Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

10 things to watch out for in the new MLS season

SOCCER/The 15th Major League Soccer season kicks off on Thursday as fans thankfully turn their thoughts from collective-bargaining agreements and guaranteed contracts, to action on the field, safe in the knowledge that the only strikers making the news this week will be those who score goals.

Others will make their judgments on the deal that avoided a strike -- but what is certain is that the new five-year contract and modest salary structure ensures not only that MLS will start on Thursday (Seattle Sounders host the Philadelphia Union) but also that it will enter its 20th year in much the same status as it began its first – a league featuring a surprising number of good players, being paid a surprisingly low amount of money.

But anyway, this writer too has had enough of all the financial and contractual talk and rather is looking forward to the start of the new season. Here are ten things to keep an eye on this year:

1. Philadelphia Union – a brand new franchise to finally give the enthusiastic supporters club who preceded them, the Sons of Ben, something to cheer about. With the canny Pole Peter Nowak as head coach, the Union will be well prepared but they lack a proven prolific goalscorer and are relying on the unpredictable (but superbly named) Brazilian midfielder Fred for their inspiration. Expect workmanlike solidity, the odd upset and perhaps some sparkling moments from their number one draft pick Danny Mwanga, who could get more playing time than most rookies.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Donovan must think hard about Everton move

Everton hope to complete the signing of Landon Donovan on loan from Major League Soccer’s L.A Galaxy, a move which has generated plenty of excitement among North American soccer fans.

The move makes a lot of sense for Everton manager David Moyes – it gives him no-risk attacking cover, particularly useful while Nigerian Yakubu Aiyegbeni is away throughout January at the African Nations Cup. What is less obvious is why a short term loan spell is a good move for Donovan.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Azteca defeat exposes U.S. weaknesses


After a wave of optimism following their successful run in the Confederations Cup, the United States have come back down to earth with their 2-1 defeat to Mexico.


Although Mexico didn’t seal their victory on Wednesday until Miguel Sabah’s strike seven minutes from the end, the result actually flattered the United States who were outplayed at the Azteca stadium.