Los Angeles Soccer: Miguel Montaņo
CARSON -- The expansion Montreal Impact got a lot of work done in a nearly two-week stay at Home Depot Center, a good deal of it away from the field.
They finished this swing of their preseason camp Friday with 90-minute games against UCLA (a 0-0 draw) and Ventura County Fusion (a 3-1 victory), but what's been going on off the field has been far more interesting.
The Impact on Thursday traded veteran striker Brian Ching back to the Houston Impact for a conditional first-round selection in next year's SuperDraft. They topped that Friday, shortly after their games on one of Home Depot Center's training fields, by taking former U.S. national team forward Eddie Johnson through the league's allocation dispersal process, then trading him to Seattle for top young attackers Mike Fucito and Lamar Neagle.
It wrapped a wild week that started with Montreal's announcement that Ching, who played last week at HDC against his former Houston teammates, had departed camp for “personal reasons.” Turned out he was in Houston negotiating a new deal, one that would significantly trim his salary -- he'll make $250,000 rather than $450,000, The Houston Chronicle reported -- but allow him an expected final season with the club he's identified with as they open a long-awaited stadium.
“This is where I want to be, where I want to retire ...,” Ching told The Chronicle. “I know how old I am, and I've been around the league long enough to know my value. I have no problem. I just want this team to be successful, and I'll do what it takes. If that means less money, that means less money. Me taking less money allows me to be here where I want to be, allows me to open up a stadium that I've always dreamed of doing. That's rewarding enough for me.”
Ching, 33, considered retirement after Montreal surprisingly took him in November's expansion draft. Trade talks between the Dynamo and Montreal began almost immediately, and the Hawaii-born forward reported to the Impact's camp last month and last week said the idea of playing for Canada's third Major League Soccer franchise was “definitely growing on me. Obviously, it was a very emotional time when it all happened. But I've been with the team for about a month now and enjoy playing with the guys, enjoy the project of trying to build a competitive team here.”
Impact coach Jesse Marsch was asked if the Impact had received enough in the trade with Houston.
“I don't think it went the way we all thought it was going to go, whether he was going to stay or go. But in the end, it was just so difficult,” the former Chivas USA captain told ESPN Los Angeles. “He committed himself wholly, professionally to being here, but you also could see that his mind was still in Houston.
The Galaxy have a new midfielder, is he's to be believed.
Marcelo Sarvas, whom the Galaxy battled twice this year in CONCACAF Champions League play, has signed a two-year contract with two option years, his agent told Costa Rican sports website Al Pie del Deporte.
Sarvas, who plays for reigning Costa Rican champion Alajuelense, last week told Costa Rican daily La Nacion that he was weighing a two-year deal from the Galaxy against a three-year offer to stay at Alajuela and that he was “postponing [a decision] as long as possible because the truth is that I don't know what decision to make. The economics [of the Galaxy offer] is very good.”
A Galaxy spokesman said the club, as is its policy in such matters, would have no comment.
Sarvas, 30, is from Sao Paulo, began his pro career with Corinthians and played for clubs in Sweden and Poland before signing with Alajuela last January. He is preparing for Liga's Invierno (fall) title series against Herediano, although he is suspended for Sunday's first leg.
The Galaxy, which this season won the MLS Cup/Supporters' Shield double in Major League Soccer and advanced to next year's Champions League knockout stage, arrived home Wednesday morning from a 12-day, three-game postseason tour to Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia.
The players will be off, national team considerations aside, until probably the third week of January, but head coach/general manager Bruce Arena and his staff has pressing work to do determining his roster for next season.
The pivotal decision is David Beckham's, and everything the Galaxy must accomplish this offseason will be determined by his choice. The English superstar, who five-year contract ends at the close of December, could re-sign with the Galaxy, accept Paris Saint-Germain's millions or, far less likely, return home to England.