Some insider topics from around the soccer world:
• In light of Tottenham letting Hugo Lloris stay in the game on Sunday after suffering a head injury that briefly knocked him out, it’s clear that the Premier League is far behind the U.S. when it comes to establishing a protocol to deal with concussions. Dr. Robert Cantu, a concussions expert at Boston University, told me soccer provides the third-highest number of his patients among pro athletes, behind only American football and ice hockey. But unlike those sports, soccer has two big differences: Players don’t wear helmets, and the limit on subs often puts pressure on teams to keep injured players on the field. U.S. players whose careers have been derailed by concussions include Taylor Twellman, Alecko Eskandarian, Lori Chalupny and Cindy Parlow. Letting Lloris decide to stay in the game on his own is a sign European soccer doesn’t get it yet when it comes to concussion treatment.
• The U.S. national team gets together in Europe during next week’s FIFA window for friendlies at Scotland and Austria. But I hear Jurgen Klinsmann is not planning to call up any players that are still involved in the MLS playoffs. I’ve also learned that New York’s Tim Cahill will not be joining Australia for its friendlies either due to the MLS playoffs. Those decisions make sense when it comes to avoiding extremely long flights for players, and it shows you why MLS was considering staging playoff games during the FIFA window until the very last moment, when it turned out some players like Salt Lake’s Álvaro Saborío might get called up to their national teams, which is something that club teams are not allowed to refuse during an international window.
• You’d think one of the hottest prospects on the MLS coaching market would be Tab Ramos, the U.S. Under-20 coach and former national team star who has worked his way up the ranks as a coach. But Ramos interviewed for the Columbus Crew job and is not one of the final candidates, sources tell me. What happened? Well, I’m told Ramos has informed people that he’s most interested in taking over Claudio Reyna’s old position as U.S. Soccer’s youth technical director, and Ramos would be allowed to have that job and keep the U.S. Under-20 job. Keep in mind, too, that Ramos has regularly been an assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann when the U.S. senior team gets together, and there’s a little tournament called the World Cup next summer.
• In other U.S. national team notes, I’m told not to expect any big surprises among the call-ups for next week’s games. And a source tells me that U.S. goalkeepers coach Chris Woods is still with the U.S. team even though he has missed several games recently, resulting in cameo coaching roles by Kasey Keller and Jeff Cassar. Woods’s main job now is as the goalkeepers coach at Manchester United, but he is expected to be with the U.S. team next week in Europe. • Toronto FC big boss Tim Leiweke tells me TFC is committed to adding two Designated Players next season, both of them forwards, and he wants one of them to be, as he puts it, one of the most important MLS DPs ever. While Leiweke wouldn’t specify names, sources tell me Toronto’s targets do include Jermain Defoe and Alberto Gilardino. When I asked Leiweke if his friend David Beckham was making calls to players on his behalf, Leiweke laughed and said Beckham has always been there for him. Leiweke also voiced support for coach Ryan Nelsen, saying Nelsen needs a full season to coach the team without the front-office turmoil that was the case this past season.