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Tuesday Kickaround

*USA forward Landon Donovan , on loan in the Bundesliga, plays the second half of a Bayern Munich friendly and scores in the waning moments of a 3-1 victory.

*We told you a couple weeks ago that Dallas was vigorously searching for a veteran left-side midfielder. It now looks as if the club has made a move: The New York Red Bulls are set to send midfielder Dave van den Bergh to FCD for forward Dominic Oduro.

*From the Los Angeles Sol: "With the signing of Marta there is no doubt that we have brought in one of the biggest and most exciting pieces of the puzzle we targeted when we launched this franchise last fall."

*From Crain's Detroit Business media: "Dan Duggan, who co-owns the Michigan Bucks soccer team in Pontiac, is meeting with investors over the next 90 days as part of a $7 million plan to launch a top-tier Detroit affiliate of the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer." USL1 in Detroit?

*Soccer on TV today:
England FA Cup, Bristol City-Portsmouth 2:45 p.m. Setanta
Italian Cup, Inter Milan-Genoa 3 p.m. GolTV

Looking ahead to Thursday, the first hour of the MLS draft will be shown on ESPN2 beginning at 2 p.m. ET. The balance of the event is not available on any form of video. Fortunately for you, the Insider will be in frigid St. Louis (high temperature of 13 on Thursday) for all the pageantry.

*A bit of magic from Bordeaux's Yoann Gourcuff in a 3-0 victory over PSG. He's 22 and they call him "Petit Zizou." The real time clip is quality, but the replays are exquisite. (Thanks to Insider loyalist Brian for the link):

By Steve Goff  |  January 13, 2009; 9:06 AM ET
Categories:  Bundesliga , France , MLS , TV , USL , Women  
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Dave VDB is hugely responsible for the Bulls' success last season - and before - and they let him go?

Is Dallas paying huge sums for his services?

Very, very odd decision...

Posted by: 22206no1 | January 13, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I got that move.

Posted by: tab5g | January 13, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I', with the Arlingtonian on this one: No chance do I deal VDB for Oduro. Unless he just wants out to get away from Osorio or something. No chance, Lance...

Posted by: yankiboy | January 13, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Word is that DVB is holding out for a big payday-- over the $270k he has been making. Keep in mind that NY only paid half of his salary, thanks to terms of their trade with KC. So yes, Dallas is paying a lot. This is largely a salary dump.

There are also picks involved. 3rd Degree suggests that NY picks up Dallas' first round pick, and the two teams swap second round picks.

I've got mixed feelings. DVD is going to be 33 this year, and it's always better to trade a player a bit too early than a bit too late. But he's a solid two-way left sided player with a lot of guile, and that should serve him well in the last part of his career.

Oduro is a nice pickup, though. Dirt cheap, very fast, a nice touch. With Richards, Kandji, and Oduro, they'll be very fast in the attack, which will help create space for Angel.

The draft picks, the salary dump, Oduro: this doesn't seem like a bad deal for NY. The original Dallas proposal, with Dax McCartey and a pick for VDB, would have been stupid. This ain't bad.

The real issue is whether Osorio, given a lot of time and a lot of money, will revert to his pre-2008 ability to pick good players. He gambled big, and lost, on Conde and Marmol last year, and had to scramble to find late season replacements.

I think Rojas could be very nice on the left, given time to settle in (he's obviously a talented player, but forced into a settled lineup, no one quite understood what his role was, not the least himself). Cichero is gone. I don't have much faith in Pietrovallo, but he's no worse than Stammler or any other (cheaper) d-mids.

Keep in mind that Osorio figured out how to make a bunch of scrubs into a cup contender. It would be a mistake to doubt him too much, too early.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

As much as I would like to see a USL1 side in Detroit (to help bolster the USL goes I have no plans of going see my Islanders play there. I'd rather throw that change to go see them play in Montreal since Uncle Joey got a reality check)--who in their right mind would pick NOW to establish ANY sort of pro-franchise in Detroit? This guys must have access to some great capital coz with the credit freeze...

I hope that it works out.

Posted by: yankiboy | January 13, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

With Richards, Kandji, and Oduro, they'll be very fast in the attack, which will help create space for Angel.
-------------------------------------------MJ, I thought that Kandji was headed to Carolina Railhawks and that Angel wanted to head back to play in Argentina. That is what the rumours were. has there been a change.

Posted by: yankiboy | January 13, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand the DVB move. DVB was clearly one of Red Bull's best players. You guys made it to the MLS Cup final. Doesn't it make more sense to keep the pieces that are working (DVB being one of those) and upgrade the pieces that need to work better (defense?)? This move might have saved NYRB a few dollars, but that is about it.

Posted by: Ron16 | January 13, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Donovan will be #3 forward, and Podolski will be gone. Good for US MNT and good for DC United, no?

Posted by: OWNTF | January 13, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Impressive by Donovan. I have no doubt in my mind his transfer will become permanent and he will exercise his demons.

Starting to get worried by the fact that the transfer market is so quiet for DC...We're looking pretty thin in the back and up top.

Posted by: strago | January 13, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

That move by Gourcuff was beyond sick. Wow.

Posted by: EdTheRed | January 13, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

so MLSNET isn't streaming the last 3 hours of the draft? I thought they would (like the last 5 years) or ESPN 360 would show something?

Posted by: undrafted | January 13, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Exercise his demons? Wouldn't that help their core strength and endurance?

Posted by: arswift24 | January 13, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"MJ, I thought that Kandji was headed to Carolina Railhawks and that Angel wanted to head back to play in Argentina. That is what the rumours were. has there been a change."

Angel is almost certainly staying with NY this year.

Kandji is in all likelihood staying with NY. The deal between Atlanta and Carolina was a manouevre by Atlanta's owner prior to bankruptcy to realize some value for an asset. Rather than pay the rest of the transfer fee to Atlanta, NY will pay it to Carolina. The purpose was NOT to give Carolina another player, but for Arthur Blank to be able to realize the value of an asset prior to liquidation.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"This move might have saved NYRB a few dollars, but that is about it."

A few dollars that will be used to replace one aging midfielder, who has a more than capable replacement, with two younger defenders. Spare me the concern trolling.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

arswift24: Funny, funny. Best laugh of the morning.

Posted by: oz4dcu | January 13, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Arthur Blank has nothing to do with the Silverbacks.

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

MLS and ESPN, even on a Friday afternoon are not going to pay for the production of the flawed infomercial that is MLS. Beyond the addition of Seattle - I'm not sure there's a lot of chest beating the suits in Manhattan want to do right now. They're hoping to save their breath for some other events.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | January 13, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, I'm an idiot. Wrong Atlanta team owner. I meant Boris Guernica or whatever his name is. I'll try Ted Turner next.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Boris Jerkunica, Wiki tells me.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

You can get the details at

Basically, it's NY's decision whether to pay the money to Carolina that would have previously gone to Atlanta, or to not pursue him. In any case, his MLS rights are owned by NY, so Carolina would have to play him or sell him overseas.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Far be it from me to nitpick, Steve. But fans of Bristol Rovers would probably frown upon the use of just "Bristol" when referring to their hated rivals, Bristol City.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 13, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't trolling, idiot. I happen to think VDB is a good player, and it was a mistake for NY to trade him. If you disagree, fine. But just because someone does not see things your way does not mean they are "trolling".

Posted by: Ron16 | January 13, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Good point on Bristol. I'll fix it. Thanks!

Posted by: Steve Goff | January 13, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

$240k is over 10% of the salary cap, not "a few dollars," and it's the difference between VDB's and Oduro's salaries.

As for "that's about it": Oduro is a pretty good player, fast and very cheap. And NY went from having the #14 and #29 picks in the first three rounds of a reportedly loaded draft to having #11, #14, and #18.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand the surprise at this move by NJ. It may or may not work out for them -- but it's not *obviously* a bad move. They were going to have to pay a *ton* more money to keep vdB there. A *ton*. And as good as he played last year, he's on the downside of his career, not the upside. For much less money, Jersey just picked up the fastest forward in the entire league in Oduro. His ball skills aren't great yet, but he's pretty young and still has a lot of upside. And with the money they saved (and the improved draft pick situation), Jersey can do a number of things to strengthen their roster.

Don't get me wrong, it may still turn out to have been a bad move; but it's not *obviously* wrong, by any means.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | January 13, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Arthur Blank has nothing to do with the Silverbacks.

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2009 11:03 AM

Arthur Blank will not get an expansion MLS team in Atlanta. Though MLS execs will convince him that DC would be a good investment, he'll take United off the hands of MacFarland/Chang. Then he'll build HDC II on Poplar Point with a big Home Depot in the development. Done and done :-)

Posted by: Kev29 | January 13, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I've always been a big fan of that Boris Guernica painting -- the cubist take on the shtetl residents uprising against the horsebacked Kossacks is particularly powerful as it captures the shock of the tormentors getting their comeuppance.

But, seriously, folks.....

That Gourcoff goal has to be the early favorite for goal of the year, even if it does come from the lowly French ligue. Rooney had a wildly cheeky effort against Chelsea on Sunday, kicking the ball in by reaching between Cole's legs, but the skill Gourcoff showed is jaw-dropping.

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I think Christopher has it totally right. Van Den Burgh, by default, was the team's unofficial MVP last year. He is a very good two-way wing player, and was versatile enough to fill all the holes that popped up as the result of injuries and Osorio's dithering.

Ideally, though, NY won't need that kind of versatility, because they'll have a roster where there aren't significant problems at left back, central midfield, etc.

Will that necessarily happen? No. Osorio had every opportunity to fill those positions (which were identifiable as weaknesses a year ago) with better quality players. Instead, he rolled the dice that he would be able to force a trade out of Chicago for Conde, and not only did he not get Conde, Chicago was content to waste a big pile of money on Marmol-- who they didn't need and couldn't use-- just to stick it to NY. I'd say it worked, except somehow NY outperformed all expectations in the playoffs.

In any case, Osorio was left filling those positions mid-year with whatever players he could find, which inflicted Cichero and Pietrovallo on the fans. (I'm not counting Rojas, because he clearly has skills, and has a good chance of working out if he actually gets to gel with the team.) Now they're stuck, unfortunately, with Pietrovallo, but he's no worse than other (cheaper) d-mids.

What NY was looking for was the ability to replace one starter with two, or even three, and obtain depth. There may well be a drop-off from VDB to Rojas or Mbuta or whover plays on the left side of midfield. But assuming (and it's a question mark) that Osorio can sign couple good players in the $125k to $150k range, the trade will be a positive. And if Oduro and one draft pick can contribute, that'll be a huge gain on the positive side of the ledger.

Keep in mind as well that VDB isn't getting any younger, though I think he has at least one, maybe two, very good years left. I think he'll help Dallas a lot. He's a class act, and I'll miss him. But something had to give on the NY roster. It's now up to Osorio to find some Conde-quality players out there.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

SG, something tells me you're not exactly thrilled about going to the draft. Come on, they're fun! Nothing like watching 2 consecutive teams use their 5 minute timeout and all their allotted time, only to take no-name players that don't make it past first cuts.


Van den Bergh for Oduro: It will be hard to fully judge this move until we see what NY is doing with the space they saved. On the surface, though, Oduro is a bit redundant for NY (Richards and Kandji already make them a very fast team in the attack), while Van den Bergh is perfect for Dallas. NY fans will find out very quickly that Oduro can be alternately very good or downright awful; his speed is always there, but his touch, finishing, and the intelligence of his runs all seem to vary wildly from game to game. There's a reason a team with only three legit forwards was perfectly willing to give up one.

Basically, the deal is a win for Dallas while NY still has a significant amount to get right. The player(s) signed with the cap space have to be solid, and the draft picks can't be wasted. The potential is there for NY to come out on top, but there's also the strong possibility of Osorio getting another waste of space like Pietravallo (who is worth around 1/4 of his salary, tops...we get the same impact out of Vide down here).

MJ: You're right about moving a player too soon rather than too late, but I think that this was a year too soon and that NY could have gotten more out of Dallas.

That Gourcuff goal is ridiculous. I feel like the PSG defender that was victimized by the first move must declare an oath of fealty to Gourcuff.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | January 13, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

CR, I can't disagree with you, except to say that I'm really not sure that NY could have got more. There's very little on the team they can get any value at all for, yet they need to make some moves. Some of their overachievers from last season are for real, like Ubiparipovic, who is on the verge of being a really fine playmaker in MLS, and Stammler, but I don't have a lot of faith in the bulk of the roster.

The most expendable players who can bring value are Magee and Van Den Burgh, possibly Conway. It would have been tricky to squeeze that much more out of VDB. I'm not delighted, but a huge cap dump, a decent bench option at forward (currently: Angel + Wolyniec, with an unproven Kandji), and one for two swap for higher draft picks isn't bad.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

He actually DID look like Zidane on that goal. What control..

Posted by: StewartDC8 | January 13, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The opening match vs LA is looking in favor of DC due to the fact that Donovan may stay longer in Germany and Becks in Italy. I am still suprised that DC is not the front runner for Chavez. It seemed that for the past 2 months Chavez has been the main rumbling of players coming to DC. Maybe DC is counting of the Superdraft to provide this year?

Posted by: AnthonyTheGreat | January 13, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

yes, this Gourcuff goal is simply unfair to the rest of the mere mortals on that pitch.

Posted by: iammrben1 | January 13, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Having read Van Den Burgh's reasons for asking for a trade, it's starting to make a lot more sense:


VDB's son has serious health problems (we had heard this last year, with no details);

VDB's wife is from Dallas, and her family can help take care of their son;

NY wanted to keep VDB, even at the higher salary, but he said he needed to move to Dallas, and wanted only to be in NY for one more year.

I think those are entirely legitimate reasons, and the NY front office deserves kudos for accomodating his needs. I hope it doesn't come back to bite them on the ass.

It's really worth reading Lewis' blog, which makes it clear that it was the right thing to do. And I'm glad Dallas didn't play the kind of hardball that their original counteroffer indicated.

DVB is one of my favorite NY players ever, and I'm glad we did right by him.

In other news from Brian Lewis' blog, Macoumba Kandji will definitely be signed on a permanent basis for NY.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 13, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Dude, I thought this was a DC United blog... Take all this Red Bulls talk back to New Jersey!:-)

Steve!, I for one kinda appreciate you going down to St. Louis for us. I'm sure you'll give us the straight dope that the SI Addicts are looking for. Hopefully it won't be too miserable. Just try to remember Cuba, or Gautemala, or any of the basket full of exotic locales you got to travel to in the name of great reporting in 08!:-)
Cheers Goffsterinho!

Posted by: DadRyan | January 13, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

So why is the headline "Donovan off the mark?"

I feel as though there is something lost in translation. Any German speakers out there want to chime in? "Chime" means ring? ... sorta...

Posted by: lprevolution | January 13, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Iprevolution: I thought the same thing. Read the headline and before I got a chance to read it I got called away from the computer. I was stewing for a couple hours about how Donovan could score a goal for Bayern and be called off mark, and Beckham's boring and ineffective AC Milan premier is some sort of success. All the while David sounding surprised he could keep up at all.
then I read the article and didn't get the headline...

Posted by: DadRyan | January 13, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

And THAT is why it's call the beautiful game. Simply amazing. I can't even think of an equivalent highlight that I've seen on Sports Center that could come close to that. Amazing.

Posted by: TCompton | January 14, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

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