Well, the new year is officially here (hope you all had a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend) and with it comes a wave of soccer news. The international transfer window is now open, the MLS SuperDraft is next week and the beginning of what promises to be the newsiest year in Sporting KC is now in full effect (there are 76 days until the first SKC game against Chivas USA on March 19; 158 days until the home opener on June 9 against Chicago).
Onto the morning links.
• Take heart fans of Major League Soccer, the NFL is doing its best to take the title of "Worst Playoff Format by a Major Professional Sports League" away from yours, with the 7-9 Seattle Seahawkshosting a wild-card playoff game this weekend. Seattle was beaten 79-22 (combined) by the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year. Those two teams, by the way, finished 10-6 and didn't make the playoffs. For the record, and it's not even close, college football owns the trophy for "Worst Postseason Period." [Source: ESPN
• MLSsoccer.com have tipped Sporting KC forward Teal Bunbury as the Breakout MLS Star of 2011. Big shocker there, as the striker had a phenomenal end to 2010 that included a U.S. national team call-up, a productive tour with MLS' Generation adidas squad and a training session with EPL's Stoke City. Here's a tidbit from an interview with Andrew Wiebe:
MLSsoccer: What was it like to have your first go round with the national team and get your first cap as a senior international, after pledging your allegiance, so to speak?
Bunbury: It was amazing. It’s always been a dream of mine when I was younger to be able to play for my country and getting my first cap was great. Being able to meet Bob Bradley and be a part of what he has been working on was an honor. You can tell people were out there to prove themselves. It was a younger type of group and it was people’s first time there. You could tell that some people were a little anxious at times. Obviously, it’s a new environment, and you always have to try to make the best of it.
• With the transfer window officially open, expect the floodgates of news/rumors to open any day now. Among the highlights so far: David Beckham is waiting for Los Angeles to approvea loan move to Tottenham and Blackburn have launched a bid for Ronaldinho . More news/rumors abound
• One name that surely won't be discussed in transfer sagas this season is American Landon Donovan, who will not go out on loan this MLS offseason. Friend of the blog, Eric Howell (a Sporting KC season ticket holder and Everton fan) had a chance to interview Donovan on his Everton-based podcast, Followtonians.
In their interview, Donovan compared his loan-stint to Everton last season as like going to "Disneyland when you were five-years-old, you're always going to want to go back."
The podcast is available to download and listen now. Check outthe Followtonians site for more info or visit the iTunes link
• MLS' No. 2 all-time leading goal-scorer Jeff Cunningham is exploring his options in Europe after negotiations with Columbus ground to a halt. [Source:Soccer America
• As aging U.S. forwards seek their fortune overseas, aging foreign strikers start to talk about coming to the States. Like, maybe, Benni McCarthy? [Source:Sport 24
• Does Toronto FC finally have a technical director? According to reports, Dutch international Aron Winter is their man. [Source:MLS Rumors
That report says Winter will also be the head coach, but what about former New England assistant Paul Mariner? The last linesin this story say Mariner is the next TFC boss
• Chivas USA might also have a new coach, Real Salt Lake assistant Robin Fraser, according to a report. [Source:ESPN Deportes (Spanish)
• Ahead of their Jan. 22 friendly with the United States, Chile has named a 16-man squad of domestic-based players. [Source:US Soccer ]