First ever group of MLS free agents available to be signed from today

Major League Soccer will see free agents available to be signed for the first time ever from today.

A total of 26 players are part of the first MLS free agency group after seeing their contracts expire at the end of the 2015 season and will be able to negotiate with potential suitors from 1pm ET (6pm GMT) today.

Free agency has been introduced to the league as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was agreed back in March, before the start of the 2015 campaign, and it will now be seen in use for the first time in MLS history.

Out-of-contract players who are at least 28 years old and have a minimum of eight years of service in MLS are eligible for free agency, including the likes of Corey Ashe, Ned Grabavoy, Jeff Larentowicz, Mike Magee and Alan Gordon.

Full list of the 26 MLS players available for free agency from today:

GK Jon Busch (Chicago Fire)
GK Troy Perkins (Seattle Sounders)
GK Kyle Reynish (New York Red Bulls)
GK Andrew Weber (Portland Timbers)

DF Corey Ashe (Orlando City SC)
DF Bobby Burling (Colorado Rapids)
DF Ty Harden (Chicago Fire)
DF Michael Harrington (Colorado Rapids)
DF Stephen Keel (FC Dallas)
DF Drew Moor (Colorado Rapids)
DF James Riley (Colorado Rapids)

MF Eric Avila (Orlando City SC)
MF Brian Carroll (Philadelphia Union)
MF Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo)
MF Ned Grabavoy (New York City FC)
MF Nick LaBrocca (Colorado Rapids)
MF Jeff Larentowicz (Chicago Fire)
MF Justin Mapp (Montreal Impact)
MF Paulo Nagamura (Sporting Kansas City)
MF Nathan Sturgis (Houston Dynamo)

FW Chad Barrett (Seattle Sounders)
FW Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy)
FW Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union)
FW Kenny Cooper (Montreal Impact)
FW Alan Gordon (LA Galaxy)
FW Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)

Which of the free agents above do you think will be the most sought after in MLS?

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Shaun Maloney captains Chicago Fire in debut draw with Norwich

Shaun Maloney wore the captain’s armband on his Chicago Fire debut yesterday as he played 45 minutes in a goalless draw with Norwich City at the Championship club’s Colney Training Centre.

Head coach Frank Yallop changed all eleven players at halftime as 22 players got their first preseason action under their belt in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire have been one of Major League Soccer’s busiest clubs this offseason and 11 of the 13 players brought in this winter played on Thursday.

Two of the new Designated Players started in attack with Kennedy Igboananike and Shaun Maloney accompanied by Harry Shipp up top in a 4-3-3 system.

David Accam, the third DP signing, is still away at the African Cup of Nations with Ghana but he will join up with his teammates within the next week.

Maloney captained the Men in Red on his debut before being replaced by Quincy Amarikwa at halftime with usual captain Jeff Larentowicz ruled out with a knee injury.

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Frank Yallop was pleased with what he saw from his side in the draw and starting preseason with a clean-sheet against a Norwich side with a few first-team regulars is a major positive.

“It was very good,” Yallop told reporters after the game. “We had two completely different units starting the first half and the second, so 22 players got to play a 45-minute spell, which is always good to start with.

“I feel like some of the soccer we played and our continuity [was good], and after nine or 10 days of training I thought we were quite bright, played some good stuff, and getting a clean sheet is always important.”

The Chicago Fire now move on to London where they will train with Queens Park Rangers before playing the Premier League club in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Thursday.

What did we learn in Chicago’s draw with the Galaxy?

An evenly contested match ended in a 1-1 draw between Chicago Fire and LA Galaxy on Sunday night. Here are our key talking points:

1. Both sides spurned chances to win the game.

A draw was a fair result, but both teams will live to rue chances that weren’t taken when you would expect them to be.

A 19th minute chance for Quincy Amarikwa saw him go one-on-one with Jamie Penedo, only to fire his shot over from close range.

Robbie Keane had a good chance on the hour mark when Stefan Ishizaki squared the ball to him and a last ditch tackle from Hurtado was just about enough to put him off.

LA Galaxy substitute, Gyasi Zardes, had his shot well blocked by Bakary Soumare in the 76th minute when it was goal bound.

2. Controversy surrounds the penalty decision for Chicago Fire.

There is absolutely no doubt that the heavy tackle by Juninho on Chicago forward Quincy Amarikwa was a foul, but replays have shown that the challenge was clearly made outside of the penalty area.

Jeff Larentowicz tucked away the resulting penalty to give Chicago a 1-0 lead, so LA Galaxy have a right to feel slightly hard done by.

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3. It’s that man again.

It’s almost becoming a broken record but as if there wasn’t already enough kindling to fuel the fire surrounding Landon Donovan’s exclusion for the USMNT, he only went and bagged himself yet another MLS goal. What a player.

4. Solid debut.

A brief mention must go to on-loan Spurs midfielder Grant Ward as he made his first start for Chicago Fire and put in a good performance in the engine room.

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Chicago Fire’s next test will come when they travel to Colorado to face the Rapids on Wednesday night.

LA Galaxy’s next match sees them host Chivas USA on Sunday June 8.

Highlights via MLS on YouTube: