MLS East Notes: Olsen eyes continuity, Soler talks stretch run and more

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 Photo by Jose L. Argueta/ISIphotos.com

By THOMAS FLOYD

If all goes according to plan in the nation's captial, the centerback pairing of Dejan Jakovic and Brandon McDonald could be in the early stages of a long, productive tenure.

D.C. United signed McDonald, acquired in a June trade with the San Jose Earthquakes, to a contract extension Tuesday, putting an end to rumors the 25-year-old would test the European waters at season's end, when his contract was previously set to expire.

To coach Ben Olsen, having the scrappy defender committed for the long haul means a key piece of United's roster puzzle is firmly in place.

"It's good to get that behind us," Olsen said. "Now we can focus on a back line we can keep together. You look at the teams that have success, and it's important to have particularly your two centerbacks stick around for a little bit and really get a good rapport with each other."

Added McDonald: "I think we've got a goal set for myself and the club. Our goal together is to win a championship and nothing less."

Here are some more notes from around the Eastern Conference:

CHICAGO FIRE

Right back Dan Gargan has been with the Fire for less than a month since being traded from Toronto, but he already knows he's "a lot happier" in Chicago than he was north of the border. The 28-year-old exacted some revenge against his old club Sunday, notching a goal in the Fire's 2-0 win over Toronto.

"I think that the coaches in Toronto made it pretty clear to me that they weren't huge fans of mine for whatever reason," Gargan said to ESPN Chicago. "I guess the direction they were heading in is going to take some time [and] and they didn't really want to keep me around in the plans."

COLUMBUS CREW

After falling out of favor for much of the past three months, midfielder Kevin Burns has re-emerged for the Crew, having started two consecutive matches. The playing time has been a fair reward for a player who has committed to extra workouts throughout the summer to maintain his fitness and stay sharp despite his lack of minutes.

"You're a little depressed,” Burns said to MLSsoccer.com of not playing. "It's like showing up on Saturday and just sitting there. … No player wants to do that. I don't want to be that guy, so when I get my chance, I'm ready to go and not give them a reason or excuse for me not being out there."

HOUSTON DYNAMO

Brazilian midfielder Luiz Camargo, who secured a visa to officially join the Dynamo last week, has started training with the club. Not surprisingly, his initial thoughts on practicing in Houston were directed toward the city's renowned heat.

"The training was really good, very similar to the type of training in Brazil," Camargo said via a translator to the Houston Chronicle. "But today was very hot. It feels like I will have to adapt to this warmth and the weather."

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

With Rajko Lekic's return from a foot injury Saturday, the Revolution finally got to deploy the forward partnership most envisioned when the club signed Milton Caraglio as a Designated Player. Caraglio responded by notching a first-half brace in New England's 2-2 draw with the Red Bulls, showing notable chemistry with Lekic.

"He's a good player, he's a strong player, and he's scoring goals," Lekic said of Caraglio to RevolutionSoccer.net. "We are pretty much thinking soccer the same way, so that's nice."

NEW YORK RED BULLS

With five of its final eight games at home and a fairly spread-out schedule to wrap up the season, New York knows now is the time to return to its early-season form, pick up a playoff berth and build some momentum heading toward the postseason, starting with Sunday's marquee matchup with Los Angeles at Red Bull Arena.

"We had some injuries, we had the Gold Cup, we had a lot of players out," General Manager Erik Soler said to the New York Post. "Now there isn't any excuse at all. We have no more injuries than other teams. We have no traveling, so we can play at this facility. We have no midweek games — only once in the next six weeks. … We have everything we need now, all the tools."

PHILADELPHIA UNION

The Union picked up a 5-3 friendly win at the Harrisburg City Islanders on Wednesday, scoring five consecutive goals in the second half after falling behind 2-0 in the first 19 minutes.

Justin Mapp, Ryan Richter, Zach Pfeffer, Roger Torres and trialist Joe Tait found net for Philadelphia, which started a largely first-choice lineup that included Dan Califf, Sheanon Williams, Freddy Adu, Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

While Kansas City continues to rack up the points amid its rapid surge up the Eastern Conference table, it might be easy to forget the notable players who have been out of actionfor coach Peter Vermes' side. Captain Davy Arnaud participated in training Tuesday and Wednesday as he continued working his way back from hernia surgery, while Aurelien Collin and Jeferson both seem poised to return from injury Saturday.

"It's good to see [Arnaud] two days in a row," Vermes said to MLSsoccer.com. "He really doesn't have any pain so far, which is great. With all the guys, I'll make the blanket statement that they have to get consistent days of training in."

TORONTO FC

Backup goalkeeper Milos Kocic has emerged as a solid option for Toronto in recent weeks while banged-up starter Stefan Frei has rested on the sidelines. For Kocic, who has made just six starts in three MLS seasons (two with Toronto), actually earning some first-team minutes has been a welcome change.

"It's been a long two years without playing consistently for Toronto FC," Kocic said to the Canadian Press. "Now I feel playing these couple of games in a row has helped my confidence, helped me feel more relaxed in the field."

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Chicago Fire, MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- D.C. United, MLS- Houston Dynamo, MLS- New England Revolution, MLS- New York Red Bulls, MLS- Philadelphia Union, MLS- Sporting Kansas City, MLS- Toronto FC. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to MLS East Notes: Olsen eyes continuity, Soler talks stretch run and more

  1. fischy says:

    It’s time Vermes got some credit. He’s got a tough job at KC — can’t be the easiest place to get foreign players to come to. He’s built a nice squad and seems to have a keen eye for talent. He’s also not afraid to really have an impact as coach, as witnessed by the four forward experiment that take the game to DC — they didn’t really get the results on offense, but they negated DC’s attack.

  2. Joamiq says:

    Now is not the time for NY to return to its early-season form. It’s too late. Playoffs are unlikely at this point.

  3. inkedAG says:

    Come November/December I’m figuring Hans Backe will be fired and a new knuckleheaded coach will come in to work some “magic.”

    Whoever that is, I hope he steeps himself in the histiry of this franchise and learn from the mistakes that are consistent here, i.e. deperate trades that gut the depth.

  4. OfcRob218 says:

    As a DC United fan, I hope the Jakovic and McDonald paring works. However, I wish it wasn’t at the expense of Ethan White. I really enjoyed watching White along with Kitchen.

  5. maka says:

    Uhh… isn’t the Red Bull game Sunday?

  6. MiamiAl says:

    San Jose screwed up letting McDonald go.

  7. maka says:

    Or do you and Mr. Wahl know something everyone else doesn’t?

  8. abc says:

    Kitchen can go back to defensive midfield, White isn’t quite ready to be an MLS starting CB for a team that doesn’t allow 4 goals every other game.

  9. ciscokid says:

    “We have everything we need now, all the tools.”

    Except depth and heart.

  10. Michael F says:

    After 16 seasons, can I get a pass on sticking with NYRB? Maybe I’ll support LA. Blasphemy I know but I did live in LA for two years. I’m just so tired of the same old BS, same old lip service, same old shortsightedness. I think we’re just cursed. Doesn’t matter who the coach is, doesn’t matter who the owner is, doesn’t matter how many DPs they have, something always goes wrong and it’s always their own doing. They have cut or traded away enough players for two all-star teams. That’s just for starters. They got rid of Arena way too early, the gripes go on and on. thanks for letting me vent. If you’re a NYRB fan and want to talk me off then ledge feel free. If you hate the NYRB and want to kick me when I’m down go ahead. I’ll give you my address and you can kick my puppy too!

  11. jim b says:

    When/if Kc gets fully healthy they will be a terror.

  12. Fred says:

    LA, too. They could have Omar and B-Mac in the middle

  13. Juan says:

    Agree. Soler is a clown and making a mockery of any serious futbol fan, MLS or elsewhere. He has Henry and Marquez and Dane Richards as well as several USMNT talents, not to mention the largest budget in MLS history…and he is tied with first year Portland (1/4 of Soler’s $14mn budget and no big name stars) fighting for a 10th place playoff spot. And people wonder why the Red Bulls can’t get any press in NY or NJ? He has failed miserably, and traded away all young talent for NOTHING in return. He also traded highly respected American assistant coaches and trainers. Look at the results. Fraud.

  14. Disgruntled Red Bulls Fan says:

    I am a Red Bull fan too and I’d rather get in the car with you and drive off the cliff like Thelma and Louise did. There are just too many comments from players, the coach and Erik Soler lately…need to see some heart on the field for a change. Not ready to quit my allegiance yet as a northern NJ resident, but as loyal soccer fans in a still-fledgling league like MLS, we deserve at least 100% of what the players have and not what we have been forced to watch this year. Salvation only lies with a complete dismantling by LA this Sunday night. They have 3 DPs and so do we. Time to see what a real team does with them and see what comments come out of NYRB then.

  15. juan says:

    Michael – I am sticking with the NYRB for the players’ sake, but I feel your pain and don’t blame you for a moment. I have a number of friends in nj who are season ticket holders that will not go to another game under current coaching/management. And to be fair to past Metros/NYRB coaches including Arena, Bradley and even Richie Williams (had as many wins in 1 month with a dismal team as Backe has had in 3 months)…none of those guys had anything close to the talent or budget of Soler/Backe. I think it is safe to say that this team represents the most colossal failure in the history of the league….

  16. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    I appreciate the reply. Unfortunately I just don’t see how on earth NYRB wins this game. Not a chance in hell. Even if we did win, that doesn’t make up for the fact the playoffs ore unlikely. Not sure what you mean my fledgling. I am a Jersey Boy too, Cosmos were my team when I was 12 and up – I could always switch to them like I’m sure half the fan base will once the get added to the league… : )

  17. Disgruntled Red Bulls Fan says:

    Just saying a “fledgling league” in the fact that it hasn’t been around anywhere near as long as other soccer leagues nor other established sports leagues in the US. There are other sports NJ fans can easily spend their money on, but with the $100-$200 I have per year to spend on sports tickets, I spend them on USMNT and NYRB tickets. If they played well and just lose, at least I would see value in my investment. While other teams in MLS show up as a team to play each game in front of their fans, we as NYRB fans get to see a DP goalie not dive for balls, a couple of players stand around on the pitch, a midfielder that passes the ball back whenever possible instead of trying to create and a DP defender who seems to forget how to defend when he puts our jersey on. Honestly, I hope the organization is completely gutted next season except for Lindpere, Rodgers, Agudelo, Solli, and Richards. Those 5 are the only ones I can rely on to put in 100% effort every game. Yes, Henry does score the goals, but when something doesn’t happen the way he wants, he either stands there sulking or complains to the ref for the next 5 minutes. I don’t want that kind of player to be the face of the franchise that I support.

  18. Chad says:

    “It’s time Vermes got some credit.”

    +1

    The season’s been a roller coaster ride for sure. Fortunately for SKC fans, the recent run of form has been for the better. (understatement I know)

  19. Sooth says:

    I wouldnt count out Soler yet….He mad a great move by getting De Ro and a mistake by letting him go. There is still time for some moves