There’s been a lot going on in the world of Major League Soccer over the past 24 hours so it’s a good time to round up all the news in one place.
Six of the 20 MLS clubs return to preseason training today and the 2015 season is drawing ever closer.
Here are the top stories you need to know about:
1) Colorado Rapids will host the 2015 MLS All-Star Game
The MLS All-Stars are going back to Denver for the second time ever as the Colorado Rapids’ Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will host the 2015 game. Rapids coach Pablo Maestroni will coach a team of stars that is likely to include new faces Kaka and David Villa to name just a couple. An opponent has not yet been named but we’re expecting a big name as Chelsea, AS Roma and Bayern Munich have taken on the All-Stars in the past three seasons.
2) Michael Bradley says MLS free agency is worth a player strike if it comes to it
Major League Soccer is currently in negotiations with the MLS Players’ Union over a new collective bargaining agreement as the current one is set to expire at the end of the month. One of the key issues being discussed is player free agency and Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley has said it is an issue worth going on strike over, if an agreement cannot be reached.
“We want what’s best for the league, we want to help this league grow and continue to push forward in every possible way,” Bradley said. “But it is time for some changes in the way that things are done and I think that in the end we’ll find a good way to get all that done.”
3) Michael Essien on FC Dallas radar but midfielder rejects first offer
AC Milan midfielder Michael Essien is set to move again. His current contract expires at the end of the season and Milan are not willing to offer him a new deal. The former Chelsea man does not want to return to the Premier League and is keen on a switch to MLS. FC Dallas have made an offer to the Ghanaian but he has reportedly rejected that.
4) Fabian Espindola rewarded by DC United with Designated Player contract
Fabian Espindola was arguably DC United’s best player last season and the club have rewarded him for a fine 2014, in which he scored 11 goals and picked up 9 assists, by giving him a Designated Player contract. DC United General Manager Dave Kasper said: “Fabian is coming off his best year in MLS last season and he deserves to be a Designated Player. He is in the prime of his career and we look forward to his future contributions to our club.” However, Espindola won’t be available to play for the first six games of 2015 as he will serve a suspension picked up for pushing an official in the MLS Playoffs.
5) Montreal Impact confirm signing of Belgian international Laurent Ciman
The Montreal Impact have bolstered their defence with the addition of 29-year-old centre-back Laurent Ciman from Standard Liege. Ciman has spent his entire career in Belgium and was a part of the national team’s World Cup squad last summer. Better still, Ciman will not occupy a Designated Player contract in Montreal and he will be a key leader for the team in 2015.
6) Vancouver Whitecaps sign former Timbers defender Pa Modou Kah
Another Canadian club have made a move to strengthen their backline as the Vancouver Whitecaps have signed Pa Modou Kah. The former Portland Timbers centre-back will bring plenty of experience to the side and head coach Carl Robinson thinks he is an important addition: “Kah is an athletic center back with a wealth of experience, both in MLS and abroad. Not only does he bring experience, but also great character, and that will be equally important to our team.”
7) FC Dallas acquire Toronto FC midfielder Kyle Bekker in trade for allocation money
Toronto FC have parted ways with Canadian midfielder Kyle Bekker as the 24-year-old has joined FC Dallas in exchange for allocation money. Bekker made 29 appearances over two seasons with Toronto after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
8) Bradley Wright-Phillips refusing to change despite everything else doing so around him
A lot has changed in New York since the end of the 2014 season. Thierry Henry has hung up his boots. Mike Petke has been fired and replaced by Jesse Marsch. But Bradley Wright-Phillips won’t be changing, despite the fact that he’ll be playing with the added pressure of a Designated Player contract this year. The 29-year-old tied the MLS single season goalscoring record in 2014 with 27 goals and he’s going to go about things the same way in 2015.
“I had an interview [with the Red Bulls] at the end of the season, I told them, ‘Don’t expect any wonders. You’re going to get what you got from me this season.’ I don’t go into a game without running hard, working hard, trying to score goals. That’s exactly what I’ll do this season,” he said on Tuesday. “If they’re expecting something more, they will be disappointed, I can let you know that now. If you are expecting me to be Thierry Henry, you will be disappointed.”