MLS Offseason 2020-21: TAM, GAM, Thank You Ma'am.

steeplechase3k

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The Timbers are reportedly close to another piece as part of the overhaul of the back line.


The Portland Timbers are finalizing the signing of Mexico international right back Josecarlos Van Rankin on loan from Chivas Guadalajara, sources tell MLSsoccer.com.

The deal is in its final stages and includes a purchase option for Portland at the end of the loan for over $1 million.
Van Rankin's ability to cover both fullback positions is attractive to the club, given the expectation that new signing Claudio Bravo would likely be called up by Argentina for the Olympics, should the tournament go on as scheduled.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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The latest in CBA brinksmanship:

IMO, the MLSPA's offer contained enough concessions that if MLS decides to follow through on their threat, they will badly lose in the court of public opinion. For whatever that's worth.
It seems insane to me that the owners think locking out the players is a good idea.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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What does a lockout even look like in a global soccer market? Still not great for average or worse players, but it seems very different for MLS than it would for any other US sports league, which are all clearly the best leagues in their sport worldwide.

Would players be available for free transfers? What would that even look like?
 

Titans Bastard

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What does a lockout even look like in a global soccer market? Still not great for average or worse players, but it seems very different for MLS than it would for any other US sports league, which are all clearly the best leagues in their sport worldwide.

Would players be available for free transfers? What would that even look like?
On Allocation Disorder yesterday, Tenorio and Stejskal said that because the players wouldn’t become free agents until after the transfer window closed in many places, they couldn’t sign in those places until June.

There are some leagues whose transfer windows are still open, but the pickings are a bit slim.

Tenorio and Stejskal were very down on the players’ leverage because the players don’t have a big warchest and because MLS is small time enough in the US that few will even be aware of this work stoppage so public pressure won’t amount to much.

IMO, they are underrating the chances that non-MLS and non-soccer fans could find another Bad Billionaires storyline appealing.
 

Titans Bastard

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A Saudi club announced the signing of NYRB's Argentine playmaker Kaku. It's unclear if NYRB is fully onboard with this, or if it's a situation where the player+agent are claiming that the unilateral club option that is common in MLS contracts is illegitimate. When players have gone down this road before (Camilo Sanvezzo, Cyle Larin), MLS has been quick to back down because they are afraid that the way they do contract options won't hold up if challenged legally. We'll see what happens.

View: https://twitter.com/AltaawounFC/status/1356274853536550913


LAFC's Brian Rodriguez is heading on loan to Almeria. Rodriguez is a big talent who plays for Uruguay already, so IMO this is a bit of a disappointment. They'd want to do better a loan-with-an-option-to-purchase to a Segunda Division club. I think the problem is that with COVID the market for Rodriguez and Rossi wasn't what LAFC wanted. Furthermore, LAFC have signed a lot of top CONMEBOL U20s and at some point they have to demonstrate that they are a pathway to bigger leagues. I think Rodriguez was agitating for a move, and LAFC felt they had to go through with a suboptimal loan situation.

View: https://twitter.com/U_D_Almeria/status/1356376824742367233
 

Titans Bastard

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A Saudi club announced the signing of NYRB's Argentine playmaker Kaku. It's unclear if NYRB is fully onboard with this, or if it's a situation where the player+agent are claiming that the unilateral club option that is common in MLS contracts is illegitimate. When players have gone down this road before (Camilo Sanvezzo, Cyle Larin), MLS has been quick to back down because they are afraid that the way they do contract options won't hold up if challenged legally. We'll see what happens.

View: https://twitter.com/AltaawounFC/status/1356274853536550913
Here we go again:

View: https://twitter.com/Soccerwriter/status/1356645746880176129
 

Titans Bastard

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The latest in CBA brinksmanship:

View: https://twitter.com/PaulTenorio/status/1355180600253177856


IMO, the MLSPA's offer contained enough concessions that if MLS decides to follow through on their threat, they will badly lose in the court of public opinion. For whatever that's worth.
The owners' self-imposed negotiation deadline is tomorrow. They've claimed that if no agreement is reach they will terminate the CBA and lock the players out. Reporters are noting that neither side have put forth any statements or leaked stuff to the press in the last few days, and are taking that to be a mildly positive sign.
 

Domer

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Concacaf unveiled its revamped and expanded Champions League format for the 2023-2024 season and… I don’t hate it.


The group stage is back, but it’s regionalized to North American, Central America, and the Caribbean. That means 20 MLS and Liga MX sides (or maybe one CPL punching bag?) will form 4 groups of 5 with the top 2 of each advancing to the knockout. 3 more can qualify via a play-in.

Those 11 clubs will join Central America and the Carribbean for the traditional knockout stage, but the final will be a single leg.

The old group stage was no well-liked, but this fixes some of the issues. All the matches will be between MLS and Liga MX which should make it more appealing to fans.
 
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steeplechase3k

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Sounds like good news on the MLS CBA front:
View: https://twitter.com/MLS/status/1357463962665824264


If you can't see tweets it says:
Major League Soccer and the MLSPA continue to meet daily to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the League in 2021 and beyond. Although we have not finalized a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and remain apart on some key issues, discussion this week have ben productive, and we have made progress. Since the negotiations have reached an advance stage the League has extended the negotiating period by 24 hours to provide every opportunity to finalize an agreement by 11:59pm ET on Feb 5.
 

Titans Bastard

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Concacaf unveiled its revamped and expanded Champions League format for the 2023-2024 season and… I don’t hate it.


The group stage is back, but it’s regionalized to North American, Central America, and the Caribbean. That means 20 MLS and Liga MX sides (or maybe one CPL punching bag?) will form 4 groups of 5 with the top 2 of each advancing to the knockout. 3 more can qualify via a play-in.

Those 11 clubs will join Central America and the Carribbean for the traditional knockout stage, but the final will be a single leg.

The old group stage was no well-liked, but this fixes some of the issues. All the matches will be between MLS and Liga MX which should make it more appealing to fans.
I liked the old 4x4 group stage (though clubs hated the congestion) but the 8x3 group stage sucked.

Anyway, I agree with all of this. The format is a bit weird, and there are some flaws (single round-robin could lead to some strength of schedule issues based on which teams you play at home and which you play away), but there's no way to design a perfect CCL and I'm more than willing to give it a shot.

Who hosts the final? CCL isn't nearly big enough to merit a neutral site, but then how would home field advantage be decided?
 

steeplechase3k

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Summary of the new CBA:
 

Titans Bastard

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Amid all this financial hardship from the MLS ownership, FC Cincinnati is widely reported to be signing 21 year old Brazilian forward Brenner from São Paulo for $10m + add-ons(!!) That's something.

MLS clubs have gotten a lot of talent from Latin America, but they have also at times been bamboozled by clubs and agents and overpaid for players. I have no idea about Brenner, but hopefully for FCC's sake they did their homework.
 

Titans Bastard

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The start of the MLS season has been pushed back two weeks to mid-April.

 

dirtynine

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I'm taking part in a Chicago Fire new logo roundtable tonight, as a part of the Fire's community outreach. I'll let you guys know how it goes.
 

Titans Bastard

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I'm taking part in a Chicago Fire new logo roundtable tonight, as a part of the Fire's community outreach. I'll let you guys know how it goes.
In this case, I think the meeting "going well" would mean hiring you to do it!
 

Titans Bastard

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2021 CCL Draw. This is a bracket, so the pathway for every team is set in stone.

Cruz Azul vs. Arcahaie
Forge FC or Toronto FC vs. León
Monterrey vs. Atlético Pantoja
Columbus Crew vs. Real Estelí
Philadelphia Union vs. Deportivo Saprissa
Atlanta United vs. Alajuelense
América vs. Olimpia
Portland Timbers vs. Marathón


CONCACAF uses a weird club seeding system that means that this year, five MLS teams are seeded but the fourth Mexican team (León) is not.

One Mexican club in the bottom half of the bracket is interesting. Columbus is the most stacked MLS team in the competition on paper, but a QF matchup against Monterrey would be brutal.

The timing is really bad for MLS. R16 will occur before the MLS season begins and I'm guessing clubs that advance will only have one league game under their belts before the QF. The SF isn't until August, so at that point there's plenty of time to get in form — and Mexican clubs will be in their offseason.
 

dirtynine

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In this case, I think the meeting "going well" would mean hiring you to do it!
Too kind, thank you. (Not that I wouldn't jump at the chance...)

The process seemed legit - you could tell that the team had made some progress based on previous roundtables. MLS identity designer extraordinaire Matthew Wolff was on the call (for all 1.5 hours) which said a lot to me. He could have easily bagged or made a token appearance. They were very interested in understanding if people liked the idea of the Great Chicago Fire itself (vs. the idea of the Fire as inspired by firefighters). There was also a lot of talk about the Chicago Water Tower building as a visual symbol (not my favorite). I hope it’s not too much design-by-committee but I guess time will tell.
 

67YAZ

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Too kind, thank you. (Not that I wouldn't jump at the chance...)

The process seemed legit - you could tell that the team had made some progress based on previous roundtables. MLS identity designer extraordinaire Matthew Wolff was on the call (for all 1.5 hours) which said a lot to me. He could have easily bagged or made a token appearance. They were very interested in understanding if people liked the idea of the Great Chicago Fire itself (vs. the idea of the Fire as inspired by firefighters). There was also a lot of talk about the Chicago Water Tower building as a visual symbol (not my favorite). I hope it’s not too much design-by-committee but I guess time will tell.
Errrrmmmm....I don’t know anything about the design process, but this is so weird. Especially when the Chicago city flag is right there. People here are obsessed with the flag and it has an amazing color scheme. The Red Stars have a claim on it as their visual identity - and have used it brilliantly - but the Fire could, too, if they went with red as the primary with white & sky blue as complimentary.

Anyway, I’m glad you’re involved! Maybe we won’t end up with a phallic symbol that most people connect with a now half-empty mall.
 

Titans Bastard

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Some other news from around the league:

— Austin signed 25 year old Argentine CM Tomás Pochettino from Talleres for $2.5m. They are using a DP slot on him, and he'll undoubtedly start alongside Alex Ring. Assuming he pans out, that's a nice engine room.

— Atlanta's ongoing roster reconstruction continues. They loaned out RB Franco Escobar to Newell's Old Boys and shipped DM Eric Remedi to San Jose. They also signed 21 year old Argentine DM Santiago Sosa from River Plate, who looks to be Remedi's replacement. The only RB remaining on the roster is Brooks Lennon, who is arguably more of a winger or at least a wingback. They'll need at least one more signing at this position.

— NYRB signed 23 year old Brazilian forward Fábio on loan from Oeste. Fábio has scored some goals in Brazil's Serie B, so who knows.

— NYCFC signed 23 year old Danish left back Malte Amundsen from Vejle. Having shipped Ronald Matarrita to Cincinnati, he looks like the starter at least for now. Amundsen moved from Køge to an unsuccessful stint at Rosenborg, but apparently bounced back at Vejle. NYCFC spent $1.6m on him, which means that it's more than a random flyer.

— Nashville signed C.J. Sapong. Not the most exciting move, but stocking your roster with solid domestic veterans is part of building a successful roster.

— Minnesota signed 23 year old RB D.J. Taylor. This guy skipped college and then took a journeyman's route through the fourth division of Spain, NASL, and the USL, and is now getting his shot in MLS. He'll back up Romain Métanire for now.
 

Titans Bastard

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This signing is a win-win. If he's good, he elevates the level of play within the league. If he's bad, the bantz around the Beckham-ification of Inter Miami will be top-notch.
 

Domer

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18-year-old Gianluca Busio has been issued the number 10 for SKC. It was only a year ago that I freaked out about Vermes stunting his development by not playing him often, about which I am thrilled to be proven decidedly wrong.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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18-year-old Gianluca Busio has been issued the number 10 for SKC. It was only a year ago that I freaked out about Vermes stunting his development by not playing him often, about which I am thrilled to be proven decidedly wrong.
We won't see the full extent of how much they've learned from it until he heads to the continent, but it does seem like they learned something from the "don't really play him, don't really look to sell him, lose him for nothing" Erik Palmer-Brown experience. It probably also helps that teams will make non-trivial offers for young MLS talent now, which was not so much the case then.
 

Titans Bastard

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Lots of teams have to learn lessons the hard way, it seems. I call it the McKennie Moment.

It’s funny, I also recall widespread consternation about Busio’s playing time at the beginning of last year but looking at his stats in retrospect he ended up starting the large majority of games and had close to zero DNPs - just a couple of games were he was rested for squad rotation down the stretch.

I’ve noticed that the narrative just isn’t very patient with the types who sign when they are 15 or 16 because it can take several years for them to really make an impact. George Bello was almost “old news” even though he was an 18 year starter at LB last year.

As far as Vermes goes, I was encouraged by the fact that Lindsey, Hernandez, and Duke all got some solid playing time last year too. KC takes recruiting for their academy seriously and I expect it will be at least a halfway decent place for prospects at this point.
 

Domer

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Looking back at my freakout post (which also contained some bonus dual-national fear) right after game two of MLS Is Back, Busio had played 1, 15, 1, 8 minutes in SKC’s first four matches of 2020. After that he started the next eight matches in a row.
 

Titans Bastard

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Steve Cherundolo has been trying to get into the managerial game for a while and has held many youth, reserve, and assistant positions in Germany. It feels like his momentum stalled out when he jumped from Hannover to Stuttgart to be Tayfun Korkut's assistant. Korkut got fired within months, and assistants are usually collateral damage.

LAFC have a new partnership with Las Vegas Lights. It seems like it could be a MiLB type arrangement where LAFC control the technical side of the team, similar to what Houston had with RGVFC prior to this year.

I see MiLB type relationships as a band-aid. LVL will be a decent spot for some of LAFC's younger players to get some experience, but you just can't integrate players from the U19 squad into a USL team when they are located so far apart from each other.

View: https://twitter.com/TaylorTwellman/status/1365131822200279047