HARRISON, N.J. - First off, yes, Red bull Arena is amazing. Cozy but big at the same time. Intimate but a grand stage. From the outside, you wonder why the heck MLS or the New York Red Bulls would ever think about putting a stadium here because there is nothing else around. At all. But once you step inside, none of that matters. There's a little corner of Europe here in New Jersey. I can only imagine how green every visiting team is when it comes here and the looks they must have on their faces when they first walk in. Put it this way, I saw D.C. United owner Will Chang. Can't say anything more than that.
New D.C. United signing Branko Boskovic, who is freshly arrived from Austria, said it feels exactly like the home of FC Red Bull Salzburg.
But enough about the park, the buzz around these parts involves a guy who is not here tonight. Maybe it has to do with the worst kept secret ever?
Might that be Thierry Henry that the Red Bulls are talking about? Could be. Should be.
The thing is, will that be it? There are hints that Major League Soccer has multiple major designated player signings in the works, meaning Henry would be only the first.
Reports of Los Angeles Galaxy interest in Ronaldinho aren't new, having surfaced across the globe. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, both the player and the Galaxy (thus Major League Soccer) are in agreement on a deal. However, the Brazilian superstar remains under contract with AC Milan, which doesn't exactly want to let him go without exacting an appropriate price.
According to the source, the Galaxy also have a backup plan, having placed a discovery claim on Spanish forward Raúl. A representative for legendary Real Madrid striker told me Friday that he has not yet completed a deal with German club Schalke. That keeps him in potential play for MLS, where multiple teams could be vying for his services. (Raúl's wife, model Mamen Sanz, recently told Elle magazine that she'd have no problem living in the U.S.) Could one of those even be D.C. United? They are certainly in the market for a forward. But Raúl's asking price is steep.
Nothing is guaranteed, of course, due in part to the complicated nature of designated player deals.
But the rules in the new collective bargaining agreement that took effect at the beginning of the season expanded the DP significantly and made it very easy and attractive to sign that level of player at midseason by cutting in half the salary cap hit to just $167,500.
The point is, Henry has dominated the talk, but he might not be alone.