition.
Marcus Hahnemann has started the last two matches for the Sounders, but the two victories are nowhere near the most important games in Hahnemann’s Sounders history. Hahnemann led the A-League version of the club to consecutive championships in the mid-90s.
“My biggest Sounder moment was lifting up the trophy at Memorial Stadium,” Hahnemann said to the Seattle Times.
Hahnemann has been starting in place of Michael Gspurning, who has returned to practice from an arm injury and should be healthy for this Saturday’s match against Houston.
A 43-year-old man has been arrested after setting off a marine flare during the Whitecaps 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday. According to the Province newspaper, a woman was taken to the hospital after the flare caused her breathing problems. The Whitecaps have denounced the incident.
“Safety of our fans is paramount, and together with B.C. Place, we are taking this situation very seriously,” the Whitecaps COO Rachel Lewis told the Province.
The suspect, whose name has not been released, is facing charges of mischief, criminal negligence, and common nuisance.
What do you think of RSL having Gardner on trial? What do you make of the situation in Vancouver involving the fan who set off a marine flare? Do you see Burling being available for Chivas USA in the next couple of weeks?
Share your thoughts below.