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MLS Player Watch

*Representatives for South Korean forward Ahn Jung Hwan approached MLS teams about a possible designated player contract, but there were no takers. A smaller salary demand might've attracted interest in MLS. You might recall Ahn, who turns 33 next month, was the player who scored the equalizer against the USA at the 2002 World Cup and then eliminated Italy with an overtime goal -- and was subsequently blackballed by his Italian club, Perugia. Since then, he has played in Japan, France, Germany and South Korea.

*Columbus's Chad Marshall, the MLS defender of the year who is out of contract, might end up with a German club. His reps have apparently been in contact with a few teams. According to one source, his reps told a Danish club that they are looking to secure a $500,000 salary overseas. He earned $148,000 this year, not including bonuses and incentives. He could end up back in Columbus, but odds favor a free transfer to Europe.

*It's Dec. 1, which means Crew Coach Sigi Schmid is a free agent. Hello, Seattle?

*MLS is sending 16 young players to England starting this weekend for matches against the West Ham, Chelsea and Aston Villa reserves and training at Chelsea Academy. The roster has four players from Dallas (goalkeeper Josh Lambo and midfielders Eric Avila, Bruno Guarda and Anthony Wallace), four from RSL (defender Tony Beltran, goalkeeper Chris Seitz, midfielder Alex Nimo and forward Yura Movsisyan), two from New England (defenders Amaechi Igwe and Rob Valentino), two from Toronto (defender Marvell Wynne and forward Abdus Ibrahim), plus Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza, Colorado midfielder Ciaran O'Brien and Chicago defender Bakary Soumare. Another player will be added soon.

Thoughts?

By Steve Goff  |  December 1, 2008; 2:48 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Next: 2009 Is Here

Comments

At the right price and if fit, Ahn would be a nice addition to the league.

Posted by: Kev29 | December 1, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

uhhh...why? Are they looking to sell the talent already?

Its great for the players to continue playing and to get a taste of higher level competition, but how does this benefit MLS and the individual teams?

Maybe I am an idiot, which is not exactly news to me.

Posted by: therealfootball | December 1, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I know nothing about Ahn, except from what Wiki just told me...but he isn't DP material IMO.

What, DC had no young players to send to England?

Posted by: Reignking | December 1, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

How were the players selected, and by whom? I don't recognize at least half the names so I can't possible formulate a common theme...

Posted by: JkR- | December 1, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Um, let's see... it keeps the youngsters closer to match fitness than sitting on the couch playing FIFA all winter, and it gives them experience against opponents who are arguably playing at a higher level than what the MLS players face on a daily basis. I don't see how that doesn't benefit MLS, or the teams for which these players play.

Posted by: Kenobi | December 1, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Kenobi, I think they should ALL go, assuming they can get the time off...;)

Posted by: JkR- | December 1, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Here is the entire selection criteria for that group:

1. Young
2. Promising

Don't read too much into it. As for whether DC has any promising young players of that caliber...well, other than maybe Koroma (who is at least the right age), no. These guys are all Generation Adidas age, except maybe Valentino.

On Ahn:

He fails on both reasons players get DP money. He's not an international superstar (very famous in Korea, known by soccer diehards as sort of an oddity due to the Italy/Perugia incident, completely unknown to everyone else), and he's not an exceptional talent. In his prime, he was a pretty good player, but Perugia brought him over primarily because they wanted to get a foothold in Asia (they were also the club that brought over Hidetoshi Nakata, who worked out a bit better in Serie A). At 33, there's absolutely no way he's worth DP money. 9 goals in 58 European appearances (spread out over 5 seasons) makes him no more promising than MLS players who have gone to Europe, flopped, and returned, and he is also older than that group and takes up a foreign slot.

I could see the California clubs being interested, but at a much lower price.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | December 1, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

What, DC had no young players to send to England?

Posted by: Reignking | December 1, 2008 3:23 PM

That's right Reignking, since DCU doesn't have much concern for draft and development anymore...a point I made in a post about a month ago that you thought was a joke. Thanks for the segue.

Posted by: BillyBob4 | December 1, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

According to the piece on MLS' site, each of these players is part of Generation Adidas. They're all high draft picks -- the future of the league...at least until and unless they move overseas. Yallop is coaching.

As for Ahn -- he's not DP material, but he's very talented. Ball skills that dwarf most MLSers. He probably has a strong following among South Koreans here, so he might be a smart addition for Chivas...if he scales back his demands.

Posted by: fischy | December 1, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

@Billybob -- I've made that point many times before -- but I've amended it more recently. DC has picked Perkins, Needham, Arguez, and Jacobson -- all on European rosters. And, that's without even bringing up Freddy Adu, who is younger than almost everyone on that roster. The problem isn't that DC isn't finding some decent young players -- it's that they're not finding room for them on the playing field. With the exception of Perkins, they all left or did not sign with DC because they had better prospects elsewhere. Actually, that applies to Perkins, too.

Posted by: fischy | December 1, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"You might recall Ahn, who turns 33 next month, was the player who scored the equalizer against the USA at the 2002 World Cup"

He then mocked the entire United States with his speed-skating goal celebration. And now he wants to come here? No way.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 1, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Nice call, I-270. I'd forgotten that one. I actually thought that was a pretty cool celebration...certainly original.

Posted by: fischy | December 1, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I guess since Quavas' GA contract expired he wasn't invited? It would've been cool if some of our young Americans like Burch/McTavish/Simms could be given this kind of opportunity to learn from more international competition.

Posted by: DCUMD | December 1, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Chad Marshall, Parkhurst . . . you mean more of those defenders that the US colleges don't produce are heading to Europe?

Posted by: OWNTF | December 1, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the most glaring failing of the college soccer system is the lack of quality strikers....except, of course, for Vedad Ibisevic.

Posted by: fischy | December 1, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

And Charlie Davies.

Posted by: Reignking | December 1, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

He then mocked the entire United States with his speed-skating goal celebration. And now he wants to come here? No way.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 1, 2008 4:01 PM

Cause if there's one thing we won't stand for here in the US of A - it's someone mocking our speed skaters, then playing in our league that a tiny percentage of us pay attention to. :-D

Posted by: Kev29 | December 1, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

DC has picked Perkins, Needham, Arguez, and Jacobson -- all on European rosters. And, that's without even bringing up Freddy Adu...they all left or did not sign with DC because they had better prospects elsewhere.

Posted by: fischy | December 1, 2008 3:59 PM

Good point fischy, though you forgot to mention Luis Robles, who played 90 for Kaiserslautern this past weekend.

Posted by: swwj | December 1, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the most glaring failing of the college soccer system is the lack of quality strikers....except, of course, for Vedad Ibisevic.

Posted by: fischy
**************************************

And Charlie Davies.

Posted by: Reignking
***************************************

or McBride, Twellman, & Ching

Hey Goff, not really on topic but any plans to ever right on Jack Warner and corruption issued in CONCACAF and the T&T Federation? I for one would love to hear USSF have to answer some tough questions on the matter.

Posted by: teo_68 | December 1, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Ahn's 2002 World Cup goal celebration, there's a lot more going on than meets the eye. Check out the information here: http://populargusts.blogspot.com/2008/10/protests-public-space-in-seoul-and.html

As for Ahn himself? I love him, I saw him play in both Japan and South Korea, but the guy is washed up. He couldn't hold his starting striker job in South Korea, where the level of play is below MLS (I hope this comment doesn't kick off some sort of which league is better than which league argument. To be fair, it's not much lower than MLS. And it certainly doesn't help that the majority of games are played in 50,000 seat world cup stadiums that are mostly empty.)

Posted by: ragek77 | December 1, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the Generation Adidas trip to England is just like Beckham's loan move to Milan, except the idea here is to sell as many Amaechi Igwe jerseys as possible for the Christmas season in Europe.

See, MLS is always one step ahead of us. It's all about marketing.

Posted by: IamAM | December 1, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Thats what hunts the DP issue, every 30+ player will just come to this league and get injured or play bad football and sit out while earning a substantial pay check.

I remembered the goal but never heard of him LOL

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | December 1, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

@swwj -- I did forget Robles. Thanks for the input. The comment I referred to was one I posted after Goff brought Robles to our attention.

Also wanted to bring the Ibisevic discussion here (I posted this on another thread, but might get missed):

"I guess we can't blame USSF for not capping Ibisevic. So I'll blame the then-Secretary of State Colin Powell for not naturalizing him."

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 1, 2008 10:54 AM

Are you sure? Check this quote from a NYT piece last week on Ibisevic:

“I was happy in St. Louis, got a green card, but I never really heard from anyone from the U.S. national team. I would have considered it.”

As for the quality of US strikers -- McBride was great. Still is. And Davies shows promise. Ching and Twellman are good, but you don't see either playing in Europe. Even still -- theo named 4 players produced in more than a dozen years. Not a great rate.

Posted by: fischy | December 1, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Good thing he didn't mock our curling team, that would have been tantamount to war.

""Cause if there's one thing we won't stand for here in the US of A - it's someone mocking our speed skaters""

Posted by: delantero | December 1, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Are you sure? Check this quote from a NYT piece last week on Ibisevic:

“I was happy in St. Louis, got a green card, but I never really heard from anyone from the U.S. national team. I would have considered it.”

As for the quality of US strikers -- McBride was great. Still is. And Davies shows promise. Ching and Twellman are good, but you don't see either playing in Europe. Even still -- theo named 4 players produced in more than a dozen years. Not a great rate.

Posted by: fischy | December 1, 2008 5:12 PM

----------------------------------------

Green card > citizenship. Unless he was pursuing full citizenship, which is rarely a quick process, the USSF had no reason to contact him.

Posted by: beach3 | December 1, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

The celebration would have been more hurtful if anyone cared about speed skating in the US.
The funny thing is, i'm sure few soccer fans got it until the heard what it was supposed to be about.

Posted by: jake77 | December 1, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the post-goal demonstration probably had to do with the controversial disqualification of a South Korean short track skater in the Salt Lake games. So I don't know if he was mocking the entire US, or just Apollo what's his name, or the Olympic judges or whatever.

But Quaranta did some mocking of his own before he came back, and he's worked out alright.

Do we need a 33-year old forward though? I don't think so.

Posted by: OWNTF | December 1, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

So how about this for a lineup
--------Ibrahim Movsisyan
Espinoza O'Brien Avila Wynne
Igwe Valentino Soumare Beltran
--------------Seitz

Posted by: ub2003313 | December 1, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

@ragek77: The symbolism was not lost on me in '02, but maybe not everyone remembers. Ahn acted as if his goal was payback for the disqualification of the South Korean speedskater and his celebration was, essentially, a raised middle finger to the US. I can forgive Ahn if he admits, in writing, that the Korean skater was a dirty cheat and begs our forgivness. Besides, if it weren't for the US, he'd be speaking North Korean.

@fischy: I think he was being diplomatic with that statement because it's inconsistent with the timeline. He played for the Serbian youth team just a couple years after arriving in the US. And, as beach3 wrote, he wasn't ever eligible to play for us while here.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 1, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

@I-270. You mean Bosnia. The Times' article says he was called to play for the U-21 team during the summer of his freshman (and only) season at St. Louis (it's unclear, but I presume they mean before he started play at St. Louis, not after).

It seems to me that the USSF really did screw the pooch, and that this has become a pattern of late. He wasn't a US citizen then, but if the USSF had shown interest, he might have thought twice about playing for lowly Bosnia. It seems to me that if the Bosnian federation was aware of this kid playing ball at a St. Louis high school, the USSF should have been, as well. There needs to be a systematic effort put in to reach dual nationals, or potential dual nationals -- especially those who show enough promise to be recruited to play at St. Louis.

Normally, I don't feel as if I know enough to fairly criticize an org like the USSF. However, it's beginning to look like the evidence is there to say the USSF was laying down on the job. This might not be the highest priority for the federation, but it's been ignored to the national team's detriment. I assume the difference in handling the Edgar Castillo and Jose Torres cases means the USSF now has some sense it needs to be proactive in this area. However, they need to look beyond those playing professionally in Mexico. It seems there might be a productive vein of talent in our high schools and colleges -- one that needs to be mined before other countries do.

Posted by: fischy | December 1, 2008 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Bosnia. I must have had Subotic on my mind. I suppose I might also have typed "Italy."

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 2, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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