1. Agudelo takes his quest for first-team football to Chivas USA: The Red-and-White struck a blockbuster deal on Thursday to send Heath Pearce and an undisclosed amount of allocation money to New York in exchange for the 19-year-old U.S. international striker. The move should give Agudelo a clearer path to regular minutes than he would have enjoyed in New York, but it isn't exactly smooth sailing for him now. Agudelo will have to earn his time on the training field with Juan Pablo Ángel, Jose Erik Correa and Casey Townsend already in the queue and Tristan Bowen waiting for his chance to return from a loan spell at KSV Roeselare (Belgium) when the summer transfer window opens. The situation should provide the right type of test for a young player seeking to accelerate his development.
“We certainly have quite a few forwards,” Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “We're certainly excited about the group of forwards that we have. ... We have some young players who the best certainly lies ahead of them, but I don't want it to seem like the weight of the world is on any one of these players' shoulders. There's growth that's going to take place. Certainly, we feel we have a good stable of young forwards, and in time they are all going to be very good.”
2. Pearce deal provides Red Bulls flexibility on and off the field: The U.S. international left back offers cover in several different positions for the Red Bulls, according to New York general manager and sporting director Erik Solér. While Pearce is an important addition to the squad and should slot into the starting XI when available, the ancillary details of the deal – Chivas USA's desire to throw in some allocation money and its reported willingness to assume some of Pearce's salary – could prove even more important as the Red Bulls attempt to add a high-profile midfielder or striker during the summer transfer window.
“We have been tracking Heath Pearce for a long time because we really appreciate the fact that he can play probably five or six different positions for us,” Solér said during a conference call on Thursday. “He fits our way of playing, exactly what we thought when we got Kenny Cooper, Dax McCarty and a couple of other players. We think he fits our playing style very well. He’s very versatile. He can help us out all over the field. We’re in a position now to also finance someone for our attack, an attacking midfielder or attacker. That’s now our next priority and we hope to do that when the window opens."
3. Red-and-White also benefit from Danny Califf's awkward Philadelphia exit: Pearce's departure would have left Chivas USA at least one central defender short if not for the related arrival of the ex-Union captain on Thursday. Philadelphia boss Peter Nowak continued his one-man quest to seemingly purge his entire roster of senior players by shipping Califf to southern California in exchange for midfielder Michael Lahoud and an undisclosed amount of allocation money. Nowak will struggle to find a natural partner for Carlos Valdés until the transfer window opens, but Fraser won't have that particular problem with former Galaxy teammate Califf poised to partner either Rauwshan McKenzie or John Valencia in central defense.
(Note: It is just a little bit peculiar to see a move by a Philadelphia team pave the way for a New York team to strengthen its own lot. Does that gambit show exactly how much Nowak wanted to get shut of Califf or did the Union just not know about the potential knock-on effect?)
4. FC Dallas takes yet another blow with Brek Shea's three-match ban: Credit the MLS Disciplinary Committee for getting this one right: Shea will sit for the next three games after gently kicking the ball at the assistant referee during FCD's 2-1 defeat at Columbus last Saturday. There isn't a reasonable excuse to explain why the crew on the field (and especially referee Baldomero Toledo) didn't act at that stage to send Shea off, but the Committee swept up the unseemly matter rather nicely with this stiff suspension. Chalk up this setback as just another headache for Schellas Hyndman in a season already filled with them.
(Note: One perk for FCD: if Shea isn't called into the U.S. setup this weekend, then he will have a full week off to rest that nagging turf toe complaint.)
5. D.C. United, Seattle likely to benefit from Canadian Championship focus: Toronto FC and Vancouver will play at BMO Field on Wednesday to decide the Canadian Championship. With the outcome finely poised after a 1-1 draw at B.C. Place on Wednesday, the Reds and the Whitecaps will likely field weakened side this weekend in order to prepare for that critical midweek tie. Vancouver's calamitous defensive efforts with a revamped back four at New England last weekend suggest Seattle could pop up to B.C. Place and snatch all three points, while D.C. United will relish the opportunity to build on the 2-0 victory over Colorado on Wednesday night with a home date against a TFC side it defeated 2-0 earlier this month in Toronto.
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Last week: 3/8 (38%)
This season: 39/85 (46%)
Seattle @ Vancouver (5:00p.m., TSN/RDS 2) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: This MLSsoccer.com headline portends a rough night for the Whitecaps: “Sounders first-choice attacking four likely to start at 'Caps.”
Prediction: Seattle win.
New York @ Montréal (7:30p.m., TVA Sports) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Heath Pearce is scheduled to attend Red Bulls training this morning and should earn a spot in the squad for this date at Olympic Stadium. Will Hans Backe use him straightaway or ease him into the lineup?
Toronto FC @ D.C. United (7:30p.m., TSN 2) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: TFC appears destined to start the season on a nine-match skid unless the Reds reserves mount a valiant stand at RFK Stadium.
Prediction: D.C. United win.
Houston @ New England (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Watch out for those set pieces: Houston lives on them; New England ships goals on them.
Philadelphia @ FC Dallas (8:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: With the key attacking men suspended for both sides (Brek Shea [and, to a much lesser extent, Zach Loyd] for FC Dallas and Freddy Adu for Philadelphia), the ancillary players will have to do their part. FCD's stronger supporting cast earns the edge here.
Prediction: FC Dallas win.
Sporting Kansas City @ Colorado (9:00p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: File Peter Vermes' side – even without the suspended Roger Espinoza – under the list of teams the Rapids probably don't want to play on short rest. Even at home.
Prediction: Sporting Kansas City win.
Los Angeles @ Chivas USA (10:30p.m., ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/TSN 2) – Goal.com match
Overview: If only the Red-and-White were labeled as the away side for this encounter.
Prediction: Los Angeles win.
Columbus @ San Jose (10:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: The battered Crew mustered a late show against FC Dallas last weekend, but this particular task looks beyond them at this point. But, as Frank Yallop told the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday, Columbus does have a tendency to find a way to lull sides to sleep and snatch points.
Prediction: San Jose win.
Chicago @ Portland (7:00p.m., Galavision) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Eric Brunner's return to the starting XI should ensure the Timbers have the proper cover after Futty Danso incurred a one-match ban from the Disciplinary Committee on Thursday.
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- Chivas USA
- Heath Pearce
- Danny Califf
- New York