Los Angeles Soccer: Thomas Rongen
Aston Villa's bid to acquire Galaxy forward Robbie Keane in a two-month loan deal appears to be near completion, with speculation in the British and Irish press that the move will be finalized by early next week.
Villa manager Alex McLeish suggested as much when he spoke to media Friday in Birmingham.
“[The deal] is not far away, but I don't like to commit myself until it actually is done,” McLeish said. “[Our] club have sanctioned the deal. They didn't think it was too bad an idea or too big a risk. ... Robbie has got good experience, he is good in the dressing room and he is highly motivated. He has got a certain competition to play at the end of the season with [Ireland, at Euro 2012], so he wants to maintain his level. He wants to come here, and we would be trying to get things cleared for next week."
The Irish Central website reported the loan fee would approach $1 million for as few as six games. British wire service The Press Association on Thursday priced the deal at nearly $775,000.
Dublin daily Evening Herald reported that Liverpool also is interested in Keane, as a replacement for Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, who was handed an eight-game suspension for racist behavior.
Aston Villa hopes to have Keane ready for its next Premier League match, Jan. 14 against Everton, which has Galaxy captain Landon Donovan on loan.
Just a few weeks after former Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley took charge of Egypt's national team, another former Goats boss has accepted a job guiding a sort-of foreign national team.
Dutchman Thomas Rongen, who has been based in the U.S. since arriving in 1979 to play for the L.A. Aztecs, will lead American Samoa through its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Samoans' chances of qualifying? Nil. The country has never won an international game and holds the FIFA record for most lopsided loss, a 31-0 defeat to Australia in a 2002 World Cup qualifier.
“I'm an explorer,” Rongen told The Washington Post. “It's a part of the world I've never been to. Once in a lifetime.”
Rongen, 54, was Chivas USA's initial coach, but he was fired 10 games into the 2005 season with a 1-8-1 record. He was head coach of the Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996, the New England Revolution in 1997-98 and D.C. United in 1999-2001.
After leaving Chivas, Rongen served as U.S. under-20 national team coach for five years -- he was relieved of duties in May -- and he has been D.C. United's broadcast analyst for several years.
American Samoa, which is a U.S. territory, begins qualifying at a Nov. 22-26 tournament in Apia, Samoa, with only the winner of the four-team group (with Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga) moving on to Oceania's semifinal round.
Wednesday's dismissal by Chivas USA of Martin Vasquez isn't all that surprising except for vice president of soccer operations Stephen Hamilton's insistence Saturday that the club's head coach definitely would return in 2011, that "the things we saw in him previously, we still see in him, and I think he’s going to benefit from a year of experience as a head coach."
Perhaps so, just not with the Goats. Looking for potential candidates? There are, at least on the surface, hundreds of them. No, thousands. Which are viable and which are not depends on how much Chivas wants to spend -- both on a coach and on players -- and how wide a net Hamilton and the club's "soccer committee" choose to cast.
THE BIG NAMES: The biggest, at least in local circles, is German legend Juergen Klinsmann, one of the premier strikers of his (or any) generation -- and an innovative coach who took an unfancied Germany side to the 2006 World Cup semifinals, ran into problems at tradition-minded Bayern Munich (where Vasquez was among his assistants) and twice broke off talks with U.S. Soccer about taking the reigns of our national team, both times over control issues.
Klinsmann lives in Huntington Beach, is between coaching jobs, and is familiar with MLS through his years in the U.S. and history with the Galaxy, for which he served as consultant during Sigi Schmid's reign. He might find the opportunity to build with Chivas most attractive: the club's anti-corporate style stands in stark contrast to their neighbors down the hall, and it wouldn't surprise us if he and President/CEO Shawn Hunter got along famously.