Photo by Tony Quinn/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
D.C. United has shown Eddie Johnson the money.
Johnson has signed a deal with D.C. United as a Designated Player, the club announced on Thursday. The move was expected almost immediately after Johnson joined D.C. via a trade from the Seattle Sounders, but it had not been worked out until now.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but an SI.com report states that Johnson signed a two-year deal that will see him earn an average of $600,000 a season.
“Eddie is an elite striker who is in the prime of his career, and we are thrilled that he has made a commitment to D.C. United,” said D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper. “We look forward to Eddie’s contributions on and off the field.”
Johnson has been one of the best forwards in MLS since returning in 2012. The 29-year-old U.S. Men’s National Team forward netted a combined 23 times and delivered five assists for the Sounders in regular season play the past two seasons, but was moved this offseason after becoming unhappy about his contract situation with the club.
During a game last year, Johnson celebrated a goal by making a pay-up gesture and uttering the words “Pay me.”
“I want to thank D.C. United for showing faith in me,” said Johnson. “I’m extremely proud to wear the Black-and-Red, and I am excited to get the season started with my new teammates.”
Here are more notes from around MLS:
By IVES GALARCEP
When Eric Lichaj left his first match in a month after just 45 minutes, there was reason to be concerned that he had suffered another setback.
He did, and he may require surgery that could cost him a month of playing time at a crucial time.
According to Sky Sports, Lichaj could wind up missing up to a month as he battles a groin injury that looks like it will require surgery.
Nothing official has been released by Nottingham Forest about Lichaj’s condition, but his halftime departure from Forest’s 4-1 loss to Wigan Athletic over the weekend set off alarm bells considering the start was Lichaj’s first appearance in more than a month.
Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
After a bit of uncertainty, Heath Pearce has a found a home in MLS.
Pearce has signed a deal with the Montreal Impact just ahead of the 2014 season, according to a report from Goal.com. Pearce had been trialing with the Impact in recent weeks, and convinced the club’s brass that he was worth bringing on board.
Montreal made the move official on Thursday afternoon.
The versatile, 29-year-old defender has been without a club since the Red Bulls parted ways with him back in November. Pearce made 14 appearances for the 2013 Supporters’ Shield winners, but was hindered by a hip injury from the beginning of the year and opted to have season-ending surgery in June after his performances started suffering.
Pearce joins a Montreal back line that lost incumbent Alessandro Nesta but still includes the likes of Nelson Rivas and Matteo Ferrari.
What do you think of Pearce joining the Impact? Do you see him having a big season in Montreal? Wishing your club would’ve picked Pearce up?
Share your thoughts below.
By IVES GALARCEP
The 2014 MLS season is just two days away and it’s time to get your MLS Fantasy Teams in order for the new campaign.
The Official SBI Fantasy MLS League is back, and if you want to compete with a stacked list of competitors, this is a league you want to be a part of.
If you haven’t signed up for your Fantasy MLS Team, do so ASAP. Just go to the Official Fantasy MLS site to build your team today.
And if you are interested in joining the Official SBI League, you can find the league’s official code to join after the jump:
Photo by Brad Smith/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
A season-finale result away from reaching the playoffs, the Chicago Fire have had quite the makeover this offseason.
Gone is head coach Frank Klopas and in his place is Frank Yallop, the seasoned manager who led the Earthquakes to two MLS Cup last decade. Yallop is in charge with trying to fine-tune the Fire into a legit contender in the Eastern Conference, an extremely tough task given how much teams like Toronto FC and the Philadelphia Union have improved.
Yallop has already begun to leave his stamp on the team, trading away back line regulars Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry. Yallop looks set to turn to more experience in the defense, with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni and Lovel Palmer among the additions made by the club this offseason.
On the offensive side, 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee will once again be the focal point of the squad. He will need help, however, and it is up to Yallop to find the right balance in his attack, one that includes the talented likes of Patrick Nyarko, Dilly Duka and Chris Rolfe.
The pieces are in place for the overlooked Fire to return to the postseason and make a statement this year, but how quickly the team jels and understands Yallop’s system will go a long way in determining just how successful the first season of a new era really is.
Here is a closer look at the 2014 Chicago Fire:
By FRANCO PANIZO
The U.S. Men’s National Team will take on Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria in their pre-World Cup send-off series.
U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday that the Americans will face Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on May 27 before traveling to New Jersey to face Turkey at Red Bull Arena on June 1. The Send-Off Series will conclude on June 7 with a friendly against Nigeria at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
Azerbaijan is currently ranked No. 93 in the latest FIFA rankings, while Turkey is ranked 42nd. Nigeria is ranked No. 47, but is the defending African Nations Cup champion. The USMNT faced the Czech Republic and Turkey in their send-off matches ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The series will be the final preparation matches the U.S. team plays before kicking off the World Cup on June 16th in Natal, Brazil against Ghana.
Here is the Send-Off Series schedule (including TV listings):
Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
While other clubs preferred to make headline-grabbing signings this offseason, the Philadelphia Union took their time and for the most part stayed under the radar.
Coming off a season where they finished three points outside of a playoff spot, manager John Hackworth, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, and technical director Rob Vartughian took their time and did their due diligence on re-working their flawed lineup.
The Union were able to offload veteran defender Jeff Parke and in his place, bring in former D.C. United Homegrown centerback Ethan White and former Rookie of the Year Austin Berry to improve the defense. The Union also upgraded across the midfield, acquiring U.S. Men’s National Team pool player Maurice Edu on loan from Stoke City, and foreigners Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira. Midfielders Michael Farfan and Kleberson were allowed to leave in the offseason.
But before signing Edu, Maidana, and Nogueira, the Union made waves by trading up to draft Jamaican international goalkeeper Andre Blake with the first overall selection in the MLS Draft, giving goalkeeper Zac MacMath some legitimate competition this season. Add to that the draft picks of Pedro Ribero and Richie Marquez and suddenly the Union’s roster becomes on paper good enough to earn a playoff spot.
Hackworth’s challenge now is to mold this side into a playoff team. They have talent, depth, and experience, but Hackworth and his staff will have to work hard to take them to the promised land, especially in a vaunted Eastern Conference.
Here is a closer look at the 2014 Philadelphia Union:
By IVES GALARCEP
The U.S. Men’s National Team delivered one of the more forgettable performances of the Jurgen Klinsmann era, and Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Ukraine has surely cost some prospective World Cup roster candidates any chance of making the trip to Brazil.
Episode 119 of The SBI Show takes a look back at the USMNT loss to Ukraine, and breaks down which players hurt their stock the most, and which players helped their stock the most.
Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also break down the MLS Western Conference, including which teams we see winding up at the bottom of the stacked conference, and which of the West powers we see finishing on top.
Give Episode 119 of The SBI Show a listen after the jump: