MLS opening weekend schedule
MLS opening weekend schedule
Kansas City at Philadelphia, 4; Toronto at Vancouver, 6:30; D.C. United at Houston, 8 (NBC Sports Network); Colorado at Dallas, 8:30; Montreal at Seattle, 10:30; Columbus at Chivas USA, 10:30.
Chicago at Los Angeles, 5 (Univision); New York at Portland, 7:30 (ESPN2); Real Salt Lake at San Jose, 10.
The Starting XI
Bye-bye, Becks: David Beckham has moved from the Los Angeles Galaxy to Paris Saint-Germain. After a rocky start to his six-year MLS journey, Beckham met expectations on and off the field by winning consecutive league championships and helping grow the league with transcending appeal. To say he saved MLS, though, would be inaccurate: The league was in good shape when he arrived and, thanks in part to his charm and performance, MLS appears to be in very good shape entering the post-Becks era.
Donovan, in concert?: Landon Donovan spent the winter not on loan in Europe or on U.S. national team assignment, but contemplating his future. With year-round demands taking a heavy toll (MLS, World Cup qualifying, American poster boy for the league), the Galaxy superstar went on sabbatical and doesn’t plan to resume workouts until late March. Will he rediscover his hunger for the sport? Although only 31 (as of next week), Donovan has performed in a glaring spotlight since he was a teenager and just seems mentally exhausted.
Sir, yes, Sir: Two of the five new head coaches are familiar names to MLS fans — Toronto FC’s Ryan Nelsen and the New York Red Bulls’ Mike Petke, defenders on United’s last championship squad (2004). Nelsen, 35, abruptly retired after eight years in the English Premier League, while Petke, 37, was promoted from an interim position. The other newcomers are with Portland (Caleb Porter), Montreal (Marco Schallibaum) and Chivas USA (Jose Luis Sanchez Sola).
House of Payne: With new management stamping its imprint on United, Kevin Payne was nudged aside after running the club since its inception 17 years ago. He moved to Toronto FC, a mess of an organization that has burned through seven coaches and never qualified for the playoffs in its six years of existence. Payne’s first bold move was hiring Nelsen, who captained his United teams but has no coaching experience. Payne’s patience will be tested as Nelsen learns the craft and the club redesigns the roster.
Notable departures: D.C. United D Andy Najar (Anderlecht/Belgium) and MF Branko Boskovic (Rapid Vienna), Kansas City MFs Kei Kamara (Norwich City/England) and Roger Espinoza (Wigan/England), Dallas MF Brek Shea (Stoke City/England), Seattle F Fredy Montero (Millonarios/Colombia), New York D Rafael Marquez (Leon/Mexico), Toronto MF Torsten Frings (retired) and Philadelphia MF Freddy Adu (to be determined).
Notable arrivals: Kansas City F Claudio Bieler (LDU Quito/Ecuador), Portland MF Diego Valeri (Lanus/Argentina), Real Salt Lake F Robbie Findley (Nottingham Forest/England), Los Angeles GK Carlo Cudicini (Spurs/England), D.C. United Fs Rafael (Bahia/Brazil) and Carlos Ruiz (Veracruz/Mexico), New York MF Juninho (Vasco da Gama/Brazil), Montreal F Andrea Pisanu (Bologna/Italy), Portland D Mikael Silvestre (Werder Bremen/Germany) and Dallas GK Raul Fernandez (Nice/France).