The Red Bulls are set to welcome Robinho and his Brazilian side Santos for a friendly on March 20 that will mark the Grand Opening of their new stadium, and the proper MLS regular season kicks off five days after that, when the expansion Philadelphia Union is scheduled to visit Seattle to take on last year’s expansion (and U.S. Open Cup–winning) team, Sounders FC.
With today’s announcement that league management and the union have agreed to put their dispute before a federal mediator, perhaps those games will kick off as planned after all. In that light, here are a few updates from around the league:
• Seattle signed 34-year-old Swiss international Blaise Nkufo, a striker who currently plays his club ball for FC Twente in the Dutch league. Nkufo has 27 caps and seven goals for Switzerland, and he’s the alltime leading scorer for Twente, with 111 goals in 213 appearances as of this writing. He will join Sounders FC on a free transfer following the World Cup this summer.
• Conor Casey agreed to a three-year contract extension with his hometown Colorado Rapids.
• New England Revolution striker Kheli Dube (eight goals in 20 starts for the Revs last year) signed a new contract with the club and got his green card, which means he’ll count as a domestic player this season (and the Revs have an open foreign-player roster spot).
• Despite Everton manager David Moyes’s suggestions to the contrary (heavily peppered with the word “keen”), on-loan Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan will not extend his loan deal with the Premiership side, as Galaxy GM and coach Bruce Arena told MLSnet.com that the club was “not interested” in altering the original terms.
Arena did suggest that an MLS work stoppage could change the club’s outlook, but for now, LD will be back in LA on March 15.