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SBI’s Mid-Day Musings (Notes on the U.S. Open Cup, Red Bulls and other MLS moves)

Today is one of those days where you watch the clock and count the minutes until game-time, making almost everything else you do in that time just a tad bit more difficult to do.

It's okay, we are all in that boat. I am trying to finish up the Bext XI, Worst XI, Team of the Week this afternoon, but am having a hard time getting it done. I will knock it out before 2pm for those of you who haven't abandoned your computers for a watch party by then.

If you're struggling to get through the day, here are some news, notes and soccer thoughts for you:

The Seattle Sounders defeated the Colorado Rapids, 1-0, in U.S. Open Cup play-in action in Washington. The victory helped the Sounders join D.C. United, Columbus, Chicago, Houston, New England, Chivas USA and Kansas City in the full U.S. Open Cup field. Kevin Forrest scored the lone goal for Seattle. The schedule and opponents for the eight MLS teams should be released today.

Still no word on the New York Red Bulls' plans to sign Academy product Johnny Exantus, but there is at least one sign that seem to point to a signing being likely. The Red Bulls sponsored Exantus' P-1 Visa to return to the United States from France, a sponsorship that lasts five years. The Red Bulls also reached out to Exantus while he was in France on trial with FC Metz and asked him to come train with the Red Bulls. Whether he signs or not, Exantus could have a busy summer. Sources tell me that Exantus could be called into the Haitian national team for the Gold Cup.

Something that could stand in the way of New York signing Exantus is midfielder and fellow Red Bulls Academy product Dilly Duka. The highly-regarded U.S. Under-20 national team player impressed the Red Bulls during his training stint and a source close to Duka tells me that the former Rutgers standout is open to discussing signing a Generation adidas contract with the Red Bulls. It had been believed that Duka wouldn't sign any professional contracts until after the Under-20 World Cup in September/October.

San Jose has completed the signing of Trinidad & Tobago forward Cornell Glen. Call that signing the move of a desperate team (and a team actively trying to shake up its roster via trades). Those who remember Glen from his first stint in MLS will remember a fast but wildly inconsistent player who wasn't the best locker room personality (he played for four MLS teams in three seasons for a reason). Has the 29-year-old striker matured with age (and after having played in the 2006 World Cup)? That remains to be seen, but adding a player with a reputation as a bad locker room guy to a team struggling badly results could end badly.

The Earthquakes aren't the only team looking to make deals to shake up their roster. Real Salt Lake is also believed to be shopping around some of its veterans. RSL is in need of a striker and is believed to be shopping some of its defensive depth to make that happen.

Chris Rolfe's game-winning goal vs. New York bodes well for his chances to get more starts for the Chicago Fire, but it may not keep this from being Rolfe's final season in Chicago. Rolfe is in the last year of his MLS contract and has yet to sign a new deal. If he can't reach an agreement with Chicago, the Fire might have to consider dealing him or run the risk of losing him for nothing at the end of the year. The Fire may have no choice but to keep him and let him leave though because an MLS Cup is a real possibility with the current squad so dealing away one of its most accomplished goal-scorers wouldn't be the wistest move for 2009, even though it might help down the road.

The Los Angeles Galaxy's long-rumored interest in Trinidad & Tobago midfielder Chris Birchall has finally culminated in a deal being reached with the World Cup veteran. According to the Trinidad Express, Birchall has signed a new four-year deal with the Galaxy.


  1. I am not a fire fan but I can’t believe some of their actual fans are bashing. Personally I think the kid is excellent, had a good game in NY and a world class tackle on Angel. A lousy season? In the few games I was able to catch he always stood out. You will see how much the fire will miss him come June. I think the kid will be gone by the end of this year. I forgot how hard it was to please fire fans!!!

  2. Jimmie you are right. RSL doesn’t need to trade for a forward, they need to trade for a new coach! Kreis is NOT learning from his mistakes and is stubbornly refusing to adjust. Every time I see the master of the missed chance, Movsisyan, on the field, and Espindola on the bench, I cringe. Kreis should take his obsession with discipline and work rate and join the military. He’d much rather play a player like Movsisyan who works hard and is virtually useless, than play much better players he views as not as hard working. If he signs another striker he will probably just end up putting him on the bench next to Espindola while he plays Movsisyan in a 4-5-1 formation! I hate to think what Kreis would have done to Carlos Valderrama’s career!

  3. Thanks, Brett. I wasn’t quite sure how that all fit together. My guess is he is more interested in going overseas than re-signing but maybe if the dollars are there, he’ll stay at home.

  4. Toby – Rolfe is looking at this 1 of 2 ways:

    1) he’s wanting to renegotiate his contract when the new CBA is coming into play… he’ll have stronger leverage and with the likes of Blanco and/or BMB retiring, there will be plenty of cap space to increase his salary….

    2) is wanting to try his feet in the waters across the pond…..

  5. Tony – correct me if i am wrong, but the Fire retain his rights for 2 years after his contract expires…. so if, at the end of the year, he wants to try his luck in europe, we still hold onto his rights just in case he comes back after a season or 2…. same thing happened to Jaqua and Houston….

    so if the Union want rolfe, they’ll still have to trade for his rights i believe….

    again, correct me if im wrong… either way, if he stays in the MLS, he’ll simply resign with the fire….

  6. Well the Red Bulls have now sold Oduro to Houston for two draft picks and cut Terry Boss, so they have two open roster spots. I wonder what’s up.

  7. RSL fan here, who does RSL have as depth that they could shop? I don’t think they have anyone good enough that isn’t a starter they could afford to move.

    Wingert may be the only one, but he is too versitle. I don’t think they will ship Russell either.

    When Jason K. stops being stubborn and plays Espindola with Escalada up front, RSL’s offense will take off. But I am no coach, and I can’t spell.

  8. Well here’s hoping Chicago need Rolfe deep into the playoffs so the Union can pick him up for free at the end of the season. Wouldn’t mind Convey and Rolfe in the same side at the start of the inaugural campaign.

  9. Ives, would Exantus accept a callup from Haiti? I get the impression that he could be a solid pro in a European league…would he hold out for US citizenship or is that not even really a possibility?

  10. Don’t know Sega’s contract situation but I remember a report (probably Arroyave) that AEK Athens, Fire GM Klopas’ former club, was interested. AEK had some other Ticos at one time and they have another Concacaf player now, the Canadian Tam Nsaliwa (who outplayed Beasley in the 02 Gold Cup semis).

    Birchall is solid. I first saw him in the 06 qualifying playoff versus Bahrain — ie Who is that white dude playing with 10 blacks versus 11 Arabs!? I thought he was T and T’s best player in the recent WCQ loss to USA and couldn’t figure out why they subbed him out.

  11. Rolfe is a little rat — if a little rat could bomb quick and lethal shots from 30 yards. Given all the goals he has scored, his place in the Fire’s first 11 –at striker, next to McBride — should be a no brainer. Instead, they have tinkered with his positioning. Yes, he is good with the ball at his feet, running at people, and he is OK in midfield. But with so few players in MLS who can finish like he does (10 goals last year, despite playing in midfield) they should keep him as close to goal as possible. Rolfe has the technique that few American players have and can do well in Europe.

    Soumare may leave for Europe, thanks to his strong 08 season for the Fire and recent Mali appearances, but he has been lousy this year for the Fire. Conde is a whiner but he was far better than Soumare versus the Red Bulls. This was just the latest in a string of bad showings for Baky. Gotta believe the travelling (last game for Mali was in Sudan!) is getting to him. And he will be off again to Africa in June.

    Hey what happened to Jose Angulo? Or any of the other can’t miss prospects touted here? North Jersey is a soccer factory rivalled in the country by SoCal alone … but for every T-Ho or Reyna, there seem to be 10 who are overrated. Now come Exantus and Dilly Duka … We’ll see what happens if they are Angulos or Tim Howards.

  12. I can’t believe how bad San Jose is. Last year they were losing early, but the games were well fought and you could see a decent foundation. Sure enough, when they added Huckerbee and Lima, they went on a nice run and were an entertaining team. Not as entertaining as the current Sounders, by they had heart.

    Now they are lifeless and awful. Cornell Glenn is the answer? If he’s the answer, please get a new question

  13. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Soumare gone this Summer. Nobody is talking about it but he’s the one I worry about the most.

    Save this post if you think I’m talking like an idiot too.

    Blanco and McGod I don’t worry too much about when they leave. Rolfe on the other hand would be a huge blow in my eyes. MLS can’t continue to hold guys back though. Rolfe would get more call ups if he were in Europe though. That’s a simple fact.

  14. Has anyone ever noticed that Rolfe looks like a little rat when he is scurrying around on the pitch? Just an observation.

  15. Rolfe to Europe? Matt Taylor did it and now he will be on his second 2.Bundesliga team from what I have seen on the net.

  16. if Rolfe stays in the MLS he will remain with the fire….. it is possible he heads abroad… we face the same problem with Sega i believe….

    however, i dont see the fire dealing Rolfe… he could be waiting until final notice of Blanco and/or BMB not resigning to open up more cap space to maximize his contract

  17. Birchall is a good signing for MLS.

    As for Rolfe, I think that will be an interesting decision for the Fire to make, though I would be shocked if they tried to get value for him now and traded him. Personally, I would like to see a team do something like that and cash in now, but most MLS teams are way too conservative. I bet they see it as hurting their chances to win a title this season, and would rather just hold Rolfe’s MLS rights if he leaves. If he does, let’s just hope it’s not for Denmark…

  18. Hope RBNY sign both Exantus and Duka. They can learn allot from Celades and Angel while they are still there. They clearly need to focus on building a team from the ground up. And having Kandji, Stammler, Zimmerman, Cepero, Exantus and Duka on the roster is a great start.


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