He’s Fresh from Leading Aston Villa to One of the Worst Defeats In their 139-Year History, So Naturally Paul Lambert Is A Rumored Target in the Red Bulls’ Coaching Search

PaulLambertVilla

The New York Red Bulls opened training camp on Monday, and they selected six players in Major League Soccer’s Supplemental Draft on Tuesday, but they still do not have a coach for the 2013 season.

A number of candidates and rumored candidates have come and gone, including former Portugese international Paulo Sousa (who, according to the European press, turned down the job when the club wouldn’t meet his conditions) and ex-Red Bull and U.S. international Claudio Reyna (who was slated to be the top assistant to Sousa, but also reportedly took a pass on the offer), and now, two-and-a-half months after the team dismissed Hans Backe, comes a report from Big Apple Soccer that they are considering an offer to Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert.

Never mind that Lambert’s team lost 8-0 to Chelsea last month, or that they suffered a historically ignominious loss, on aggregate, to fourth-tier Bradford City yesterday to bounce out of the League Cup (or that Lambert has zero familiarity with MLS or U.S. soccer), the 43-year-old Scot is, if the report is to be believed, being considered a viable candidate by New York.

Sigh.

The report also claims that former U.S. international and loose cannon Eric Wynalda is a candidate as well, so, considering the fact that Wynalda was reportedly eliminated from consideration weeks ago, and the fact that this same publication reported in early January that Gary McAllister had been hired by New York (which turned out to be false), the reliability of this information is certainly in question.

Time, of course, will tell, but in the meantime, Red Bulls fans are left wondering, yet again, what in the world is going on with their franchise.

Frank Lampard Headed to Los Angeles?

Lamps

If a Goal.com report published late last night is to be believed, Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard will join the Los Angeles Galaxy on a free transfer at the end of the Premier League season, becoming the second marquee midfielder from England to join the club in the past half-decade, after uh, … whatsisname, blonde guy, good-looking—you know the one.

Lampard is one of the highest-scoring midfielders in Premier League history, with 194 goals in 584 appearances for Chelsea, and even though he’s 34, he still has something left in the tank, having scored seven goals in 14 games this season.

A source quoted in the report, says the transfer is “all but done,” and Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, speaking to reporters at the MLS SuperDraft in Indianapolis, said the club would make an announcement about its third Designated Player next week:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if over the next week or so we’re going to have some kind of decision we’re going to make with a Designated Player. We wouldn’t rule that out. It’s always a possibility.”

Arena and LA would also like to make an announcement soon about the future of the best player in club history, the currently in-limbo Landon Donovan—and preferably one that involves him returning to the Galaxy in 2013.

Because while a Lampard–Robbie Keane combination in their attack would be nice, a Donovan-Lampard-Keane troika would make LA the prohibitive MLS favorites (again).

MLS Transfer and Silly Seasons Off with a Bang

Jamison OlaveSletoux

Less than 24 hours after Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez finished dancing naked in celebration of the Galaxy’s 2012 MLS Cup triumph, reports of impending blockbuster MLS trades started filtering in. Not long after that, the first big transactions were confirmed, as Real Salt Lake, Portland, and New York completed significant deals ahead of the 2013 season.

More on those shortly, but first, here’s a list of foreign-based players who could be, are rumored to be, should be, or some guy’s cousin’s sister’s bartender said would be, coming to our bustling shores in 2013 (along with their age, position, nationality, current or most recent club, and level).

Buckle up, and take ’em all with a grain of salt:

Yossi Benayoun, 32, attacking midfielder Israel, Chelsea—on loan to West Ham, Premier League

Dexter Blackstock, 26, striker, Antigua and Barbuda, Nottingham Forest, Football League Championship (English second flight)

Fernando Cavenaghi, 29, striker, Argentina, Villareal, La Liga

Christian Eichner, left back, Germany, FC Cologne, Bundesliga2

Rio Ferdinand, 34, center back, England, Manchester United, Premier League

Maynor Figueroa, 29, defender, Honduras, Wigan Athletic, Premier League

Robbie Findley, 27, striker, United States, Nottingham Forest, Football League Championship

Brad Friedel, 41, goalkeeper, United States, Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League

Manuel Freidrich, 33 , center back, Germany, Bayer Leverkusen, Bundesliga

Clarence Goodson, 30, defender, United States, Brøndby, Superligaen (Danish top flight)

Atiba Hutchinson, 29, midfielder/defender, Canada, PSV Eindhoven, Eredivisie (Dutch top flight)

Jared Jeffrey, 22, midfielder, United States, Mainz 05, Bundesliga

Kaka, 30, midfielder, Brazil, Real Madrid, La Liga

Kevin McKenna, 32, center back, Canada, FC Cologne, Bundesliga

David Mendes da Silva, 30, defender, Netherlands, Red Bull Salzburg, Austrian Bundesliga

Rubin Okotie, 25, striker, Austria, Sturm Graz, Austrian Bundesliga

Martin Petrov, 33, winger, Bulgaria, Bolton, Football League Championship

Claudio Pizarro, 34, striker, Peru, Bayern Munich, Bundesliga

Frank Simek, 28, defender, United States, Carlisle, Football League One (English third flight)

Whew! And look for that list to grow in the coming weeks.

As for the deals that have already gone down, Real Salt Lake offloaded center back Jamison Olave, striker Fabian Espindola, and midfielder Will Johnson in a bold sweep to free up allocation money that they’ll likely use to lure a marquee forward for 2013.

Olave and Espindola went to New York and Johnson to Portland. All three were dealt in exchange for cash. Why New York would swoop for the declining Olave is a topic for another post, but for now, suffice to say that the 2010 MLS Defender of the Year will be 32 early next season, and has seen his minutes decline due to injury from 2,413 in 2010 to 2,128 in ’11 and 1,734 last year. Good luck with that, NY.

RSL also sent striker Justin Braun to Toronto FC for defender Aaron Maund, and Portland—which has installed new coach Caleb Porter from Akron—traded defender Kosuke Kimura to the Red Bulls for allocation money and the rights to homegrown player (and Akron Zip) Bryan Gallego.

The Timbers also traded lanky center back Eric Brunner to Houston for allocation money, and sent cash to Sporting Kansas City in exchange for outside back Michael Harrington.

All of these moves took place on Monday, a day the Colorado Rapids capped by trading an international roster spot to Vancouver for striker Atiba Harris.

On Thursday, the Red Bulls traded attacker Sebastien Le Toux to Philadelphia—where he enjoyed a breakout season in 2010, producing 14 goals and 11 asssists—in exchange for allocation money and 22-year-old Costa Rican striker Josue Martinez.

Stay tuned, hot-stove season is only one week old.

Tim Cahill Headed to Red Bulls?

The New York club has not confirmed it yet, but Everton’s website is reporting that the Toffees have agreed to a transfer to MLS and the Red Bulls for veteran Australian attacker Tim Cahill.

Cahill, 32, didn’t have a great season at Everton last year, but he produced nine goals and four assists in 27 league appearances in 2010-11, and he established himself as a dangerous attacking threat in his eight seasons with the Merseyside club.

He’s also a mainstay with the Australian national team, having scored 24 goals in 55 appearances for his country.

If confirmed, the transfer would give the Red Bulls the most dangerous attacking corps in MLS. They’re already second in the league in goals per game, with Thierry Henry (10 goals, six assists), Kenny Cooper (13 goals, one assist), Sebastien Le Toux (five goals, two assists), and Joel Lindpere (three goals, four assists) leading the way.

Adding a player of Cahill’s ability to this group, which also includes Dax McCarty—who’s enjoying arguably the best season of his career—Rafa Marquez, rising youngster Connor Lade, and, when he returns from injury, experienced Finnish international Teemu Tainio, would firmly establish the Red Bulls as Eastern Conference and MLS Cup favorites.

If their backline can stay healthy and consistent, the Red Bulls could finally acquire something for their heretofore empty trophy case.

Freddy Adu Reportedly Headed to Chivas USA

Various reports today are linking onetime U.S. soccer wünderkind Freddy Adu with a move back to MLS, the site of his historic professional debut as a 14-year-old in 2004.

Chivas USA, whose coach, Robin Fraser, was an assistant at Real Salt Lake when Adu was with that club in 2007, is interested in acquiring the 22-year-old attacking midfielder. The Goats also hold the top spot in the MLS allocation order, so they’d get first crack at the player if/when he becomes available.

Adu is with the U.S. national team in Philadelphia for tonight’s friendly against Mexico, and hopes to resolve his club status within the next two weeks. He is in the final year of his contract with Portugese side Benfica, which is reportedly looking to ship him out, possibly on a free transfer.

If he’s looking to get solidly back into the national-team picture, Adu, who would likely command Designated Player status in MLS,  could do worse than landing at Chivas USA.

He’d almost certainly get a lot of playing time with the Goats, and their stadium, the Home Depot Center, is  the American team’s base in Southern California and just miles away from new U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s doorstep.

MLS Week 10 Grab-Bag: Donovan-to-Roma, Pires-to-MLS Rumors and Other, Truthier, Items

The MLS season is nearly two-thirds complete, and this week brings some interesting matchups that should help clarify the pecking orders in each conference.

• Leading the way is the LA derby match (or the SuperClasico, as the league bills the seven-year-old rivalry) between upstart Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Chivas is fresh off a 3-2 stunner over East leaders New York, a win that lifted the Goats to .500 (3-3-3). Los Angeles (5-2-5) is coming off its best performance of the year, a 4-1 drubbing of Sporting Kansas City in which all three Galaxy designated players (Landon Donovan, Juan Pablo Angel, and David Beckham) found the back of the net.

Robin Fraser’s men say they’re for real; this is a chance to prove it.

• Second-place Real Salt Lake, still adjusting to life without midfield catalyst Javier Morales, takes on FC Dallas, the team that knocked RSL out of last year’s playoffs.

Dallas is also dealing with the loss of its most creative player, 2010 MVP David Ferreira, but has won its last two games, both by shutout.

• In the East, the Red Bulls travel to Houston looking to rebound from last week’s loss to Chivas, but may have to do it without star striker Thierry Henry, who has swelling in his knee and is questionable for the game. Houston is 3-3-4, two points behind the 4-2-3 Red Bulls.

• Second-place Philadelphia hosts Chicago tonight in what should be a good one. The Fire have only one win this season but are unbeaten in their last four, and, after tinkering all season long, may have found the right formula with Corben Bone in midfield.

• Columbus pays a visit to arguably the league’s toughest venue, Portland’ JELD-WEN Field, to take on the Timbers, who are unbeaten (4-0-0) at home this season. The Crew look to rebound from last week’s surprising 3-0 loss to San Jose.

And speaking of Portland …

Towels and Tissues

Before addressing the Columbus game, Portland coach John Spencer had a few things to get off his chest regarding the aftermath of the historic Timbers-Sounders tilt the week before.

Spencer was not pleased with some of the comments coming out of the Seattle camp following the game. Here’s some of what he had to say to reporters after a Timbers training session this week:

“I’m disappointed with their assessment of the game. But then that’s their prerogative. I think if it is too wet up there for them to play soccer then they may want to move that franchise because it pisses down rain nearly every time I’ve been in Seattle. Obviously to say that the conditions suit us more than they suit them just blows me away. It seems to me they had 50 excuses before the game written down as to why they never beat us three- or four-nil at home.”

And a little more:

“The next time we go up there we’ll take plenty of towels for them so we can dry off the field before the game. Maybe take plenty of tissue paper so they can dry their eyes after the game.”

That is some Scottish ire right there. Click here and scroll down for video of the rant.

Pires to MLS? Non. And definitely not to Philadelphia.

So Robert Pires is out of contract at Aston Villa and he recently told reporters that his pal and former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry had asked him to come play in MLS, for the Red Bulls.

To which Henry replied, in the New York Post:

“I’m glad you’re asking me that because I don’t know why he said that. Robert likes to talk, maybe because they’re not offering him another contract in Villa or whatever the problem is for him, but I didn’t speak to him about him coming. I would like you to put that CLEAR over there and I don’t know why.

“I spoke to him yesterday and said why did you have to mention my name? If you wanted to say something—I think he’s 37 soon, he should be able to talk as a grown man.”

(Bonus points to Dylan Butler for the Run-DMC clip in that link.)

Pires has been linked with MLS before, and you may recall it didn’t end well. Last spring, when rumors circulated that Philadelphia was interested in him, he told L’Equipe:

“It does not please me to (go to Philadelphia). I do not want to be difficult, but if I had to take my family away, I’d rather do it in a beautiful city. Otherwise, I will put an end to my career.”

We enjoyed that “I do not want to be difficult.” We get the idea that Pires can’t help but be difficult. He sounds like the Blanche DuBois of international midfielders.

Donovan to Roma?

One international midfielder not going anywhere anytime soon is Galaxy and U.S. attacker Landon Donovan, who became linked with a move to the storied Italian club when a source close to its new owner, Boston native Thomas DiBenedetto, told the Boston Globe that the club would set aside $14 million for a transfer bid for LD.

Donovan’s response to the report was succinct: “Don’t waste my time with that,” he told reporters. “Don’t waste my time, guys.”

Beckham to Old Trafford?

In a way, yes: Donovan’s Galaxy teammate David Beckham will return to his old stomping grounds next week to participate in a testimonial match for his former teammate and BFF, Gary Neville.

The only problem—he’ll miss LA’s game against Houston the following day as a result.

Guess that’s just David being David again.

Enjoy the games.

Red Bull Roundup

It’s been a busy week for Red Bull New York. Let’s run it down:

• Last Friday, the club confirmed it had signed long-sought-after striker Luke Rodgers, formerly of League One side Notts County, where New York boss Hans Backe had a brief coaching stint. The speedy, diminutive (and feisty) forward scored 13 goals in 46 games for third-level Notts County. Hmmm. How will that translate to MLS? We have our doubts. Then again, Notts County just tied Man City in FA Cup play. Rodgers is nursing a right knee injury but hopes to join preseason training soon.

• On Tuesday, Major League Soccer—with Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan in attendance—announced that Red Bull Arena will be the site of the 2011 All-Star Game. The MLS All Stars’ opponent for that game, scheduled for July 27, has yet to be announced, but we’ve heard rumors that it will be—drumroll, please—Barcelona. We’ll find out within the next 30 days.

• Yesterday the club confirmed the long-anticipated signing of 20-year-old Brazilian midfielder Marcos Paullo, who had a trial with New York in 2010, and made an appearance in RBNY’s 2-1 win over Manchester City last July.

Say hello him here, where he gives a shout-out to the significant Brazilian community in Newark, the next town over from Harrison, home to Red Bull Arena:

• Former Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who was rumored to be the next man at Chivas USA, yesterday accepted the head coaching position of the Honduran national team, the newly minted champions of Central America.

• Coach Backe says that New York is still shopping for players, and hopes to add a right back and a central midfielder or a central defender before the March 19 opener against Seattle.

• Finally, that pesky Nicolas Anelka rumor resurfaced today, with French magazine L’Equipe quoting Anelka’s brother Claude as saying that the Chelsea striker could join former international teammate Henry at RBA. Treat it with a grain of salt for two reasons: 1. Anelka’s contract at Stamford Bridge doesn’t expire for a year and a half, and 2. The source of this rumor last time was—you guessed it—Claude Anelka. On the other hand, Fernando Torres did just sign with the Blues, possibly rendering Anelka superfluous. We’re not holding our breath either way.