Podcast: Altidore, Revs and Manchester United

In this week’s MLSGB Podcast Zack Walford talks to Louis East and Jamie Ives about Jozy Altidore after his fine start to life with Toronto FC, New England Revolution and where their 3-0 loss to Seattle leaves them and we also look at Manchester United and their chances on making the top four in the Premier League this season.

As always, be sure to leave your comments below or get in touch on Twitter: @MLSGB_.

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AJ Soares to return to MLS with New England as Serie A switch stalls – report

AJ Soares and his European dream might be coming to an end before it has even started as the defender’s proposed move to Serie A side Hellas Verona has stalled, as New England Soccer Today confirmed.

Soares’ contract with the New England Revolution came to an end at the culmination of the last campaign and he was all set to join Verona as reports suggested back in December.

But that has not happened and the closure of the January transfer window on Monday night means that the chances of a move going through now are significantly slimmer. That’s because clubs are much less likely to invest in new signings outside of transfer windows in Europe.

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As Soares is a free agent he could still join Hellas Verona this month up to the end of February if a deal can be renegotiated, but Rafael Marquez could be the man standing in the way of the 26-year-old’s Italian job.

Former Barcelona and New York Red Bulls centre-back Rafael Marquez currently plays for Verona after joining back in August but has a mind boggling clause in his contract that could be the reason behind the stalling of Soares’ deal.

The clause reportedly states that Marquez would be given a significant pay rise if the Italian club were to sign another defender. So if AJ Soares were to join, Verona would have to trigger that clause.

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However, the club did bring in right-back Eros Pisano on Monday on loan for the season. The clause in Marquez’ contract has not been triggered so either it doesn’t exist, or the fact that Pisano was signed on loan means it doesn’t count. There is also the possibility that because he is a right-back, the clause may come into play if a central defender joins them.

Either way, Soares does not look like he will be moving to Hellas Verona after all and a return to MLS with the New England Revolution could be on the cards.

The Revs still retain his MLS rights so he would be automatically re-added to their squad if he were to return to America for 2015.

How much of a boost would AJ Soares’ return be for New England Revolution?

New England Revolution defender A. J. Soares set to join Hellas Verona of Serie A – Report

New England Revolution defender A. J. Soares is set to seal a move to Serie A team Hellas Verona, according to Jimmy Conrad of Kick TV.

The centre-back has been a mainstay in the side that reached the MLS Cup Final and made 37 appearances this year, missing just two games for the Revs in 2014.

It comes as a major blow for New England as Soares has formed such a great partnership with Jose Gonçalves at the heart of the defence and they’ve been the platform that has allowed the team to express themselves so freely.

The 26-year-old joined the Revolution in 2011 and went on to make 108 appearances and also chipped in with six goals.

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Hellas Verona are currently sitting in 12th position in Italy’s top division after 15 matches of the campaign.

The big move means that Soares will now have the opportunity to line-up alongside players such as Italian legend Luca Toni.

Will A. J. Soares be a success in Serie A?

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

By Sam Lingwood

With the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft almost upon us, we have a look at a potential lineup made of some of the best possible players left unprotected by their clubs for the draft.

New York City FC and Orlando City SC will pick ten players each in Wednesday’s Expansion Draft and we’ve picked out 11 that could find themselves on the move.

In order for this squad to be put together, a 4-1-4-1 formation has been selected. They may have been left unprotected but these players could prove valuable at one of the expansion franchises in 2015 and beyond.

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

Goalkeeper: Donovan Ricketts – Portland Timbers

The 2013 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, you can’t look past Donovan Ricketts. He brings experience and a safe pair of hands you can rely on. Has been in MLS since 2009 and has one MLS Cup title to his name.

Right-back: Dan Gargan – LA Galaxy

Another lad who has bundles of experience at MLS level, Dan Gargan is an intriguing option. A consistently solid level of performances last term make him a standout choice if New York City or Orlando City are looking for a right-back.

Centre-backs: AJ Soares & Carlos Salcedo – New England Revolution & Real Salt Lake

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The centre-back pairing are formidable. AJ Soares had a high standard of performances last year, and is at a great age to put in even better displays at the back in the hope he can push on and win the MLS Cup in 2015 with whoever he ends up with, so long as he stays in MLS. Carlos Salcedo is a young talent who didn’t feature consistently last season. However, he’s a great prospect and with the right experience around him, he will thrive in the scenario presented.

Left-back: Heath Pearce – Montreal Impact

Heath Pearce is another experienced defender to shepherd either team through their inaugral season in Major League Soccer. He has a great CV to boast off, and at 30 he still has some good years left in the tank. A sound left-back who will get the job done if selected.

Defensive-midfield: Hendry Thomas – FC Dallas

Previous teams include Wigan Athletic when they were in the English Premier League. Hendry Thomas is a consistently high performer for his home nation Honduras and he represented them once again at the 2014 World Cup. Injury restricted him to just 10 appearances for FC Dallas in 2014 but he is worth the gamble.

Right-midfield: Diego Fagundez – New England Revolution

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Diego Fagundez is picked to play on the right wing for this lineup. The 19-year-old playmaker has plenty of pace, talent and technique. Will be around for years and could be terrorising defences with one of the expansion franchises next season.

Central-midfield: Ben Speas – Columbus Crew

Another young lad, Ben Speas put in some good performances when selected last term and the 23-year-old will be hoping for more game time next season as he looks to build and push on to greater things with whoever he plays for in 2015.

Central-midfield: Peguy Luyindula – New York Red Bulls

Peguy Luyindula may be 35-years-old but the French playmaker showed that he can still be a difference-maker during the MLS Playoffs this season. Five goals and one assist in 26 regular appearances in 2014 make Luyindula an interesting option. He then netted three goals in five playoff games for the Red Bulls before they were knocked out by New England.

Left-midfield: Bobby Convey – New York Red Bulls

Bobby Convey offers some more EPL experience after spending five years with Reading before returning to MLS in 2009. At 31, he still has some talent left in the tank to help see either New York City FC and Orlando City succeed in their debut season.

Forward: Patrick Mullins – New England Revolution

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Patrick Mullins put in a great performance off the bench in the MLS Cup Final on Sunday and the rookie was impressively consistent in his first season. Looking forward to bigger and better things from this lad next year.

This looks like a good team, playing a solid formation and they would probably do well as a squad in MLS. It will be great to see who is chosen in Wednesday’s draft and how they all get on next year.

How well would the Unprotected XI do if they were an MLS side – how many of them will be selected on Wednesday?