Well for the first time in 7 days I have a few minutes to think and write (not that the two are connected in any way). So in the last week we saw RSL fall flat and lose at Toronto, which was really bad since all the teams above us in the West that played at least earned a point.
We saw 4 MLS teams win their first group stage matches in Champions League (#RSL4MLS) including the first ever win in Mexico as FCD pulled out a 1-0 win over Pumas and if TFC can get a win tonight MLS would go 5 for 5 in their first matches.
We saw the arrival of Robbie Keane to the LA Galaxy and Juan Pablo Angel was traded to Chivas USA for a keg of beer and a dozen pretzels or something like that. RSL made a move to bolster their defense in signing Blake Wagner, which became even more necessary with the broken wrist suffered by Chris Wingert. There was an upside for RSL as Paulo Jr. returned to action for the first time in months, he played the final 10 minutes of the match at Toronto.
more after the jump including the changes to the DP rule
There was further updates to the Designated Player rule, and while have a feeling none of us ever really know what rules lurk in the halls of MLS HQ, it is believed that in order to convince teams to take risks on younger unproven players that making younger DP's count less against your overall cap than older DP will somehow really result in some big changes. Each team still has two DP slots (for now) unless they paid the $250,000 fee for a 3rd spot, but now how much the team is charged against the salary cap depends on how old they are, here are the rules that start next year:
Beginning in 2012, teams can acquire Designated Players based overseas who are 20 years of age or younger for a budget charge of only $150,000, while Designated Players between the ages of 21 and 23 will count just $200,000 against a team's salary budget. Current DPs represent a $335,000 hit to a club's player budget of $2,675,000, regardless of their age.
Now to be honest I am fine with the rule, it will encourage teams to sign younger players (but that always comes with more risk) in order to keep more cap money for the rest of their roster. If you have 3- 20 and under DP's you would only be hit with $450,000 in cap charges, where 3 over 23 DP would counts $1,005,000 against the cap. I think you will see more teams taking the bigger risk but only time will tell if the scouts, GM's and coaches can find more young diamonds in the rough.
There were a couple of midweek MLS matches, Sporting KC got a huge 3-1 win over Portland and Houston battled back late for a 1-1 draw at New England. These results put both teams in front of the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference as well as in the playoff hunt. It was funny how over the weekend talking with some soccer folks at the SB Nation conference how at the start of the year Hans and NYRB made fun of the MLS Cup playoffs and were convinced the only thing that mattered was the Supporters' Shield, then at the All Star break they determined they weren't going to win the Shield so all of a sudden winning MLS Cup mattered again. One only has to wonder if after winning the Emirates Cup, if perhaps that was enough and now they will simply continue to be very mediocre the rest of the season?
LA has simply continued to do everything they need to do and it appears nobody will be able to stop them, now with Robbie Keane there is another reason for fans to pay attention to the team as many simply stopped watching or caring as they walked away from the rest of the league.
All in all it has been a good week for MLS, not so much of a good week for RSL who left today for Houston and what is sure to be a tough physical battle on Saturday night.
OFF MY SOAPBOX