PORTLAND, Ore. — What’s it like to be here during MLS All-Star week with Bayern Munich in town? Well, it’s a lot of fun, for one thing. On Monday morning in a downtown coffee shop in walked U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, followed soon after by Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. A block away, German legend Franz Beckenbauer was holding court in one hotel lobby, while Thierry Henry was doing the same in another.
When it comes down to it, the best part of All-Star week is connecting with everyone in the same place and catching up. Here are some notable items gleaned in the last couple of days:
• The Columbus-Mix Diskerud deal has had some twists and turns
Columbus thought it had a handshake deal on terms with U.S. international Mix Diskerud, only for his father/agent, Paal, to demand more money at the last second, according to multiple sources. As of Wednesday, the MLS summer transfer deadline, the two sides were still trying to work out a deal but had yet to reach one. A similar situation happened in early 2013 when Diskerud nearly joined Portland, only for talks to break down late in the game.
Diskerud’s contract with Rosenborg runs through the end of 2014. Columbus sits atop the MLS Allocation Order, which is used to distribute U.S. internationals that sign with the league (provided their cost doesn't meet the undisclosed MLS-determined threshold to skip the mechanism).
• Jermaine Jones still wants Michael Bradley money to join MLS
The out-of-contract U.S. World Cup standout knows Bradley makes a guaranteed $6.5 million a year and feels like he was just as important as Bradley to the U.S. World Cup effort. The problem is Jones is 32, while Bradley is 27 and has a bit more marketing potential.
• The Chivas USA sale could come in September
MLS bought back the struggling franchise from Jorge Vergara and his wife, Angélica Fuentes, earlier this year, and I’m told multiple parties are interested in buying the club, which MLS thinks it can sell for $100 million. MLS president Mark Abbott told media here the league wants the new owner to commit to keeping the team in Los Angeles and building a new soccer stadium, with the focus on a central L.A. location. The spot Abbott is focused on is the site of the old L.A. Sports Arena near the USC campus.
• Bayern manager Pep Guardiola is growing concerned about the media attention on Julian Green
The 19-year-old Green did appear at Bayern’s press conference here with Guardiola, Robert Lewandowski and Franck Ribéry, but Guardiola shut down any 1-on-1 interviews with Green in an effort to protect the youngster after seeing how much attention he has been getting during the U.S. tour. Perhaps Guardiola saw the giant T-Mobile billboard featuring Green on the side of a building in Portland on the way to Providence Park.
• Minnesota’s stock is rising as an MLS expansion possibility, according to league sources
There are two Minneapolis groups interested in owning a team—the Minnesota Vikings and the NASL’s Minnesota United—and both have people in Portland this week. MLS wants to have 24 teams by 2020 and has announced 22, with Miami in place to be the 23rd as long as David Beckham’s group can finalize a downtown stadium. Possibilities for No. 24 include Minneapolis, San Antonio, Sacramento, Las Vegas, St. Louis and Austin.
• The Portland Timbers are interested in installing a grass field as soon as 2016
Portland would be the first of the Cascadia MLS teams to have a natural surface, as the Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps all currently play on turf fields.
• It’s fun to listen to Thierry Henry talk soccer
When the New York star is engaged, as he was in Monday’s press conference, he has terrific insights. When asked about which players youngsters should observe to learn how to play the game, Henry said Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are “freaks” and that for most young players it would be best to watch a guy like Bayern’s Thomas Müller to see how he goes about his business.
Henry also clearly has a subscription to the MLS Live package and watches a lot of league games, because he can talk about any team in MLS and its players. Whether Henry goes into coaching or the media once he’s done playing (which could be as soon as the end of this year), he’ll be a good one.
• There are growing questions in MLS over whether Red Bull will continue owning a team in the long term
The New York Red Bulls have yet to add a third Designated Player as many had thought they would, and that’s in line with what some league people are seeing as a decline in the energy drink company’s interest in owning an MLS team. In fact, some within the league are starting to doubt whether Red Bull will still be involved in MLS 10 years from now.