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Recapping the week: Catching up on MLS news and some recommended reading


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Good afternoon folks. With another week in the rearview mirror, and another weekend upon us where we can relax and enjoy some soccer, here is a look back at some stories I missed during the week, some hot topics I wanted to touch on and some recommended reading:

The San Jose-Houston Dynamo match set for this weekend has been postponed as Houston recovers from Hurricane Ike. The match has been rescheduled for Oct. 15.

Rumors are swirling that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has his eye on U.S. national team prodigy Charles Renken. That’s all well and good but some people need to realize that Renken can’t sign a professional contract outside the United States until he turns 18. For those unfamiliar with Renken’s story, here is a great piece on Renken by colleague Justin Rodriguez.

Although you can’t watch Clint Dempsey play for Fulham these days since he’s been glued to the bench, you can read all about him in this amazingly in-depth piece on Dempsey by fellow Designated Player Adam Spangler of This Is American Soccer. It’s a must-read.

FC Dallas rookie and U.S. youth national team player Brek Shea is out for the season with a torn meniscus in his right knee. He made just two first-team appearances this year, logging 17 minutes. Before the injury, FC Dallas had begun using Shea in central defense, moving him over from his previous wing midfield role. Whether that becomes  a permanent move both on the club and country level remains to be seen and will be an interesting process to watch once he recovers and starts playing again.

Fans who are already stirring up the Macoumba Kandji hype machine can halt one theme I’ve already started to see. Kandji has made it clear that he plans on playing for Senegal once his asylum status in the United States is resolved. Right now Kandji cannot travel outside of the United States until his status is clarified, which is the only reason he hasn’t attended a Senegal national team camp yet, and the reason why he missed out on a chance to make the Senegalese Olympic team.

So no, Kandji isn’t in the U.S. national team mix, but he should make his MLS debut next Saturday for the Red Bulls against the Colorado Rapids, who interestingly enough will include Jamaican striker Omar Cummings. The Red Bulls made a major move for Cummings, but were rebuffed and eventually settled on Kandji.

That’s all for now. If some other stories or thoughts come to mind I will add them here. For now, share your thoughts on any of these subjects or stories in the comments section below.


  1. I’m not saying the US system is bad, but singing its praises for producing our national team isn’t the way to back your claim. With the amount of players that get called to Bradenton each go-round, it’s not like it’s very surprising that we get good ones.

    The point is, Bradenton has produced how many world-class stars? Arsenal, on the other hand, is one of the single best youth academies in the world, to which Bradenton doesn’t really come close.

  2. “So what if he can’t sign a pro contract before 18? He can go to their academy like the Silva twins at ManU, Messi at Barcelona, etc.

    Personally, I hope he does, because he’ll develop very little at the US Academy.”

    Because Bradenton has only developed pretty much all of the best US MNT players.

    Seriously, the US Youth set-up is one of the few great things about US Soccer. You need to look at exactly how many of our best players went through Bradenton/US Youth Soccer, not to mention Subotic.

    I think there’s a few loopholes in the rule. If a parent moves with him, I think he’s compeltely kosher.

    I also think there’s a loophole in that you don’t sign a full professional contract but get full residency and can train with the youth team as long as you’re enrolled in school. I could be way off on that, but I seem to remember it…

  3. 4Now, you seem to suggest that the writer made the story up, or at least filled in some blanks based on his own preconceived notions of what life is like in Africa. I would argue that the picture he painted came about because of interviews he did with, among others, Renken. Should Rodriguez be roundly criticized for a skewed portrayal of what life in Africa is like when he was given these descriptions by the subjects of his story? And who is to say the story is inaccurate? Are there not extremes in Africa and isn’t there a possibility that Renken rose up from the extremes of the poverty in Central Africa?

    In the end, I thought it was a good story from a writer whose work I’m familiar with, and who is a colleague at If you had a problem with the story then that’s well within your rights, but to criticize me for not being as critical, or for not finding the same faults with it as you when clearly I don’t have the same background on some of these issues as you do is a bit much.

  4. If Macoumba has and needs asylum, isn’t that because he can’t safely return to his country? If so, then how, and why, would he would play for their national team?

  5. So what if he can’t sign a pro contract before 18? He can go to their academy like the Silva twins at ManU, Messi at Barcelona, etc.

    Personally, I hope he does, because he’ll develop very little at the US Academy.

  6. 4now,

    I think that first and foremost Ives should not be held responsible for the Renken article. That said I think you do have a point about the rehashing of stereotypical and demeaning narratives about African poverty. This cannot be overlooked.

    Nonetheless, I think the main point of the article is that something extraordinary happened to cause a mother to allow two of her children to be adopted by another family living worlds away. Indeed, regardless of the problems with the narrative, this young man and his family shall now most likely be able to live in comfort. Moreover, Renken also seems to be willing to play for the US, an indication that he has found a home in America.

    Unfortunately, I would hope that there would be more stories about Africans staying home and finding prosperity at home. That these stories don’t exist in America makes this story all the more glaringly demeaning. The fault then is not with the writer of the Renken article (aside from perhaps the condescension towards African poverty) or with Ives, but with the misconceptions of African poverty in America that makes Renken’s story seem like the only kind of story that exists.

    I am deeply sorry that this is the case, but I don’t feel that being angry with Ives or with the writer helps change the kind of stories that appear. Perhaps, somebody like Grant Wahl could chronicle the life of a player like Didier Drogba who plays such an important political role in Cote D’Ivoire, because I think in that story we would see more about what makes a person love his homeland.

  7. Hi Ives,

    Yes, I lived and worked in Central Africa for quite some time, and will continue to do so.

    Look, it is not that he is fabricating or inventing here, it is the fact that that he is depicting a place and many complex situations based on (I would assume) total speculation and heresay – in short, his own doomsday/one-dimensional idea of what constitutes the kind settings and challenges young Mr. Bimbe faced. And where does that come from.

    The problem is that these kind of representations give a really, really distorted picture of life on the ground in these really real settings with really real people.

    Like I said, he uses an 18th century notion of Zambia to work for his hero/savior story of this young phenom. In so doing, he perpetuates stereotypes.

    The worst part about it is that he has no idea that he is doing it. Nor do many readers seem to have a sense that they are just soaking it up. Nor do you, Ives, when you qualify it as “great”.

    That means something. I and a whole lot of other people come to this site (10, 15, 25 times a day even!) because we trust your judgment. With that judgment comes a responsibilty to be critical. I know you are under the gun. I know you work your tail off – you must. And its the reason why you now speak to a wider audience (from the Jersey flavor to the American voice, right?).

    As a big fan who admires and trusts your work, I was disappointed, and I felt compelled to say so, knowing/hoping that you would listen – because of your integrity as a blogger who has a commimtment to his readership.

    Thanks in advance,


  8. Wendel, Kandji cannot travel to Canada. This was an issue for him recently with Seattle where he had to miss a game at Vancouver. This is also the reason that Toronto FC didn’t pursue him after having some initial interest in him.

  9. 4Now, I have to trust the reporter is telling an accurate story. I’m familiar with his work and he’s done good stuff in the past. I know you’re very familiar with Africa so if you’re telling me that his depiction is inaccurate then I’ll take that into consideration but blaming me for not being able to verify every detail of what I thought was a well-written story seems a bit misguided.

  10. Ives, I disagree with you regarding the Rodriquez article.

    It is a sensationalist and grossly irresponsible depiction of the struggles of urban life in Central Africa.

    His portrayal of urban Lusaka only functions within this hero/savior narrative he’s constructed —- Charles was SAVED and now he will SAVE US Soccer…

    Its almost like he went trope shopping at WalMart.

    Dreadful reporting that someone of your caliber should not be advocating Ives.

  11. “Right now Kandji cannot travel outside of the United States until his status is clarified […].”

    does that mean that kandjo couldnt play in an away game against TFC?

  12. Those people Sonic, are what we like to call idiots.

    I’m sorry but anyone who wants to see an unproven mls talent whos only proved himself on the USL level and isnt even an american citizen get a look from our national team is a clear idiot. has to be.

  13. I found it very funny how some people were calling for Kandji to be called in to the US camp, but had not even seen the guy play. Too, too funny.


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