Is an MLS return for Tim Howard a realistic possibility?

US Men’s National Team hero and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard is the latest American to be linked with a return to Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy, New York City FC and Toronto FC all interested, according to the Daily Mail.

Howard’s heroics at the World Cup last summer inspired a nation as the 35-year-old put in some of the most incredible goalkeeping displays ever seen on the biggest stage of all, and so a return to MLS would certainly excite the entire population of US soccer fans.

The problem is that Howard only recently signed a contract extension with Premier League side Everton that will take him through to 2018, when he will then be 39 and set for retirement.

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[Howard has made 370 appearances with Everton, keeping 123 clean sheets]

The Toffees are believed to be looking at long-term options to replace the shot-stopper who has been with the team for nine years, with Cardiff’s David Marshall and Orjan Nyland of Molde both linked with Everton.

If Howard were to return to MLS now a transfer fee would have to be agreed, because of his extended contract, and Howard would surely demand high wages that would make him a Designated Player.

Teams don’t tend to use DP slots on defensive players, especially goalkeepers, and so it would be a major investment in a position that doesn’t necessarily require a player of enormous quality.

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Two of the teams reportedly interested, LA Galaxy and Toronto FC, have already filled all three DP slots so a move for Howard is out of the question for now at least.

That leaves New York City FC, who have also been linked with Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, but it would be a bold move to use their final DP slot on a goalkeeper for their inaugural season in MLS.

It would be great to see Howard finish his career in MLS after such success in Europe but it would appear to be more of a hope than a realistic possibility at this stage.

Should Tim Howard finish his career in MLS? Which club would he join?

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Shaun Maloney completes Chicago Fire switch, set to be unveiled today

The Chicago Fire have completed the capture of Scottish midfielder Shaun Maloney from Wigan Athletic, as expected, and the 32-year-old joins the Men In Red as their third Designated Player.

Maloney leaves Championship strugglers Wigan after three-and-a-half successful years with the club, in a spell that saw him win the FA Cup in 2013.

The Scotland International made 91 appearances for Wigan, scoring 15 goals and adding 17 assists for the Latics, and he can’t wait to be a part of a new-look Chicago Fire team in 2015.

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“I’m very happy to be joining the Fire,” Maloney said after sealing the move stateside. “I owe a lot to the manager Frank Yallop and the owner Andrew Hauptman for getting this done.

“I certainly didn’t expect it to get done this quickly, so I appreciate the faith that they’ve shown in me. It’s a brilliant league and I’m really hopeful that I’m going to enjoy Chicago and be a big part of what the club is building.”

Maloney is the third Designated Player signing the Fire have made during the offseason as the Eastern Conference club look to bounce back in 2015 after a poor campaign last year.

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International strikers Kennedy Igboananike and David Accam have both been added as DP’s and Maloney will hope to be the man to give those two service.

Harry Shipp was the Fire’s most influential player last season and he will be able to learn a lot from the experienced Maloney, who will add another dimension to Chicago’s attacking play.

Maloney will be unveiled as a Chicago Fire player today at Toyota Park during a press conference set to begin at 3:15PM GMT.

Is Shaun Maloney a good signing for the Chicago Fire?

Toronto FC confirm capture of Sebastian Giovinco, will join in summer

Toronto FC have confirmed that they have signed Italian playmaker Sebastian Giovinco and the 27-year-old will join the club at the end of his Juventus contract in the summer.

Giovinco will join Toronto as a Designated Player, taking the teams total number of DP’s to four, and so it is likely that Gilberto will be moved on before the season gets underway, or allocation money will have to be moved around to fit him in as a non-DP.

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Giovinco has scored 20 goals with 23 assists in 130 appearances for Juventus and has chosen to join Toronto despite strong interest from a host of Europe’s top clubs – a major boost for Major League Soccer.

“Today marks a very special day for Toronto FC with the addition of Sebastian Giovinco,” Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said.

 

“Seba is in the prime of his career and he has chosen to join Toronto FC and MLS at a time when many of the top clubs in the world were pursuing him. We are very pleased to bring a fantastic player to Toronto FC for our club and for our fans, especially those in the Italian community.”

The player was not personally at today’s press conference as the team announced his signing but he has spoke of his delight at securing a move to MLS and is looking forward to moving to the Canadian city.

“I am excited to sign with Toronto FC today and look forward to joining the club this summer,” the Italian said. “I have heard so many great things about Toronto over the years and I know that it will be a city that I feel right at home in.”

Toronto has not made the playoffs in any of its eight seasons in MLS and there will be no excuses at no making them this year.

Having Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco in the side makes Toronto a side to be feared and they should be a real attacking force in 2015.

Giovinco will wear the number 10 jersey when he moves to Toronto in July and his first game could see him play against reigning MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy in a match that could also see Steven Gerrard make his debut for the Galaxy.

How good a signing is Sebastian Giovinco for Toronto FC and MLS?

Emmanuel Adebayor set for MLS as Spurs look to offload striker – report

Tottenham Hotspur are trying to offload 30-year-old striker Emmanuel Adebayor this month and are set to offer him to Major League Soccer clubs, according to a report in The Times.

Adebayor hasn’t played a game for Spurs for two months, and his last outing came in the home defeat to Stoke – a game in which afterwards the Togo forward criticised the home support of Spurs fans.

He has never managed to repeat the form he showed in his first season at Spurs, when he was on loan from Manchester City, as he scored 17 goals in the Premier League for the Lilywhites in 2011-12. He has scored 18 total league goals in the past two-and-a-half seasons since, including just two this campaign.

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A move to MLS would give Adebayor the chance to have a fresh start as he appears to have exhausted all options in the Premier League.

The former Arsenal, Manchester City and Real Madrid man is an extremely talented forward but doesn’t always show what he is capable off and that is the case with Spurs now.

His huge wage demands mean MLS clubs would have to make Adebayor a designated player, and one of the highest paid ones at that, as he is on around £100,000 per week at Spurs.

He was linked with a move to New York Red Bulls a few years ago in a deal that would have seen him partner Thierry Henry, but it could now be a case of replacing the French legend.

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Other possible destinations could be Toronto, if former Spurs teammate Jermain Defoe leaves the club, or New York City FC as the expansion franchise have money to spend and Adebayor is a former Manchester City player.

The tall and skillful striker turns 31 next month and still has lots of football in front of him so a move to MLS now would be a huge boost for the league.

Would Emmanuel Adebayor be a good signing for Major League Soccer?

New York City FC set to seal deal for Mix Diskerud – report

Mix Diskerud is a man in high demand, but he has yet to secure a move anywhere and New York City have emerged as the latest frontrunners for the USMNT midfielder’s signature, according to a Goal USA report by Ives Galarcep.

This time last week, the entire New York City FC fanbase was left devastated by the news that Frank Lampard would not be returning to New York for the start of the 2015 MLS season – the club’s inaugural campaign in Major League Soccer.

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But the signing of Diskerud would certainly go a long way to mending broken hearts. The 24-year-old was expected to join Liga MX side Club Tijuana last month but that deal hasn’t gone through and more recent reports have suggested the Norwegian-born American would remain in Europe with Celtic a possible destination.

Though a move to MLS has not fallen off the radar and despite the fact that MLS has already twice failed to bring Diskerud to the league, the opportunity to join New York City FC could be too good to refuse.

The reason New York City would have a better chance than anyone else in the league is because of the allocation order, as the report states:

NYCFC holds the top spot in the MLS Allocation Order, which is used to determine which teams have first crack at the signing of U.S. national team players coming to MLS (with some high-profile exceptions). The team will use that top allocation spot to select Diskerud once MLS has succeeded in agreeing to a contract with the 24-year-old midfielder, sources tell Goal USA.

A move to the expansion franchise would see him play alongside David Villa and eventually Frank Lampard (hopefully). Plus the added incentive that NYCFC has direct connections to Premier League champions Manchester City, and that could interest Diskerud.

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The report indicates that he might not even need to be signed to a designated player contract, depending on the club’s wage budget, but that would need to be clarified nearer the time if a move does indeed happen.

Diskerud is without a club since leaving Norwegian side Rosenborg last month and a move to MLS would give him the chance to shine in a league that’s quality increases with each week.

New York City FC fans need some good news, and it might just come in the form of USMNT midfielder Mix Diskerud within the next week.

Would Mix Diskerud be a good signing for New York City FC?

Chicago Fire add another DP in Ghanaian striker David Accam

Chicago Fire have made another big step to improving their squad by signing Ghanaian striker David Accam and the 24-year-old will occupy a Designated Player slot.

Accam joins from Swedish side Helsingborg, where he scored 30 goals in 62 appearances – an impressive strike rate of 0.48 per game.

He is the second African DP striker that the Fire have added this offseason and the club will hope to see Accam form a solid partnership with Kennedy Igboananike in 2015.

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“David is an exciting, creative player with a goal-scoring mentality,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. “I’m pleased that David will be joining the Fire. He’s a key piece as we continue to build a deep squad in preparation for the 2015 season and we’re looking forward to having him on our team.”

Accam, who made it through Ghana’s Right to Dream Academy, has improved as a player with every season and was called up to the Ghana National team for a World Cup qualifier against Sudan earlier this year.

The Fire reportedly paid around £2.5 million for his services and he will hope to make an immediate impact when the new season gets underway in March.

“I’m really excited to be a part of MLS and the Chicago Fire,” he said.

“The commitment that the Fire showed me was the main reason I chose Chicago over other offers that I had. I would also like to thank the coach Frank Yallop and the owner Andrew Hauptman for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play for the Fire. I cannot wait to repay their faith.

“I know that Chicago is going to be a great home for me, and I’m looking forward to giving everything I have to become part of the Fire family, with my teammates, the club staff and of course, the fans, especially Section 8,” Accam added.

David Accam highlights via CSKA4everVIDEOtv on YouTube:

Will David Accam be a star for the Fire? Is he a good signing?

Erick Torres’s future in MLS no clearer as decision deadline passes

Erick “Cubo” Torres is still not definitely returning to Major League Soccer next season. The league have been in communications with his parent club CD Guadalajara for several weeks but no agreement has been reached as yet.

The deadline for a decision on Torres’s future passed yesterday (December 15) but a statement released by MLS revealed that negotiations were still ongoing.

“Over the past several weeks, MLS has been engaged in discussions with Erick Torres and Chivas de Guadalajara regarding the league’s option to acquire his contract. Although no agreement has been concluded, these discussions are continuing.”

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The 21-year-old Mexican striker is expected to sign a designated player contract if he is to remain in MLS and he is believed to be adamant on a move to LA Galaxy if he is to return to play in 2015.

But the problem could be that the Galaxy are exploring all DP options in a bid to replace Landon Donovan with the best available player.

Torres might be that man, but the club’s uncertainty in that sense could be dragging any deal out, as it is the league itself who the former Chivas USA forward must negotiate a contract with.

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Every team in the league will be interested in securing the services of Torres after he scored 15 goals in a very poor Chivas side last season, and if he could agree a contract with MLS he could be sent somewhere via ‘blind allocation’ – the same way Jermaine Jones was sent to New England Revolution.

But if Torres has his heart set on the Galaxy then negotiations will continue to stall until they either fall apart, or the Mexican gets his wish.

A forward line of Torres, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes is a frightening prospect but the MLS Cup champions will not be willing to rush into a decision regarding bringing in another DP.

How important is it that Torres returns to MLS in 2015 – would he be a good signing for the LA Galaxy?

Should Barcelona star Xavi still make the move to MLS?

Reports at the end of last season were that Xavi Hernandez was at the end of his Barcelona career, with a move to Major League Soccer a widely rumoured possibility.

After links to New York City FC, Xavi made a dramatic U-turn on his decision to depart from the Catalan giants and has enjoyed a fruitful term this season.

He has featured 12 times in La Liga so far and netted once. Having a player of his stature is beneficial to any club, no matter how old he is.

At this moment in time it is hard to predict whether or not we will see him make the switch to MLS before he calls time on his playing career.

He will turn 35 in January and could still play at least a couple of seasons after this.

Barcelona will not be looking to let him go easily, but admitted last term that he can decide his own future due to his services to the club over the years.

He would be another great addition to the league. Not just for the Spanish contingency in America, but also players of a similar age across the league.

Bringing crucial experience to every player in the dressing room, he has proved to be one of the coolest characters in difficult games throughout his career.

New York City would have been a brilliant destination for him, linking up with former teammate and Spanish counterpart David Villa.

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It would also see him play alongside Frank Lampard, who he has faced in some of the most memorable European ties between Chelsea and Barcelona in the Champions League.

He may choose the same option as former teammate and club legend Carles Puyol and hang up his boots with his lifelong team.

But it is a situation worth keeping in mind and many people would like to see a move go through, no matter where he ends up.

New York Red Bulls are believed to be looking for a star central midfielder to bring in following the departure of Thierry Henry and New York is Xavi’s most likely destination were he to make the switch.

Should Xavi make the move to MLS?

How will New York Red Bulls cope with life after Thierry Henry?

Losing a player of Thierry Henry‘s quality and presence is never an ideal situation, but it’s the one that New York Red Bulls are now currently faced with.

Henry scored 10 goals in 2014, but perhaps more importantly, he made 15 assists over the course of the regular season and the MLS playoffs combined.

A large proportion of the credit for the Red Bulls success last season will have been given to Bradley Wright-Phillips for his scintillating goalscoring form, but it will be interesting to see how he manages now that his key creator is no longer around.

Thierry Henry played the role of provider for nine of the goals that Wright-Phillips scored last season which accounts for just under one third of his overall combined total of 31.

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Upon equalling the record for most goals in one MLS regular season, Bradley Wright-Phillips has since been rewarded with a designated player contract.

And with no clarification over Tim Cahill’s future as yet, there may still be two DP slots available should he decide to move on to pastures new.

It will then be down to whether or not the Red Bulls choose to fill the spaces, but it certainly allows them the option to bring in world-class talent in an attempt to replace the legendary Frenchman.

The assumption would be that New York are currently on the hunt for an attacking player to partner BWP in 2015 as Henry has played such a crucial role for the last four years, so that void will certainly need to be filled.

Can New York Red Bulls cope with life after Thierry Henry?

New York Red Bulls add Steven Gerrard to discovery list as interest intensifies

The New York Red Bulls have made a step forward in the hunt for Liverpool midfield legend Steven Gerrard by assigning him a discovery slot, according to the Telegraph’s Jason Burt.

That means that should Gerrard agree to a move to Major League Soccer in the near future, the Red Bulls will have first refusal on his rights ahead of all 19 other MLS sides.

The 34-year-old’s situation at Liverpool is a precarious one. He has yet to agree to a contract extension with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season and interest from overseas could be tempting him to experience another challenge before the end of his career.

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Gerrard is a one-club man. He has made almost 700 appearances for Liverpool and represented England over 100 times before announcing his retirement from international football last summer.

But the prospect of playing in MLS before hanging up his boots could be an attractive option for the Premier League veteran.

A move to New York would see him link up with former Reds boss Gerard Houllier, the Red Bulls’ international sporting director for football. It would also mean that Gerrard would be living in the same city as New York City FC’s Frank Lampard as two of England’s greatest midfielders could continue to face off against each other in what will be a New York rivalry next season.

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Gerrard could sign a pre-contract agreement with a club in January as he is highly unlikely to leave Liverpool before the end of the current season. But a move after his contract expires is the most likely option as the Liverpool captain will not be looking to cause a stir at Anfield halfway through what has been a challenging campaign.

He could sign a new deal with the Reds and remain there for the remainder of his career, but the Red Bulls interest would appear to be bona fide. And despite the fact that they have no agreements with the player, they will hope to tempt him to make the switch stateside.

New York have money to spend and designated player slots to fill following Thierry Henry’s departure, with Tim Cahill also likely to move on. That leaves a rather large Steven Gerrard-sized hole in the middle of the park, and the Reds star could be the ideal man to fill it.

Would Steven Gerrard be a good signing for the New York Red Bulls? Will he stay with Liverpool?