Los Angeles Soccer: Hammarby
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish on Thursday finally confirmed what everybody already knew, that he's trying to sign Galaxy forward Robbie Keane on a two-month loan deal.
McLeish is looking to bolster a Villa attack that has scored just 22 goals in 20 games, the sixth-worst total in the 20-team English Premier League.
“We're having a look at it and trying to pursue it, so that's the latest, although nothing is actually done and dusted as yet,” McLeish told reporters. “If we don't know by Monday, then it'll probably be not done. That's why I don't want to say too much, in case it doesn't happen, but we're certainly pursuing it, and at the moment both parties are keen.”
Keane, an Irish striker who signed with the Galaxy in August, is training with his former club Tottenham through Jan. 20. British wire service The Press Association reported that Villa would pay nearly $775,000 to the Galaxy.
WORTH NOTING: Nothing official on David Beckham's new contract with the Galaxy is expected for another week or so, but new Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti -- who was in charge at AC Milan during the English star's first Serie A loan stint -- says he's staying with L.A. “We had the possibility to have Beckham,” Ancelotti told reporters after PSG returned to Paris following a winter break in the Middle East. “But Beckham decided to stay in Los Angeles because his family requested him.” Reports have Ancelotti now looking to bring in forward Ivorian forward Didier Drogba. ... Reports in Sweden claim former Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter's next signing as Hammarby's head coach likely will be forward Billy Schuler, who turned down a Generation adidas contract from Major League Soccer after helping North Carolina to the NCAA title.
The Galaxy got one big postseason mission out of the way Friday, re-signing defender/midfielder Sean Franklin while collecting signatures from three others and exercising an option they previously, but not irrevocably, had declined.
Defender/midfielder Bryan Jordan also re-signed, and the Galaxy wrapped up deals with forward Pat Noonan, whose rights were acquired from Seattle in last week's second-stage re-entry draft, and goalkeeper Nick Noble, who has spent the past two seasons in Sweden.
Also back is forward Adam Cristman, who had pulled out of Major League Soccer's re-entry process after the option on his contract, worth only the league minimum of $42,000 last year (but with a salary boost anticipated), was initially declined.
Franklin (Palmdale/Highland HS and Cal State Northridge), 26, the 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year and an MLS All-Star Game starter last summer, is the big news. He's among the best right backs in MLS and is probably better as a right-sided midfielder, which is where he'll likely play if Landon Donovan is paired with Robbie Keane on L.A.'s forward line.
Jordan (Temple City/Temple City HS), 26, who has been with the Galaxy since 2008, is a backup, primarily as an outside back, who played in 18 first-team and eight MLS Reserve League games last season. Cristman, 26, a big, physical, hard-working forward, scored eight goals in 33 games, including Reserve League, after arriving in a trade last January.
Noonan, 31, was one of four players the Galaxy selected from other rosters during the second-stage draft in the re-entry process. He's scored 46 goals in 10 MLS seasons, but only four in the last five injury-filled campaigns. He played just 259 minutes across nine games with the Sounders last season.
Noble, 27, was Chicago's first-round draft pick in 2007, when Galaxy associate head coach Dave Sarachan was the Fire boss, but he never saw league action before his June 2009 release. He played briefly with the second-tier Austin Aztex before taking off to Sweden, where he's spent the past two seasons, making 59 first-team appearances, at second-division Ljungskile SK.
Noble is the third goalkeeper on the Galaxy roster, joining Josh Saunders and Brian Perk. The Galaxy also selected Jon Conway from Chicago in the second-stage re-entry draft, but Noble's signing might signal that the club, which won't carry more than three netminders, doesn't plan to bring in Conway.
BECKHAM IN DOHA?: Agence France-Presse reports that David Beckham will attend the Qatar ATP Open tennis tournament in Doha right after New Year's and could sign with Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain at that time.
The tournament runs Jan. 2-8 and the president of Qatar's tennis federation is Nasser Al-Kelaifi, who also is president of PSG. Al-Kelaifi heads Qatar Sports Investments, a quasi-governmental outfit that is the French club's primary shareholder.
ELSEWHERE: Other MLS news ...
- Midfielder Baggio Husidic, whom Colorado drafted from Chicago in the second-stage re-entry draft, is former Galaxy defender/assistant coach Gregg Berhalter's first signing with Hammarby in Sweden.
- New England signed midfielder Clyde Simms, which it acquired from D.C. United during the second-stage draft.
The 22-year-old midfielder, who played a prominent role in L.A.'s successes this season in Major League Soccer and the CONCACAF Champions League, earlier this week signed a three-year contract extension with the Brazilian giant, which had loaned him to the Galaxy the past two years.
The Galaxy had been trying to acquire Juninho, who in November said he wanted to stay in L.A.
Fabio Mello, the player's agent, told Brazil's Globo media group that the club plans to use Juninho in its first team “and we agreed for him to stay.”
Galaxy coach/general manager Bruce Arena has not responded to requests earlier this week for comment, and he was not available Thursday.
L.A. could lose both of its starting central midfielders in the space of a week. David Beckham, Juninho's partner in the middle, must decide whether to re-sign with the Galaxy or accept a lucrative offer from Paris Saint-Germain.
Arena already has lined up once replacement, acquiring Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas from Costa Rican power Alajuelense.
UPDATE (7:45 p.m.): Juninho has confirmed, via his Twitter account, that he will be playing for Sao Paulo. In successive posts, he tweeted, “I want to thank Galaxy and all of my fans for your kindness and support for the past two years that I was on the team” and “I will always have a place for you in my heart. I want to let you know that I have decided to re-sign with Sao Paulo fc.”