When the MLS off-season springs to life, it does so with a vengeance.
We learned as much yesterday, in one of the busiest days of off-season newsiness I can remember. David Beckham spurned the sultry advances of Paris Saint-Germaine, FC Dallas may have gotten the striker they've needed for so long, and Colorado got a coach, just days before the MLS draft.
So, here are some quick thoughts on Tuesday's events.
David Beckham re-signing with Los Angeles: Actually, that comes with an asterisk. He hasn’t re-signed, not just yet. Rather, he won’t be going to PSG and will presumably accept the rolling one-year deal with Los Angeles and MLS. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake they don’t drag this thing out.
Color me a little cynical on all the talk of "family" as everyone rebrands the soccer star-super model as more a father figure. Generally speaking, his career moves are always about what builds a bigger brand. But his family has grown and he knows he can’t make the balls bend magically forever, so perhaps what’s best for three boys and an infant daughter did weigh heavily in the call.
Either way, here’s what I know about the latest on Becks: The Galaxy just became a stronger candidate to defend its title. There’s always a chance of injury as Beckham, 36, ages. And it’s going to busy times, with Beckham desperate for a place on that UK Olympic team. Expect a fair amount of jet-setting back and forth and such.
But if he can stay fresh and healthy, this is absolutely the best thing for L.A., which is already losing Juninho, who will forever be underrated in what he did alongside Beckham this year. And who knows what might happen at this point with Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez, still the talk of much transfer hullabaloo?
Now the Galaxy has its center piece back. Assuming Landon Donovan comes back healthy from his Everton spell, all should be swell at the Home Depot Center.
FC Dallas signs Blas Perez: You remember this guy? You will if you watched the U.S. center backs struggle mightily against him last summer in Florida, where Panama took down Bob Bradley’s boys in a match that certainly did nothing to shore up the coach’s teetering status. Of course, Panama fell to the United States later in the tournament. Thing is, Perez wasn’t around for that one, having collected a red card in the previous match.So long as they didn’t over-pay, this looks like a nice pick-up for FCD, perhaps the striker they’ve needed so desperately around (formerly named) Pizza Hut Park for so long. At 30 years old, he’s in a good spot in his career. He scored reliably in previous stops, mostly in Mexico lately.
But one word of warning here: this is Perez’s 15th team.
Yep. 15. That probably means that he wears out his welcome in fairly short order. I remember a couple of years ago when everyone was so excited about Chicago signing Dutch striker Collins John, who had Fulham on his resume. "Fulham" means EPL – and if he targeted goal in EPL, he must be good, right? But I warned everyone then about a CV that already included too many stops for such a young man, especially one so talented; Toyota Park was his 7th stop in about as many seasons. Sure enough, Collins never caught the vibe in Chicago; he and his poor attitude were gone quickly after just one season.
Perhaps there’s something more with Perez. Maybe he’s matured. Maybe he understands that this is a great opportunity (after falling into the Mexican second tier lately) and he’ll try to behave. Just remember, likeable guys who are good in the locker room tend to stick around. Others … not so much. So, we’ll see.
And about Tuesday’s other FCD signing, 22-year-old center back Colombian defender Hernan Pertuz: that probably means they don’t have much confidence in George John remaining in North Texas very long. At the very least, they are looking for cover should John make an exit this summer.
Oscar Pareja joins Colorado: There aren’t many people I’ve encountered in MLS whom I respect more than this guy. Class act, all the way around, and as passionate as they come about soccer. And I know that everyone around FC Dallas hated to see him go. Schellas Hyndman will remain coach at FC Dallas Stadium for as long as he wants to be – but I know that ownership had secretly hoped they could hold onto Pareja until Hyndman, 60, the second oldest MLS coach after Bruce Arena, retired or movied into a technical director’s spot.
Will Pareja work as a top man in MLS? We’ll see. These things aren’t just about passion and soccer smarts. They are about the functionality of an overall organization, about the ability to work within it. I have my doubts about Colorado, in all honesty. After all, they had a pretty good coach in Gary Smith. He couldn’t work there … let’s hope Pareja has better luck.