What a crazy week in Major League Soccer! The opening of the transfer window a couple of weeks ago led to plenty of rumour and speculation, and in recent days the talking has been backed up by action - and plenty of it. For me, the departures of Davide Chiumiento and Sebastien Le Toux from Vancouver Whitecaps were the biggest surprises of the week. They are bold moves by Head Coach Martin Rennie and part of a bigger plan.
It's a risky decision to let players leave who have become fan favourites in Vancouver, but Rennie has already proven in his young coaching career that he is not afraid to make difficult moves for the benefit of the club. So far at previous clubs a hallmark of Rennie's management has been the way in which he has managed to quickly build a squad to play the way he wants and get positive results. Sometimes that means going against popular opinion.
I always enjoy the opportunity to sit down and chat with Rennie about the game. When I met with the Whitecaps coach in Toronto last week along with my broadcast partner Jason de Vos, it was another enlightening conversation that left me with every confidence that Rennie has a clear plan for how he wants to build this team.
The departures of Chiumiento and Le Toux were clearly precursors to other moves for Martin Rennie. Over the weekend, the news broke in the UK that Scottish international captain Kenny Miller is set to join the 'Caps. It appears to be an ideal signing for Vancouver.
In a career that has seen him play for Glasgow Rangers, Celtic, Wolverhampton Wanderers and most recently Cardiff City, Miller has shown all the qualities necessary to be a success in MLS. He is 32 years old, but still has plenty of life left in his career and remains an integral part of the Scotland national team. Of course, it will help having his international colleague Barry Robson in the Whitecaps' ranks. Miller may not be the "big name" that 'Caps fans had been talking about, but he appears to be a shrewd addition for Rennie's men.
Across the country, Toronto FC is also in the midst of reshaping their squad under the new leadership of Paul Mariner. The departure of Designated Player Julian de Guzman followed the Reds win over Vancouver at BMO Field on Wednesday. The Canadian international midfielder wasn't in Mariner's plans and trading him away now gives them much more flexibility to bring in a top defender. It also opens up a Designated Player spot.
FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman described the trade as a "win, win" for his team. With the deal that has been done, it gives them an international player at very little cost.
Toronto FC are now expected to add at least one central defender with the roster and cap space that has been opened up by the departures of de Guzman, Joao Plata and Nick Soolsma in recent days. Miguel Aceval also seems to be on his way out of the club to free up further room.
Swedish international Olof Mellberg and Canadian Kevin McKenna are thought to be on the Reds wanted list. If they could add both of those players, it would immediately transform the squad and finally fix the defensive issues that have plagued Toronto FC for the last five and a half years.
There is however another problem for Paul Mariner to deal with now. TFC followed up their win over Vancouver with a victory in New England on Saturday night, but the win came at a massive cost with leading scorer Danny Koevermans sustaining a serious injury just before half time.
Koevermans has been in outstanding form of late. The club is yet to announce the full extent of the injury, but if he is done for the season as seems likely, it leaves a massive hole up front. Mariner would then be left to contemplate whether he needs to switch attention from bringing in a couple of defenders and instead go looking for a forward. It's a big blow for the Reds at a time when things are moving in a positive direction.
The back-to-back wins against the Whitecaps and New England are further evidence of the confidence, character and resilience that have returned to the squad. It may be too late for this season, but the early indications are that they players are enjoying life under Paul Mariner, and that can only be good for the future.
Montreal Impact Head Coach Jesse Marsch continues to fine tune his squad with the left back position the focus of his attention over the last week. Tyson Wahl's departure to Colorado Rapids followed the arrival of 21-year-old Swiss defender Dennis Iapichino who came through the youth system at FC Basel.
Defending continues to be the Achilles heel of Montreal during the ongoing absence of the injured duo Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas. The way the Impact fought back into the game at Philadelphia on Saturday only to concede in shocking fashion in stoppage time was completely unacceptable. Hopefully the arrival of Iapichino plus the impending availability of Alessandro Nesta will bolster Montreal's backline sufficiently enough to help them achieve
some much needed consistency.
Those are just some of the highlights involving Canada's three teams in the last week, but across the league there's been no shortage of talking points. From the firing of Head Coach John Spencer in Portland, two goals for David Beckham in LA Galaxy's win and San Jose scoring five against Real Salt Lake, there's been plenty of drama over the last seven days.
MLS on TSN continues on Wednesday with a doubleheader - Montreal Impact against New England Revolution is on TSN2 at 8pm et/5pm pt, followed by Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LA Galaxy at BC Place.