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Wednesday Kickoff: Akron exodus looms, Friedel faces uncertain future and more

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Photo by Tony Quinn/


Good morning folks. As we draw closer to Christmas, there is plenty of news on the American soccer front and plenty to discuss. Let's go over some of the items making the rounds, and some of the things I'm hearing.

The 2011 MLS Draft is shaping up to be a strong one, with sources telling me the mass exodus from Akron is set to take place. Darlington Nagbe, Perry Kitchen, Zarek Valentin, Kofi Sarkodie and Darren Mattocks are all set to leave the school, with all but Mattocks on the verge of signing with MLS. Mattocks could be ready to make the jump to Europe, while junior midfielder Michael Nanchoff could also join the MLS party as well.

Just how big the Generation adidas class will be remains to be seen but the word around the league is that MLS is trying to curb the amount of money it's spending on the class after having spent considerable amounts of money on recent classes. Part of the reason for that shift is the league's desire to spend more money on homegrown player signings.

Whether the desire to keep the size of this year's Generation adidas class down actually leads to a smaller class remains to be seen. There are a large number of underclassmen, led by as many as six Akron players, looking to leave school to turn pro. The D.C. United signing of Ethan White, and New York's expected signing of Matt Kassel, has helped reduce the pool size, but there are still more than a dozen quality underclassmen interested in signing with MLS, meaning a few will be passed over much the way Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens was passed on prior to the 2009 MLS Draft.

Here are some other stories to get your day going:

Is Friedel ready for MLS return?

With Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier planning a serious player purge next summer, and Brad Friedel one of the players expected to be let go, it is looking more and more like Friedel could be ready to return to MLS after a dozen years in Europe.

Reporters earlier in the winter suggested the Columbus Crew were lining up a move for him, but there has been little news on that front, leaving us to wonder where he might wind up. Sources told SBI last spring that Friedel had expressed interested in signing with the New York Red Bulls, but with the club looking set to hold off on using a third Designated Player slot it seems highly unlikely New York would be a viable destination.

The Columbus Crew makes the most sense given his ties to Ohio, although the Crew does have a solid, though injury-prone goalkeeper in Wil Hesmer.

Cervi ready to leave Celtic

Speaking of American goalkeepers with uncertain futures, Dom Cervi is set to join the U.S. men's national team for January training camp while his club future remains very much in doubt.

Cervi spoke out last week in the Scottish media, saying he was ready to leave Celtic in search of playing time.

“I think Neil Lennon knows how I feel, because I’d like to think it’s obvious. It’s not going to do Celtic any good to have me sitting around moping.”

Cervi is on a month-long loan with Dundee, but that move has simply made him go from a No. 3 goalkeeper at Celtic to a No. 2 goalkeeper with Dundee, which means the former Chicago Fire first-round draft pick still isn't playing.

Could an MLS move be next for him? There are surely some teams that would be interested but the fact remains he has yet to be a starter anywhere so it's tough to imagine a team just handing him a starting role. At this point his best bet would be to stick it out in Europe and ply his trade in a smaller league. He's still a very young goalkeeper at 24.


What do you think of these developments? Excited to hear Akron's stars are likely to be coming to MLS? Where would you like to see Friedel wind up? Think Cervi should stay in Europe, or give MLS a try?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Under O’Neill, yes. Under Houllier, no guarantees except for a small handful if he shakes up the roster like it sounds he will.

  2. I agree with Jacob. Nanchoff is probably the most underrated player on the Akron roster. His crossing ability and his fantastic leg make him very valuable.

    Though I dont know about this report, I have sources much better than this guy most likely, and Nanchoff and Mattocks leaving doesn’t seem like a very real possibility.

    Heck, Valentin is still undecided.

  3. Maybe Cervi does not have it just yet. Factoring in our reputation for keepers there must be a reason why Cervi has not been loaned to a club that wants to play him. He’s no use to Celtic on the pine.

  4. Not that I’m an Akron expert, but I thought Michael Nanchoff was the best player of the College Cup. He played smart and simple and also knew when to take guys on, not to mention that cultured left foot providing great service. I think he would be a great signing in the MLS. (And, no, I’m not related to him or anything like that). 🙂

  5. I am very interested in Darren Mattocks. Ives, you speak very highly of him. He must be very good if you think he can make the jump to Europe.

    It continues to surprise me how good these young players are. Andy Najar would have spent last year in high school if it weren’t for a bit of good luck. Mattocks is a freshman in college who could find himself in Europe next year. There are so many good college youngsters that MLS cannot sign all of them.

    Finally, just curious, is Mattocks US-eligible or does he intend on playing for Jamaica?

  6. He’s been quite rubbish this season by his standards. Still would be a top 3 keeper in MLS but I think it’s time to call it quits..

    Spending DP money on a keeper just seems odd to me.

  7. Ives,

    Why doesn’t MLS let underclassmen declare for the draft without signing a GA deal?

    Why not let them throw their hat in the ring and if a team drafts them, sign them to a deal similar to what the seniors coming out of school get.

    Some players won’t want to give up the scholarship for this but undoubtedly some would.

    In the past, MLS let underclassmen decalre for the draft with signing Project 40 or Generation Adidas deals. Imad Baba, Ross Paule, Jason Moore and Davy Arnaud all were in the draft as underclassmen without having signed with the league in advance.

    New England even got Bobby Shuttleworth after his junior year by having him “sign” with Austin of the USL then immediately transfer to the Revolution.

    It just seems the league might be forcing kids to stay in school when they’re ready for the pros just because they and adidas don’t want to pay for their tuition.

  8. RBNY should definitely consider Friedel, even at DP money. Much as we all love Coundoul, Friedel is still a world-class ‘keeper. With Ream and Marquez in front of Friedel, RBNY’s defense would be impressive indeed.

  9. Michael Bradley needs to find a new club by season’s end. BMG are 100% going to be relegated. Only a true goal scorer ala Ronaldo or a rock hard defense ala Puyol/Pique will save them. His only question should be whether he wants to continue in the Bundesliga or go for the PL.

  10. So strange how simply being at a WC can help your career regardless if you score goals or play well or anything. Buddle may earn a work permit and a chance with any number of PL teams. Findley is almost certaintly to start for a Championship club.

    It’s funny how they were average to good MLS players making $100,000 a season and now they’ll be making between $500,000 at the minimum and $1 million at maximum.

  11. Friedel will demand DP money from Columbus but he’ll definitely be worth it. He’s got several years left in him. Heck he could still start for several relegation fodder clubs throughout Europe. I bet he could even start for the likes of Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Rangers, Celtic and get CL games.

    Columbus should sell Hesmer and just get 2 young GK’s to study and deputy for Friedel.

  12. The sitting around mopping comment does little to earn my respect and I’m aware it was intended to be a coy way of asking out .

    However it just highlights his immaturity imo and likely why he’s no higher than a number 2 in an average league for a reasonably poor club.

    Not sure how he earns a call up of any kind to be honest.

  13. Ummm… you must have Nanchoff confused with someone else on the team, because he is the most underrated player on Akron. I went to every Akron home game and don’t recall him trying to take guys one on one. Almost sounds more like Nagbe.

  14. Dom Cervi is a waste of a USMNT plane ticket in my opinion. (…and I understand he only travels to fill out a roster for intrasquad scrimmages.) I’m not sure he’ll every contribute any place he goes.

  15. I’ve only seen a few games of Cervi (friendlies) and didn’t come away impressed.

    Perhaps playing like a number 1 instead of mopping like a number 1 would help?

    Seriously, being 2nd on the depth chart Dundee in the SPL should be a stark reminder to young players making the jump abroad for the sake of making the jump, isn’t always wise.

    Hopefully more young Americans that are fringe players in talent start in MLS, develop and play out their contract followed by making the jump.

  16. From watching Akron I don’t think Mattocks and Nanchoff should come out. I doubt the league will let underclassman force their hand into granting more GA contracts so it will be interesting to see what comes out of these two. Nanchoff really surprises me, every time I watched him play it seemed he killed the flow of Akron, he too many times slowed the pace down and tried to beat a guy one v one rather than staying in the groove of passing or making a run with the ball. Mattocks seemed talented but another year wouldn’t hurt him and would make for a nice forward class next year with Saad and him coming out and maybe joined by a Victor Chavez, Finley, and Rolfe.

  17. sad that Cervi hasn’t had a chance at Celtic. Not sure if Lennon is the answer for my beloved Hoops. Either way he needs to play at his age.


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