|State of the States | January, 2013|
|Written by Michael Hund|
|Thursday, 10 January 2013 08:15|
To be quite honest, I was wondering where a column was going to come from this month. The off-season in MLS hasn't been deathly quiet, but it hasn't inspired a lot of digital ink either. Likewise, there don't seem to be any Yanks abroad really lighting things up over the festive period. But as I began to jot down notes, the ice slowly thawed from my snow-crusted fingers, and hope began to blossom for the months to come...
The annual gathering of the second-tier national teamers looking to push for places in the big-boy squad is under way. Generally MLS and Scandinavia-based players make up the bulk of the roster, and this year is no exception. 21 of the 25 players called ply their trade in MLS, while 3 of the remaining four are currently based in Scandinavia. A notable missing name, though it's not really a surprise, is Landon Donovan, who still hasn't decided what course his future is going to take.
The culmination of this camp is usually a friendly (or two) against Scandinavian or CONCACAF/COMNEBOL opposition. This year's edition will feature a tilt with our northern neighbors, Canada, on January 29 in Houston. There is no second friendly this time around as the full squad will assemble in the wake of the Canada friendly to prepare for the launch of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on February 6 away to Honduras.
Who Goes There?
At first blush, it's tempting to say that things have been quiet on the transfer front during the MLS off-season, but that would be to ignore the Red Bulls picking up Espindola and Olave from RSL, Sporting KC losing Espinoza to Wigan in England only to bring in Feilhaber to shore up the numbers in their midfield, and the more recent managerial changeovers at two of the three Canadian clubs.
Of course, the reason it seems so quiet is that there are a few shoes still waiting to drop. Will Donovan retire or leave MLS? Where is erstwhile league-mascot Beckham off to? Do the Lampard-to-LA rumors have any legs? Will the current loan spells for the likes of MLS stars Zusi and Najar turn into permanent offers before the January window slams shut? With questions like those still dangling, it's not hard for any prior activity to seem marginal.
So what does the intrepid American soccer fan turn his or her attention to in the month to come?
That wraps things up for the State of the States for this month. When next we meet, the Hex will be under way, MLS will be purring towards the 2013 season, and we can stomp some of the slush from our snow-rimed and cracking boots and look forward to kicking balls in earnest again.