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Pinned  2016 MLS off-season tracking

Dec 07 2015 09:45 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

This article will be pinned to act as a catch-all to all MLS transactions in off-season. It will be chronologically updated, with newest news at the top. The page will be updated most* days at 10pm ET, if not live during day.

*Holidays and unforeseen circumstances aside

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Accomplishing impossible

Feb 05 2016 10:38 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

Canada is odd.

It really is – especially when it comes to questions of culture.

We generally define ourselves by what we aren’t. Specifically, we aren’t Americans. We may look like them, talk like them and exist in mostly the same environment as them, but we most certainly do not wish to be them.

But, the problem with negatively defining ourselves is it means that we need them to be around so we can hold ourselves up as the other, the outlier.

The odd ones.

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The impossible dream of the Canadian Premier League

Feb 04 2016 07:16 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

For many people – especially the people who are regular visitors to this site – yesterday’s revelation in the Hamilton Spectator that planning for the Canadian Premier League was, indeed, well underway was not a surprise. It was simply further proof beyond what has been reported here for the better part of two years now.

On a personal level, it was nice to remove the doubts. Saved from defending the accuracy of my reporting, I can now focus on defending the sanity of the project. More on that soon, but first the Coles Notes (or CliffNotes to our American visitors) on what we know so far:

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Episode 145 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (Young Canadians with guests Fraser Aird, Ben McKendry and Marco Carducci, and Blas Perez chat)

Feb 03 2016 09:07 PM | Michael McColl in AFTN

David Bowie sang about "Young Americans". We were hoping to find a cover version with someone singing about "Young Canadians" instead for this podcast. We couldn't find that, so you'll have to make do with interviews with three of Vancouver Whitecaps young Canadian stars.

We have an extended chat with new signing Fraser Aird who's looking to establish himself as a first team regular after his loan move from Rangers? Is he keen to hang around long term, what was behind his decision to come here and what might it mean for his Canadian national team hopes? All this and a lot more discussed in his first media conference call.

We also have exclusive interviews with two Whitecaps Residency alumni, who are hoping to see first team minutes this season, midfielder Ben McKendry and goalkeeper Marco Carducci.

It was a tough season last year for both players, for differing factors, but both are back, ready and raring to go and show Carl Robinson they deserve to be part of his long term plans.

We also look at the imminent arrival of Blas Perez. What will it mean to the team, their goalscoring and their disciplinary record? Will the fans accept the horned striker? And there's still time to cast our fashionista eyes over the new Whitecaps away kit.

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Starting to say goodbye to the Class of 2002

Jan 27 2016 12:21 AM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

The move away from the “Class of 2002” is well underway. The team* that was a Christine Sinclair shot off the crossbar away from winning a world title dominated the women’s game in this country for the better part of 15 years.

*and the class of women that came into the program just prior and just after. It’s not only 2002 players that are thought of as part of that standout generation, but they all are around the same age.

The legacy they left is remarkable, with a bronze medal and hosting the 2015 World Cup the biggest moments. It was always going to be difficult to move away from that generation, but now with its members on the wrong side of 30 the time has come.

Truthfully, if you have been listening to John Herdman over the past couple years you could have anticipated it. He was trying to bring in new players -- younger players he could mold into more technical players – for a while. It was always going to be a partial effort until the home World Cup was in the books, but now that it has come and gone he has jumped in with both feet on the new generation of players.

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Moving on from Drogba from a position of strength

Jan 25 2016 07:10 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

It appears that l'affaire Drogba is over and that the wannabe Chelsea assistant coach will be returning to Montreal for the 2016 season.

Didier Drogba announced via his Instagram account that he was on the way to Qatar to train by himself for the new season before meeting up with his Impact teammates in about two weeks. The Impact confirmed that in a press release and most fans rejoiced at the prospect of a full season of the superstar to look forward to.

Today, Joey Saputo told Montreal reporters that the club expected Drogba to “act like a professional” in what was a somewhat tense media scrum.

It’s not that much of a stretch to infer that neither Drogba nor the club are thrilled with how this played out. It’s pretty clear that Drogba only recently decided to come back, as the club also admitted that the reason he was on the way to Qatar was because he was a few weeks behind in his preparation.

Fans are free to react to this news how they see fit. It’s understandable that many would be excited by the prospect of seeing Drogba in an Impact uniform for one more (and almost certainly last) season. However, it’s also reasonable for neutral voices to be cautious in declaring this a victory for Montreal.

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Justifying Osorio's omission

Jan 22 2016 06:06 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

It’s probably positive that most fans are focused on an omission in the line-up. The simple fact there could even be an omission tells us that the program’s depth has improved in recent years.

In fact, the debate about Jonathon Osorio is healthy in that it signifies that people care enough about the program to debate it. That’s not always been the case outside of a handful of odd ducks I’ve called friends for years.

That’s the positive spin on this situation. The more negative interpretation is that Benito Floro appears to be shutting out a talented player for no good reason. And, let’s be clear – Osorio is talented. The attention he gets isn’t because he plays in Toronto and therefore is in the spotlight more. No, it’s because he’s gifted in ways that few Canadian players are.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Osorio is among the 20 best Canadians in the world. There also isn’t any doubt that less talented players than him are getting call-ups.

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"Keeping" 2016 expectations in check

Jan 18 2016 08:47 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

Over the weekend a new Twitter account was launched. That’s hardly news – millions are launched each month – but this one was one of those accounts that was a joke that wasn’t really a joke.

@TFCKeeperYet was dedicated to tracking whether the Reds had signed a keeper yet in this off-season. It rotated between just writing “No” to the question posed and propositioning well known keepers. It Tweeted “Doing?” at Joe Hart, hopefully.

Funny. But, also serious.

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Sober Second Thoughts: One Super(Draft) narrative!

Jan 15 2016 03:02 AM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

The MLS SuperDraft has come and gone for another year. Instead of beating everyone over the head with more evidence of how most of the players selected today are likely to never amount to much in MLS, we’ll take a moment to be cynicism free.

No, it’s not really super. Hell, it’s barely adequate. But, to the young men that were selected today it is the beginning or the end of a lifetime of work. They are one hot training camp away from realizing a dream that most of us reading this have all had at one time or another–to be a professional athlete

So, maybe it is super. Opportunity and hope are a rare commodity, after all.

However, this isn't a space to be sentimental. Rather, it's a space to analyse what TFC did today. And, on that front we must separate dreams from the stark realities.

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Evaluating the SuperDraft by the numbers -- 2016 update

Jan 12 2016 09:37 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

In 2011, CSN embarked on a significant statistical evaluation of the MLS SuperDraft in an attempt to find out what the value of a first round draft pick was in MLS. The impetus to that evaluation was debate in Toronto about whether TFC was “incompetent” for trading a first round selection to Vancouver for Nathan Sturgis.

Hindsight tells us that TFC was incompetent, but not because of that trade. In fact, Sturgis has gone on to make 80 appearances in MLS since that trade. That’s not inspiring, but it’s 72 more than the player (Michael Nanchoff) that Vancouver ended up getting with the pick.

Sure, you, the draft lover might argue, but was that a case for a typical draft pick or did Vancouver just blow it? The results showed that getting next to nothing out of the No 8 spot in the draft wasn’t exactly rare. Bottom line: Don’t think of the MLS SuperDraft in the same way you think of a NFL/NBA/NHL draft.

Nowadays that position isn’t that controversial. Then, however, there were far more people prepared to defend the value of the draft and argue it was more important that MLS academies.

Still, there is still some value to be found. And, with the changing dynamic between the NCAA, MLS and MLS academies means that it’s more important than ever to understand trends in the draft. So, CSN has continued to update its analysis to see if it can find any. The last major update was in 2014, which you can read here.

Two years later, it’s time to look at the numbers again.

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UPDATED: El Salvador's first team to return for World Cup qualifiers vs. Honduras

Jan 06 2016 08:00 PM | Grant in Some Canadian Guys

A story with bearing on Canada's chances to qualify to the Hex for the first time in two decades has reached what appears to be a happy ending. From a Canada perspective at least.

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AFTN’s Vancouver Whitecaps End Of Season Awards – 2015

Jan 01 2016 03:28 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

Another year over and another year of improvement for Vancouver Whitecaps, but they still have a long way to go to lift a MLS Cup.

There is some silverware in the ‘Caps trophy cabinet, with their first ever Voyageurs Cup, but the Cascadia Cup has headed back down south. There were hopes of a quintuple, but in the end it was one singular trophy but a lot to be proud of along the way and a lot to build upon in 2016.

So it's that time again to look back at the best and the worst, the highs and the lows, and the joys and annoyances from the Caps' 2015 season.

Don't agree with some (or all) of our choices? Great! Let us know who would have got your votes in the comments below.

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Timewasting: AFTN's Must See Football TV In 2016

Dec 30 2015 10:37 PM | Michael McColl in AFTN

Not coming soon to a television screen near you, AFTN brings you another new season of must see football TV. Vancouver's cable station of the imagination.

The 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 shows went down well, got the ratings and fell on the right side of the bubble watch, but the TV industry is so demanding that we had to come up with a whole new schedule for 2016. Have any of your favourites made it back?

Here's an exclusive sneak peak of our new weekday evening schedule:

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Episode 138 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (Christmas Special)

Dec 25 2015 09:05 AM | Michael McColl in There's Still Time - The AFTN Soccer Podcast

Ho Ho Ho everyone!

It wouldn't be Christmas without AFTN's Christmas Special podcast and aptly, we have a veritable cracker in store for you this year.

There's a lot of magical things about Christmas, but let's be honest, the best part is the presents! And if they're football related pressies, then all the better!

I'm sure we've all had a few over the years. Vancouver Whitecaps players and managers certainly have and there's some they'd still like to get this year as Carl Robinson, Alan Koch, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Pa Modou Kah, Kekuta Manneh, Pedro Morales, Mauro Rosales and Octavio Rivero share with us.

Also in the show, Kekuta tells us about the first pair of proper football boots he ever received, Robbo talks Boxing Day games back in blighty, and Mauro and WFC2 player Victor Blasco tell us what Christmas is like in Argentina and Spain.

And no special podcast would be complete without hearing what Pedro and Mauro's favourite jam is!

Have a listen!

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The Night Before Christmas, 2015 Edition

Dec 24 2015 07:49 PM | Squizz in Some Canadian Guys

'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the land
Soccer fans, as they do,
Were wringing their hands

Full of cocoa and candy,
Watching Netflix in bed,
They thought back on the year
For #CanadaRED

While '15 brought chances
For footy-based cheer
The fans, as they would,
Looked ahead with some fear

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Episode 137 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (The Ghosts Of Seasons Past)

Dec 24 2015 07:46 AM | Michael McColl in There's Still Time - The AFTN Soccer Podcast

2015 is nearly at an end. Of course for Vancouver Whitecaps, their competitive year came to a shuddering halt in the second week of November.

In the second of our three end of season roundtable discussions, AFTN writer Jay Duke, and Curva Collective's Zachary Meisenheimer and Steven Lamothe join your regular podcast co-hosts to look back the 'Caps 2015 season and their first five years in Major League Soccer.

This season was the 'Caps best one in the MLS era in many areas. In such a strong Western Conference, did Vancouver punch above their weight or did they finish where they deserved? And despite the successes, was this year a missed opportunity for the Whitecaps?

There was a first Voyageurs Cup, a first Champions Leagues campaign and a Western Conference semi-final appearance. But with our Cascadian rivals winning the whole shebang, how much pressure does this and the club's achievements this year put on the Whitecaps going forward?

Portland Timbers entered MLS the same year as the Whitecaps, in 2011. Both clubs are now five years into their new eras. The Timbers have won both a Western Conference title and a MLS Cup so far, with the Whitecaps left trailing and trophyless in the league. Just how have those first five years been for Vancouver and what will the next five years hold in store?

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Will Johnson-TFC Conference Call

Dec 19 2015 05:47 AM | Canadian Soccer News in 24th Minute

Raw Audio of the Will Johnson-TFC Conference Call

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Celebrating the past and present

Dec 17 2015 08:28 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

The Queen is dead; long live the Queen!

For the first time since 2003 a player other than Christine Sinclair have been named the Canadian female player of the year. Kadeisha Buchanan, the 20 year-old stand-out that’s yet to even turn pro, has ended the 11 year streak.

It was deserved. And, you can count CSN’s vote as one of those that put Buchanan’s name on top of the ballot. Buchanan was Canada’s only representative on the World Cup best XI from this past summer and was named the best young player of the tournament. She is also a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, symbolic as the year's top NCAA player.
So, in every way possible Buchanan is an incredible Canadian success story that needs to be celebrated.

So, we’re going to talk about Sinclair.

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Drew Moor Conference Call

Dec 16 2015 07:13 PM | Canadian Soccer News in 24th Minute

Conference call of Drew Moor, new Toronto FC defender

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TFC gets Moor defense

Dec 16 2015 03:44 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

Toronto FC has its defender.

The club announced today that it has signed Drew Moor to a free agent contract. That’s historic for a few reasons: 1) it’s the first time that TFC has signed a MLS free agent (albeit it’s only the second free agent signed in MLS history) and 2) it goes against TFC’s seemingly preferred method of big splash signings from Europe.

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Gonna party like it's 1985

Dec 15 2015 08:21 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

Canada will play a friendly in the Feb international window. The opponent?

Oh, you know: THEM.

Canada v USA at the StubHub CentRe on Feb 5.

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The Fury's nightmare off-season.

Dec 15 2015 07:36 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

A magical season in Ottawa is turning into a nightmare of an off-season.

Gone from the team that was a win away from the Soccer Bowl championship is Drew Beckie, Andrew Wiedeman, Tom Heinemann, Ugur Albayrak, Oliver, Nicki Paterson, Aly Alberto, Hassan Sinisa Ubiparipovic and captain Richie Ryan.

According to several people that have spoken to CSN, there could be more players moving on soon

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Episode 136 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (A State Of The Whitecaps Chat with Carl Robinson and Alan Koch)

Dec 14 2015 07:06 AM | Michael McColl in There's Still Time - The AFTN Soccer Podcast

It's December, it's the offseason, so that can only mean one thing - AFTN's annual pre Christmas "State of the Whitecaps" chat with 'Caps coach Carl Robinson.

As always, Robbo is very open and honest with us about the season past and what lies ahead for 2016 and beyond.

How busy will the 'Caps be in the transfer market this offseason and where is Robbo looking to strengthen? How will the new TAM be used and will this see at least one more DP come to Vancouver? Where will the goals come from next year?

We cover all this and a lot more in our half hour chat, as we talk tactics and formations, the value of MLS experience, the complexities of moving players within the league, developmental pathways and find out the latest on David Ousted, Cristian Techera, Callum Irving and some other titbits.

And we also ask the big question - what would it take to tempt Robbo away from the Whitecaps right now?

As an added extra this year, we also have a chat with WFC2 head coach Alan Koch about what he's learned from the club's first USL season, preparations for year two, and the upcoming MLS SuperDraft.

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Episode 135 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (Feeling Drafty)

Dec 11 2015 09:27 AM | Michael McColl in There's Still Time - The AFTN Soccer Podcast

The 2015 MLS season is over. The less said about exactly how it ended, the better. But that all now means that the silly season is upon us and we're not talking about Christmas festive frolics.

As 19 teams look back as to why the didn't win the MLS Cup and Portland work on how they can retain it, let the magic roundabout of player movement begin with drafts and trades galore.

The Whitecaps have been fairly quiet so far, but we kick off the first of three special end of season roundtables with a look at the players the Whitecaps have released from their roster and who they may like to acquire from the upcoming MLS Re-Entry draft, free agents and trades.

We also have a look at what the new TAM agreement may mean to the 'Caps moving forward.

Regular AFTN roundtablers Jay Duke, Steven Lamothe and Zachary Meisenheimer join regular hosts Michael McColl and Steve Pandher to look back at, and ahead to, all of the latest happenings.

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TFC2 make off-season moves

Dec 10 2015 09:42 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

Toronto FC II made a few roster moves yesterday. Since the moves happened as most were focused on MLS’ new Targeted Allocation Money rules, which were released at the same time, it slipped the notice of most.

However, how TFC deals with its USL team should be of concern to TFC fans of both the club over country and country over club variety. Simply put developing the next generation players is vital for both TFC’s growth (see Dallas, FC) and, obviously, for the national team program.

Editorializing aside the moves were:

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