ICYMI MLS: Gooch sighting; Drogba back on the radar

The Timbers’ troubles continued with news that midfield maestro Diego Valeri will sit out a midweek match against D.C. United because of a sore ankle. Also on Wednesday, RSL and the Galaxy renew their rivalry at StubHub Center. Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid has a few tweaks in mind for the U.S. Open Cup, and struggling New York City FC is auditioning a U.S. international to boost its fortunes.

1. Onyewu trains with New York City FC.

The league’s new acquisition rules regarding U.S. internationals could be implemented rather soon.

MLS: This week ...

USA international defender Oguchi Onyewu, who is out of contract after being released by English club Charlton Athletic on May 12, trained with New York City FC on Tuesday. He played just three games for Charlton in the League Championship this past season and according to MLS rules, would not need to go through the allocation process. He can be acquired as a discovery player and immediately as he became a free agent before the end of MLS's primary transfer window. Several outlets reported that he is on a two-week trial.

Onyewu, 33, has played 69 times for the U.S. national team. He trained with D.C. United two years ago. Charlton is the 10th club he’s played for during a career that started with French club Metz in 2002.


2. Timbers' Valeri won’t face D.C. United Wednesday.

The rolled ankle suffered by Timbers playmaker Diego Valeri in a 2-1 loss at Montreal will sideline him for a match Wednesday against D.C. United.

Valeri recently returned to action after a six-month recovery from a torn ACL suffered in the final game of the 2014 regular season. This season he’s scored one goal and registered one assist in four appearances (three starts).

He could also miss the game Saturday against Colorado. Gaston Fernandez replaced Valeri against the Impact in the 25th minute and might get the starting assignment as he recovers from this latest setback.

The Wednesday card also includes a Western Conference showdown between the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake at StubHub Center. They played just 21 days ago, also on a Wednesday, and the Galaxy left Rio Tinto Stadium with a 0-0 tie that extended the Galaxy’s unbeaten run in the series to five games. RSL prevailed at StubHub on March 8 of last year, 1-0.



3. Yes, Drogba is interested in MLS.

Sporadic links to MLS have dotted the past few years of Didier Drogba’s career and with his second stint at Chelsea about to end, the Ivory Coast striker has admitted the American league is among those on his radar screen.

Drogba, 37, played just eight games for Chelsea this past season yet his teammates carried him off the field – literally – on Sunday in the final minutes of a 2-1 defeat of Sunderland that concluded the club’s fourth championship season in the Premier League. According to soccerbase.com, Drogba has scored 238 league and cup goals in all competitions. (The stats don’t include his stint in the Chinese league with Shanghai Shenhua.)

Former Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard is an obvious connection to New York City FC, though the expansion team isn’t the only one believed to be interested in Drogba. Yet he’s not nearly the attractive commodity he was in 2012, when he passed up an open invitation from commissioner Don Garber to instead play in China, a stint that lasted just six months.


4. Schmid wants Open Cup to be opened up.

The regionalization by which the U.S. Open Cup competition is played out should be changed, according to Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid.

Open Cup: Schedule

To cut travel costs and boost regional rivalries, teams are often paired with a foe relatively nearby in the early rounds. Seattle plays Cascadia Cup rival Portland in the fourth round June 16 and as enticing as that matchup is, Schmid would prefer an open draw after each round so that teams from different parts of the country could meet later in the competition, perhaps in the final.

“I’ll probably get in trouble with U.S. Soccer again, but the only thing that’s sad for me is one of the great things about the FA Cup, and some of the cups even in other countries, is you can end up with a derby as the final game,” Schmid said in comments to reporters after the forth-round pairings ere revealed. “Because of the regionalization of the draw in U.S. Soccer, you will never have a Portland-Seattle final. You will never have a New York City-Red Bulls final. You will never have a Dallas-Houston final. And I think that’s a little sad. It’s disappointing.”

The reserve teams have also been paired together and play their third-round match Wednesday at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash.



5. FC Dallas adds Panamanian midfielder.

There would seem to be plenty of regional options for Oscar Pareja already, yet FC Dallas has added yet another player well versed in the ways of Concacaf.

Panamanian international Rolando Escobar, 33, has acquired a cap for each year of his life and comes to MLS from Venezuelan club Deportivo Anzoátegui SC, for which he has scored 31 goals in 104 appearances since 2011. He debuted for Panama in 2006.

“Escobar is a player that can fit in anywhere in the midfield,” said FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo in a statement announcing the deal. “He is more of an attacking player than a defensive player but the number one thing he adds is experience. We feel he is a guy that can come in and contribute right away, which is rare in MLS, especially in his position.”

Escobar was an unused sub when the USA beat Panama in Seattle during the 2013 Hexagonal campaign. He joins countryman Blas Perez, Tesho Akindele (USA/Canada), Kyle Bekker (Canada), JeVaughn Watson (Jamaica), Moises Hernandez (Guatemala) and Atiba Harris (St. Kitts & Nevis) in the FC Dallas contingent of Concacaf players eligible to represent a country other than the USA.


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