Posted: Tuesday November 21, 2006 12:02AM; Updated: Tuesday November 21, 2006 2:28AM
DE RO TO EUROPE, TORONTO OR HOUSTON?
Toronto FC is coveting Dwyane De Rosario, but do they have what it takes to pick up the native Canadian?
Within an hour of Houston's MLS Cup final triumph last week, some jerk reporter (OK, me) was asking Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear whether Dwayne De Rosario would be returning to H-Town next year.
"You have to ask him if he wants to go," Kinnear replied. "We brought players here not to move them on and help somebody else out, and he's an important part of our team."
According to sources at Toronto FC, the MLS expansion team wants the 28-year-old De Rosario in a big way, although TFC might have to give up a lot to get him.
"It's no big secret that I'm from there," says De Ro, a Scarborough, Ont., native who last week stood behind his vow that Canada would qualify for the 2010 World Cup (its first since 1986) if the country got an MLS team. "I just have to see if it's the right decision for me and my family. I want to choose wisely and see what my options are."
The two-time reigning MLS MVP runner-up says "there's still a burning fire in me to go to Europe," and he may have a few options. De Rosario's agent, Lyle Yorks of Proactive Sports Management, says there is "very serious interest" from one Premiership club and one from the German Bundesliga. At the same time, Yorks says he's interested in negotiating a new four-year deal for De Rosario with MLS. (He has two years left on his current contract.)
By the way, Dwayne isn't the only De Rosario keeping busy these days. His wife, Brandy, is starring in the new dance movie Sabar.
OPENING THE MAILBAG
I've been reading several articles that indicate José Pekerman will be the new U.S. coach. His name alone will give the skeptics more to snicker about when it comes to soccer in this country. I believe only Jürgen Klinsmann can create the quantum leap the sport needs in the U.S. Do you agree? -- William McClain Loyalsock Twp., Pa.
I've written since July that Klinsmann is the right hire for the U.S. job, and I still think he's the heavy favorite. Only one article has appeared claiming that Pekerman is about to be named, and it was in the highly specious L.A. Spanish-language daily La Opinión, which also recently had the "scoop" that Zinédine Zidane, Paolo Maldini and Hernán Crespo were "confirmed" to be joining David Beckham, Ronaldo and Luis Figo in MLS next season. (In case you're wondering, that ain't happening.)
I'm still not 100 percent ruling out Pekerman, however. With his track record at the senior and youth levels it makes perfect sense that he would be high on the final list of candidates for U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati. But the fact that Klinsmann contacted TheNew York Times and Associated Press last month to declare (for the first time) his interest in the U.S. job was the clearest indication yet that Klinsi is the favorite to be the next Yanks manager. (I've said since July that the biggest question about the coaching search was whether Klinsmann actually wanted the job.) Since then Klinsmann has met privately with several top figures in American soccer to discuss the state of the sport here. You don't go to that much trouble if you're just being a tease. Long story short: I'll be surprised if someone other than Klinsmann gets the nod.
That said, I also spoke on Monday to Colorado Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo, who reiterated his denial of the La Opinión report, which claimed he'd worked out a contract with U.S. Soccer to be Pekerman's assistant and translator. "That's not true," Clavijo said. "I just signed an extension of my contract with Colorado." I had to laugh, though, when Clavijo acknowledged that he was at the airport and about to board a flight to ... Buenos Aires. "It's only a coincidence," said Clavijo, who vowed that he's on a scouting trip for the Rapids. Would he be seeing Pekerman on this scouting trip? "I don't have any plans to see him, but it could happen," replied Clavijo, who will be in Argentina through Dec. 4. "We have a lot of friends in common."
(All I know is I hope they name the new U.S. manager soon. I'm going to Argentina myself on Nov. 28 -- for a vacation -- and after nearly six months of waiting I'd like to cover this decision when it finally comes down. You hearing me, Sunil Gulati?)
Claudio Reyna might well be on the way back to his native New Jersey to sign with the New York Red Bulls. Captain America (now retired from international play) is in the final guaranteed year of his contract with Manchester City and may fancy a reunion with Bulls boss Bruce Arena, his former coach with the U.S. and Univ. of Virginia. "There are ongoing discussions with the league," says Yorks of Proactive, which represents Reyna. "Claudio is very interested in coming to MLS at some point, and in particular to the Red Bulls." ... More than one MLS general manager questioned the wisdom of Real Salt Lake's decision to leave Jason Kreis available for this week's expansion draft and then trade a partial allocation to Toronto FC when Mo Johnston selected him. "What a debacle," cracked one rival GM ... Women's Soccer Initiative CEO Tonya Antonucci met with several bigwigs in Frisco, Texas, over MLS Cup weekend to discuss the potential re-launch (in a more modest form) of the WUSA in 2008 ... One of my Argentine vacation destinations is Mendoza wine country, where last year I saw a billboard advertising the Bodegas Mastroeni winery. Anyone know if it's connected to the family of U.S. midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, who was born in Mendoza?
Finally, I got a tip on a heck of a story from T.J. Bean of Chicago, who writes:
"Joe Bean, my father, is currently in the last season of his 45-year college coaching career, the last 37 being at Division III Wheaton College in suburban Chicago. As the season started, he was the all-time leader in NCAA career wins and was looking to be the first to reach 600 wins. But game after game, his team struggled. Injuries, poor results, bad luck ... you name it. They hovered around .500 and had little chance of making the NCAA Division III playoffs and extending his storied career. What they needed was to grab the automatic berth to the tourney by winning the CCIW tournament -- a tough task as Wheaton was the No. 3 seed. But they beat second-seeded Carthage in the semis, and beat Augustana in the final to get the automatic bid and allow Coach Bean at least one more week with his team.
"They headed to St. Louis to play host Washington University -- and won 1-0. The next night they faced undefeated and No. 4 ranked Redlands University and won 4-1! On to the Sweet 16 the following week, where they beat Wartburg 2-1. Then, facing previously unbeaten York College, the Wheaton Thunder gave Coach Bean one last trip to the Final Four with a stirring penalty-kick win after they missed their first two attempts!
"The script for ending his career and his 37th year at Wheaton College could not have been written any better. Perhaps this squad has two games worth of magic left in them to make it a true dream come true."
Thanks for the tip, T.J. Best of luck to the Thunder this week and to Coach Bean, who has won two national titles and more games (606) than any other coach in the history of men's collegiate soccer.