D.C.'s Olsen makes a bid for MVP
Fabio Capello continues to pique his own interest in the U.S. Capello, who is not often out of work, having coached top flight European clubs every season since 1991, is still searching for his next post. Late last month, Capello took some time out during a recent trip to London to meet with U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and head coach Bob Bradley.
As recently as mid-July, Capello expressed interest in coaching in the U.S. in some capacity. However, the interest wasn't initially reciprocated -- until now -- and was lukewarm at best, as his price tag makes him a very expensive hire. One U.S. soccer official said, "Sunil is just going about doing what he's been doing since Bruce [Arena] left. Sunil continues to meet as many people as possible to exchange ideas, information and observations from some of the best in the business. And that's how best to characterize the meeting."
A Book-End Finish
When you look up game-winning goals in MLS history, a safe place to start is with Eddie Pope. The Hall of Fame destined defender, notched his place in MLS lore with his game-winning header to defeat the Galaxy and win the '96 MLS Cup.
Until Sept. 1, Pope had gone 71 MLS matches without scoring a goal (his last goal came on May 14, 2005) until he knocked home the game winner for RSL (their first road win in almost 13 months) against the Galaxy. Pope now has scored 10 regular season goals, but only two over the last 5 seasons, both ironically coming against the LAG.
Late write-in for MVP
With about 6 weeks remaining in the season, the race for MLS MVP is taking shape. Juan Pablo Angel, Luciano Emilio, Eddie Johnson and Juan Toja all seem to be locks for short list consideration. But there's a possible fifth candidate -- with lots of momentum on the write-in portion of the ballot -- in the shape of D.C. United captain Ben Olsen.
With D.C. edging into the lead for the Supporters Shield (D.C. posted a 500 August record, the best record by an MLS team in one month since the Metrostars recorded an identical record in July 2000), Olsen has been the key cog in the engine.
Olsen's seven goals are tied with New England's Andy Dorman for the most goals for a midfielder. However, Olsen has amassed his total in 6 fewer games. When you consider Olsen scored a total of seven goals combined the previous three seasons, it's clear to see his impact this season. Olsen, who's an artist and painter off the field has been creating quite the MVP-caliber masterpiece on the field this season.
When Mexico went into breach of contract and pulled out of their signed agreement with the U.S. to play in Mexico City, who knew the U.S. would find a high-quality replacement on such short notice. Enter Brazil and head coach Dunga who brought over essentially his "A" team for the Selecao's first ever trip to Chicago.
To say U.S. Soccer was unhappy with Mexico's decision to pull out of the game is an understatement. U.S. Soccer's policy is to only announce matches once there's a signed agreement between federations in place. When it's all said and done, expect the Mexican Football Federation to make some sort of amends to the USSF.
That sound you hear is the clock ticking down toward the September 15 deadline for MLS clubs to sign and trade players. While a small handful of clubs (NYRB, Chicago and New England) have already added late-season depth, a couple of others are still looking to dabble in a small player market for the MLS playoff push.
However, for the majority of clubs, who lack either the cap room or roster space, the deadline will pass without any additions and quietly close the curtain on what has been the busiest season ever for player transactions in MLS.
Allen Hopkins covers Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer for ESPN and ESPN.com. Look for Allen patrolling the sideline during "MLS Primetime Thursday." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.