There is not a ton of action to report on out of MLS as clubs begin a period of hibernation during the cold winter months. But luckily, there is still plenty of excitement in the American footballing world, especially with regards to transfer news.
First, a big-name MLS star is on the move. Canadian international and two-time MLS Cup Winner Dwayne De Rosario will not be suiting up for the Houston Dynamo in 2009. He has been given a dream move to his hometown club Toronto FC, where he will possibly finish his career.
This move dramatically alters the landscape in MLS. It immediately makes Toronto a frontrunner for a playoff slot in 2009, especially if they hang on to Marvel Wynne during the January transfer window. It also adds to the considerable strength of the Eastern Conference, which already boasts the defending MLS Cup champs Columbus Crew, MLS Cup finalists Red Bull New York, and good Chicago and New England clubs. The playoff picture just got a lot blurrier.
The Los Angeles Galaxy were rebuffed by Brazilian club Internacional after placing a bid for Argentinian international midfielder Andres D'Alessandro. The Galaxy's offer was rumoured to be in excess of $10 million, more than Internacional paid for D'Alessandro earlier this year.
It's important to emphasize that the offer was not denied because it came from MLS, it was denied because Internacional want to hang on to D'Alessandro. It's refreshing to see MLS clubs making bids for foreign stars in their prime rather than those who are past their peak. If the league can snag three or four such players, the quality will improve considerably.
MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall might be close to a move abroad, but won't know for sure until the calendar turns over to 2009. Marshall had been training with Bundesliga club FSV Mainz 05 recently and impressed their coaches. Mainz is thin in defense and is looking for a boost in the January transfer window.
While Marshall is a far less heralded player than compatriot Landon Donovan, his potential move to the Bundesliga could be just as important. Marshall is 24 and is hoping to establish himself as a regular in Bob Bradley's national team. A stint in the Bundesliga could be just what the doctor ordered for the young defender.
Moving to a club like Mainz as opposed to giants Bayern Munich will also mean that Marhsall will have more opportunities to break into the starting lineup. More chances to play means greater improvement. Marshall has to be hoping the move materializes.
US Women's coach Pia Sundhage has had her contract extended until 2012 after leading her team to the gold medal in Beijing this summer. So far, the US Women's Team is 33-1-1 under Sundhage and has regained the number one ranking in the FIFA table.
Pretty impressive results for a team that doesn't get a whole lot of press.
All I Want for Christmas
Total 90 was able to get its hands on the Christmas lists of some of your favorite MLS and American football stars. What are they hoping to find under the tree on December 25th? Read on and find out!
Three More Caps
Mexican international and Chicago Fire star Cuauhtemoc Blanco was honored to receive his 100th international cap against Canada in a World Cup Qualifier back in September.
That is, until FIFA double-checked their math.
According to FIFA, Blanco is stuck on 97 caps and left to decide whether or not he tries to pursue the century mark. If he does, one of those appearances could come against the US in 2009 when the two countries meet in the final round of World Cup Qualification.
If that's the case, I'd love to see tickets to that match under my tree.
A New Head Coach
The Columbus Crew have said goodbye to their MLS Cup-winning coach Sigi Schmid, and he has made his way to the expansion club Seattle Sounders FC. Columbus has been stuck to look for a suitable replacement, but how do you replace a guy who just brought you the first title in club history?
Early money is on Crew assistant coach Robert Warzycha to step into Schmid's spot, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
A Decent Chance to Prove Himself
US international Landon Donovan is set to begin his loan with Bayern Munich in January and is hoping for more success this time than his first two stints in Germany.
Donovan is 26, and this may be his last chance to prove himself in Europe. Failure here will mean that any sensible club in the European top flight won't take a risk on an aging American who hasn't had any success in three tries in Europe.
The stakes are certainly high but it seems that Donovan has matured mentally since his time with Bayer Leverkusen. He has the physical tools to succeed, but homesickness and a severe lack of confidence scuttled his hopes the last time around in Germany.