There are lots of things coming out of the MLS on the news front.
My teams, DC United continues to look for a new head coach. The rumors about Akron's Caleb Porter coming to the Black and Red got axed when Porter decided to stay in the college game for a while longer. (In Porter's defense that is a smart move. He wants to build a legacy and while Akron is certainly on the way up, and it is all Porter's doing, I think showing that Akron can be a regular feature in the College Cup playoffs year-in and year-out like ACC teams or UCLA or Indiana would go a long way to cementing that status). Former Kansas City Coach Curt Onalfo is rumored to be atop the short list. But after reading this bit by Kartik Krishnaier, I am wondering why a coach like Colin Clarke hasn't been approached.
Clarke has coached at Puerto Rico Islanders in the USL for a number of years. Last year, he guided the Islanders to a dream run in the CONCACAF Champions League, including a semi-final appearance. Had they not utterly collapsed in the second leg of teh semi-final tie, they would have made the final. With the future of USL-1 in doubt for 2010, you have to wonder if perhaps Clark is there for the taking. Clark has experience in MLS (former with FC Dallas) and undeniable success with Puerto Rico. I think he is tactically sound, innovative and certainly capable of developing talent. He also knows how to not just win the league but how to work in the international competitions, which is the next big step for DC United. Of course, getting into the playoffs next year is vitaly important.
Onalfo doesn't cut it for me. I didn't think Porter would have either.
Landon Donovan's New Contract. This has to be one of the better moves the MLS has made in recent years. Securing Donovan to a four year contract does three things for the MLS. First, it shows the MLS is serious about keeping its star players, particuarly those who are the faces of the league (combine this with the effort to keep Stuart Holden and you can see a better understanding). Second, it makes Donovan's transfer value higher should Donovan do well for Everton on his short term loan AND performs well for the U.S. in South Africa. If Donovan does both of those things, an eight figure transfer fee will not be unreasonable as it has been in the past for Donovan. A $9 million deal means that the transfer fee would have to be $10 million or more. I would also suspect that there is a guaranteed buyout clause in the contract upwards of $20 million. Third, the contract extension sends a subtle signal that the MLS is not adverse to the notion of paying players more. Granted Donovan is, for all intents and purposes, a designated player without occupying a DP slot, but I think the league, during the time of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, is a something of a positive sign. Donovan previously had a no-trade clause and I suspect he has one now and the contract is sure to be guaranteed for each given year. Despite Donovan's stature in the league, it is going to be hard for MLS to argue that junior players with $40,000 salaries shouldn't be entitled to the same protection, particularly when Donovan if for some reason he were released, would be able to get will employment in another league wihtout much difficulty. A squad player for New York Red Bull doesn't have the same employment prospects. So it shows that the league is willing to do contract guarantees for some players and they should do it for all players.
TheOriginalWinger.com has a photo-filled story of FC Dallas' keeper Dario Sala. It is an interesting story. I didn't know what led Sala to come to the U.S. originally, but he hints at security concerns for his (American) wife. There are no details, but hopefully he will return to full form this year in what could be a good year for Dallas. Note: I would love to see a discussion from Sala about team handball, which he played as a young man, I still don't get the game.