MLS Ticker: Arena sounds off on Gold Cup sked; RBNY’s Juninho to retire at season’s end; and more

Bruce Arena

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Los Angeles Galaxy defender just returned to the club from nearly a month with the U.S. Men’s National Team last Wednesday. Assuming he is called up for the upcoming Gold Cup, he’ll only be around for another seven days before he leaves for another month with the national team.

Speaking to reporters after the Galaxy’s practice on Monday morning, Arena didn’t shy away from calling out the league and schedule makers, as he could potentially lose Gonzalez and midfielder Landon Donovan for an extended period of time right in the heart of the Major League Soccer season.

“That’s what this league is. This is the way the league operates. When you can’t be in sync with an international calendar, that’s the reality of things,” Arena said to the team’s website. “We’ve been well aware of [the Gold Cup] before the year started. It’s crazy. It skews the competition in the league, but it is what it is. What are you going to do?

“It’s a major problem we have with scheduling in the league, and it damages the competition. We have to find other ways to fit the schedule in where teams are not impacted due to the FIFA calendar.”

Without Gonzalez and Irish international forward Robbie Keane in the lineup for three weeks, the Galaxy lost three matches in a row in all competitions.

Here are some more stories to catch you up around the league:

JUNINHO TO RETIRE AT END OF 2013 SEASON

One of the greatest free-kick takers of the past 20 years is retiring from professional soccer this December.

New York Red Bulls midfielder Juninho reportedly disclosed his decision to retire in an interview with a French newspaper that was published this weekend, announcing his intent to retire at the conclusion of the MLS season. The 38-year-old has failed to score this season for the Red Bulls, but has four assists, including two of them on game-winning set pieces late in the match against the Los Angeles Galaxy and Montreal Impact last month.

The former French champion at Lyon in Ligue 1 began his career at Sport Recife in 1991, eventually moving on to Vasco De Gama in 1995. In 2001, Juninho made his move across the atlantic to Lyon, cementing his legendary status with 100 goals in 344 matches and seven league titles.

In 2009, Juninho moved to Qatari side Al Gharafa for two seasons, before signing with the Red Bulls last February for the current MLS campaign.

TORONTO FC TO LOSE FOUR PLAYERS TO GOLD CUP

While the Los Angeles Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City will be hit hard by international call-ups during the Gold Cup, Toronto FC could be missing up to four players during the tournament.

According to reports out of Canada, TFC could be without defenders Ashtone Morgan and Doneil Henry, and midfielders Kyle Bekker and Jonathan Osorio for a period of two to four weeks, depending on Canada’s performance in the Gold Cup.

The Canadian Soccer Federation was supposed to announce their roster for the Gold Cup on Monday, but it was delayed due to player availability, according to a statement from the federation. Canada is in Group A of the Gold Cup, where they’ll face Panama, Mexico, and Martinique in the group stage.

QUICK KICKS

Colorado Rapids winger Danny Mwanga acquired his U.S. citizenship on Monday. (REPORT)

Seattle Sounders forward Eriq Zavaleta has returned from a two-week loan with NASL side San Antonio Scorpions, but could be returning there for the second half of the season. (REPORT)

Chivas Guadalajara announced their roster for their upcoming friendly against D.C. United, but left new signing Aldo de Nigris off the list. (REPORT)

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What do you make of these reports? Do you agree with Arena’s statements? Surprised at Juninho’s decision? Do you see TFC’s international call-ups hurting the club with their absence?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, MLS- Colorado Rapids, MLS- D.C. United, MLS- LA Galaxy, MLS- New York Red Bulls, MLS- Seattle Sounders, MLS- Toronto FC. Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to MLS Ticker: Arena sounds off on Gold Cup sked; RBNY’s Juninho to retire at season’s end; and more

  1. Brett says:

    Someone should tell Baba Booey that if his players want to stay with their clubs instead of going to their national teams, they can. Yeah, the league should pay more attention to the international schedule, but it is what it is. It would be terrible for the league to compete with the NFL through the autumn months. Summer is the big lull in American sports with only baseball to watch (of the major sports) and that is where soccer fits right now in this country.

    • Ben says:

      Not to mention several MLS cities would basically not be able to host games on the Fall schedule or at the least make home games miserable (Colorodo, Salt Lake City, Toronto and to a less extent Chicago, New York and Boston)

      • K says:

        i’m not buying the MLS would have to compete with the NFL argument. First off, are NFL fans even soccer fans? Secondly, look at MLS’s schedule this past weekend: ZERO games on TV on Sat. Two games on TV on Sunday night.

        Easy fix to that. Make Saturday MLS match day. Are college football fans soccer fans too?

        The big problem for a fall to spring schedule is the weather.

        • kevin says:

          pretty ignorant to think NFL fans and college football fans don’t watch the MLS

        • Old School says:

          While kevin may have missed the mark, I think his overall tone of what he’s trying to say is accurate.

          The notion that MLS would have to “compete” with NFL or college football isn’t really a competition.

          Those who consider football “their sport” will watch their NFL game/college football game in real-time.

          Those who are passionate about soccer but are dedicating an entire day or section of their day to watch a match will watch their MLS on DVR.

          MLS can’t compete with football but I don’t think they have to. This notion MLS can’t play on the international schedule is more of an issue due to weather and not ratings or competition for American interest.

        • chg says:

          MLS would get buried by college football media coverage. Just because it is physically possible to hold games during college football season doesn’t mean it is a smart move for the league.

        • Rich says:

          I grew up playing soccer and never played american football as a kid. And I LOVE watching college and nfl football, particularly my Oklahoma Sooners. I have BeIn Sport and MLS Direct Kick and watch soccer pretty much every weekend. I live about 40 minutse from the Home Depot, err, Stub Hub Center. And yet, the only time I would watch a soccer game over my Sooners is the USMNT. A lot of the guys I play soccer with are also football fans. Keeping the two separate as much as possible is a good thing. Can’t be helped during MLS playoffs though.

          • Ted in MN says:

            Exactly. Assuming that passionate soccer fans are not passionate football fans is about as closeminded as we’re gonna get. Being a fan isn’t a zero-sum game; competition between the incredibly well entrenched NFL and the much less so MLS is.

    • Clyde Frog says:

      MLS already competes with the NFL through the autumn. The climax of the MLS does, in fact.

      Changing the schedule around isn’t likely to work, but not because of the NFL. And not *directly* because of the weather either, the reason cited by most people.

      The problem is *indirectly* related to weather, however, as the league would almost certainly include a massive mid-season break of at least 2 months, and probably schedule most matches just before and after that match in places where weather is not an issue. How would fans react to that, especially those in colder climates, who wouldn’t see their team play at home for months? That’s the question, and I think most people think that the risk of fans reacting negatively to such a schedule is more significant than any positives that might be gained by switching the schedule.

    • EspinDOHla says:

      Agree with Arena (not a LAG fan…)

      MLS Cup 2012–>December 1, 2012!! It is already competing! (Not to mention that was the same day as the SEC championship game which has become the de facto college football semi-final.)

      Why cheapen the league by having large periods without the best players!?!?

      People complain about the winter weather but Texas aint paradise in July and August either!

      Get on a schedule that is is somewhat closer to the international schedule.

  2. Ben says:

    Sour grapes from Arena if you ask me. Pretty much every team in MLS is impacted and has to deal with concacaf and various other Fifa call ups and I don’t see them complaining. Depth and ability to adapt is just as an important part of determining who the best team is.

    • Edwin in LA says:

      Yeah but he did mention it as a problem of the league…..

      One thing I have to ask is….how come they haven’t taken ANY breaks….? They didn’t stop play for the March Qualifiers or the June Qualifiers…and they aren’t stopping for the Gold Cup….I don’t think they are stopping in September or October either….in 2010 they stopped for the group stage mostly….and played scarcely in the knock out stages… I think he has a point…the league has been bad about not scheduling any breaks during international play… maybe after San Jose gets their own stadium and most teams control their scheduling for the most part it will be easier but you would think at least in some instances they would have stopped?

    • bottlcaps says:

      Yes and no. His squawking would not be as shrill had he won one or two games while Keane and Gonzo were away. But they didn’t and he’s complaining and he has a big point. The MLS has no mechanism to postpone/reschedule games during scheduling screw-ups. It affects many teams, not just the Galaxy. The MLS will need to plan the season with Concacaf a little better than they have. A good example is Mexico starting their season a month earlier than the MLS and knocks out several MLS teams in the Concacaf quarters, which are held in the preseason of the MLS when the MLS teams are not at their best.

      Because the MLS is not in sync with the UEFA Calendar. And I say UEFA because FIFA, pushed by UEFA, makes a big deal about the US Calendar but not a peep about the Scandinavian countries or SA,. It’s UEFA and not FIFA that wants the MLS in sync with their season. It is UEFA that insists that u20’s and other international events sync with their season and not visa-versa and it will be UEFA that only cares how scheduling affects then and don’t see the big picture in the US and the sports season here. That the MLS will be putting up with this bullcrap now and in the future, makes it imperative that they lessen the scheduling conflicts for its league and search for scheduling flexibility.

  3. Bac says:

    Does anyone know when the team will be called into camp for the Gold Cup?

    • Hogatroge says:

      If you look back through SBI articles, the preliminary roster was already announced. It includes 35 players. Only 23 of these players will make the final roster. This year, there are new rules allowing for reinforcements (ie. players not in the final 23) to be brought in for the knockout rounds. I’m not sure whether the replacement players must be on the preliminary roster, however.

      The final 23 man roster is not out yet. JK did say (months ago) that he didn’t plan on using the reinforcements rule, so I’d expect the 23 that start the tournament to be the 23 that finish it. He may change his mind, however.

      • Paul Thomas says:

        The reinforcements have to be on the 35-man roster, yes.

        Surprised Klinsmann isn’t planning on using it. It’s an effective way to switch out Europe-based players (whose season is starting) for American-based players (whose season is ongoing) halfway through. It seems like this could reduce some of the friction which is evident in Arena’s comments. I mean, it’s not like the USA is going to lose to Belize because it doesn’t have Omar Gonzalez.

    • beto says:

      i would imagine after next weekend’s games. July 1st, four days before the warm up friendly. maybe before that with a few players joining after the mls games.

      do bruce’s comments hint at Gonzo and LD being on Gold Cup roster?

  4. Hogatroge says:

    Arena does have a point. A ton of CONCACAF players play in MLS. An even larger amount will be missing for the Gold Cup (vs. WCQ) since more teams are involved vs. the Hex and smaller Caribbean teams are more likely to make it.

    I know we had our earliest MLS season start this year, and I know it would suck for the players, but we need more midweek games during the parts of the season where competing tournaments aren’t happening.

    For example, if some squads are playing CCL, all the other teams should be in midweek MLS action as well.

    • alf says:

      I feel the Gold Cup should only take place every 4 years. I do however feel that as the league grows this could influence the signing of CONCACAF players in those cycles.

      • Kung Fu Kangaroos says:

        +1 … maybe even combine it with South America for a really good tournament. Winner of the tournament is also their region’s champion. The highest placing team of the other region is champion of that region.

  5. jmadsen says:

    Didn’t really sound to me like he was “sounding off”. Frustrated, sure.

    But, “It’s crazy. … but it is what it is. What are you going to do?” is hardly a rant

  6. K says:

    i’m surprised no one here has called Bruce Arena a “eurosnob” yet.

  7. beto says:

    everyone listen up Bruce is pissed off about something again!!!

    i agree MLS season should stretch late Feb to early December with breaks during qualifying, gold cup, world cups, etc. don’t try to work around football or baseball seasons; just be the best soccer league around.. we (fans) will make our choices.

    in addition to this the entire USOC, all of these mid season friendlies and bye weeks should occur during the international calendar overlap.

  8. Old School says:

    Would Bruce Arena be saying the same thing if this was: David Beckham?

    • Old School says:

      Answer: Just think of it as if they were on “loan”, Bruce, to keep “match fitness”.

      There ya go. It is what it is.

  9. kevin says:

    Does anyone think Danny Mwanga have a shot to play with the USMNT eventually?

    • Esteban de la Sexface says:

      I liked him a lot when he was in Philly and never seemed to get a fair shot w/Nowak coaching. He played the most his rookie season and looked dangerous more often than not. Shame that he hasn’t quite moved up to the next level, but if the chips fell right for him, I could see him getting a shot w/the USMNT.

    • Twomilerule says:

      No, his workrate is lacking for the current USMNT system and doesn’t really have a position. He has some skills with the ball and good going forward.
      When Porter raised the level of expectations and competition Mwanga could not find a place on the Timbers roster. Portland similar to the USMNT system he did not have a good fit at a position for him.
      Besides Mwanga hanging his hat on “potential” is starting to lose its shine as time goes on!

  10. JayAre says:

    Arenas wasn’t complaining when he was national team coach, if I’m correct his Gold Cup roster was mostly MLS based & this is the same coach that complained about a heavy foreign presence in the USMNT……..Basically what I’m saying is he needs to have a seat somewhere and suck it up

  11. Brian says:

    I thought Klinsman said something to the effect that he was going to call an different set of players into the Gold Cup with the exception of Holden who needed minutes. Maybe I’m wrong but I took that to mean a guys like Gonzalez and Zusi wouldn’t miss more time.

  12. Laurence says:

    Something’s gotta give. Most if not all MLS teams don’t have a quality bench. The quality of MLS will significantly drop and thus fan viewership will obviously drop. That’s the main concern here. It will be worse next year when the world cup comes around. Is MLS going to schedule matches during that tournament? All indications are that they will. It’s very hard to become a die hard MLS fan when the league as a whole becomes second fiddle to tournaments like Gold Cup considering that every other gold cup does not get you a ticket to the confederations cup. The Gold Cup Should be played every 4 years not every 2, similar to Copa America at the moment. Concacaf is to greedy they can’t think long term when they’re thinking about greed. Ultimately this lack of execution in scheduling will always be a HUGE problem.

    • Travis says:

      They usually take a mini break during the World Cup, like 2 or 3 weeks. Obviously that isn’t much but it does help minimize the effect of it a bit.

  13. Kev says:

    Juergan is a mental midget compared to Arena.

    • Jose from the Bay says:

      At least he can spell his name – Jurgen (if you are talking about the current USMNT coach).

      Do you go by Kev because you cannot spell Kevin? Or is is Keuvan ?

  14. Vic says:

    Arena is just being whiny. If MLS took an international break that would either mean more weekday games or more games in Feb and December. Either way that would hurt attendance. MLS doesn’t have a great reserve system so callups give back up players a chance to play. Also the regular season isn’t that important in the MLS. Its not like Bruce Arena is going to get fired if the Galaxy have a poor run when the Gold Cup is on. Arena, a rich elder statesman should worry a little about the league and not just about himself.

  15. jspech says:

    when will MLS stop being a retirement league? A year lost for the RB to develop young player, before this old guy realized he is old. League’s a joke

    • Travis says:

      Alright eurosnob, MLS hasn’t been a retirement league for a while. Take a look at the high profile signings they have made in the last couple of years: Cahill, Henry, Keane, Martins. All of those guys were still producing in top leagues and made the choice to come here and have made a ton of effort. Yes the Juninho thing at NY was not a great decision but stop the nonsense. The average age of people coming to MLS from abroad has been getting lower and lower for some time.

      • jspech says:

        dude, I am Brooklyn born & raise, what the heck is a Eurosnob? Someone who hs a different opinion or isn’t an MLS fanboy like you?

        • jspech says:

          btw, subtract the money MLS pays the over 30something former euro league “old boys”, you’ll have a league paying less than $50mil to all players. Couple that with less playing time for younger players, how is this good for the league, not to mention the development of quality & skills??

        • Travis says:

          Im not an MLS fanboy by any stretch, i’ve followed abroad leagues for over a decade and still do. However to call the MLS a joke is simply false and being raised in Brooklyn doesnt matter at all in this debate. There are plenty of eurosnobs in the US who have never been to the countries they follow

        • Travis says:

          also kudos for ignoring every point i made

  16. Sunil says:

    “Bruce? Bruce…. hang up the phone, you’re drunk again.”

  17. Fredo says:

    I’m not happy either. Landon and Omar could potentially be gone for 5 games.

  18. alocksley says:

    Arena is right. This is the kind of thing that makes MLS seem bush league. MLS rosters, even better ones like L.A. do not have the depth to handle it, and it shows. There should be a break for WC qualifiers and Gold Cup. Scandinavian and Russian teams take a mid-season break, why not MLS?

  19. kkicks20 says:

    Don’t forget RSL will be impacted, as well (along with many other teams). We have 4 players that will be called away. Beltran, Beckerman, Rimando, and Saborio. It is an issue, but everyone has to deal with it, unfortunately.