It's no secret that the 33-year-old Frankie Hejduk has long been considered one of the fittest guys ever to play for the U.S. men's national team. But lately Hejduk has been taking it to another level. After playing 90 minutes for the Crew against San Jose in Columbus on June 7, less than 24 hours later at Giants stadium, Hejduk came on as a late sub vs. Argentina. As Hejduk prepared to step on the field for his 78th appearance, I asked him, "Do you ever get tired?" In his classic Southern California speakeasy Hejduk said, "No. No man. Never. Never!" It's safe to say, Frankie has plenty left in his tank.
There are many reasons why Argentina is ranked the no.1 team in the world and are one of the early favorites to win the 2010 World Cup. One of those reasons is how talented they are individually and collectively, and another is how tough and physical they can play. That physicality was evident in the second half when Eddie Johnson broke free on goal in the 67th minute. Johnson missed the chance and paid a price. Johnson suffered a nice bloody gash on his right shin below the shin-guard from the hard challenge of Argentine goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri. Johnson did return before being eventually substituted, but the knock no doubt, took some steam out of his engine. Just think if he wasn't wearing shin guards.
Now that Jozy Altidore's deal to Spanish club Villareal is complete, the attention now shifts back to the New York Red Bulls. With the Red Bulls waiting for their share of the record $10M transfer fee for Altidore to hit their account, sporting director Jeff Agoos isn't wasting time compiling his shopping list for players. "We'll definitely be a buyer when the next transfer window opens. We want to strengthen our squad up the middle if we can," Agoos said. "We've got some players in mind, but we have to see how it all works out, but we're excited about the potential of adding to our squad when the window opens," Agoos said.
One more note, if you are wondering what the Red Bull's new stadium (Red Bull Park set to open in Fall 2009) will look like. It's very, very similar to the Worthersee Stadium, one of the EURO 2008 venues located in the Southern Austrian city of Klagenfurt.
The youngest team by far in the MLS is FC Dallas with an average age of just under 24, almost two full years younger than the league average of 25.5. A key part of that young nucleus is Drew Moor and Kenny Cooper. Both are key contributors to FC Dallas, and amidst the coaching change and an uneven season have their heads firmly on their shoulders. "We have a great locker room, we're young and the guys like being around each other and that's important," Cooper said. Moor added, "We don't hear much about what's going on upstairs and that's fine. The guys respect Marco [Feruzzi] and we're working hard. Really we're just trying to play." Both Moor and Cooper are off to great starts this season.
The John Carver files
As we near the halfway point of the MLS season, one of the early candidates for coach of the year is Toronto's John Carver. Back in 2004 when Carver was an assistant at Newcastle United, I hosted Carver on a trip to Los Angeles. For two days I acted as his tour guide in and around the greater L.A. metropolitan area, introducing him to all things soccer in the U.S. and of course bad (L.A. traffic). It was while stuck on the 405 or battling our way up La Cienega boulevard toward Sunset that I got a strong sense of John's knowledge and passion for soccer, coaching and of course for winning. I give Mo Johnston tons of credit for going out of the box and hiring the right man for the job.
Allen Hopkins covers Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer for ESPN. Look for Allen patrolling the sideline during "MLS Primetime Thursday." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.