By Grant Wahl
May 06, 2013
Alex Morgan plays for the Portland Thorns in the new National Women's Soccer League.
Tony Quinn/Icon SMI

? U.S. women's star Alex Morgan has been drawing comparisons to Mia Hamm, but there's more to it than that. Morgan told me that during the entire month of January, Hamm was gracious enough to coach her and a group of other players during training sessions in Los Angeles. Morgan said she was nervous at first when she asked Hamm about doing it, but Hamm asked if she wanted to meet up the next day, and it went from there. Three times a week Hamm would train Morgan, often bringing her three kids and husband Nomar Garciaparra. Morgan said Hamm is especially good at simplifying the game and explaining it, and as a result the two are now much closer than before.

? Kei Kamara is headed back to Kansas City after Norwich decided not to purchase his contract or extend his loan past Monday's deadline. The question is for how long. Kansas City team president Robb Heineman told me Kamara has drawn interest from other teams in Europe, which means Kamara might still be transferred to a European team this summer. Kamara did relatively well at Norwich, scoring one goal and appearing regularly, including making seven straight starts at one point. For now, though, look for Kamara to move back into his old spot on the wing for Kansas City.

? I spoke on Sunday to another player with Kansas City ties, Wigan's Roger Espinoza, who said it's strange to be in the middle of a relegation battle and getting ready for Saturday's FA Cup final at the same time. Wigan got a big away 3-2 win on Saturday in the league at West Brom, and Espinoza told me he's amazed at the way manager Roberto Martínez can be completely calm with the players during pressure-packed games. He also sees no reason why Wigan can't upset Manchester City in the FA Cup final. If that happens, Espinoza would be the first person I could find who has won the U.S. Open Cup and FA Cup in consecutive seasons.

? A source who's familiar with the negotiations between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chelsea star Frank Lampard told me he thinks the Galaxy will end up landing Lampard this summer, but "they still could screw it up," he added.

BERLIN: Chelsea backs up swagger, beats United, more EPL analysis

? Last week I wrote that top European national teams were considering basing themselves in the U.S. before next year's World Cup. Well, during the week England manager Roy Hodgson visited Miami with a delegation from the FA, and I'm told he was very pleased with what he saw as England considers staying in South Florida before the World Cup next year. It's also likely that England would play a pre-World Cup friendly against the U.S. during its stay, though there is the usual caveat: Both teams still need to qualify for Brazil 2014. (They also wouldn't arrange a friendly if they happened to be drawn in the same World Cup group again.)

? FIFA said it's going through a reform process to improve its image, but that's not really happening, according to Alexandra Wrage, who just resigned from the FIFA governance reform committee. I spoke to Wrage, a Canadian transparency professional who's based in Annapolis, Md., and she told me she resigned because FIFA has made no progress on what she feels are the key issues: Having truly independent members on the Executive Committee, having transparency around the pay received by FIFA executives and preventing conflicts of interest. Wrage said she thought these reforms would translate easily from the corporate world to FIFA, but she was mistaken. She also said two senior FIFA officials told her she had to stop suggesting the names of women for new posts and suggest men instead. Frustrated, she finally decided to resign her post.

MLS Through-balls

? Why is it so hard for some folks to understand that the Midwestern city is called Kansas City, not just "Kansas?" I thought it was just a British thing to say that, but I also heard it on the Spanish-language broadcast of KC-Chivas USA this weekend.

? If you wonder why so many people think Salt Lake plays the most attractive soccer in MLS, RSL's second goal against Vancouver, scored by Javier Morales, was a perfect example. Jason Kreis' team had a terrific buildupon the play, especially the interplay between Morales, Joao Plata and Sebastián Velásquez. Great stuff.

? Some MLS teams are starting to showcase impressive depth. Houston was missing Brad Davis vs. L.A. due to a red-card suspension, but his replacement, Andrew Driver, merely scored the game's only goal, Driver's second of the year. Once Calen Carr and Omar Cummings are back at full strength, Houston coach Dom Kinnear could have some tough choices to make. Meanwhile, with Kamara returning to Kansas City there will be even more competition for spots on the field between Kamara, C.J. Sapong, Jacob Peterson and Bobby Convey.

? Not a big fan of MLS scheduling lately. The only regular-season matchup between Los Angeles and Houston (MLS Cup finalists the last two years) kicked off at 11 p.m. ET on a Sunday. Now Houston has to fly from L.A. across the country to play D.C. United on Wednesday. (The crazy thing is the Dynamo could actually get six points out of the trip.) Then you have one team that has played seven league games (Seattle) and another that has played 11 (New York). MLS can't get to an even 20 teams soon enough.

? Why is Philly's Danny Cruz playing on his third MLS team at age 23? The guy has started everywhere he has played (Houston, D.C., Philly), and he's a workhorse midfielder who isn't on a big salary (a guaranteed $106,500 at the end of 2012). Cruz seems like a good team guy, and when he scores two goals out of nowhere, as he did against Seattle, well, he shows that he's one of the best values in the league.

? In its 4-0 loss to K.C., Chivas put on a clinic in showing why three-man back lines are hard to find these days. Not only did Kansas City take advantage of gaping holes, but Chivas had nobody putting pressure on the crosses that led to Sporting's third and fourth goals.

? Maybe New York's Tim Cahill should get annoyed with the media more often. Ever since he issued some Twitter snark in the way of ESPN's broadcast crew, Cahill has rediscovered his scoring touch, putting in three goals in the last two weeks as the Red Bulls have won twice on the road.

? Referee Jorge González's matching red cards for Seattle's Lamar Neagle and Philly's Sheanon Williams for their late-game scrap seemed like a harsh call to me. But the ref got it right with his red on DeAndre Yedlin, who tried to take out Michael Farfán not once but twice.

? For a guy who has the best penalty success rate in MLS history, Landon Donovan has had a spot-kick year to forget so far. He was stopped by Houston's Tally Hall on Sunday, and the U.S.' all-time leading scorer didn't look comfortable at all. (Though it should be said that Hall did come off his line a bit before making the save.)

? Speaking of which, I'm not used to seeing a goalkeeper come off his line in the wrong direction, but that's exactly what Philadelphia's Zac MacMath did on Seattle's opening goal in a 2-2 tie. Not sure why, but MacMath was two feet inside his own goal when he made the initial contact on Eddie Johnson's header.

? Last goalkeeper note: New York's Luis Robles has gotten plenty of static this season, but his penalty save on Federico Higuaín was a thing of beauty against Columbus. And in San Jose and Montreal's 2-2 tie, both Jon Busch and Troy Perkins were outstanding at times.

? Giles Barnes is turning into a great find for Houston.

? Keep an eye on San Jose forward Adam Jahn, whose excellent technique on his goal vs. Montreal reminded me just a little bit of Clint Mathis' goal in World Cup 2002 against South Korea.

? I like the look of young Colorado left back Chris Klute -- and for some reason I love the fact that MLS' fantasy game left off his first name and simply calls him "Klute." Sounds Brazilian. I think he should go with it.

DART: Red Bulls' resurgence, more San Jose drama; MLS analysis

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