Kandji Tore His ACL on MLS Cup–Winning Play

Turns out Macoumba Kandji wasn’t time-wasting after his nutmeg-and-toe-poke led to an own goal that won the MLS Cup for Colorado this past Sunday night.

Dallas players complained that the Rapids striker was taking too long to clear the field after the play—and understandably so: the clock was ticking, and their title dreams were slipping away.

But if the fact that Kandji left the game, leaving his team to play with 10 men the rest of the way (they had used all their subs), wasn’t evidence enough of an injury, test results yesterday confirmed a devastating one: The lanky Senegalese attacker suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament when Dallas defender Ugo Ihemelu landed on his left knee at the end of the sequence.

Though Kandji told ESPN Los Angeles’s Scott French that it was the “best way ever!” to get injured, he’ll be out of action until next July or August.

Mock Expansion Draft Sampler

The MLS Expansion Draft kicks off in about two hours, and the list of available players is more talent-laden than in any previous edition of the event.

Marquee names such as Juan Pablo Angel, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and Jimmy Conrad are on the docket alongside lesser-known gems such as Dax McCarty, Robbie Russell, and Sanna Nyassi.

How will it all shake out? Here are three pundits’ predictions—click the names to see their mock drafts:

Ives Galarcep, Fox Sports

Ridge Mahoney, Soccer America

Matthew Doyle, MLS Soccer.com

There’s considerable variation among the three, but all agree that Dallas midfielder Dax McCarty will be gone after the first two picks.

Other hot commodities include Seattle striker and DP Blaise Nkufo, Houston winger Corey Ashe, Sounders midfielder Nathan Sturgis, and 21-year-old Dallas centerback Kyle Davies.

MLS Soccer.com will be streaming it live, starting at 1:45 p.m. EST.

We’re headed out on the road for Thanksgiving, but will post about the draft and other developments over the long weekend, provided the in-laws’ Commodore 64 and dial-up access are in working order.

Enjoy the holiday, everyone.

MLS Expansion Draft: The Unprotected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps will take part in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

Today, they got a first look at the list of players they’ll have to choose from, as each MLS club officially protected 11 players from their 2010 rosters, making the remainder available in the Expansion Draft.

Generation adidas players and academy products are automatically protected (without counting against the list of 11), while DPs with no-trade clauses are required to be on the protected list.

Clubs can lose no more than two players from their current rosters in the draft.

The unprotected list contains some surprising names, including six designated players, Kansas City Wizards Sporting KC defender Jimmy Conrad, Dallas midfielder Dax McCarty, Seattle winger Sanna Nyassi, and Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad.

Here’s the full list:

Chivas USA
Borja, Carlos
Bornstein, Jonathan
Chijindu, Chukwudi
Espinoza, Rodolfo
Galindo, Maykel
Gordon, Alan
Kennedy, Dan
Lillingston, Eduardo
Maldonado, Giancarlo
Mayen, Gerson
Padilla, Jesus
Romero, Osael
Saragosa, Marcelo
Trujillo, Mariano
Zotinca, Alex

Chicago Fire
Castillo, Nery
Dykstra, Andrew
John, Collins
Krol, Krzysztof
Ljungberg, Freddie
Lowry, Peter
Robinson, Dasan
Thorrington, John
Umanzor, Deris

Colorado Rapids
Akpan, Andre
Amarikwa, Quincy
Ceus, Steward
Joyce, Ian
LaBauex, Ross
Lopez, Claudio
O’Brien, Ciaran
Palguta, Scott
Schunk, Ross
Thompson, Wells
Vagenas, Peter
Wallace, Anthony

Columbus Crew
Brunner, Eric
Burns, Kevin
Garey, Jason
Griffit, Leandre
Gruenebaum, Andy
Hejduk, Frankie
Moffat, Adam
Oughton, Duncan
Padula, Gino
Schelotto, Guillermo Barros
Williams, Joshua

FC Dallas
Avila, Eric
Cunningham, Jeff
Davies, Kyle
Edward, Edson
Guarda, Bruno
Harris, Atiba
Hernandez, Daniel
McCarty, Dax
Rodriguez, Milton
Sala, Dario
Yeisley, Jason

D.C. United
Allsopp, Daniel
Barklage, Brandon
Cristman, Adam
Graye, Jordan
Hernandez, Pablo
McTavish, Devon
Morsink, Kurt
Pena, Juan
Perkins, Troy
Rice, Barry
Varela, Carlos

Houston Dynamo
Appiah, Samuel
Ashe, Corey
Cochrane, Ryan
Mulrooney, Richard
Ngwenya, Joseph
Obodai, Anthony
Oduro, Dominic
Onstad, Pat
Robinson, Eddie

Sporting Kansas City
Aiyegbusi, Korede
Beasley, Jamar
Chhetri, Sunil
Conrad, Jimmy
Diop, Birahim
Hercegfalvi, Zoltan
Hohlbein, Aaron
Kounenakis, Nick
Kronberg, Eric
Leathers, Jonathan
Myers, Chance
Thomas, Shavar
Wolff, Josh

LA Galaxy
Berhalter, Gregg
Cazumba, Alex
Da Silva, Leonardo
Jordan, Bryan
Kirovski, Jovan
Kovalenko, Dema
Magee, Mike
Marshall, Yohance
Perk, Brian
Saunders, Josh

New England Revolution
Boggs, Zak
Burpo, Preston
Colaluca, Nico
Dube, Kheli
Gibbs, Cory
Griffiths, Jason
Linck, Roberto
Murray, Tim
Phelan, Pat
Sinovic, Seth
Smith, Khano
Stolica, Ilija

New York Red Bulls
Angel, Juan Pablo
Boyens, Andrew
Chinn, Conor
da Luz, Austin
Garcia, Irving
Nielsen, Brian
Robinson, Carl
Salou, Ibrahim
Sassano, Luke
Sutton, Greg
Talley, Carey
Ubiparipovic, Sinisa

Philadelphia Union
Arrieta, Cristian
Coudet, Eduardo
Fred
Jacobson, Andrew
Knighton, Brad
Miglioranzi, Stefani
Moreno, Alejandro
Noone, Joseph
Salinas, Shea
Seitz, Chris
Zimmerman, Nick

Real Salt Lake
Alexandre, Jean
Campos, Pablo
Findley, Robbie
Gonzalez, Nelson
Grabavoy, Ned
Horst, David
McKenzie, Rauwshan
Melia, Timothy
Nimo, Alex
Reynish, Kyle
Russell, Robbie
Schuler, Chris
Warner, Collen
Williams, Andy

San Jose Earthquakes
Alvarez, Arturo
Andre Luiz
Beitashour, Steve
Burling, Bobby
Cannon, Joe
Corrales, Ramiro
Eduardo
Geovanni
Glen, Cornell
Leitch, Chris
Morrow, Justin
Ring, Brad
Ward, Tim

Seattle Sounders FC
Baudet, Julien
Boss, Terry
Earls, Danny
Estrada, David
Gonzalez, Leonardo
Graham, Taylor
Ianni, Patrick
Levesque, Roger
Marshall, Tyrone
Montano, Miguel
Nkufo, Blaise
Noonan, Pat
Nyassi, Sanna
Scott, Zacharias
Seamon, Michael
Sturgis, Nathan
Wahl, Tyson

Toronto FC
Barrett, Chad
de Guzman, Julian
Gala, Gabe
Garcia, Nick
Hscanovics, Raivis
Ibrahim, Fuad
Kocic, Milos
Mista
Nane, Joseph
Sanyang, Amadou
Saric, Martin
Usanov, Maxim
White, O’Brian

Flurry of Trades Hits MLS On First Day of Offseason

The shavings have only just been cleared from the Colorado Rapids’ newly-engraved name on the MLS Cup trophy, and already teams are wheeling and dealing.

The expansion Portland Timbers made their first trade as an MLS franchise yesterday, sending a third-round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft (January 13, Baltimore) to New York in exchange for defender/midfielder Jeremy Hall.

We’d say that’s giving away the 22-year-old Hall, who made 37 appearances and 31 starts in two seasons with the Red Bulls, a little cheaply. It’s also showing a lot of faith in the ability of 31-year-old Chris Albright, who won the right back position over Hall this season, to stay healthy.

In Columbus, the Crew dealt veteran midfielder Brian Carroll, 29, to the Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money and a conditional second-round pick in January’s SuperDraft.

Again, we might suggest that this is selling short: Carroll has eight caps with the U.S. national team, and is a very solid holding midfielder. But they’re cleaning house in Columbus, having already declined the option on veteran playmaker Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s contract, and Carroll is no longer in their plans.

Less than 24 hours after he helped Colorado nail down the MLS Cup, playing all 30 minutes of extra time, defender Julien Baudet, 31, was shipped out to Seattle.

The Rapids sent the Frenchman and 21-year-old defender Danny Earls to Sounders FC in exchange for veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas—and this one, too, is a bit of a head-scratcher for us here at BP.

Vagenas will be 33 by the time the 2011 MLS season kicks off, and he made just seven appearances for Seattle this year, after making only 14 in each of the previous two seasons.

Holden, Bolton, Getting Better and Better: Yanks In England Weekend Wrap

While MLS dropped the curtain on its 15th season, one MLS alum continued the remarkable second act of his career.

U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden is proving to be a critical component of Bolton’s midfield, while Bolton, after Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of Newcastle, is establishing itself as an early contender for a place in Europe.

Holden got the start and played 90 minutes. Wanderers got two goals each from Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies in the rout, which moves them up to fifth place in the league. Click here for the highlights Holden posted to Facebook.

Clint Dempsey started and went the distance in Fulham’s 4-1 loss to Manchester City on Sunday.

Eddie Johnson did not dress for the Cottagers.

Brad Friedel started, played 90, and made two saves in Aston Villa’s 2-0 loss to Blackburn on Sunday.

Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj both dressed but did not play for Villa.

Marcus Hahnemann started, went the distance, and made two saves in Wolverhampton’s 2-1 loss to Blackpool on Saturday in a matchup of Quote of the Year candidate managers Ian Holloway and Mick McCarthy.

Let’s see what they had to say about the game. …

[scouring Internet] …

Hmm …

Nothing to scintillating—just Holloway being kind to under-pressure Wolves:

“I thought Wolves were very hard done by. They made it really difficult for us. I made a few changes but because they had more of the ball than I anticipated it didn’t really work for us. It is the first time at this level when we have got something probably unjustly.”

Wolves are mired at the bottom of the table with nine points from 14 games.

Speaking of….

Jonathan Spector dressed but did not play in West Ham’s 3-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday. The Hammers are tied with Wolves, trailing them on goal difference.

Tim Howard started and went the distance in Everton’s 2-2 tie with Sunderland today. The Black Cats’ 19-year-old striker, Danny Welbeck, on loan from Manchester United, scored both of Sunderland’s goals.

Colorado Lifts MLS Cup 2010

Of the eight entrants in the MLS playoffs, they were probably the seventh-most likely to win the whole thing. They edged their first-round opponent on penalties, squeaked past the second round with a 1-0 victory, and entered last night’s final as the underdog.

And when they went down a goal at halftime, they were looking at an 0-for-50 record during the past several years when trailing at the break.

Yet here the Colorado Rapids are—after Mac Kandji’s extra-time toe-poke led to a Dallas own goal—MLS champions for the 2010 season, following a wild 2-1 win at Toronto’s chilly BMO Field.

For more on last night’s game, click here and read our column at MLS.

In related news, we have a winner in the First Annual Backpost MLS Playoff Pool, and his name is … envelope please…. Old 27!

A Denverite, Old 27 was one of two entrants to pick the Rapids to go all the way—the other was Jon, from the British Bulldog pub (“Your Colorado Rapids Bar”), also located in that fair Rocky Mountain city.

One point separated the two, and it came from Old 27’s selection of LA over Seattle in the first round, while Jon had Sounders FC winning that one.

So congrats, Old 27. A copy of Soccernomics is headed your way soon.

Thanks to all for playing, and reading.

MLS Cup Preview

Back on September 24, when the Red Bulls blanked the Galaxy 2-0 at the Home Depot Center, and an unprecedented four designated players took part in the game (Donovan, Beckham, Marquez, Angel), MLS brass, along with relevant TV executives, no doubt hoped they were witnessing a preview of MLS Cup 2010.

They also surely hoped that a fifth DP, New York’s Thierry Henry, would be healthy and back on the field for their dream championship matchup, putting $26-million worth of Major League Soccer salary on the field for a marquee final.

Alas, two months later, that has not come to pass. We have an MLS title game bereft of designated players, glamour names, and big markets.

But we do have an interesting matchup in Dallas vs Colorado, along with plenty of quality players, and two sides that could be said to subscribe to the motto of last year’s titlists, Real Salt Lake: “the team is the star.”

We also have a guarantee of crowning a first-time champion, as Dallas has never been to an MLS final before (they’re the last remaining original franchise to make the trip), and Colorado has been just once, losing to DC in 1997.

Let’s break it down into bite-size positional pieces:

Goalkeeping

Dallas: Kevin Hartman

Abandoned by Kansas City at the start of the season, he latched on with Dallas and produced an MVP-caliber season.

Colorado: Matt Pickens

He and his Li’l Rasputin beard are headed to the title game, but there have been some glitches down the stretch, including his gift to Alvaro Saborio in the regular-season finale, and some sketchy moments on crosses in the playoffs.

Edge: Dallas

Backline

Dallas: Left back Heath Pearce is still recovering from injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday, and centerbacks George John and Ugo Ihemelu are only recently returned from the DL themselves. But John looks like a player with a bright future, and both he and Ihemelu should be less rusty this week. Wingbacks Jackson and Jair Benitez are solid, with Benitez showing a flair for joining the attack.

Colorado: Right back Kosuke Kimura produced a man-of-the-match performance last week and is peaking at the right time. Drew Moor is a steady-Eddie in the middle, but the other two Rapids defenders, Marvell Wynne and Anthony Wallace, are occasionally suspect in their positioning. Wynne is an incredible athlete whose freakish ability to recover often bails him out, but still, emergency defending comes into play more than coach Gary Smith would like.

Edge: Push.

Midfield

Dallas: A five-man force-field with quality at every spot. Backpost favorite Daniel Hernandez (a former Metro) is a minesweeper in front of the FCD defense (and unflappable on the ball); Dax McCarty is a Kyle Beckerman–type who does untold amounts of dirty work and also gets forward in attack, the wingers, Brek Shea and Marvin Chavez, are both internationals (for the U.S., and Honduras, respectively) with size (Shea) and speed (Chavez), and the playmaker, David Ferreira, is the newly minted MVP of the league.

Colorado: The central duo of Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni is as rugged and effective as they come in MLS. Winger Brian Mullan will be making his sixth trip to the MLS Cup final in 10 seasons in the league (he’s won four; no wonder Colorado dealt for him at midseason), and Wells Thompson (if assists leader Jamie Smith doesn’t get the nod) is a high-energy two-way player.

Yes, this game will be won or lost in midfield.

Edge: Dallas.

Forwards

Dallas: Last week it was Atiba Harris, but we could see Jeff Cunningham or the recuperating Milton Rodriguez up top for the Hoops on Sunday. Harris brings size and post-up ability, Cunningham speed and a nose for goal, and Rodriguez a crafty poacher’s knack.

Colorado: The Conor Casey and Omar Cummings Show has been playing to rave reviews all season long, as the duo were involved in 36 of the Rapids’ 44 goals this year. Nuff said. They’re the top strike force in the league.

Edge: Colorado.

Prediction

That FCD midfield is too tough to topple, and the Hoops have been remarkably consistent in 2010, producing a 19-game unbeaten streak and losing just four times all year.

Dallas 3, Colorado 1

Post your predictions and thoughts in the comments, and enjoy the game, people—it’s on ESPN at 8:30 on Sunday night.

DeMerit Signs with Whitecaps

The Vancouver Whitecaps, who will join Major League Soccer next spring, announced the first signing for their official MLS roster: U.S. international Jay DeMerit.

The 30-year-old Green Bay, Wisc., native played for Watford in the English Championship and Premier League from 2004 to 2010, serving as captain during his last three seasons with the club.

He has 23 appearances for the U.S., and started all four games at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He has been without a club since leaving Watford, essentially by mutual consent, last June.

Interesting factoid: DeMerit’s coach at Watford, Ray Lewington, was a starting midfielder for the 1979 Vancouver Whitecaps, who won the NASL that season, downing the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the final.

Click here for more on the signing, including video commentary from DeMerit.

 

KC Rebrand: Sporting Kansas City

Poised to move into a brand-new $180-million soccer-specific stadium for the 2011 season, the Kansas City MLS franchise officially changed its team name, logo, and colors yesterday.

The new name is … drumroll, please … Sporting Kansas City.

The new colors are slightly different shades of blue from the previous royal blue kits the Wizards wore (which were actually pretty tasteful). The new home shirts are a sky blue the club is calling “Sporting” blue, and the aways are indigo.

The new logo can be seen above. Some KC fans have already pointed out that it bears a strong resemblance to the MLS Eastern Conference logo, right here:

We have mixed feelings about the changes. We’re not sorry to see the Wizards moniker go (though it changes the answer to one of our favorite sports-trivia questions, see below*) but we liked the team’s colors and shirts.

We’re also skeptical of the new “Sporting” designation—especially of CEO Robb Heineman’s statement that it’s not an inspired-by-Europe choice of a team name:

“This, to us, is not European whatsoever. This is all about our connection to the community and us trying to be innovative in what we’re trying to do.”

Really Rob? You didn’t have Sporting Lisbon, or, to a lesser extent, Spanish club Sporting Gijon, in mind when you picked this name? And what connection does the term have to the Kansas City community?

Let’s see, the primary tenants of your previous venue, Community America Ballpark, are a baseball team called the T-Bones. Your NFL franchise is called the Chiefs; your baseball team (across the border in Missouri) is called the Royals and … you have a roller derby team called the Roller Warriors…. That’s about it for KC sports, and not a “Sporting” in the bunch—or anything that suggests or connects to the term.

Maybe you should have echoed the legacy of George Brett, Frank White, and Bret Saberhagen of the 1985 Kansas City Royals championship team and gone with Real Kansas City. (Hey, Spain has several teams with ‘Real’ in their names; Salt Lake would get over it.)

Or better yet, you could have summoned the old Kansas City NASL team, the Spurs (which led the league in attendance in 1968) and bagged both local relevance and a European reference in one shot.

But Sporting? Please tell us how that connects to the Kansas City community.

In any case, the as-yet-unnamed stadium in Wyandotte County is on track to open in time for the team’s first game in 2011, and will put 12 of the league’s 18 franchises in their own soccer-specific stadiums (expansion Portland will begin play in their own venue, PGE Park, next spring).

*Name the five pairs of teams that share nicknames across different pro sports. (It used to be six, but the Wizards’ name change drops one pair of teams, as the Houston Oilers and Winnipeg Jets did when they went extinct years ago. Answers in the comments.)