This past week saw NY Red Bulls sit idle, Rochester Rhinos crash out of the playoffs in controversial fashion, and Tottenham Hotspur return to the depressing form fans were used to when I started casually paying attention to English football at the tail end of 2004/05 season.
Also, this is the last day of the transfer window in most of Europe. English, German, Spanish, Italian, French teams will all finish their transfers tonight though they can still sign free agents and arrange loan deals for a while longer.
The attractive passing style of the Rochester Rhinos was sharply disrupted by the reckless aggressiveness of the Harrisburg City Islanders on Friday night. This 2-1 loss marks the end of the Rhinos season and professional outdoor soccer in Rochester for the calendar year. It’s a sad day for Rochester’s old guard who fondly remember the golden days ten years back when the Rhinos were among the top clubs in America. Holding on to the current core of young talent will be vital to Rochester’s success next year, and of course with J.C. Banks playing an integral role.
However when it gets too cold to play outside, professional indoor soccer comes to Soccer Town, USA, in the form of the Major Indoor Soccer League’s Rochester Lancers. The team has close ties to the Rhinos organization, including head coach Bill Andracki who was with the team during the heydays. In addition, many USL players have played the professional indoor game over the winter break to stay fit in the offseason. The new MISL under the leadership of the United Soccer Leagues will definitely produce some exciting quick-paced soccer.
At this time last week New York Red Bulls were dreading a match-up with league leading L.A. Galaxy on Sunday. Mother nature intervened in the form of Hurricane Irene, so the marquee match was postponed to later in the season. This gives the Red Bulls valuable time to heal up key players Jan Gunnar Solli and Luke Rodgers. In other team news, Teemu Tainio will now serve his suspension against (for that terrible tackle in the second half of the Revs game, just dumb) struggling Vancouver Whitecaps on the 10th of September. Red Bulls could also have some much needed depth in the form of Brian Nielsen, on loan from Red Bulls’ club in Salzburg Austria. Nielsen made two appearances on loan last season, but has been hampered by injury so far this campaign. His ability down the left flank could allow Hans Backe some room to shift the line-up and formation. However, after seeing how well Backe has managed substitutions and tactics this year, my hopes are up but my expectations remain low.
On a minor note, Red Bulls have loaned out young defender Tyler Lassiter to the Carolina Railhawks. Carolina plays in the North American Soccer League (second division of American soccer; Rochester plays in the third) and loaned the 21 year old NC State alumnus for the rest of the season in their run to the championship title.
And that leaves us with Spurs. Oh, Spurs.
Coming into transfer deadline day, Spurs had only snatched up Barcelona’s academy scraps (Cristian Ceballos), a stand-out youth player with as much chance of flopping as capitalizing on his natural talent (Souleymane Coulibaly) and an aging American goalkeeper who may or may not be an upgrade over Gomes on a free transfer. And then there’s the loan deal for Emmanuel Adebayor. That deal is a season-long loan because Spurs a) don’t want to pay anything near the fee Man City paid for him and b) can’t afford the mercenary striker’s salary demands within their wage structure. A loan deal allows some portion of Adebayor’s wages to be subsidized by mega-rich Man City while he plays for Spurs. Spurs also signed Yago Falque on a season-long loan from Juventus, a winger who has played exactly zero first team matches.
We’re going to ignore what happened on the weekend, I don’t seem to remember Spurs playing a football match. I vaguely remember one team showing up and coasting over what must have been a pub team. But enough of that.
Having already released former great but too-often injured Jonathan Woodgate in June, sold Jamie O’Hara to Wolves for 5 million pounds and sold Paul-Jose M’poku back to Standard Liege after spending two years in the Tottenham youth system in July. In August, Spurs allowed Robbie Keane to move to Los Angeles for 3.5 million pounds. And then transfer deadline started…
To provide cover in the central midfield, Spurs finally signed Scott Parker from relegated West Ham. Parker’s not my favorite player and I hope the fee was not more than 5 million pounds, but he can do a good job until Sandro returns from injury in a couple months.
Spurs have also officially loaned David Bentley to West Ham United who are looking to bounce right back up to the Premier League. Perhaps Bentley (like Taarabt) can excel in the Championship when he failed at the highest level for Spurs.
In other deadwood news, Alan Hutton has finally been kicked to the curb and sent to Aston Villa on a permanent deal worth 3 million pounds. At the same time Jermaine Jenas signed a season-long loan deal with Villa, so good luck over at the Midlands with two absolute rubbish players. I mean that sincerely. The 3 million pounds (a third of what Spurs paid for Hutton) is still an over-valuation of the flailing, flopping and often fouling Scotsman. And Jenas has been playing out of his depth since he signed from Newcastle in 2005.
We also shipped put Wilson Palacios to Stoke City. I like Palacios, but he hasn’t been able to regain the form he had before his brother was taken hostage by a drug gang in Honduras and killed. Two seasons ago, Palacios was the ball-winning boss of the Tottenham Hotspur midfield. I hope for his sake, that he can spark a resurgence in his career and get back to the level he played at before that terrible and dark incident.
Following with the melancholic theme, a bit of sad transfer news as Peter Crouch also moved to Stoke City. Crouch saw the Adebayor deal as writing on the wall and decided to swap White Hart Lane for the Britannia Stadium. I really liked Peter Crouch. He may not be the best player with the ball at his foot and he has a knack for missing some golden opportunities with his head, but Crouchy was a character. After the recent riots that shook North London, Crouch visited a barber who had seen his shop ransacked. The only possession left undamaged was a signed picture of the lanky striker. The meeting between the two is a rather sappy story but I think he speaks volumes about the kind of person Peter Crouch is. And now we won’t get to see Crouch’s new dance moves in action.
No matter what happens in the transfer market, I hope Spurs will decide to register a team for the Reserve League this season. We haven’t for the last two years or so. In England a club has the choice to enter teams in reserve leagues of varying difficulties. Tottenham have instead opted to set up “Spurs XI” friendly matches at the Lodge (training ground) against other clubs reserve teams, in order to give out of favor players time, keep fitness up for players too old for the academy (18) who haven’t yet gone out on loan, and get a higher level challenge for academy standouts like Harry Kane. This is a great chance to acclimate Coulibaly and Ceballos to English football without having to loan them out and trust them to inept managers and trainers in the lower divisions of the Football League.