Minimum Impact: Montreal Unveils Suprisingly Bland MLS Jerseys

Major League Soccer’s 19th team, the Montreal Impact, which will join the league in 2012, raised the curtain last night on the kits they’ll wear in their debut season, and, well, how do you say “Meh” in French?

They’re certainly not a trainwreck (as MLS unis have been in the past), but they’re unexpectedly boring. Apart from a subtle cross composed of fleur-de-lys down the front of the shirt, these unis don’t bring a lot to the table.

They are a long way from being, as Impact vice president Richard Legendre suggested, “the best-looking jersey in the league.”

For our money, rights to that honor would be contested between the Red Bulls’ away shirt, D.C. United’s third kit, or Portland’s Rose City reds (with a late-breaking challenger in LA’s third shirt.)

Click here for more on Montreal’s non-magnifique new unis.

Jesse Marsch Hired as Montreal Impact Coach for 2012

The Montreal Impact will become the 19th MLS team next year, and today, they named the man who will lead them in their debut season: MLS original Jesse Marsch.

Marsch joined MLS in 1996, coming out of Princeton University and signing with D.C. United and coach Bruce Arena. He won the inaugural MLS Cup with the Black-and-Red, and another one in 1997, before moving on to the expansion Chicago Fire in 1998. There, he won a third MLS crown, this time under Bob Bradley, who had coached Marsch at Princeton.

Marsch would later join Chivas USA before retiring in 2009 with three MLS Cups, four U.S. Open Cups, one MLS All-Star nod, and two caps with the U.S. national team.

In February 2010, Bradley hired Marsch, 37, as an assistant with the U.S. national team.

Marsch’s hiring, and Saturday’s unveiling of the Impact’s MLS logo (see it here) got us thinking about the history of the game in the French-speaking city, and the ties that bind it to U.S. and international soccer history.

Let’s take a look:

Team: Montreal Olympique

League: NASL

Lifespan: 1971-73

Notable Players: Clive Charles, Graeme Souness

Legacy: Olympique played just three seasons in the NASL without ever making the playoffs, but the presence of Charles, future U.S. Olympic coach and architect of the excellent program at the University of Portland, and Souness, a Scottish legend, link it to both U.S. and UK soccer royalty.

Team: Montreal Manic

League: NASL

Lifespan: 1981-83

Notable Players: Tony Towers, Gordon Hill, Alan Willey

Legacy: Le Manic was a short-lived but memorable presence in the NASL, averaging 23,704 in attendance in ’81 and reaching the playoff semifinals in ’83. Towers and Hill were both capped by England in their careers, and Willey is second on the NASL all-time scoring list.

Team: Montreal Supra

League: Canadian Soccer League

Lifespan: 1987-92

Notable Players: Alex Bunbury, Christian Gourcoff

Legacy: Gourcoff is the current coach of French Ligue 1 side Lorient; Bunbury went on to play in MLS with Kansas City and his son, Teal, was the fourth pick in the 2010 SuperDraft going to….Kansas City. They are MLS’s only father-son duo to date. And Teal, after declaring for the U.S. in November 2010, has two appearances and one goal for the Nats.

Timbers Unveil Official MLS Kits

Yesterday afternoon, in a 64,000-square-foot hangar at the Portland International Airport, the expansion Portland Timbers unveiled their 2011 MLS jerseys.

They chose the hangar as the site for the big reveal because it belongs to Horizon Air, a sister carrier to the Timbers’ jersey sponsor, Alaska Airlines, which, interestingly, is headquartered in Seattle, home to the Timbers’ fierce rivals Sounders FC.

In any event, here they are, ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’:

This one doesn’t do it for us. Maybe it’s that two-tone forest green. It recalls Slovenia and Australia at South Africa 2010—and look how their tournaments shaped up.

That heavy green looks leaden, somehow, like it would slow you down, even if you were speedy midfielder/defender Rodney Wallace.

Now this one is A-OK. The Rose City badge on the chest and Rose City stitching on the back neck are nice touches, as is the thorn stitching dividing the two tones of red, which are much, much easier on the eyes than the junior-high-school greens above.

The team opens a  Timbers retail store in downtown Portland today.

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
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
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
Nane, Joseph
Sanyang, Amadou
Saric, Martin
Usanov, Maxim
White, O’Brian

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.


Cosmos Inching Closer to MLS?

Pelé's birth certificate says he's 70, but pictures tell a different story.

The New York Cosmos told the New Jersey Record yesterday that they’ve secured financing to build a stadium in New York City, with the goal of becoming the 20th MLS franchise in 2013.

“Our intent is to be the 20th team in MLS,” Cosmos director of soccer Terry Byrne told The Record. “We’ve had several meetings with Mr. Garber and progressed very positively.”

The Cosmos have also already set up two youth academies, one on each coast, that are being led by former MetroStarts Giovanni Savarese and Ted Chronopoulos. Three Cosmos youth players have been invited to join the U.S. Under-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla.

Portland Timbers Sign First Four MLS Players

Picture the atmosphere at Qwest Field for Sounders FC games the past two seasons.

Stuff like this:

Now consider that MLS is adding two teams in the Pacific Northwest next year, in Portland and Vancouver, and that those teams have longstanding, heated rivalries with Sounders FC, dating all the way back to the NASL and continuing through all three franchises’ spells in the A-League/USL/USSF D-2, up to present-day U.S. Open Cup competition.

All three cities have had soccer at one professional level or another since the demise of the NASL, and now, Major League Soccer is installing them, a ready-made triumvirate of genuine rivals, in its Pacific Northwest sector.

Well played, MLS.

Yesterday, the Portland Timbers—who will be coached by former Rangers, Chelsea, Motherwell and Colorado Rapids striker John Spencer—announced their first four MLS signings. They are:

• First-ballot Name Hall of Famer Bright Dike, who was selected 12th overall, by Columbus, in last year’s MLS draft. After being released by the Crew, Dike latched on with Portland in the USSF D-2 league, scoring 10 goals in 23 appearances.

Steve Cronin, a 27-year-old keeper who did stints with San Jose, LA, and DC United in MLS. He was named Goalkeeper of the Year for the 2009 USL season.

• Twenty-seven-year-old midfielder Ryan Pore, a former All-America at the University of Tulsa who led all USSF D-2 scorers with 15 goals this season.

• USSF D-2 attacker Eddie Johnson (not to be confused with the U.S. international at Fulham), who finished second to Pore in the second division’s golden boot race, bagging 14 goals for the Austin Aztex in 2010.

The countdown clock is up at Portland’s website: 22 weeks till showtime.

Peppe Pinton’s Ship Comes In! Cosmos to Return

Below is one of the funniest moments from the great documentary Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos.

It shows Peppe Pinton, a Giorgio Chinaglia functionary and former general manager of the fabled NASL side, which went under in 1984, asserting his “ownership” of the Cosmos name and logo.

Hilarity ensues when former Warner executives Jay Emmett and Ahmet Ertegun respond to Pinton’s claim:

But now, it appears that Pinton may be getting the last laugh, or at least a final chuckle: On Sunday, a group led by former Tottenham executive Paul Kemsley announced that it had purchased the rights to the name from Pinton and intend to restart the franchise.

They’ve named Pelé as honorary president and intend to join Major League Soccer in the next few years.

Here’s Joe Fraga, executive director of the reborn club, talking to the New York Times:

“Our plan has several phases, but if you fast-forward, it’s our aspiration to play at the highest level in this country and that’s M.L.S. And we are serious. We want to make it relevant again, we want kids to know what the Cosmos were and are, to bring the soccer dream back to the city.”

So the MLS expansion plan for the next three years looks like this:

2011: Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers (17th and 18th teams)

2012: Montreal Impact (19th)

2013: New York Cosmos?? (20th)

We say bring it on: a new franchise in New York would create an instant rivalry with the rising Red Bulls, attract more international-caliber players to MLS, and recall some of the glory years of American soccer, when Pele, Chinaglia, and Beckenbauer (not to mention Best, Cruyff and Muller) roamed U.S stadiums.

Here is one of the sickest goals of that period (or any), a flying backheel by oft-overlooked Cosmos star Roberto Cabanas of Paraguay:

Montreal to Join MLS in 2012 as 19th Franchise

The city of Montreal lifted its attention from Les Habs’ thrilling NHL playoff series with Pittsburgh to celebrate today’s announcement that the Montreal Impact of the USF D-2 Pro League will join Major League Soccer in 2012.

Club chairman Joey Saputo was hopeful that the franchise will be able keep its name, logo, and colors (blue and white) when it jumps to MLS.

This move gives the league another built-in regional rivalry, as Montreal and Toronto already have hotly contested histories in hockey, football (yes, we’re counting the CFL) and soccer. Indeed, Toronto FC and the Impact played a hard-fought Canadian Championship game on April 29 (Toronto won 2-0).

Get a glimpse of Impact history in this YouTube clip:

MLS currently has 16 teams, with Portland, Ore. (17), and Vancouver (18) set to join in 2011.

USA Today is reporting that Don Garber wants to add a second New York club in 2013 to bring the number of teams to a schedule-balancing 20. Other cities reportedly in the hunt for the 20th spot include St. Louis, Altanta, and Miami.