The Philadelphia Union appear set to move one step closer to fielding a strong defense in its first year of existence with the reported acquisition of U.S. national team pool defender Danny Califf.
According to Soccer365.com, The Union will make a deal with the Houston Dynamo to acquire the rights to Califf and will sign Califf once the January transfer window opens. According to the report, Califf is finalizing an MLS contract and is set to leave Danish club FC Midtjylland.
If the deal goes down, the Union will head into the 2010 season with a pair of strong veteran central defenders in Califf and Shavar Thomas, which could potentially increase the possibility that the Union uses the No. 1 pick in the 2010 MLS Draft to grab one of several quality forwards in the draft pool, or trade the pick to one of the teams interested in drafting projected No. 1 overall pick Ike Opara, a central defender from Wake Forest. Opara has yet to declare for the draft, but if he does (and he's expected to, Opara should be a Top Two pick.
Here are some other MLS and college tidbits from the week:
REIS SET TO MISS 4-6 MONTHS AFTER SHOULDER OPERATION
The New England Revolution's goalkeeping situation has gone from stellar to shaky in the matter of a week after news surfaced on Wednesday that starter Matt Reis will be sidelined four to six months after after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Reis' surgery comes less than a week after the Revs lost back-up goalkeeper Brad Knighton in the expansion draft to the Philadelphia Union. There have been rumblings in league circles that the Revs may make a move to try and re-acquire Knighton from the Union, which recently added top goalkeeping prospect Chris Seitz via trade from Real Salt Lake.
The Reis news came on the same day that veteran defender Jay Heaps retired after 11 seasons with the Revolution.
CUNNINGHAM TRAINING WITH AUXERRE
MLS goal-scoring leader Jeff Cunningham is training with French club Auxerre in preparation for the U.S. national team's upcoming January camp.
Fresh off his making his return to the national team mix with a goal against Denmark, Cunningham is probably a long shot to garner serious interest from European clubs at the age of 33, but his blazing hot form in the second half of 2009 should continue into the new year as his confidence stays high and he continues to train at a high level.
HERMAN AWARD SEMIFINALISTS ANNOUNCED
Wake Forest tandem Ike Opara and Corben Bone are among 15 semifinalists for the Hermann Award, which goes to college soccer's top player.
Wake and unbeaten Akron were the only two schools to field two players on the list of semifinalists.
Here are the semifinalists:
Toni Stahl (UConn), Ryan Kinne (Monmouth), Teal Bunbury and Anthony Ampaipitakwong (Akron), Corben Bone and Ike Opara (Wake Forest), Zach Loyd (North Carolina), Kyle Nakazawa (UCLA), Tony Tchani (Virginia), Garrett Webb (Drake), Andre Akpan (Harvard), Danny Mwanga (Oregon State), Conor O'Brien (Bucknell), Colin Rolfe (Louisville) and Bobby Warshaw (Stanford).
Finalists for the award will be announced on Dec. 11, with the winner set to be announced on Jan. 8 in St. Louis.
INDIANA UNIVERSITY DUMPS COACH
The University of Indiana is on the hunt for a new head coach after parting ways with head coach Mike Freitagafter five seasons. Now the search is on to fill one of the most high-profile coaching positions in the nation, with Akron's Caleb Porter, Wisconsin's Todd Yeagley and Illinois-Chicago's John Trask the leading candidates to fill the position.
Freitag's departure comes the same week that long-time Rutgers head coach Bob Reasso resigned. Reasso served as Rutgers head coach for 29 years. St. John's head coach Dave Masur is considered the leading candidate to replace Reasso.
UNION EYEING VARTUGHIAN
In other Philly Union news, sources tell SBI that the Union has targeted University of Maryland assistant Rob Vartughian as its leading candidate to be the team's new goalkeeper coach. Vartughian coached newly-acquired Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz at Maryland, and has worked with Union head coach Peter Nowak before.
That's all for now. What do you think of this news? Like the idea of Califf joining the Union? Worried about the Revs' chances of avoiding a slow start in 2010? Who gets your vote for the Hermann Award?
Share your thoughts below.