Despite Claims, Little Pressure on Donovan at Everton

Considerable ink has been spilled claiming that there is tons of pressure on Landon Donovan to show that he can cut it at Everton during his short loan. This move is seen as critical to his career. Having “failed” in his previous stints in Germany, it is argued, this is Donovan’s last chance to show that he is a world class player.

In reality – Donovan has almost nothing to prove in England.

Financially, Donovan has very little riding on it. Prior to the loan, Donovan signed a new lucrative deal with the Galaxy that doubles his salary and ensures that no matter what happens over the next six months, Donovan’s furture is secure. Now, an outstanding performance could see him make considerably more if bought by a big club, but it is also quite possible no team will meet MLS’ valuation of Donovan no matter how well he performs due to his age.

So what this is really about is his legacy. Sure a dominating performance in England will enhance his stature. Such a showing would no doubt boost his global rep and will serve to mollify many of his American critics who never forgave him for giving into his homesickness at Bayern Leverkusen and returning to California and to MLS earlier this decade. But in reality Donovan’s status America’s most valuable player and perhaps its greatest player in history will not be effected by the outcome at Everton.
Continue reading


Reading the tea leaves in USMNT camp- No Holden, No Clark? No Ching? [UPDATED]

Not Going to South Africa?

Bob Bradley released the 30-man roster for the annual USMNT camp in January. This camp is made up exclusively of MLS and Scandinavian based players that are both in off-season. There are some surprising and welcome additions that have been pointed out here and here. But I think the roster is more interesting for who isn’t on it than for who is. Three MLS based players and USMNT regulars have not been called up: Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, and Brian Ching.

Does the absence of Holden and Clark confirm their departures to Europe? It doesn’t definitively, since they could be called in if a move to Europe fell through, but its another piece of evidence that both players are gone. This isn’t really a shocking omission, since we know both these players will probably go to Europe in January. But it does throw some cold water on the likely phony uncertainty of what Stuart Holden will do.

Has Ching been dropped?
Ching’s exclusion is perhaps the bigger piece of news, since he is an MLS based player and doesn’t seem to be suffering from any injuries. I think this makes it increasingly clear that he is not making the trip to South Africa.
Continue reading

Interpreting MLS’s Offer to Stuart Holden – It’s PR

MLS offered Stuart Holden a considerable salary increase to lure him to resign with the league. Holden who was making just $35,000 this past season was offered an approximately 10 fold increase, ie $350,000 to resign with the league. What to think of this?

While this sounds like a good offer, this is really a public relations jester from MLS. Stuart Holden could have resigned at the beginning of the year but refused and played for a measly 35 grand so that he would be free to sign with a European club in the offseason. Holden has garnered a lot of interest from practically every club in Scotland, including Rangers. But since Holden could be signed on a free transfer it is likely he could be signed by a team from one of the bigger leagues. While $350,000 is a good salary for MLS, this is small beer compared to what he could get paid in Europe. If MLS were to offer to make him a designated player and pay him around the 1 million mark it could have a bit more appeal, but even with that Holden could still likely make more in Europe. So by offering Holden a new offer and having Holden turn it down this will enable MLS to save some face for losing such an up incoming star. This is similar to when the Washington Nationals sought to resign Alfonso Soriano – a move that bought some goodwill.
Continue reading

Hull signs Jan Vennegoor Hesserlink – Jozy impact

Hull has officially announced the signing of Jan “greatest name ever” Vennegoor of Hesselink (formerly of Celtic). He was a free agent so he could sign outside the transfer window. Hull currently have 5 strikers. Jozy, Caleb Folan, Craig Fagan, and Daniel Cousin. While this signing will create more competition, Jozy still looks set to figure prominently. Cousin is on the outs after comments attacking Phil Brown, Craig Fagan has some experience but is not that much of a threat, and Folan is a big target man which is not really Jozy’s best role.

We know Jozy is the most talented of the five, but he has to show that he is also the best striker right now. Brown will likely use Jozy off the bench in EPL games in the near future, until he clearly proves he has adjusted to the EPL and is fully fit to go 90. Hopefully Jozy will establish himself as the first choice striker and Brown will decide to pair him with Hesselink or Gillas. Overall, I think this signing improves Hull overall and gives Brown the option to play an aggressive 4-4-2, with Jozy and Hesserlink, Hunt on the left, Gillas on the right, and perhaps Giovanni and Boateng in the middle. Not that bad of a side and one that could indeed avoid relegation.

Transfer Window Closes (updates will follow)

negotiationsThe English transfer window closed a day after many of the European countries this year and the big news is that there was very little news – especially from the big 4 clubs. I guess there was finally some evidence that football is not immune to last fall’s near financial meltdown.

Of the big four, Chelsea was the one squad that looked the most complete and had little to do. However, the others needed some help, in some cases badly. Liverpool needs a striker – they have no back up for Torres and Gerrard. Man United need help in the midfield – a Van Der Vaart would have been perfect for them. Arsenal probably need a striker and were pursuing Chamakh of Bordeaux (West Ham were also in pursuit). He looks like a decent player, but it doesn’t look like the deal came off.

The most action on the day came from Spurs, Villa, and Everton – although less than some had expected. Spurs signing Niko Kranjcar looks like the steal of the transfer window, especially at the rumored fee of under 3 mil pounds. Spurs now have neatly replaced there injured left sided Croatian playmaker, with the guy that actually plays there for Croatia. Villa and Everton both bolstered there defense with the signing of James Collins from West Ham and Jhonny Heitinger respectively.

From an American perspective, this last week had more impact on players looking to make the world cup squad rather than on our starting 11, since most of the big moves – Gooch, Jozy, Davies – have already gone down. Things seem to have gone all right with one big exception: Damarcus Beasley. While a starting 11 is starting to take shape, the U.S. MNT needs depth. Since Beasley is the only experienced winger we have it would be a big boost if could regain his form. To do so he has to get playing time and with Rangers signing another winger from PSG – Beasley is done in Scotland. It would be a disaster for him if he is stuck in Glasgow until January with no prospect of playing time.

Freddy Adu’s loan to another smaller Portuguese club is brilliant. The league is solid and it plays the type of football that Adu is suited for. If he plays a full year in Portugal he should grow as a player and make the world cup squad. Those that have given up on him should be slapped – the kid is just 20. Hopefully, he plays now as if he has something prove.

Hull City’s quiet day.
It looks like Hull’s premier league future will rest on Jozy’s shoulders. Phil Brown had talked a lot about needing to add another striker and they were in pursuit of a number of players, but it looks like after Benjani fell through there was nothing left. The sale of defender Michael Turner for 12 mil pounds looks like good business, but unfortunately for them it seems they didn’t have the time to spend it. [Update: it appears they added defender Ibrahima Sonko]

No word on Heath Pearce yet. But we need some options at left back options so the fact that he is currently clubless is not good.

Update: Spurs just loaned their third keeper, David Button, back to a league 2 side. This doesn’t make sense unless they signed someone else. Gomes was reportedly out for at least a month. So that would leave one fit keeper on the squad? But word remains that there was no deal for David James…hmm…

Update: Villa have signed Richard Dunne from Man City confirm the Guardian.

Update: Spurs have yet to officially announce the sale of Kevin Prince Boateng to Pompey. Pompey have announced it – but with it appearing that Spurs have failed to sign a back up holding midfielder – could it be that this deal actually fell through? The rumor of Stephen Appiah to Spurs also popped to the surface again – it’s amazing he still has no club.

Donovan to PSG?

Ives links to a French football site that says Donovan is set to join PSG on loan in the winter. My initial take is this seems really speculative. While Donovan no doubt is receiving offers and is clearly open to them I think this will all be in flux until we get closer to the winter transfer window. European teams are also generally less keen on selling players mid season, so the fact that Donovan will be clearly available will only increase the interest in him, as teams experience injuries or seek to fill voids in the winter.

Nevertheless, PSG would make a lot of sense and I think the move would be good for Donovan, PSG, and the USMNT. The French league is not the EPL or La Liga but it still is a very competitive European league and PSG is a big club. Donovan would be pretty much assured of playing and as a result would get high level European football prior to the world cup. A loan deal would also make sense for him and MLS, as a stint at PSG would allow Donovan to prove to teams in La Liga or the EPL that he can play at the European level and would enable a move to bigger league or a bigger club following the world cup.

I would also expect that his wifey would not be too upset relocating to Paris.

Gooch Rumors continue

It is starting to get ridiculous. In the BBC football gossip column Gooch was now linked with Newcastle. Yet Roeder, the Newcastle manager, stated earlier today that those rumors were flatly untrue.

So what happened with the Gooch to Chelsea rumors. My guess is that they were close and either the Chelsea board or Gooch himself flat out nixed the deal. There has been very little chatter about a possible move in the last few days.

It looks increasingly likely that he was stay in Belgium until the summer transfer window. One of the reasons is that Gooch is “cup-tied” to Standard. Standard was in the champions league and therefore he cannot play for another club in the champions league. So a club like Lyon, which seems like a very interested suitor, simply does not need him this year. They have locked up the French league and their focus is on winning the champions league. If he were transfered to Lyon he would most likely spend a lot of time on the bench, even if he was the best defender on the team, because Lyon would want to ensure that their champions league central defenders are sharp.

Standard Liege may also understand that due to being cup-tied, Gooch’s value today is less than what it will be in the summer. So instead of selling him now, they wait. He can help Standard qualify for Europe and then they can sell him for perhaps more of a profit in the summer. Makes sense to me…

Woodgate’s Uncertain Future at Real, Gooch implications?

Espnsoccernet is reporting that Jonathan Woodgate “doesn’t know if Real want him back” after his loan to Middlesborough is completed. There have been rumors for a while that Woodgate would be sold by Real and remain in England.

This may be wild speculation, but Real Madrid has shown interest in Gooch for a while and apparently tried to buy him this summer. If Woodgate is out of the picture then that would seem to make it more plausible that Real is making room for Gooch. Here’s hoping…