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Monday Morning Centerback: The Talent Hunt

Good morning everybody. The New Year began last week, but this is the first real serious week of business in the American soccer world.

Consider everything going on this week:

  • Potential European transfers of Brad Guzan and Eddie Johnson
  • U.S. national team camp
  • U.S. Under-23 national team camp
  • MLS Combine
  • Chicago Fire coaching decision

Between all of this AND the crazy European transfer market activity, there should be tons of news to discuss today and the rest of the week.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these subjects:

Potential transfers for Guzan and Johnson


Brad Guzan has been linked to Celtic, Olympiakos and Arsenal while Eddie Johnson has been tied to Reading, Derby, Fulham and most recently Benfica.

Johnson’s departure has been expected for some time, but you have to wonder how Chivas USA would handle the loss of Brad Guzan, particularly after trading away backup goalkeeper Preston Burpo.

That won’t be of concern to Guzan, who is reaping the rewards of a strong MLS season as well as impressive showing on the Generation adidas tour of Spain, where he enjoyed an inspired performance against Real Madrid’s reserves. There were apparently quite a few scouts in attendance for that match, which has only helped boost the interest in Guzan.

U.S. national team camp


Bob Bradley is putting his MLS-heavy group of players through their paces in rain-soaked California and these next few weeks should be telling for several national team hopefuls. You have Jozy Altidore, Chris Rolfe, Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark, Eddie Robinson, Drew Moor, Matt Pickens and Zack Wells as some of the more intriguing players to watch in camp. The real playing should start this week and the best place to follow along with the camp is

U.S. Under-23 national team camp

The MLS Combine doesn’t officially begin until Saturday but there will be an informal combine going on at the U-23 national team camp. Several MLS coaches will attend training sessions for Peter Nowak’s team in an attempt to get a better sense of where some top MLS draft prospects stand. Julian Valentin, Eric Avila, Stephen King and Pat Phelan will draw some strong attention from MLS coaches looking for a quality first-round option.

MLS Combine

College seniors and a select number of underclassmen will converge on Ft. Lauderdale to show their stuff to MLS clubs this weekend. Yes, the current scouting system is flawed, and it is a shame on some levels that draft value can hinge so much on a few scrimmages, but this is where decisions are made by MLS teams looking for the next Clint Dempsey or Jozy Altidore.

SBI will be in Ft. Lauderdale for all the festivities and will look to keep you fully informed of all the action and behind the scenes activities in the former home of the Miami Fusion.

Chicago Fire coaching decision

We should find out either today or tomorrow who the fourth head coach in Chicago Fire history will be. Denis Hamlett and Mike Jeffries are the strong candidates while John Spencer’s candidacy has picked up steam. As soon as I find out who the choice is I will pass it along.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more news and analysis throughout the day.


  1. Actually, I think EJ will go. And although I am not his biggest fan, I think that he suits the English game. He is probably not multidimensional enough to thrive there, but there is a place in the English game for a big guy with his speed. He will basically be asked to run on to service. That he can do.

  2. BK,

    I’m not even bashing EJ on that one (for once). Its more that the British press posts garbage all the time. I think a move for him would happen in the Summer Transfer window if at all.

    I’d be happy to be wrong. Not a fan of his at all, but if he has any shot at reaching the potential that others see, it come out by going overseas.

  3. DannyC,

    you’re probably right. I can’t imagine anyone is looking at old EJ game tape and thinking he’s anything other than speed, but you never know. Maybe people feel like he’s just not polished, but I see it more as him just being lazy and content with giving minimal effort.

  4. Ives-
    Does your post about the Fire coaching search mean that Mariner has dropped out of the race? Because if thats the case I would hope Hamlett gets the job because I am less than impressed with any candidate other than Mariner

  5. I bet Eddie Johnson ends up going nowhere. Very few of the rumors are from strong sources, or maybe its cause he’s not viewed as a significant signing. Not sure, but the “sources” are super weak.

  6. Great article, Ives. I’ve been on vacation for a while so I haven’t been able to keep up with SBI as faithfully as I usually do, but I have to really congratulate on your new endeavor. Thus far, things look incredible.

    As much as I can’t stand EJ, I would like to see him end up at Reading. Reading could use a pacey forward to pair with Doyle up top. Leroy Lita seems to have all but disappeared this year for some reason. Johnson should avoid Derby since we all know they will not be playing in the Premiership next year. Fulham would be nice, but I don’t think he has the work rate for a team like Fulham. Benfica, that’s an interesting scenario. He is not as game ready and talented on the ball as Freddy, so I would assume if he ends up at Benfica, he will flop. He’s always seemed extremely lazy to me and that won’t go over real well at Benfica I wouldn’t think. Not when they’re one of the best teams in Portugal.

  7. I’m glad you’re going down to cover the combine!

    I hope Johnson and Guzan get to see some starting time wherever they go; for that reason, I can’t see Arsenal being a good fit for Guzan.


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