Happy New Year to all of you who are effectively beginning your 2010 today as you head back to work after the long weekend. There should be non-stop soccer to discuss from now until next winter so get ready for a great ride.
Today's first topic is the MLS labor talks, which sources tell me aren't going so well. According to two veteran members of the MLS players union, Major League Soccer is playing hardball with the union and hasn't come close to considering some of the demands being made by the players. Guaranteed contracts, allowing teams to negotiate contacts rather than the league office, and free agency are issues the players union appear ready to fight for, but are three issues MLS is apparently not ready to budge on.
What should we expect? Don't be surprised if MLS locks out its players if the union doesn't budge, and by the sound of things, it doesn't appear the union is ready to back down any time soon.
We haven't touched on the labor situation much this off-season, but will be ramping up our coverage of the issue in the coming days and weeks so stay tuned.
In slightly more positive news, Landon Donovan arrived in Liverpool on Saturday and met his new teammates at Everton after taking in the club's FA Cup victory against Carlisle United. He was expected to begin training today and is expected to be available for the Toffees next league match, against Arsenal.
Those wondering about Donovan's chances for playing time may have missed the development late last week involving Brazilian striker Jo, who left England to visit his native Brazil without the team's permission. Manager David Moyes has all but said that Jo is done at Everton, meaning one less player Donovan will be fighting for minutes.
Freddy Adu's club future remains in limbo after an interesting weekend on the web. Reports linked Adu to potential moves to Greek club Aris as well as Hull, two clubs Adu mentioned on his Twitter feed as being options he needed to consider. Whether Adu was being serious about the potential destinations remains to be seen, but there appears to be evidence to suggest he was having a laugh over the reports. Our money is on a loan move to Aris FC.
Speaking of winter transfer moves, Eddie Johnson's loan move to Aris FC could wind up being a good one for the struggling striker. Especially after Aris sold leading scorer Sebastian Abreu to Brazilian club Botafogo.
While the New York Red Bulls stand poised to hire a foreign head coach, that coach won't be Walter Zenga. Sources tell SBI that Zenga wasn't even interviewed for the position after expressing interest in the job recently. That's disappointing news for Zenga, who has been trying to return to MLS for some time now. He also put himself up for the Toronto FC job when John Carver left the club last summer, but TFC passed on him.
With January here, it's time for players to start coming and going to and from MLS. The league saw two players depart over the weekend, with Kansas City's Herculez Gomez leaving for Mexican club Puebla and New York Red Bulls midfielder Jorge Rojas departing for Venezuelan side Deportivo Tachira.
Gomez was out of contract and didn't figure into the Wizards' plans. He joins a Puebla squad that includes Carlos Ruiz and former Mexican national teamer Jared Borgetti. As for Rojas, the disappointing winger was also a free agent and a flop the Red Bulls were happy to see leave.
Lastly, the U.S. men's national team kicks off its January camp today, with 30 players looking to impress head coach Bob Bradley at the start of a World Cup year. The team faces Honduras at Home Depot Center on Jan. 23.
In case you forgot who was on the squad, here is the roster:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Kevin Hartman (Kansas City), Troy Perkins (Valerenga), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Zach Thornton (Chivas USA)
DEFENDERS (9): Kevin Alston (New England Revolution), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Brandon McDonald (San Jose Earthquakes), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)
MIDFIELDERS (12): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Ã–rebro), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Jeff Larentowicz (New England Revolution), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Chris Pontius (D.C. United), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS (5): Justin Braun (Chivas USA), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Marcus Tracy (Aalborg)
What do you think of these developments? Disappointed to hear that the MLS labor talks aren't going well? Excited to see Donovan in action with Everton? Looking forward to seeing how new faces such as Marcus Tracy and Alejandro Bedoya do in their first camp?
Share your thoughts below.