MLS Cup: Shaking the MLS grapevine

MLS Cup: Shaking the MLS grapevine

Major League Soccer

MLS Cup: Shaking the MLS grapevine

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Good morning folks. It is the day after the 2008 MLS Cup and, as always, the MLS Cup weekend provided a great environment for stories to emerge, rumors to surface and the future plans of MLS teams to take shape.

Here are some of the highlights of what I heard from Major League Soccer's movers and shakers during the past five days in Los Angeles:

Chad Marshall is looking like a good bet to move abroad. The 2008 MLS defender of the year and Columbus Crew playoff hero is out of contact and European clubs have already expressed interest. The Crew would be hard-pressed to pay Marshall a salary that would make him pass on the golden opportunity to enter the European market as a free agent. For those of you who haven't seen it, here is my story on Marshall for ESPN.com.

After Sunday's MLS Cup final victory, Columbus owner Clark Hunt said he believes the Crew will be able to re-sign Sigi Schmid as head coach this off-season. While that is certainly a possibility, Columbus will have to show Schmid the money in order to keep him from taking the Seattle Sounders FC job, which Schmid is a candidate for.

Even if Schmid stays in Columbus, Seattle has a very good candidate in New England assistant Paul Mariner, who sources tell me had a good interview with the expansion group.

Marshall isn't the only MLS Best XI defender who could be on the move to Europe this winter. Chicago Fire defender Bakary Soumare is drawing considerable interest from European suitors who are enamored with his size, athleticism and French passport. For those wondering, Soumare did not join Mali for last week's friendly vs. Algeria, so his options are still open on the national team front even though he recently stated his plans to commit to Mali.

Don't be surprised if we see a Mike Petke return to New York. The long-time New York MetroStar defender is not in the future plans of his current club, the Colorado Rapids, and just might provide the veteran presence and depth in the back that Juan Carlos Osorio will be looking to add for 2009. While it was almost a decade ago, Osorio was the MetroStars assistant in 2000, when Petke was part of arguably the best defense in club history (alongside Steve Jolley and Daniel Hernandez). Osorio also got a first-hand look at what Petke can still do when Petke scored a goal against the Red Bulls this year.

Claudio Lopez had an up and down year as Kansas City's first designated player, but don't rule out his return in 2009. The Wizards want Lopez back and might be able to bring him back for a non-DP slot in 2009. If KC can pull that off, and fill its DP slot with an impact striker, the Wizards have the pieces in place to do in 2009 what the Crew did in 2008.

In other Claudio news, Chivas USA defender Claudio Suarez is considering a return in 2009. He didn't enjoy his best season in 2008 (which was supposed to be his last before retiring), but the soon-to-be 40-year-old Mexican legend is still a good presence in the locker room and would be welcomed back if he wants to return.

One of the hottest commodities in the MLS trade market is Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Chris Seitz. The U.S. youth national team standout is stuck as Nick Rimando's back-up and teams from Los Angeles to Toronto FC have expressed strong interest in his services.

Another RSL player who could be on the move is Chris Wingert. The versatile fullback enjoyed a breakout season with the Western Conference club and is seeking a new contract as reward. The only problem is RSL has already had to re-work deals for attacking stars Yura Movsisyan and Javier Morales. Given the presence of other fullback options, such as Tony Beltran, Robbie Russell and Ian Joy, you have to wonder if Wingert will stay in Utah after being one of RSL's steadiest performers this year.

Tony Meola is set to interview for the general manager position with the new Philadelphia expansion team. KC sporting director Peter Vermes is looking like he will stay put in Kansas City after initially looking like a strong candidate join the Philadelphia front office.

That is all for now. I will have some more Red Bulls notes later today. and will add other MLS tidbits as they become available. These are just some of the highlights from the weekend.

What do you think of these developments? Share your thoughts below.

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