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Fowler Rumors; Razov Roaming?
by Ridge Mahoney, January 12th, 2009 11AM



Names great and small are swirling about as MLS coaches and executives finish their duties at annual Player Combine in Ft. Lauderdale prepare for the 2009 SuperDraft next Thursday in St. Louis. Some prominent players are out of contract or have had their options declined, and of course, there's no shortage of foreign players being linked to the American league.

FIRE, BEWARE! As soon as English Premier club Blackburn announced it had released former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler last month, rumors of MLS interest began to circulate, with one English paper reporting the Fire had offered him a deal worth 6,000 English pounds (about $9,000) a week.

Aside from the complexities of fitting Fowler under the salary cap as Chicago perhaps finally swings a trade for disgruntled defender Wilman Conde and again absorbs the big cap hit of Cuauhtemoc Blanco, it should be recalled that Fowler discussed a move two years ago with MLS.

According to a source involved in the negotiations, the league and Fowler's representatives reached a tentative agreement for a $1 million salary, only for the deal to break down in the late stages when Fowler or his representative tripled the price. His agent, George Scott, denied discussions took place although Revs' coach Steve Nicol confirmed the contact.

After leaving Liverpool in July 2007, Fowler scored six league and cup goals in 16 games for Cardiff City (League Championship) in the 2007-08 season. For Blackburn this season he made just six league and cup appearances (three starts) without scoring.

There's one other interesting wrinkle to this drama. According to a source, Fowler's rights are held by Houston. Eh? If true, how'd that happen?

RAZOV ON THE ROAM. Chivas USA has offered out-of-contract forward Ante Razov a new contract but he's looking into other options, and has been mentioned as a possible target of Mexican club Leon, which is attempting to earn promotion out of Division 1A. It currently sits second in the overall standings.

Razov, 34, let his contract expire last month. He scored 11 goals in 2007 but suffered a knee injury near the end of the season. He struggled to recover fully and scored five goals in 22 games last year and at a base salary of $255,000, Chivas is trying to get him at a much lower number, as probably would any MLS team seeking to acquire him in a trade.

Razov played one season (2000-01) in Spain with Racing de Ferrol and speaks fluent Spanish, as well as Croatian.

Midfielder Francisco Mendoza, the only remaining member of the original Chivas USA team that joined MLS in 2005, came on as a sub in the final minutes of Guadalajara's Interliga match against Atlas on Tuesday. He replaced veteran Ramon Morales, who cracked a penalty kick into the top corner of the net for Guadalajara's first goal, but any hopes of Chivas USA fans that Morales is coming north should Mendoza move south, as has been rumored, probably won't come to fruition.

BIRCHALL BOLTS. No sooner had Trinidad & Tobago midfielder Chris Birchall left Coventry City when he and the club reached a financial settlement to cancel his contract began reports of his imminent signing with San Jose.

And as soon as those rumors took wing came word, confirmed, that he'd arrived in Brighton for a week's training/trial with one the man who signed him at Coventry, Micky Adams, now the manager of Brighton.

Birchall was a player that Quakes coach Frank Yallop and general manager John Doyle had in mind when they visited England last month, but he played only reserve games while on loan to Carlisle United and though he declared himself fit upon reporting to Brighton, the Quakes declined to make an offer, contrary to numerous reports in England.

San Jose has yet to resolve the situation of holding midfielder Francisco Lima, whose threats to head back overseas are thinly veiled demands for more money. With the club hard-balling starting keeper Joe Cannon into accepting a lower salary, albeit one with a three-year guarantee, how it can keep Lima at his current salary ($195,000) and happy at the same time could be tricky.

EYE ON FRANCE. Last month, D.C. United signed midfielder Clyde Simms to a new contract, yet it is tracking former California midfielder Andrew Jacobson.

D.C. United picked him in the second round of the 2008 SuperDraft, but he opted instead for French club Lorient and signed a short-term contract that was extended during the summer. He has recovered from injuries that sidelined him for much of last year and has gone on trial with Danish club Esbjerg, according to the club's Web site. If he returns to MLS, D.C. United would retain his rights.


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