[MLS SPOTLIGHT]Major League Soccer got good news on a weekend it could use some with the lockout of referees casting a shadow over the 2014 season openers. It is statistically even with Major League Baseball as the fifth most popular sport among 12- to 17-year-olds in terms of avid interest in the annual ESPN Sports Poll.
ESPN FC reported on Friday that MLS and MLB can claim 18 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds are avid fans of their leagues to rank behind NFL (39%), NBA (31%), NCAA football (28%) and NCAA basketball (24%) but ahead of the NHL (9%).
“MLS has been around since 1996,” Rich Luker, the social scientist who created the study that tracks interest in 31 different sports, told ESPN FC's Roger Bennett. “It is phenomenal that in just one generation it has gone from zero adherents to tying MLB, especially when you recognize this is the first generation to only know the United States with a professional soccer league. MLS is in their generational DNA."
SA's MLS Eastern Conference Previews:
Chicago | Columbus | D.C. United| Houston| Montreal
New England| New York | Philadelphia | Sporting KC | Toronto FC
SA's MLS Western Conference Previews:
Chivas USA | Colorado | FC Dallas| LA Galaxy
Portland | Real Salt Lake | San Jose | Seattle | Vancouver
Friday's MLS Transactions ...
-- The LA Galaxy signed 31-year-old defender Dan Gargan. He was 91st pick overall in the 2005 draft put has gone on to play 131 MLS games. He spent last season at San Jose and provides the Galaxy additional cover on its backline.
-- FC Dallas mutually agreed to part ways with veteran French forward Eric Hassli, who didn't score in 15 games after arriving from Toronto FC prior to the 2013 season. It also re-signed former Homegrown player Victor Ulloa, who had been cut in preseason.
-- New York inked 22-year-old Cameroon defender Ambroise Oyongoalong with draft picks Chris Duvall and Eric Stevenson. Oyongo, a left back, previously played for Coton Sport FC in Cameroon.
2014 SuperDraft Pick Signings:
1 Philadelphia:GK Andre Blake (Connecticut).
2 D.C. United:D Steve Birnbaum (California).
3 Vancouver:D Christian Dean (California).
5 Montreal:D Eric Miller (Creighton).
8 Seattle:D Damion Lowe (Hartford).
12 Colorado:M Marlon Hairston (Louisville).
16 Houston:A.J. Cochran (Wisconsin).
17 Portland:Schillo Tshuma (Maryland).
4 New England:F Steve Neumann (Georgetown).
11 New England: F Patrick Mullins (Maryland).
6 FC Dallas:F Tesho Akindele (Colorado School of Mines).
7 Vancouver:M Andre Lewis (Portmore United), loaned to Charleston Battery.
9 San Jose:M J.J. Koval (Stanford).
13 Chicago: D Marco Franco (UC Irvine).
14 Columbus: D Ben Sweat (USF).
15 Philadelphia:M Pedro Ribeiro (Coastal Carolina).
18 San Jose: D *Ryan Neil (California)
19 Colorado:D Grant Van De Casteele (Notre Dame).
*Drafted by Real Salt Lake.
20 Chivas USA: D Thomas McNamara (Clemson)
21 Seattle:D Jimmy Ockford (Louisville), loaned to the New York Cosmos.
22 New York: D Chris Duvall (Wake Forest).
26 Portland:D Taylor Peay (Portland).
28 San Jose:D Joe Sofia (UCLA).
30 Vancouver:F Mamadou Diouf (Vancouver), loaned to Charleston Battery.
31 New England: M Alec Sundly (California).
32 Houston:F Mark Sherrod (Memphis).
33 Colorado:M Jared Watts (Wake Forest).
34 New York:M Eric Stevenson (Akron).
35 Colorado:GK John Berner (SIU-Edwardsville).
36 Portland:M Aaron Long (UC Irvine).
39 Portland:M George Fochive (Connecticut).
42 Columbus:M Fifi Baiden (UC Santa Barbara).
43 FC Dallas: D Nick Walker (Farleigh Dickinson).
44 Philadelphia:D Richard Marquez (Redlands).
45 Columbus: F/M Adam James Bedell (Detroit-Mercy).
54 Houston:GK Michael Lisch (New Mexico).
57 Sporting KC:M Alex Martinez (N.C. State).
77. Seattle:M Fabio Pereira (Michigan)