Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rapids After El Tin?

Yesterday the blog MLS Rumors posted the rumor that the Colorado Rapids are looking to sign Ecuadorian Augustin "El Tin" Delgado on a contract rumored to be $2 million for 2 years ($1m/yr). It's unfortunate to see the Rapids going after a player like Delgado. Does he have skills? Yes, he does. He scored 2 goals for Ecuador in the last World Cup in Germany. But he is a player that at best has been plagued by injuries (he recently retired from national team play citing back problems). More likely he is a player that is a bit of a head case.

I wish I knew some Necaxa fans who could tell us more about his time there. That is because the only clubs he's played for outside of Ecuador are Necaxa and Southampton. It would help us better figure out if his time at Southampton was par for course. Either way, last march I wrote that New York Red Bulls had dodged a bullet in not being able to sign him.

Augustin Delgado's time at Southampton was a disaster. They bought him in November of 2001 for £3.5 million, about $6 million dollars back then (England wasn't going by FIFA's transfer windows back then). He was injured at the time and required surgery. Saints, then lead by the colorful Gordon Strachan, still went ahead with the deal and bought him. If you ever hear someone say that the medical a club gives when buying the player doesn't mean anything other than one last chance to back out, this deal was a good example.

Keep in mind that Ecuador was a hot commodity that year. They had done well in CONMEBOL qualifying including what was for them a huge home win over Brazil. Delgado had scored the winning goal in that game. El Tin scored 8 for Ecuador in qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup (That reminds me, did anyone else hear that Bruce Arena put an ad on Craigslist looking for a time machine that can take him back to 2002?).

As mentioned, Delgado was injured by the time Southampton bought him in the fall of 2001. It should be of no surprise that he only played 2 games for Saints that season, right? He made an early appearance in a game against Manchester United when then Saint James Beattie (now with West Brom) came off injured. He appeared against Rotherham in the FA Cup (minnows that then Premiership club Southampton lost to). He didn't go the full 90 minutes in that game. he was subbed out for LeGod, Mathew LeTissier, to give LeGod a chance to save Saints as the game wound down.

The funny thing is that his knee and / or back, with Delgado it probably depended on the day, bothered him and he didn't play anymore games for Saints that season. Whatever the injury du jour was for Delgado, it didn't prevent him from appearing for Ecuador in a World Cup warm-up against South Africa that spring. The injuries flared up again after Delgado's return from international duty. He wasn't able to play as the season wound down. That is except for being able to play in Ecuador's other friendly that spring against Yugoslavia ( i.e. Serbia & Montenegro) in which he scored a goal.

As you may have guessed by now, those injuries didn't keep from traveling with Ecuador to Japan / South Korea for the 2002 World Cup (they were co-hosts that year; I forget where their group was based). That summer El Tin played the full 90 minutes in all 3 of Ecuador's first round games. Ecuador didn't advance but Delgado did score a goal against Mexico.

The funny thing is after the World Cup, El Tin was again injured. And this time, at least according to his claims then, he needed treatment outside of England and refused to return to his club Southampton. Southampton had to take, or at least threaten to take, action with FIFA to get him to return to the club.

That year he went on to make a whopping 6 league appearances for Southampton and one in the League Cup (not to be confused with the FA Cup). He scored in that League Cup game against Liverpool. The only other tally he had that year for Saints was the game winner against Arsenal at St. Mary's. Out of those 7 appearances, he had only 3 starts. It's never a good sign when a striker isn't good enough to win a regular starting spot over Brett Ormerod.

Surprisingly Southampton didn't dump him after the 2002-2003 season. In the 03-04 season he made 6 appearances for Southampton. Again there were those supposed niggling injuries that he was facing. 5 of those 6 appearances were as a sub. He didn't go the distance in his sole start, Southampton's League Cup loss to Bolton (note ex-NY player Youri Djorkaeff played for Bolton in that game) Other than a 73' substitute appearance, all of his league appearances came after the 80th minute. Southampton tired of his antics. The last appearance Augustin Delgado made for Southampton was in early January 2004 against post-Kasey Keller Leicester. After that Southampton loaned him to Ecuadorian club Aucus. That loan deal soon turned into a free transfer as no clubs were interested in buying him.

Maybe it was just his time at Southampton and there is more to the story? Maybe that is the case. But since then he had a one year ban (later reduced to 3 months by FIFA) for his involvement in a brawl during a game in the Ecuadorian league for his club LDU Quito. It makes one wonder, doesn't it?

Perhaps the most notable thing about Augustin "El Tin" Delgado during his time at Southampton, beside the niggling injuries that always magically healed when Ecuador called and the FIFA action the club took against him was a quote by then Saints manager Gordon Strachan. If you're not familiar with Gordon Strachan, currently managing Celtic in his native Scotland, you really should be. This guy is famous for the things he's willing to say to the press. One time when asked about Delgado he gave a spot on assessment as to El Tin's importance to the club. When asked about Delgado he replied :

I've got more important things to think about. I've got a yogurt to finish by today, the expiry date is today. That can be my priority rather than Agustin Delgado.
That's right, he was more worried about some yogurt in his fridge than what El Tin was up to.

I can only hope that Fernando Clavijo, Charlie Wright and Jeff Plush at the Colorado Rapids remember that they too have some yogurt in the fridge that requires their attention and forget about signing Augstin "El Tin" Delgado. Delgado's never done anything notable on the field when not in Ecuador or not playing for Ecuador. At 33 years old and with ongoing back problems, there is no reason to believe he ever will. I hope this will all turn out to be a mistake and that the Rapids are actually on the verge of signing Chucho Benitez from the Mexican club Santos.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Youngest Players Ever

I noticed this at the tail end of an article on the New England Revolution not picking up an option on Pat Noonan's contract. Noonan is a free man. I don't recall seeing many teams sniffing around though. Have their been? What caught my eye was the age of these kids, the youngest to play for Mexican club teams. I can't imagine what it would be like to play as a pro at age 24 let alone 14. Boston Globe

Martin Galvan, 14, became the youngest player to perform for a Primera Division Mexican club when he played for Cruz Azul in the Interliga tournament last week. Pachuca's Victor Manon, who was 14 when he entered against Cruz Azul in the 2007 Apertura season, is the youngest to have played in a Primera Division game.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WTF, Over...

Newcastle has appointed Kevin Keegan to replace the quickly sacked Sam Allardyce. It has me shaking my head and asking, well, what the fuck. If they really thought that Allardyce wasn't the solution, than why bother hiring in the first place? And if they think they have a problem, how do they think Kevin Keegan is going to solve it? I'm with Banks at Bitter and Blue. It's not going to last long. Banks gives me no more than a year. I have a hard time seeing Keegan making it past the end of the 07-08 season.

Burciaga Update

My apologies for overlooking the obvious and not mentioning that Soccer by Ives is reporting that KC will be trading Burciaga to the Rapids for a draft pick. I should have mentioned it in the previous post [link]. A draft pick, eh? Surely the Rapids wouldn't be so daft as to give up their 1st round pick, #5 overall, for Burciage..... or would they?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rapids Get Burciagia

The Kansas City Wizards are looking to further rebuild their team beyond today's trade of Nick Garcia to expansion San Jose Earthquakes for their 1st pick (1st overall in the draft). That gives KC the 1st pick overall and the 11th overall picks in the draft. The conventional thinking is that KC is positioning themselves to take promising striker Patrick Nyarko with their new pick. Why would they do that? Eddie Johnson looks set to move to Europe during the winter window with Fulham being strongly linked with him today.

Did you catch that Garcia's not the only defender KC is looking to trade? That's right, KC is looking to also trade Jose Burciaga Jr. This time to the Colorado Rapids. No word on what the Rapids will give up in return. It's not official but every now and then the little birdy comes through for me on a rumor that's about to be true. Like last year when some folks were shocked that then New York Red Bulls coach Bruce Arena was willing to trade for Clint Mathis {post here]. This trade wouldn't be as shocking but it would be more interesting in that KC would then be unloading 2 starting defenders. If the rumor holds true, we should see the announcement Wednesday or Thursday.

If the Rapids are trading for Burciaga, I can see some folks being confused. They'll be pointing out that the Rapids had the 3rd best defense in the league last year. 2 things on that :

  1. In my opinion, the Rapids GA numbers for 2007 were better than they looked defensively
  2. Burciaga stands to help the Rapids offensively.

In 2007 the Rapids average offense became anemic. Burciaga in the past has shown he can get forward and score (8 goals in 2006). But when we're talking about the decisions that Fernado Clavijo makes, well, there very well may be no rationale behind them. Afterall it wasn't much more than a year ago that Ferndando was saying he finally had the team he wanted and yet managed to play musical chairs with the 2007 roster.

Another interesting development is that the rumored is that beyond Burciaga the Colorado Rapids are on the verge of signing a young American defender from abroad? Who might that be? We don't know. The little birdy did rule out Ramiro Corrales. That doesn't surprise me as I feel the MLS's standard of play has passed up Corrales since his days in the league. It does add to emphasizing the young part of the rumor. I would assume it's not Tighe Dombrowski as he wasn't good enough to get much of a sniff at play in the MLS in the first place. DeMerit? It would be a wet dream for Rapids fans but he's not young and recently was made captain for Watford who are in the midst of battling for an automatic promotion spot to return to England's Premiership. Corey Gibbs? Again, not young even by MLS standards. Plus how would the Rapids afford him?

So who could it be? Ian Joy has been linked with a move to the MLS. It's been in the form of a move to Real Salt Lake. But there is nothing concrete yet. Could the Rapids be about to beat their rivals to the punch?

If it's not Ian Joy then it's pretty much Russian roulette in guessing who it may be. Maybe it's Charles Kazlauskas who has actually been spending time as a striker with Topp Oss in Holland. We all know the Rapids could use some offensive help. It's probably not Steve Purdy. Los Angeles still holds his rights after drafting him in 2007. And he's recently signed a pro contract with 1860 Munich. Zac Whitbread? No, he just signed a new 2 1/2 year deal with Milwall. Frank Simek? There was no indication of a move in his interview today or anywhere else. It doesn't seem likely with him only being 23, over 100 appearances for Wednesday and plenty of time to play in the Premiership.

Beyond that, who knows who it could be. Maybe Aston Villa and their American owner are willing to loan out young Eric Lichaj. Maybe it's Chase Hilgenbrinck returning from South America? Or could it actually be someone no so young like Danny Califf? Or maybe someone who, IIRC, is available on a free like Josh Grenier? We'll have to wait and see. For now my money would be on Ian Joy.

Furthermore, it makes one wonder if a Rapids defender like Prideaux (note: If it is the chicken hawk it would be a return to KC after stints with DC United and the Colorado Rapids) or Mike Petke will be headed to KC to replace the newly traded Garcia. We don't know what the Rapids are willing to give up for Burciaga. We do know that the Kansas City Wizards having a defensive hole to fill now that Nick Garcia has left for San Jose.

And if you didn't already here, Carlos Ruiz has returned to Los Angeles. How much did LA give up for what they were badly missing in 2007, a natural goal scorer? They gave up allocation money and a 2nd round pick. How much allocation money did they give up? We don't know. One would have to think the amount would depend on how badly FC Dallas was looking to get rid of El Pescadito.

More on the Garcia trade :
The Offside Rules
Kansas City Star
Steven Goff

More on Eddie Johnson to Fulham
The Offside Rules
Caught Offside

More on the Ruiz trade :
FC Dallas' official blog
Steven Goff
Offical Press Release from FC Dallas
Official press release from LA

Beckham's Hung Like A Tractor

Well, so says Mr. Posh's wife, Victoria.