MLS kicks off
'soccer' season started in the US last weekend. My inherited boys, Chicago Fire
have had a decent start to the season, drawing their opening game but then hammering last season's nemesis New England Revolution
4-0 at home on Thursday. Polish newcomer Tomasz Frankowski scored twice in front of a 15,000 crowd. The game was live on ESPN and was followed by LA Galaxy
beating the league's newest team San Jose Earthquakes
2-0. I watched the first half and saw David Beckham score the opening goal (below), his first in the MLS, all of his others coming in either
exhibition games or one of the strange cups.
It was rather weird seeing Ruud Gullitt on the sidelines in his Armani rain coat managing the Galaxy. Geordies would have smiled knowing that in his first game in charge last Saturday LA got hammered by Colorado 4-0.
San Jose's highest profile signing was ex-Fire playmaker Ivan Guerrero, the best player on the pitch when I saw them play with my son last summer in a drab goal-less draw. What has not happened this summer is the sudden influx of (ex)superstars. The Beckham Rule or more officially the Designated Player Rule allows each club to sign one player outside of the salary cap. And so far only six teams have taken up that option, with Galaxy's Beckham obviously being the most high-profile. Chicago have a lump called Cuauhtémoc Blanco, although every single Mexican would widely disagree with me.
The biggest name to join the MLS this winter was Argentinian Marcelo Gallardo, who signed from PSG. Gallardo has hardly had what can be described as a glittering career. He was once the French player of the year whilst at Monaco and has 44 national caps spanning almost 10 years but he will earn $1.87m this season playing for DC United
, the 3rd highest MLS player salary after Beckham and Blanco.
Recently Derby agreed to let Laurent Robert leave after it became clear he was worst than what they had already! The Frenchman packed his sulky face off to Toronto FC
where he will play for Mo Johnston.
Kenny Deuchar's move from poor Gretna to Real Salt Lake
got quite a bit of sports press here, especially after he scored twice against Rangers in his last game in Scotland. Last season Deuchar spent 5 months at Northampton scoring 3 goals and the qualified doctor will continue to serve the probably more financially beneficial medical profession whilst living in Salt Lake, all a long way from Beckham's Hollywood lifestyle. Not so publicised was Houston's signing of Tony Caig, yes the same one who played one game for the Addicks. The 33-year old was also signed from Gretna.
Other new MLS faces, slightly known only with the help of Soccerbase are Tomasz Frankowski, who signed for Chicago from Wolves, although he had been on loan at CD Tenerife. Columbus Crew
signed defender Gino Padula, who had 3 reasonably successful seasons at QPR but was last in France.
So not quite the Ronaldo's or Figo's that fans had hoped for but I think the league will get markedly better, what with improved television coverage and the sustained growth of teams. Seattle
will take up membership next season with Philadelphia
the year after.