As of Today, we are exactly 99 days away from the kick-off to MLS Season XIII. That is all...
MLS introduced a number of changes this week, including increasing the number of foreigners in the league, and allowing foreign spots to be tradeable. This would enable some teams, if they so wished, to stock up on foreign spots and field a full starting 11 of foreigners.
I fear that this is a move that appeals more to the business side rather than the football side. I'm also fearful that it will inch MLS closer to a 'retirement league.'
The optimistic fan sees this as an opportunity to bring in more talented South Americans like Erpen, or Emilio who are not so close to their expiration dates. The business man sees this as an opportunity to push for a salary cap increase and field a full 11 of Buffon, Terry, Cannavaro, Marquez, Pirlo, Ronaldinho, C. Ronaldo, Messi, Kaka, Ronaldo, and Schevchenko type players... of course, 6-8 years from now. Generally speaking, they're not going to invest their money in bringing in a Joe Schmoe from Europe or South America who will bring talent and skill to their team. They're going to go after the seat fillers.
The only way I can see the potential in increasing the number of internationals, is that if it becomes a temporary solution, and with every significant increase in the salary cap, the number of internationals is reduced by one. Ideally, I'd like to see a max of 5 I-spots per team [non-tradeable]. I predict the opposite though. Increase in salary cap, and an increase in the total international spots available, and yes, they'll be tradeable.
The Saga of Nery in England
An interview last night from Televisa Deportes showed a Nery Castillo reluctant to talk about the money he put from his own pocket in order to ensure his loan deal with Manchester City. I expect Nery to have a vote of confidence from his coach which shall do him well in the EPL. Nery is now the third Mexican forward to be playing in a top European league. Carlos Vela [Osasuna] and Giovanni Dos Santos [Barcelona] are the other two.
ESPNDeportes.com has a very complete transfer table in Mexican football so far this offseason.
The most attractive moves are Richard Nuñez from Cruz Azul to Club America, Jaime Lozano from Tigres UANL to Cruz Azul, Walter Gaitan from Tigres UANL to Cruz Azul, Fernando Arce from Morelia to Santos Laguna, Gaston Fernandez from San Lorenzo to Tigres UANL, and Hector Moreno's departure from UNAm to join Alkmaar Zaanstreek (AZ) in Holland.
Also noteworthy is the way that the two teams fighting to avoid relegation, Puebla and Veracruz have stacked up their rosters. Puebla has brought in Melvin Brown, Nicolas Olivera, Felipe Ayala, Javier Campora and Gilberto Mora. Veracruz on the other hand has signed Rodrigo Ruiz, Ariel Gonzlez, Santiago Raymonda, Claudio Patricio Graf, Rafael Medina, Alejandro Corona, Raul Salinas, and Salustino Candia.
I expect Tecos UAG to get pulled into this fight though, Cesar Luis Menotti and all.
You Want Respect? We'll Give You Respect
Let it not be said that CONMEBOL ever jumps without a parachute.
CONMEBOl confirmed this week that they are willing to comply with FMF's requests, and starting in 2009 Mexican clubs will be treated no longer as guests, but as full participants in CONMEBOL club competitions.
Not surprisingly, that same day a story was published in which representatives of Banco Santander, new title sponsors of the Copa 'Santander' Libertadores explained the importance of Mexican participation for them. The representative interviewed stopped just shy of saying that should Mexican teams withdraw their participation from the competition, they would reconsider their sponsorship of the competition.
Sadly, as is always the case in COMEBOL. Somebody is going to have to pay for the broken plates, and it seems it will be Club America. The team that began the movement to get better treatment for FMF teams in CONMEBOL is likely going to be penalized. CONMEBOL has announced that they are considering sanctions against Club America for their refusal to receive their silver medals in the Sudamericana final, and for "aggressive declarations that damage CONMEBOL's image... from a country that participates in South American competitions as guests."
Again, I plan on having something special for you soon. Watch this space.
That's all for this edition of Free For All Friday. Hope you enjoy your weekend and have very happy holidays. Until next time...