Major Link Soccer: Robbie Keane Might Return To England, Gary Smith Talks Stan Kroenke, Castrol Re-Ups

I'm not sure, but I think Birchall stole Friberg's tacos.

So has it sunk in yet? You've had a weekend to ponder "The Trade," have you gone through the stages? I'm still not sure what to think, though in my internet wanderings there seems to be a small set of fans that think that the good or bad of this trade hinges on our CCL affair -- which I find highly irrational. I still maintain that we can't grade this trade now, or tomorrow or at the end of the season. Too many variables.

Happy Presidents' Day everyone, time for some Major Link Soccer.

So tell me if you've heard this story before: That according to most overseas -- I'm looking at you England -- the MLS is nothing more than a Mickey Mouse affair or, at the most, a retirement home? Yeah me too, lots. Former LA Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall who left the MLS champs at the end of the season, fears that his time in America could hinder his chances when it comes to the English game.

He's currently training with League 1 side Port Vale.

"Some managers still think there's that stigma of playing in the MLS and only certain players can play at a higher level. But when I've trained with Oldham and Vale some of the players said they envied me for playing in LA. From a manager's point of view, though, they don't see the standard as being so high."

He left the Galaxy due to having to take a pay cut if he were to stay on. Having only started 19 games, his contract renewal didn't kick in -- falling one game short of the 20 needed to turn over his contract.

Speaking of the LA Galaxy, Robbie Keane is just about to wrap up his loan deal with Premier side Aston Villa and return to the MLS Champions LA Galaxy. He recently told Goal.com that if things don't work out right away in the City of Angels, he'll high-tail it back home to England.

"When I go back to LA, it could be completely different. At this moment in time I can't tell what will happen. It's a case of watch this space," he said. "But people have seen over the years with the clubs I've been at, how quickly I leave if I don't think I fit in."

So what do you think the over/under is of Keane cutting bait and running back to England at some point this season?

Who says you can never go home? For Canadian International and Quebec native Patrice Bernier, it's happening as he returns to the Montreal Impact after a 9 year career in Europe.

"As I'm coming in with a number of years played in Europe and with my national team experience, I know that I will have a (leadership) role. At every team that I have been at I have been a vice-captain. And here we have many younger players and, along with the other experienced MLS players that we have brought in, I have to set a certain standard, especially for an expansion team. We will have to lead and be vocal and I will have to be a role model or at least lead by example. Right from the get go, that is what the coaching staff wants us to be," Bernier said.

Gary Smith, former MLS Cup winning coach of the Colorado Rapids as you know, is now coaching League 1 side Stevenage. Recently he spoke up about Rapids and Arsenal FC owner Stan Kroenke.

"I think his sport that he enjoys mostly is basketball, and he owns the [Denver] Nuggets, and I think his actual understanding and appreciation of the game and rules [of football] is not necessarily that of maybe owners who have been around for donkey’s years in this country."

Smith went on to say he enjoyed his time in Colorado, and admitted that he just may have run his mouth in the press a bit while he was at the helm of the Rapids. How's he doing in England? His team over the weekend tied Tottenham Hotspur in the latest round of the FA cup, forcing a replay. Go read the article if only for the litany of excuses laid forth by Harry "I have a ham stuck in my throat" Redknapp.

As I've reported in this space before, Clint Dempsey has been doing a diary of sorts for Goal.com, in his latest entry he talks about how it's easier to turn pro now than when he did with the academy systems starting up in the US.

The new system is good because when you’re playing in the best environment possible, around the best players week in week out, it’s always going to push you to be your best. By being in academies that MLS clubs are running, hopefully it’s helping players get better coaching without having to pay top dollar for it. It also helps them get looked at and to have a chance to make that jump to being a professional.

Former Toronto FC winger/left back Danleigh Borman has turned down an offer from the New England Revolution and will instead head back to South Africa and sign with SuperSport United.

"I'm very happy to join SuperSport," Borman said. "From what I have heard, they are a go-ahead club and I will be eager to make my mark in the PSL."

Castrol has renewed it's partnership with the MLS, United States Men's National Team and the Mexican National Team. The deal will run through the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

"Castrol continues to be an extraordinary strategic partner for Major League Soccer, U.S. Soccer and the Mexican National Team," said David Wright, Senior Vice President of Global Sponsorship, Soccer United Marketing. "Castrol has introduced innovative fan engagement strategies and tools that have become very popular with soccer fans around the world. We are extremely proud of the partnership to date and equally excited about the future."

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