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Tuesday kickaround: MLS, D.C. United, Ronaldinho

I am back in the States but not back on the clock. Not officially, anyway. I'm planning to resume standard operating procedure this weekend (D.C. United vs. Portsmouth -- massive). However, with so much bubbling to the surface on local, national and international fronts, I thought I would pass along a few items you may or may not have seen or heard elsewhere or found on the Insider's fab Twitter page the past few days.

It's the silly season, when news of player transfers, signings and trades spin out of control. So let's begin with.....

*The Los Angeles Galaxy is interested in Ronaldinho -- no secret there. The contract offer that I've heard: $24 million for four seasons. According to one source, the Galaxy sees Ronaldinho as one of the few players available on the international market who can "move the needle" in the general U.S. public.

*Luciano Emilio, the 2007 MLS most valuable player waived by D.C. United last week, has had preliminary conversations with both the Galaxy and Columbus Crew.

*U.S. World Cup defender Jonathan Bornstein will move to Mexican club Tigres from Chivas USA after the MLS season. His league contract expires this year.

Much more.....

*Midfielder Sal Zizzo, a former U.S. under-20 star who has been saddled by injury at German club Hanover, has signed with MLS, the league confirmed. He will be allocated to a club through a weighted lottery Wednesday afternoon. Another young American is close to joining the league, as well, the Insider has learned. Details to come.

*New England midfielder Steve Ralston, the MLS career assists leader whose return to the Revolution was interrupted by an elbow injury, will retire after making a final appearance in tonight's SuperLiga match against Morelia at Gillette Stadium (8 p.m. ET, Telefutura).

*Chicago, which acquired Mexican forward Nery Castillo last week, is on the verge of another signing. Details to come.

*The Honduran federation has reportedly taken interest in D.C. United midfielder Andy Najar for an under-20 national team call-up. (He is even the subject of an online poll.) However, one of his reps tells me that no formal request has been received. Najar, 17, is a permanent U.S. resident (green card) but still years from being eligible for American citizenship and national team consideration.

*X-rays on DCU midfielder-forward Chris Pontius's right foot were negative, but the club is analyzing results of an MRI exam. Don't expect him in uniform for the time being.

*Ticket sales for the USA-Brazil friendly Aug. 10 at the Meadowlands have reached 37,000.

*The 2011 College Cup for men will be held in the Birmingham, Ala., area, the NCAA announced. This year's final four is set for Santa Barbara, Calif.

By Steve Goff  |  July 20, 2010; 1:11 PM ET
Categories:  Americans Abroad , Brazil , D.C. United , MLS , Mexico , U.S. men's national team  | Tags: D.C. United, MLS, Ronaldinho  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Jaime Moreno named to MLS all-star squad
Next: Zizzo lottery, D.C. United news, Mathis' retirement?

Comments

My guess is the other young american player coming home is Adu. His time overseas has to be done, no doubt about it!

Posted by: dculuva | July 20, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

That poll asked what country will Andy Najar end up playing for. It's interesting that the results--on a Honduran web site--are currently almost evenly split. (If the question were who do you want him to play for I'm sure it would be very different.)

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | July 20, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Regions Park - home of the mighty Birmingham Barons! I'm literally 5 minutes away from it, though I have a feeling this tourney won't be too much of a success down here (heck even the SEC baseball tournament struggles if Alabama or Auburn don't make a deep run).

Posted by: PEddy | July 20, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

@dculuva,

Goff said a young player. Fredy's 36.

But in all seriousness, would anyone be surprised if he's about to become United's second DP?

Posted by: benonthehill | July 20, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Preston Zimmerman?

Posted by: EssEff | July 20, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I have to imagine Najar plays for Honduras. I personally could care less. Anyone should represent the country the wish (if the potentially have to option). I hope he as a great career in Europe too.

Gotta imagine it is Adu too. Wouldn't mind it. Would love it if DC could get one of the two (or both haha).

I hope the 'Dinho deal goes through and that the Fire's second signing is Blanco.

Posted by: grubbsbl | July 20, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why Goff says Najar is "years" away from being a US citizen. If the national team wants him, I assume the process could be done in a couple months. They rushed through citizenship for David Regis in '98.

Posted by: neil_g | July 20, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why Goff says Najar is "years" away from being a US citizen. If the national team wants him, I assume the process could be done in a couple months. They rushed through citizenship for David Regis in '98.

Posted by: neil_g | July 20, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Benonthehill, now that I think about it no. I am not even sure if I would be mad too. I have already got used to DP not doing much for DC...


Seriously though I would be a big fan of an Adu signing.

Posted by: grubbsbl | July 20, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if the immigration system works the way if did in '98. I think now that the Department of Homeland Security is involved it is a longer process, and one that is harder to circumvent for athletic reasons.

Posted by: grubbsbl | July 20, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

They rushed through citizenship for David Regis in '98.
Posted by: neil_g
==========

Regis married a US citizen and was eligible earlier than the standard naturalization timeline.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | July 20, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why Goff says Najar is "years" away from being a US citizen. If the national team wants him, I assume the process could be done in a couple months. They rushed through citizenship for David Regis in '98.

Posted by: neil_g | July 20, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Well in that case, Bakary Soumare would be playing for the US instead of Mali right now but unfortunately he was going to have to wait two years for that.

Posted by: AshrafEl-Arini | July 20, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why Goff says Najar is "years" away from being a US citizen. If the national team wants him, I assume the process could be done in a couple months. They rushed through citizenship for David Regis in '98.

Posted by: neil_g | July 20, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Well in that case, Bakary Soumare would be playing for the US instead of Mali right now but unfortunately he was going to have to wait two years for that.

Posted by: AshrafEl-Arini | July 20, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I've not seen a lot of Najar this year, just the highlights of DC games on MLSnet. The few goals I've seen were pretty impressive. Seems like he should be on the US teams' radar. What do you who've seen a lot of him think? While like someone said, it's the young man's decision and nobody else's, if he's quite good, hell I'd prefer he played here than there!

Posted by: TwoIsle | July 20, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"The Silly Season" . . . C. M. Kornbluth, 1950. Classic.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | July 20, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Najar is the real deal, with a tremendous upside. He can play several positions, he's good with the ball at his feet, his passes are intelligent and creative, and he's got a nose for goal. That, and he's young enough that he should still get significantly better.

Unfortunately for U.S. fans, IIRC he has stated that, although he enjoys living in the United States, he considers himself first and foremost a Honduran. I think he has a bright future ahead of him, but almost certainly in the blue uniform of his native Honduras.

Posted by: Xill | July 20, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I have to admit that I read Goff's comment wrong about the young player. He just said a young player is going to sign with MLS, not a young player that is overseas! But I still have no doubt that Adu will be here soon. I think DC should get him back, but I do not think they should pay DP money for him or anything close to that. He is not the player he was 3 years ago and in my eyes, does not deserve to be making much.

Speaking of the weighted lottery, how does DC end up back on top of this list? Didn't we just get Perkings through it? Shouldn't we be on the bottom?

Posted by: dculuva | July 20, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Emilio would be a nice fit for the Crew, might find himself on the end of a lot of balls from GBS.

Posted by: OWNTF | July 20, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

With Adu, MLS might be a foil in the negotiation between Aris and Benfica. But I would really like to see Freddy back in MLS.

As for other names: would Feilhaber qualify as a young player? He's 24 or 25. He could be the guy. Or it could be one of those Everton kids who were recently dropped.

Posted by: david93 | July 20, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

As for other names: would Feilhaber qualify as a young player? He's 24 or 25. He could be the guy.

Posted by: david93 | July 20, 2010 2:07 PM

After Benny's WC performance, I doubt that he's the guy.

Posted by: VTUnited | July 20, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

OT: Cutting-edge scientific research:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/science/13obrefs.html

Posted by: universityandpark | July 20, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if another of the effects of Donovan's success is that younger players who fail in Europe are now more open to coming back to the States. I have been hoping for awhile that Adu would see the wisdom in playing every day in MLS, and that he would come back to his roots.

Funny about him being 36, heh heh.

Posted by: DaninFL | July 20, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Goff reports on Twitter that United has been linked with MK Dons midfielder Jemel Johnson. He was born in the US, moved to the UK at the age of 5, has dual-citizenship. 25 years old.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | July 20, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I was already excited about Adu.....

Posted by: grubbsbl | July 20, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

OT: Cutting-edge scientific research:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/science/13obrefs.html
Posted by: universityandpark
==========

Interesting. So refs who are fluent in both left-to-right and right-to-left written languages call the fewest fouls? What about the top-to-bottom orientation? The article is missing many controls.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | July 20, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm assuming Jemel Johnson is not the guy Goff's talking about in this post, since Johnson's described by his club as being on trial. Goff seems to be describing a formal move to the league.

Adu makes sense for United, I guess, in the sense that he could conceivably fit several roles where we need quality and depth (F, CAM, LM). Plus, like others have mentioned previously, United in its present state is going to have a tough time attracting a name that will "move the needle." Adu may the only guy who 1) could do that and 2) might be desperate enough to come here.

Posted by: benonthehill | July 20, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

No one hating Adu yet??? Unprecedented. And it's been almost two hours already.

I'd be happy to watch him play here again.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | July 20, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Benonthehill... I hope your right. No offense but I am really unconvinced that a guy who plays in the League One will come in and dominate in MLS.

Also, Adu could potentially be a great signing for DC if he reaches form.

I am sure the Adu haters are having a meeting to decide how they will respond to this.

Posted by: grubbsbl | July 20, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

the only needle that would move with an Adu return would be Tony Kornheiser's. I would welcome his skills, and the chance for him to finally develop to his potential, but his novelty (in regard to the non-soccer fan public) wore off a long time ago. That being said, I sincerely hope he comes back to play for DCU.

Posted by: VTUnited | July 20, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

VTU... I agree but if we could sign him to the lower DP range it would be great for DC. If he preforms well you could expect a small uptick from the non-regular DC United base that are soccer fans (The type of fans that go to a game or two a year; with an in form and successful Adu you could reasonable say it would garnish some excitment).

Posted by: grubbsbl | July 20, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

grubbsbl - completely agree - I was just saying he wouldnt "move the needle" anywhere close to Beckham, Henry, Ronaldinho, or even Landon Donovan (which is basically stating the obvious).

Posted by: VTUnited | July 20, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"Jemal was very popular with the fans because he was one of those players that had tremendous pace, and he had a very good shot," said Roger Widdecombe, a member of the MK Dons Supporters Association, over the phone.
--------------------------------------
It has been quite a while since pace and good shot have been in anyway tied to DC United which is probably why this won't happen. It would be nice though.

Posted by: tcbannon | July 20, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

@VTUnited,

No argument there, really. I'm comparing Adu to less high-profile DPs: Lopez, Landin, and the obvious, Boskovic. Even Schelotto and Angel, if they've had an impact at the gate, have been because of their play, and Schelotto because he's raised the team's overall level.

I'm guessing Adu has more impact on draw than any of those six. Whether he could make an impact on the field is anybody's guess.

And of course this Adu thing is all wild, uninformed speculation.

Posted by: benonthehill | July 20, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

They rushed through citizenship for David Regis in '98.
Posted by: neil_g
==========

Regis married a US citizen and was eligible earlier than the standard naturalization timeline.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | July 20, 2010 1:41 PM

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

Exactly. Some soccer-loving USA lassie needs to step and marry the kid....

Posted by: fischy | July 20, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

This may be all-time favorite Goff post -- chock-full of teasers and speculation. You rock, Goffino.

Obviously we're speculating, but it's reasonable to suppose Jemal Johnson is the young American he teased about. He could be a really good addition for United, as he's always seemed a potent goal-scorer. On the other hand, Allsopp did pretty well in England's lower leagues, too. Difference may be that Johnson has youth and speed -- and is probably looking to showcase his skills for the USMNT...something that wasn't really happening in England. It would be interesting to hear how he's looking for United.

Posted by: fischy | July 20, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Exactly. Some soccer-loving USA lassie needs to step and marry the kid....

Posted by: fischy | July 20, 2010 3:49 PM
==================

He'd be making a dog's dinner of his life if he did that.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | July 20, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm still harboring hope for DeMerit for DCU.

Posted by: OWNTF | July 20, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Honduras, with only 2 World Cup appearances, is hardly a lock to p/u Najar.

I don't think it's unusual either, for him, or any young guy born elsewhere to think of himself as not American. Half the 2nd generation Mexican-Americans I work with consider themselves Mexican.

Posted by: delantero | July 20, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

But at the same time, there are others that don't. I work with a kid my age (21) that only moved here at like 6 or 9 or so and considers himself American, but does still root for Mexico...

Grrr.

Good fodder though.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | July 20, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

It does seem that DC United's miserable results may finally yield something good. Based on their record in the last full season's worth of games, DC has the best chance of winning the Zizzo lottery.

It's impossible to know how well he's recovered from his knee problems, but I'd be willing to venture he'll be way more successful than Szetela was. For one thing, Zizzo was always a better player, and there's no reason to assume he's su

I'd love to see Zizzo and Najar manning the wings for United for years. Push Pontius back up top, where he can continue to work on his finishing...and Tino can return to his tweener role, filling in where needed. Between Hernandez, Johnson (getting ahead of things, I know), and Pontius could be a decent trio up top.

I'd still like to know where DC stands with the salary cap. I"m guessing that Zizzo and Johnson would eat up what's left of the cap room...but I'm still curious. Other teams are bringing in marquee players -- even 2 or 3 DPs. Is DC looking for cheaper options because they no longer have the cap room, or is it because Chang can't or won't pay out of his own pocket to bring in a real DP?

Posted by: fischy | July 20, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

That should read:

Zizzo was always a better player, and there's no reason to assume he's suffering from similar "personal" problems.

Posted by: fischy | July 20, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

What, I saw Tool last night, and as usual, their performance was better than anything I've seen from DC United in a long while.

Tool > DCU

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | July 20, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the weighted lottery, how does DC end up back on top of this list? Didn't we just get Perkings through it? Shouldn't we be on the bottom?

Posted by: dculuva | July 20, 2010 1:55 PM
------------------------------------------------------

The weighted lottery is different than the allocation draft. The allocation order is determined at the end of last season. The order changes only if trades are made, or if a team uses its slot (moving them to the bottom of the list).

The weighted lottery has always been a one-off thing, with the chances of winning the lottery determined just prior to the draw...based on the teams' records over the preceding season's worth of games (starting mid-July last year, through today). In theory, if there's more than one weighted lottery this year, DC United could be most likely to win each.

Lottery eligible players aren't those with senior USA caps, but are:

(i) Generation adidas players signed after the MLS SuperDraft;

(ii) Draft eligible players to whom an MLS contract was offered but who failed to sign with the League prior...

Players are assigned via the lottery system in order to prevent a player from potentially influencing his destination club with a strategic holdout.

Posted by: fischy | July 20, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Xill is right. Najar is the real deal. Talented, smart and a hard worker. If anyone can influence him (and DHS) to get him on the USMNT, it would be a great move.

Posted by: ldmay | July 20, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm still harboring hope for DeMerit for DCU.

Posted by: OWNTF | July 20, 2010 4:12 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
+1 Agree wholeheartedly

As far as Adu goes, zzzzzzzzzz.....

Posted by: boda-united | July 20, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

People are slow on the trigger after a mostly disappointing season and have forgotten much of our proud past.

Personally, I think that Facundo Adu guy was just awful and is the only reason we didn't win more World Club Championship trophies to keep in our brand new marble stadium at Poplar Point.

As far as Jemal Johnson goes, he might be a good pickup. If I remember right, he had some important goals and also some good crosses (IIRC) that led to goals for MK Dons when they were fairly ambitious and pushing for promotion to the Championship Division. There used to be regular threads about him in the BigSoccer Yanks Abroad boards.

I think he played well there for a season or two while never quite locking down the starting position but was still a regular contributor. Then I think he had contract disputes and started falling out with folks that were important for his career advancement.

I've seen some decent highlights of his (but Mira Mupier had a bad-ass YouTube compilation, too) and he ought to be able to at least push Tino, Pontius, Najar, etc for a wide midfield or forward role.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | July 20, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

When I clicked on the poll, 64% of respondents had answered that Najar will end up playing for the US. This is kind of interesting, assuming that the results are even roughly scientific. I've been skeptical of the notion that the US has a shot at Najar, but now I'm wondering if the Hondurans know something I don't, or are just naturally pessimistic.

Posted by: BooThisMan | July 20, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Shawn Mitchell: "The Crew would not consider signing Emilio without a trial."

http://blog.dispatch.com/crew/2010/07/tuesday_quickies_4.shtml

Posted by: SportzNut21 | July 20, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Zizzo is such a unique player in US soccer. Truly a box-to-box, touchline winger, capable of dribbling and crossing and running his tail feathers off. Problem is, he's been injured. However, he has the work ethic to put those issues behind him (unlike Szetela).

Posted by: UnitedDemon | July 20, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Only 37,000 for USMNT-Brazil? We just had 46,000 for Sounders-Celtic. Hopefully it picks up.

Posted by: j_doe | July 20, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Whoops -- Might have spoken too soon about having Zizzo and Najar on DCU's wings for a few years. MLS-rumors has a link to a Brit blog that claims reliable sourcing about an effort to arrange a post-season trial for Najar with the Gunners (Arsenal). That would definitely be the biggest move by a DCU player yet.

Posted by: fischy | July 20, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Adu do much the same with Man U at about the same age? Pretty low risk proposition for the English teams.

Posted by: OWNTF | July 20, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Adu trialed with ManU. I meant that an actual move to Arsenal would be the biggest yet by a DCU player -- bigger than even Nelsen's move to Blackburn...and Gallardo's move to River Plate (heh heh)

Posted by: fischy | July 20, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Villarreal are looking for offers on Jozy Altidore and it doesn't look like Ajax is the guaranteed taker.

That would be a nice add to our attack :-)

Posted by: Southeasterner | July 20, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

With regard to Najar, it is worth noting that economists and psychologists have consistently found that when it comes to the choices young adults make (and even more so for teens), a bird in the hand really is worth two in the bush. For instance, this is what Clemson economist John Warner has found in his research into how the armed forces can best attract recruits, and then get them to reenlist further down the line. This does not bode well for the USMNT's prospects of getting Najar.

Posted by: universityandpark | July 20, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

please DCU, do not sign Freddy Adu... Andy Najar is already a better DC United player than Freddy ever was.

Posted by: diego_r | July 21, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Adu a DP? Gimme a break! He was coming off the bench, when he did at all, in Salt Lake before going overseas. Freddy is not DP material (contrast with Nery, Thierry). Sure, welcome him back to DC United, but he still has so much to prove. As for Jemal, struggling in the 3rd and 4th tiers of English football does not bode well for success in the MLS these days...

Posted by: bartapest1 | July 21, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

@dculuva,

Goff said a young player. Fredy's 36.
==============

Maybe there's two. The Freddy Adu who played at DC United just turned 21.

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | July 21, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

@dculuva,

Goff said a young player. Fredy's 36.
==============

Maybe there's two. The Freddy Adu who played at DC United just turned 21.

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | July 21, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

There is but one Freddy Adu. The comment about him being 36 was a joke about the birthers who claim he's not 21 years of age.

Posted by: universityandpark | July 21, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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