The big story in MLS right now is Nigel De Jong’s brutal tackle of Darlington Nagbe in Sunday’s LA Galaxy-Portland Timbers game. X-rays revealed that Nagbe did not break any bones, and an MRI revealed a medial ankle sprain and contusion. There is no timetable yet on his return to play. As for De Jong, I’m told the MLS Disciplinary Committee has decided to give him a retroactive red card but has not chosen yet how long his suspension will be.
Portland general manager and president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson says he thinks De Jong’s ban should be “five games minimum” considering De Jong’s previous history of breaking the legs of two players—the U.S.’s Stuart Holden and Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa—in the past. MLS does take into account the severity of an injury when deciding a ban, even requesting the medical reports.
Also, the recent spate of red cards and lack of a straight red for De Jong had one league GM saying: “I don’t know what is or isn’t a red card anymore. Then the playoffs come and they’re going to swallow their cards again.”
Here are a couple of more insider notes from around the soccer world:
Sounders DP pursuit picks up
The Seattle Sounders have gotten off to a slow start and are at the bottom of the MLS Western Conference after five games, but their pursuit of a new Designated Player has gone into overdrive.
No fewer than three Seattle execs—general manager Garth Lagerwey, sporting director Chris Henderson and head scout Kurt Schmid—are abroad right now in three countries trying to sign a new DP midfielder and another player as well. Seattle has never mounted an effort on this scale before, and the pressure to finally get to an MLS Cup final is real, especially after archrival Portland won the league title last season.
With Obafemi Martins' departure to China, the club has Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez as its current DPs, with an opening for one more.
Pep targets Barcelona GK Bravo for Man City
Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen came out a few days ago and denied that he had reached a deal to join Pep Guardiola at Man City next season. Despite the Ter Stegen reports, Guardiola and Man City are still interested in a Barcelona goalkeeper: Ter Stegen's teammate, Claudio Bravo. What that means for City incumbent Joe Hart remains to be seen, but Hart isn’t exactly the prototype sweeper keeper that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Guardiola have on his teams.
As you would expect, look for Guardiola to make a series of changes this summer as he starts to fashion Man City in his image.