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One day after being released by the Vancouver Whitecaps, Lee Nguyen was picked by the New England Revolution in the MLS Waiver Draft. Nguyen came to MLS this offseason after spending several years in Vietnam's top league and ended up with the Whitecaps after they won a weighted lottery for his rights. However, he became expendable after the Whitecaps signed several other attacking players this offseason.
"Lee gives us added versatility in the attack," Revs General Manager Michael Burns said in a team release. "He is an effective player on either wing or up top, and he has great potential in MLS."
The midfielder/forward was once a standout at the University of Indiana, winning Freshman of the Year honors in 2005 and earning a contract with Dutch giant PSV Eindhoven. Nguyen showed enough promise to earn three United States national team caps, but his most recent one was in 2007.
For more on Nguyen's signing, be sure to check out Revolution blog The Bent Musket.
After spending the last couple weeks on trial, former Italian international Matteo Ferrari signed with the Montreal Impact on Thursday. Ferrari most recently played in Turkey's first-division with Besiktas, but has played more than 20,000 minutes in Italy's Serie-A with such clubs as Inter Milan, Parma and AS Roma. He also has 33 caps with Italy, although the last one was in 2004.
"I’m very happy for this opportunity to play an important role with the Impact in its inaugural season," Ferrari said in a team release. "I hope to help this team progress and succeed in its first campaign in MLS. I’ve only been here a short time, but I’m happy with the organization. The coaches and the players have been great to me."
Ferrari, 32, has battled injuries recently, but could win a starting job. He would most likely be paired with Nelson Rivas, another player with Serie A experience who has battled injuries.
Etienne Barbara has had a tough winter, but he finally has a contract with an MLS club. The Vancouver Whitecaps announced on Tuesday they have signed the Maltese forward, pending receipt of his international transfer certificate. He's represented Malta 30 times at senior international level and is coming off of two excellent seasons for the Carolina RailHawks in the second division of U.S. soccer.
In Vancouver, he'll be reuniting with Martin Rennie, who was his coach while he played for the RailHawks. Barbara won the NASL MVP and Golden Boot in 2011, so if nothing else, he certainly knows how to finish.
The Whitecaps don't have one of the deepest rosters in MLS, but they certainly weren't lacking for talent up top before signing Barbara, which leads one to wonder whether or not he's going to be able to crack the starting XI. Designated Player Eric Hassli and Brazilian striker Camilo Sanvezza both had good seasons in 2011, while the Caps also spent the second overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft on striker Darren Mattocks. Barbara has played in midfield before, and could find himself there before he finds playing time as a striker.
Barbara was subject to a discovery claim by the Montreal Impact, who allegedly gave him a lowball contract offer and were not terribly interested in signing him. The Whitecaps obtained his rights via trade, sending defender Gienir Garcia to the Impact in exchange.
Oscar Pareja's remaking of the Colorado Rapids took another step on Friday when the team signed left back Luis Zapata of Colombia. Zapata, 31, has been with the team for most of the preseason, and is expected to compete for significant playing time after spending most of his professional career in Colombia's first division. He is the third South American player the Rapids have signed since Pareja took over as coach.
"Luis is a talented and experienced left back, and his presence will strengthen our defense," Colorado Rapids Technical Director Paul Bravo said in a team release. "We’ve had a chance to see how he fits into the team throughout preseason, and we’re excited to officially add him to the club."
Zapata played for Colombian giants Millonarios from 2001-08, but has failed to find a consistent home since then. More recently, he's played in Venezuela and Bolivia before returning to play 18 matches for Colombian side Deportivo Pasto, who was relegated.
For more on Zapata's signing, be sure to check out the Rapids blog, Burgundy Wave.
Graham Zusi had a breakout season for Sporting Kansas City in 2011 and was a big reason the club advanced to the Eastern Conference final, so they decided to get him a gift. That gift is a new contract that will keep him in Kansas City going forward and almost certainly comes with a well-deserved raise.
"I am thrilled to stay with Sporting Kansas City," Zusi said. "The culture, fans, atmosphere and organization are top-notch and our objectives are the same, to win championships. I know we will all work hard on and off the field and commit ourselves to reach our goals."
The midfielder made 35 appearances for Sporting in 2011, scoring five goals and tallying 11 assists. His play also earned him a call up to the United States team for their January friendlies against Venezuela and Panama so it is safe to safe that the arrow is pointing up on the 25-year-old and the club are sure happy to be keeping him around.
"Zeus (Zusi) had a very good year last year and we feel that his best is still yet to come," Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes said. "His intangibles on the field, matched with his competitiveness, are a great fit for our team and re-signing him was a priority this off-season."
Who wouldn't want to keep a guy called "Zeus" around?
Montreal Impact bring back longtime second-division star Eduardo Sebrango.
D.C. United has bolstered their chances of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 by re-signing the reigning MLS MVP
Eddie Johnson will join the Seattle Sounders after the Montreal Impact traded him for Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito.
After a bit of a hang-up that reportedly had to do with a contract dispute, the Colorado Rapids have officially signed Argentine Martin Rivero on a loan. New Rapids coach Óscar Pareja has long indicated that he was looking for more of a playmaking central midfielder than currently resides on the roster. Rivero would seem to fit that bill.
"Martín is a young, dynamic player with a great deal of potential," Pareja said in a team release. "His creativity and technical ability will give us more options in attack, and we’re excited to welcome him to the club."
Rivero, 22, has spent his entire professional career with Rosario Central in Argentina, making his first-division debut when he was 18. More recently, he has played more extensively with the team after it was relegated to the second division. Last year, he made 30 appearances, including 16 starts, and scored four goals.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Rapids blog Burgundy Wave.
The Western Conference seems to just get better and better every day. The latest move is the Portland Timbers' signing of Cameroonian midfielder Frank Songo'o. The 24-year-old has drawn rave reviews during preseason training and further bolsters a midfield that already looked to be the Timbers' biggest strength.
"We are absolutely delighted to have Franck signed," Timbers head coach John Spencer said in a team release. "He is a player that is going to be a huge success in Portland and one that is going to provide a lot of excitement on the field for our fans."
Songo'o is well travelled for such a young player, but has some quality pedigree. He has made one senior team appearance for Cameroon and has played extensively in the second divisions of Spain and England. He was most recently with Spanish second-division side Albacete. He's also spent time with Spanish sides Zaragoza and Real Sociedad, while both were in the second division.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Timbers blog Stumptown Footy.
The Brian Ching-saga finally has an ending, whether it's a happy one depends entirely on your perspective. The 33-year-old is back with the Houston Dynamo after the Montreal Impact apparently grew tired of the game of chicken they had been playing, receiving a "conditional" draft pick for their troubles (UPDATE: It has been confirmed that the Impact will receive a first-round pick if Ching plays 20 matches.). As a part of the deal, numerous reports said the Ching agreed to a reworked deal with the Dynamo partly in exchange for being guaranteed a front-office job after he retires.
In a situation like this, there really aren't winners, as the whole thing was a bit ugly. But the Dynamo seem to come out looking better than anyone else. They get the fan favorite they supposedly wanted all along and are able to enjoy whatever positive press they get when he runs out of the tunnel at BBVA Compass Stadium. For good measure, they get to do so while taking less of a salary cap hit on Ching's salary than they would have if the Impact had never selected him.
Whatever gamble the Impact were making clearly didn't pan out. Unless they received a first-round draft pick, which seems highly unlikely, they had to deal with plenty of negative press just to come out with a worse pick than they started with. Not having Ching in their starting lineup is not the end of the world by any means, but there were any number of players available in the expansion draft that will likely prove far more useful whoever they end up picking instead.
For more on Ching's trade, be sure to check out Dynamo Theory.
Say whatever you will about the Vancouver Whitecaps this offseason, but they've definitely kept it interesting. Their latest move came on Thursday when they signed Scottish midfielder Barry Robson to a Designated Player contract. Robson will finish out his season with nPower Championship side Middlesbrough and join the Whitecaps in July after the summer transfer window opens.
"Barry has been a proven playmaker at the highest levels of the game for both club and country," Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie said in a team release. "He is a versatile box-to-box midfielder that can play in several positions, with the ability to create and score goals. Barry will be a great addition to our squad."
The 33-year-old will most likely play as a central midfielder for the Whitecaps, although he has spent time all over the midfield and has even played a little forward. He's shown an impressive scoring touch from just about every position he's played, bagging 18 goals and 16 assists since joining Middlsebrough in 2010. He's also made 16 appearances for Scotland since debuting in 2007.
"I am very excited to be joining Whitecaps FC and to continue my career in Major League Soccer," said Robson. "I am impressed by the quality of MLS and Vancouver as a club. They have a passionate fan base and a fantastic stadium in BC Place. My family and I are also looking forward to our move to Canada and the beautiful city of Vancouver this summer."
When he's available, Robson could be in the middle of a very dangerous attack that includes the likes of Eric Hassli, Sebastien Le Toux, Camilo Sanvezzo and Davide Chiumiento. The big question will be how much Robson has left in the tank after a long season in England. Since his season started in August, he's played 28 matches for club and country. Middlesbrough has at least 16 matches left to play and that doesn't include any potential promotion playoffs. He will likely be coming of a lengthy break of more than a month. He could also end up leaving the Whitecaps in September as Scotland starts World Cup qualifying with four matches from Sept. 8-Oct. 16.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Whitecaps blog 86 Forever.
The San Jose Earthquakes have secured the services of Simon Dawkins for another season after agreeing with Tottenham Hotspur to bring the midfielder back on loan for another season. Dawkins spent the 2011 season on loan with the Earthquakes, but there was some question as to whether he would return in 2012. On Tuesday, the club were able to confirm that return as the Quakes look to book a spot in the playoffs for the first time since re-entering MLS in 2008.
"Simon did very well for us last season and we’re really happy to have him back," Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said in a statement. "He’s talented on the ball, will take guys on and not only will set teammates up, but will create his own chances. With a year under his belt in our league, he knows what to expect now and should be ready to once again be a key piece for us."
Dawkins played 26 matches for the Earthquakes last season and played well enough that the club spent the entire offseason trying to bring him back, but Dawkins first went on trial to FC Twente. That trial didn't go as well as Dawkins hoped, though, opening the door for a return to San Jose in 2012. The Quakes and Spurs agreed to another loan deal for 2012 last week, but it was not made official until Tuesday.
The New England Revolution need forwards in the worst way. On Monday, they at least started to make some progress with the signing of Saer Sene on a free transfer from the Bayern Munich Reserves. The 25-year-old has been playing with the reserves in the third division of the Bundesliga for the past 2.5 years, scoring 19 goals in 55 appearances.
"We had the chance to have Saër in camp with us in Arizona and see him interact with our players both on and off the field," Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said in a team release. "We believe he’ll play a valuable role for us this season. He’s scored goals consistently with each of his previous clubs, and we believe he has the ability to continue to do so in MLS."
This offseason, the Revolution have parted ways with three of their top forwards from last season, including Rajko Lekic. They thought they had found a replacement when they announced the signing of Pepe Moreno, but recent reports suggest he might be staying in Colombia. Saer would likely be competing for a starting spot alongside Zack Schilawski, who followed up a promising rookie season with a disappointing year in 2011.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Revolution blog The Bent Musket.
Chris Wondolowski has been the best scorer in MLS over the past two years, netting 34 goals during that time. The San Jose Earthquakes did the only sensible thing on Wednesday, granting Wondolowski an extension that will keep him under their control until 2016.
#SJEarthquakes' news: team has signed Chris Wondolowski to new contract. With options it keeps him in San Jose until 2016.— Elliott Almond (@ElliottAlmond) February 9, 2012
This is the second straight season in which Wondolowski has been given an extension and is just further proof that the Earthquakes see him as much more than a flash in the pan, despite the fact that he had scored just five MLS goals prior to the 2010 season. Since then, the 29-year-old has led the league in goals for two straight seasons and earned six caps with the United States national team. The rise is made all the more impressive when you consider Wondolowski has twice scored as many goals in a game (three) as he had in any season prior to 2010.
For the more on Wondolowski's signing, be sure to check out Earthquakes blog Quake, Rattle and Goal.
An astonishingly quiet offseason for the Houston Dynamo just got a little more active. Last year's MLS Cup finalists didn't do much all winter, but with the start of the new season creeping up, they've finally made a move, picking up Macoumba Kandji in a trade with the Colorado Rapids in exchange for a conditional draft pick.
"I’ve always liked Macoumba as a player," said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. "His athleticism and good play to goal will be a good fit for our team."
The 26-year-old Kandji started to get that athleticism back towards the end of last season as he recovered from a torn ACL. He tore that ACL on the play that netted the Rapids the game-winning goal in MLS Cup 2010, but he showed signs of his old self at the end of the season. Exactly why the Rapids couldn't make Kandji happy and integrate him into their team is unclear considering how thin they are at forward, but he was available and the Dynamo pounced.
Losing Brian Ching in the expansion draft left the Dynamo short on experienced forwards and they have extra matches this season with the CONCACAF Champions League beginning in the summer so Kandji will get the chance at playing time. He, along with Will Bruin, Calen Carr and Cam Weaver make up the team's four experienced forwards, with rookie Colin Rolfe also in the mix.
The one big bright spot of the New England Revolution's offseason was supposed to be the signing of Colombian Pepe Moreno on a loan deal. Just last week, the team had trumpeted his signing as a major move to help cure their scoring woes of a year ago. Now, as The Bent Musket has discovered, it appears to have fallen apart:
In addition, being as no terms of Moreno’s contract were publicly discussed --as per league and team policy-- some supporters are wondering if there was ever actually a deal in place. The Revolution now will continue on in their pre-season with no true forward signed to the team outside of Zack Schilawski, and with most transfer windows closed it will be difficult for them to bring in any kind of proven goal scoring threat before MLS's April deadline.
This is clearly not the kind of news the Revolution, who have been seemingly embroiled in one negative story after another since last making the playoffs in 2009. Last year was supposed to be rock bottom, and it culminated with the firing of longtime head coach Steve Nicol. This offseason, though, has been far more notable for the players they've lost than anything they've gained. Draft pick Kelyn Rowe is probably the most significant on-field addition, while their top three goal-scoring forwards have departed.
The Philadelphia Union's long rumored signing of Lionard Pajoy was made official on Wednesday. The 30-year-old forward is coming off a career-best season in which he scored 13 goals and had three assists in 27 starts for Colombian first-division side Itagüí Ditaires. Ten of those goals came during the 18 matches of the more recent Clausura.
Pajoy is likely the final piece of the Union's rather dramatic reconstruction this offseason. While team officials were quick to point out that he should not be seen as a direct replacement for Sebastien Le Toux, he is expected to be a significant part of a revamped attack that will include Costa Rican 21-year-old Josue Martinez, returning youngsters like Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney, and recent SuperDraft pick Chandler Hoffman.
Unlike most of the others in that group, Pajoy is expected to bring a bit more physicality. At 6-foot-1, he's a big body and could provide the kind of size and scoring combination the Union have never really had.
For more on Pajoy's signing, be sure to check out Union blog Brotherly Game.
D.C. United announced today the club has signed 28-year old forward Hamdi Salihi as a Designated Player. The Albanian international has scored 163 goals in 289 professional matches.
"We are thrilled to have completed a deal to bring Hamdi to MLS and D.C. United," said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper. "He has one of the most impressive strike rates you'll find and has shown he's capable of scoring goals at every level in which he's played. We believe strongly he will become another important piece for our team and we look forward to seeing him on the field in March."
Salihi was most recently with Rapid Vienna of Austria's top division. During the team's current campaign, he has scored 11 goals in 15 matches (all competitions). In three total years with Rapid Vienna, he has tallied 53 goals in 90 total matches (all competitions).
While at Rapid Vienna, Salihi was a teammate of current United midfielder Branko Boskovic.
Salihi has been a big part of the Albanian national team. He has scored nine goals in 37 senior team matches. In 2011, he scored three goals in ten international games for Albania.
Salihi marks the club's second Designated Player for 2012 and their forth in team history (Luciano Emilio and Christian Gomez were the others).
The San Jose Earthquakes have been lacking a key part of their midfield for a couple of seasons now in the form of an attacking midfielder. That all could change here soon as the club has signed Colombian attacking midfielder Tressor Moreno.
More upgrades in the middle as the @SJEarthquakes are set to announce the signing of Colombian attacking midfielder Tressor Moreno.— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) February 2, 2012
The 33-year old midfielder comes from Chilean side Santiago Wanderers. He has played in Europe with French side Metz as well as some time in Mexico and South America. During his time in Mexico he played for Necaxa, Veracruz and San Luis. While in South America, the Colombian has played for Colombian side Deportivo Cali as well as Brazilian side Bahia.
Moreno has also been called up to the Colombia national team 32 times in his playing career, where he scored seven goals between 2000 and 2007. He played with Colombia in the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where he was named one of the tournaments top players.
Moreno will be expected to help beef up the Quakes attack that centers around striker Chris Wondolowski. Giving Wondolowski a little more freedom will be a big part of what Moreno should be expected to do for the Quakes.
The New England Revolution still a long ways to go before they have the talent to compete, even in the Eastern Conference, but they at least made a move to bolster their depleted strike force by acquiring Colombian forward Jose Moreno on loan. The 30-year-old is coming off a season in which he scored seven goals and had four assists over 20 matches with Once Caldas of the Colombian first division.
"Jose is a player we targeted during a recent scouting trip and we are excited to been able to complete a deal with him to bring him to New England," General Manager Michael Burns said in a team release. "He’s a strong, target forward who has a lot of experience playing at the highest levels in both South America and Europe. We’re looking forward to his arrival as soon as the Visa process is completed."
Moreno has been a well-traveled player since turning pro at 19. The Revolution will be his 11th different team and this is the ninth time he's switched teams since 2006. He's played for teams in Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Ukraine and Romania.
The Revolution will be counting on Moreno to help replace much of the talent the team let go during the offseason. A year after scoring more goals than just two MLS teams, the Revolution have gotten rid of three of the nine players on their team who scored at least twice, including Rajko Lekic, whose six goals were as many as the rest of the team's forwards combined.
For more on Moreno's signing, be sure to check out Revolution blog The Bent Musket.
Peter Nowak's purge at PPL Park continues, this time in the form of a trade as the Philadelphia Union have traded Kyle Nakazawa to the LA Galaxy for an international roster spot and a second-round pick in the 2013 SuperDraft. It will be a homecoming for the UCLA alumna as he returns to Los Angeles in the Galaxy's effort to add depth, while the direction of the Union remains a mystery to everyone, except for Nowak assumedly.
Nakazawa will join a Galaxy team that has one of the best crops attackers that MLS has ever seen in Landon Donovan, David Beckham Robbie Keane and Edson Buddle, but they are in need of midfield depth and Kyle Nakazawa gives them that. With Beckham likely to miss a month while playing for the United Kingdom in the Olympics and fixture congestion brought on by MLS, Champions League and U.S. Open Cup play, Nakazawa should get plenty of chances to play.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, it's tough to figure out exactly what Nowak is doing. Shipping out Nakazawa doesn't have nearly the impact of getting rid of Sebastien Le Toux, but the situation in Philadelphia is odd at best and there is no indication why the Union want the international roster spot they received.
Forward Luke Rodgers, whose arrival to preseason camp was delayed due to immigration issues, had his U.S. visa approved. It is unclear when Rodgers will join the team in Mexico, but we’re happy to say that he will be a Red Bull in 2012.
This is a pretty significant development for both parties. Red Bulls coach Hans Backe had recently expressed some doubt that Rodgers' visa situation would ever be resolved.
If Rodgers had been unable to join the team, the Red Bulls would have been without one of their most consistent scorers from the 2011 season. Rodgers was the Red Bulls' second leading scorer with nine goals, despite playing in just 23 matches. With Rodgers, the Red Bulls' attack suddenly looks quite strong, even if Juan Agudelo is transferred.
For more on the Rodgers' situation, be sure to check out Red Bulls blog Once a Metro.
After a somewhat protracted dispute over the appropriate wages, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Camilo Sanvezzo have agreed to terms on a new contract, the team announced on Wednesday. The 23-year-old Brazilian forward was one of the top scorers in MLS last year, bagging 12 goals and three assists for the last-place Whitecaps.
"We’re delighted to agree to new contract terms with Camilo," Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie said in a team release. "He had an outstanding first season with us and will be an important part of our squad for years to come. Camilo can play up front as a striker or as a wide attacking midfielder. He’s got plenty of pace and skill, plus a real nose for goal. He’s also a big threat on set-pieces in and around the opposition’s penalty box."
In Camilo, Eric Hassli and the newly acquired Sebastien Le Toux, the Whitecaps are currently the only MLS team to boast three forwards who scored at least 10 goals last season. Combine them with youngsters like Omar Salgado, Darren Mattocks and Long Tang, as well as last year's NASL-scoring leader Etienne Barbara and you have arguably the most interesting strike force in all of MLS.
For more on Sanvezzo's signing, be sure to check out Whitecaps blog 86 Forever.
Edson Buddle officially completed his return to MLS on Wednesday, with the LA Galaxy welcoming back their former Best XI forward. Buddle had left the Galaxy following the 2010 season to try his luck in Europe, but after a year with 2. Bundesliga side Ingolstadt, he received his release. Since the Galaxy had attempted to re-sign him and received no transfer fee when he left, they retained his MLS rights.
"I am thrilled to be able to return to MLS and a club that has meant so much to me in my career," Buddle said in a team release. "When I left for Germany last winter, I said that I hoped to be able to one day return to the Galaxy and help lead the club to an MLS Cup championship. That day is today and I look forward to the challenges that now lie ahead."
Although Buddle's time in Germany was considered mostly a disappointment, he was not without his moments. The 30-year-old scored nine goals in 31 league appearances. Those kind of numbers he probably isn't much different than the player who left MLS after scoring a league-leading 19 goals and was named to the Best XI in 2010.
Even without Buddle, the Galaxy already looked to have one of the more dangerous attacks in MLS. Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Robbie Keane are all expected to be back and the addition of Buddle potentially gives them four world-class players attacking opponents' goals.
The Galaxy were able to afford such a potent attack mainly because they cleared up some significant salary cap space during the offseason. Among the highly paid players to leave were Donovan Ricketts, Juninho, Gregg Berhlater, Frankie Hejduk and Jovan Kirovski.
The big question is how they'll stop other teams from scoring. Even with two of the best fullbacks in MLS -- Sean Franklin and Todd Dunivant -- there are questions at centerback and in the defensive midfield. Omar Gonzalez is currently nursing a torn ACL, Berhalter retired during the offseason and Leonardo is also recovering from a knee injury. As of right now, it would appear that untested players like Paolo Cardoza or Bryan Jordan could end up starting along with Brazilian import Marcelo Sarvas in the center of the midfield.
For more on Buddle's signing, be sure to check out Galaxy blog LAG Confidential.
It wasn't so long ago that Charles Renken was a soccer wunderkind. By the age of 10, he was dominating much older boys and by 16 he had signed his first professional contract with Germany's Hoffenheim. But a pair of knee surgeries derailed his once promising career, and now, still just 18, he has been signed by the Portland Timbers.
The signing drew some instant cackles, though, as the official release said the Timbers had obtained him through "MLS waivers," despite the fact that Renken had never been waived by a MLS team. Generally speaking, an active United States youth national team player, as Renken is, goes through either the allocation order or through a lottery. Apparently, no other team was willing to risk their allocation rights in order to acquire Renken's services.
I'm told Portland landed Charles Renken off MLS waivers because every other team in MLS passed on him, so there was no need for a lottery.— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) February 1, 2012
That explanation may be a touch hard to understand, but is not so crazy as to be literally unbelievable. At his best Renken has been as good as any American soccer prospect. But he has rarely played since signing that first pro contract and is largely an unknown quantity.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Timbers blog Stumptown Footy.
The full slate of rumored Philadelphia Union transactions has now been completed, as the team announced they have completed the transfer for Roger Torres' rights from Colombian club America de Cali. Terms of the loan were not disclosed, but coach Peter Nowak strongly implied that the departures of Faryd Mondragon and Sebastien Le Toux gave the Union the financial flexibility to make this move.
"It's all around the future, it's not around one player," Union manager Peter Nowak said on a conference call with reporters. "In the past two years we've built a good foundation to express that and to build it toward the future."
While completing the Torres transfer clearly makes sense, it does highlight just how young the Union have become. Just five of the 23 players currently listed on the Union's roster are older than 25 and just two are at least 30. Danny Califf qualifies as the oldest player at 31. Thirteen of those 23 would be eligible for U-23 teams and six of them aren't even old enough to drink.
Torres, like many of these young players, has shown flashes of brilliance. His three goals and eight assists have come in a little less than 1,900 minutes of MLS play over two seasons. The signing seems to indicate he'll be given a chance to prove he can build on that success this year.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Union blog Brotherly Game.
The speculation that Joel Lindpere is heading to Europe can be put to rest, as the New York Red Bulls announced they had re-signed their midfielder to a multi-year contract on Tuesday. Lindpere has been arguably the Red Bulls' most consistent player since joining the team before the 2010 season, and is coming off a year in which he had seven goals and seven assists.
"Joel has been an important part of our progress over the last two seasons and has become one of our most popular players because of his work rate, performance and commitment to the club," New York General Manager Erik Soler said in a team release. "We wanted to reward him with a new contract to recognize his efforts and are excited that we agreed to a new contract with him. We look forward to having him as a Red Bull in the coming years, as we aim to win the MLS Cup."
For more on Lindpere's re-signing, be sure to check out Red Bulls blog Once a Metro.
A New England Revolution team that struggled to score a year ago has now lost another key offensive player as Rajko Lekic has signed with a team in Denmark. Lekic never developed into the scoring dynamo the Revolution had hoped he would, but his six goals in 23 appearances were the second highest total on the team and it doesn't appear that there's someone currently on the roster forcing his way into the lineup.
Still, he was probably a touch overpaid at more than $200,000. Even though he was apparently willing to take a pay cut, he was less willing to come back with something less than a guaranteed contract. The Bent Musket believes that was the ultimate sticking point:
The Dane contended that with a family that he had relocated to America hanging in the balance, he couldn't gamble on the possibility that the club could leave him in a lurch come spring time. Frankly, this is a good move on his part. Semi-guaranteed contracts have been a normal practice in MLS since its inception, but nowadays it seems almost disrespectful to sign a guy with Lekic's pedigree to that kind of deal.
Toronto FC was one of the worst defenses in 2011. On Monday, they made another move toward improving that situation, signing Chilean defender Miguel Aceval. The 29-year-old left back/center back most recently played in the Chilean first division with Universidad de Concepcion, scoring five goals in 30 matches. He made his national team debut on Sept. 4, going 90 minutes against Mexico.
"Miguel is an experienced defender that has a lot of potential and can be very important for our club," Toronto FC Head Coach & Technical Director Aron Winter said in a team release. "Our defence needed to be addressed during the offseason and this signing complements our recent activity from last week."
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Toronto FC blog Waking the Red.
Philadelphia Union and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon today announced that they have mutually decided to part ways, allowing for Mondragon to return to his native Colombia and play for Colombian First Division side Deportivo Cali.
Mondragon spent one season in Philadelphia with the Union. He appeared in 27 matches and posted a 62 percent save percentage with seven clean sheets.
Mondragon became the Union's second-ever All-Star representative, starting against Manchester United in the 2011 game. Mondragon fractured his right finger against Real Salt Lake on September 3, sidelining him for seven matches, but he returned for the final two matches of the regular season and the Union's first playoff appearance.
Mondragon capped off his stellar season with a second-place finish in 2011 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year voting, behind only Kasey Keller."It has been an absolute honor and a privilege to be part of the Union family," said Mondragon.
"My time in Philadelphia has proven to be unforgettable, and I am tremendously proud of having led the team for what proved to be a successful 2011. We achieved most of our goals and continued the club's growth into becoming the best club in MLS.
"For family reasons, I have requested the club to allow me the opportunity to finish my career where it started. I am extremely thankful with our fans, especially Sons of Ben, the best fans in MLS, our ownership, technical staff, my teammates and everyone in the city of Philadelphia who always made me feel at home and made the 2011 season one I will never forget. I look forward to coming back to PPL Park as an avid fan and part of the Union family. I wish the club continued success."
Philadelphia currently has one keeper in camp - Zac MacMath - who filled in nicely for Mondragon when he was out for those seven games in 2011. The second year keeper will have large shoes to fill in 2012. Philadelphia will have to scramble to being in some depth behind MacMath.
Timbers sign the club's third Designated Player, striker Kris Boyd.
Former MLS Bext XI centerback Wilman Conde is expected to replace Tim Ream with Red Bulls.
The San Jose Earthquakes have stability in goal with Jon Busch and have now made sure that they will continue to have that stability by signing Busch to a new contract. Arguably the only man on the Quakes roster who performed well night in, night out in the last two years, Busch will stay in San Jose and continue to bail out a bad, but improving, defense. Terms of the new contract were not released.
The 35-year-old Busch joined the Earthquakes before last season and helped them to the playoffs and then the conference final with a year that some felt was Goalkeeper of the Year worthy. It wasn't the first year that he has a brilliant year either as he captured Goalkeeper of the Year honors in 2008 with the Chicago Fire.
Re-signing Busch was crucial for the Quakes, who lean very heavily on their goalkeeper. Busch made the most saves in MLS last year and while Victor Bernardez will definitely help their defense, no one is expecting San Jose to be the most stingy of defenses. That means that Busch will be busy again and will have to continue his fine career if the Quakes are to return to the playoffs in 2012 after a one-year absence.
One of the bright spots during Toronto FC's mostly disappointing 2011 season was the play of right back Richard Eckersley, a 22-year-old who had come to MLS on a loan from English Championship side Burnley FC. On Thursday, TFC made the move permanent, ensuring that Eckersley will be with the team for the foreseeable future.
"Signing Richard was a very high offseason priority, our team has worked tirelessly to ensure he would be returning," Toronto FC Head Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter said in a team release. "This signing represents another successful step in our off season progress as a club. Richard is an important player for our club. We know our fans will be excited to see Richard on the pitch."
Eckersley made 22 starts in MLS play and appeared in all four of TFC's Voyageurs' Cup matches, as well as six of their CONCACAF Champions League matches.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Toronto FC blog Waking the Red.
Chivas USA opened training camp with just 19 players on their roster, leaving Robin Fraser plenty of work to do as he fills out his team and he took care of some of that work on Tuesday when he signed defender John Valencia and Marvin Iraheta. The Goats still have a lot of work to do before the season opens in seven weeks, but they are now up to 21 players and have made what appear to be two solid additions to their squad.
Valencia comes to Chivas from Atletico Junior, where he helped them win the Colombian league last year. At 6-foot-4, Valencia will be an imposing force along Chivas' back line and provide additional defensive depth to a side short on it at the moment.
"John is a player we have been scouting for some time now," said Chivas USA General Manager, Jose Domene. "He is a great defender that just became champion in Colombia and will help reinforce our backline and help our team win. We are looking forward to his arrival and having him on the Goats squad."
Iraheta is a bit more intriguing. He was a standout for Cosmos West and was named Developmental Academy Player of the Year in 2010, then became a part of the Chivas academy when Cosmos West closed and was absorbed by Chivas. At 19 years old, he's still young and not far off from his youth glory days, but he's yet to appear professionally except for the Cosmos' friendly against Manchester United at Old Trafford and he is stepp into a loaded Goats midfield.
Many players on all levels of the pay scale are discovering the benefits of playing in a stable league like MLS.
Red Bulls coach Hans Backe sounds less than confident that Luke Rodgers and Juan Agudelo will be back in 2012, continuing a frustrating run of news surrounding the team.
Whitecaps cut Designated Player Mustafa Jarju, fail to come to terms with Residency-product Philippe Davies and acquire an international roster spot.
FC Dallas signed 21-year-old Panamanian defender Carlos Rodriguez on Friday, continuing to bolster their back line in the anticipation that George John will be leaving the team for good. Rodriguez came to FC Dallas' attention through his play with Panamanian side Tauro FC. The two teams played each other twice during CONCACAF Champions League.
"We liked what we saw in him during Champions League last year," FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said in a team release. "He’s athletic with a good work ethic and he’s young at 21 years old. He can play both left and right side full back and is attack-minded. We were looking for another player to give us balance and depth in our defense, and I believe Carlos will do very well in MLS."
Rodriguez has appeared twice for Panama's national team, earning caps against Costa Rica and Paraguay. He is also listed as being on the roster for Panama's upcoming friendly against the United States.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out FC Dallas blog Big D Soccer.
Danny Cruz has been traded to D.C. United after the Houston Dynamo elected not to pick up his option for the 2012 season. In exchange for Cruz, the Dynamo received "partial allocation," which is assumed to mean something less than $75,000.
Although United has just 24 players on their current roster, midfield is one area in which they are reasonably deep. Cruz is one of 11 players listed as a midfielder and with Andy Najar a lock to start on the right, he will be fighting for minutes along with recent draft pick Nick DeLeon and holdovers like Chris Pontius.
"We’re pleased to have concluded a deal to acquire Danny from Houston," said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper. "He is a tenacious player who brings a lot of energy and bite to the midfield and we are thrilled to have him at United. At 22, he has enormous upside and we look forward to his contributions for years to come."
During his three seasons with the Dynamo, Cruz often showed promise, but rarely did so on a consistent basis. He scored four goals and had five assists over the past two seasons while appearing in 45 games, but starting just 27. Cruz has shown enough potential to earn call-ups to several United States youth national teams, most recently appearing in the 2009 U-20 World Cup.
Pavel Pardo will stay in MLS after re-signing with the Chicago Fire.
The Vancouver Whitecaps acquired Etienne Barbara's MLS rights from the Montreal Impact on Tuesday in exchange for recent Supplemental Draft pick Gienir Garcia. Barbara played for Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie while both were with the NASL's Carolina Railhawks last season, a season in which the Railhawks finished with the best regular-season record and Barbara scored 20 goals and had eight assists.
The trade comes less than a week after Barbara went public with his frustrations with the Impact over what he deemed lowball contract offers that prompted him to consider a return to his native Malta. The Impact had acquired Barbara's rights through MLS's byzantine Discovery Process, but were apparently only willing to pay him a little more than the league minimum.
"Etienne is a fast, powerful player that can create goals," said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. "He understands soccer in North America and has had a good career in Europe. If we are able to sign him, he will bring versatility to our line-up as a wide midfielder or a striker."
Garcia was one of the more intriguing players available in Tuesday's Supplemental Draft. The former Mexican U-20 player had previously been a member of Cruz Azul's B team and reportedly was one of the more impressive players at the MLS Combine.
For more on this trade, visit Whitecaps blog 86 Forever.
The Portland Timbers signed defender Hanyer Mosquera on Tuesday, continuing to rebuild a defense that allowed the fifth most goals in MLS last season. The 24-year-old is already a season professional, having played the last six seasons in Colombia. Most recently, he was a starter for La Equidad and helped lead them to the finals of the Apertura.
"Hanyer is a player we’ve had our eye on for 18 months," Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson said in a team release. "He has all the attributes needed to become one of the top defenders in MLS."
Mosquera started 34 games in 2011, scored a pair of goals and contributed to 10 shutouts. During the Apertura campaign, he made 22 starts, including six playoff matches.
After making his pro debut at age 19, he has spent the last four seasons in Colombia's first division. Prior to joining Equidad, he played for Deportes Quindio.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Timbers blog Stumptown Footy.
Chivas USA signed the sensational Miller Bolanos, a big move as Robin Fraser continues to rebuild the team and get them back in the playoffs
Toronto FC made a major improvement in the second half of last season after signing Designated Players Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans, but it was a 19-year-old, 5'2'' Ecuadorian who was as much a part of the Reds' turnaround as anyone. Now, Toronto has made sure to keep that diminutive forward/winger in the fold for a few more years, signing Joao Plata to a multi-year dear deal that will keep him at BMO Field for the foreseeable future.
"We are very happy to get this deal completed and keep Plata at our club," Toronto FC coach Aron Winter said in a statement. "Plata had a great year with us in 2011. He made a strong contribution on the pitch.
"Re-signing Plata was a high priority for our club during the off-season. I have to compliment everyone involved for making this a reality. Plata wanted to remain in Toronto and we wanted to keep him. We know our fans will be happy with this announcement."
On loan from LDU Quito last season, Plata scored three goals and had five assists in MLS play and made an even bigger contribution in cup play. He scored a goal and added three assists in four Nutrilite Canadian Championship matches to win the tournament MVP and help his team earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. Then in the continental championship he had four goals and an assist as Toronto advanced to the knockout stages of the competition. With Plata, Frings, Koevermans, Ryan Johnson, Eric Avila and a few others, Toronto have a great mix of young and old in the attack that compares with almost any other in MLS.
After playing regularly for Ecuadorian youth national teams, Plata got his first senior team cap for Ecuador against Canada at BMO Field in March.
The Seattle Sounders roster just continues to get bigger, this time with the signing of Danish fullback/midfielder Christian Sivebæk. He was first linked to the club a month ago and the player even confirmed that he would be joining the Sounders so this signing is no surprise, but now the ink is on the paper and Seattle has themselves a valuable depth player.
"Christian is a player that we have been following for quite some time," Sounders technical director Chris Henderson said in a team release. "He is a good one-versus-one dribbler who can provide consistent quality service to our strikers. He has good speed and physical presence.
"He has been an up and coming player in Denmark," added Henderson, "and we are looking forward to adding Christian to our attacking arsenal."
Sivebæk - the son of former Manchester United player John Sivebæk - played 80 times for Midtjylland in the Danish Superliga, but saw his playing time dwindle last season. The 23-year-old was also a fixture on the Denmark youth national teams and now he'll join Michael Gspurning Adam Johansson as new Sounders signings from the European cold.
While Henderson may continue to look at Sivebæk as an addition to the attack, it is his more defensive nature that makes him a good pick up for the Sounders. Sivebæk played primarily as a right back for Midtjylland, although he prefers to be in the midfield, and is a more defensive player that their current right midfielder, Mauro Rosales. Now if Sigi Schmid would like to protect a lead or play differently tactically against certain opponents, he has the option to do so with Sivebæk.
The 24-year-old Rogers joins Leeds but this deal is pending a work permit.
Just in time for the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, the Columbus Crew officially announced Ben Speas as their latest Homegrown Player signing. Speas was most recently playing for North Carolina, scoring seven goals and registering 10 assists during his junior season. Among the goals was the game-winner in the College Cup final.
Unlike some of the other recent HGP signings, there was no doubt about the Crew's connection to Speas. The midfielder grew up as a Crew fan and was a product of their Academy before first enrolling at Akron, where he also won a national championship in 2010.
"I can’t wait to finally put on the Black & Gold," Speas said in a team release. "I've been going to Crew games since I was eight years old and have been able to see most of my coaches play at Crew Stadium, so this is a dream come true."
In addition to his two national championships in college, Speas also was on three youth national champions with various Crew teams and finished third in the U-17/18 Development Academy National Finals in 2008.
"Ben is a talented young player who we have had the good fortune to work with and watch develop over the last four years," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said in a release. "He has the ability to get out of tight spaces quickly, combines well with others and has good vision. We are proud that he has earned the opportunity to progress to the professional level."
The addition of Speas is just the latest of what has turned into a very interesting offseason for the Crew. In December, they signed goalkeeper Matt Lampson as a HGP and in the past couple weeks they have signed Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic and Costa Rican forward Olman Vargas. The Crew have also parted ways with last year's lone Designated Player, Andres Mendoza, and it now appears as if Robbie Rogers will be leaving the team to play in England.
For more on this signing, be sure to check out Crew blog Massive Report.
Real Salt Lake's first move of the offseason is to retain one of their own. The club re-signed Ned Grabavoy to a multi-year deal that will keep him at Rio Tinto Stadium through 2013, a key move for a team that has to several holes to fill in the midfield. Grabavoy can help do that, not that he didn't have a role of his own to play after appearing in 25 matches last year.
"I couldn't be happier to have the opportunity to continue my career with RSL," Grabavoy said in a statement. "This is one of the proudest moments of my career. I’m excited to find myself in a great situation for continued success."
In addition to Williams, RSL has seen Arturo Alvarez, Collen Warner and Jean Alexandre move on, leaving them with a shortage of midfielders. Retaining Grabavoy was a must for them and they've done so, giving them a nice core of Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, Grabavoy and Luis Gil with the lesser-utilized Yordany Alvarez and Nelson Gonzalez too, but unless they expect big steps forward from Alvarez and Gonzalez, more dependable depth has to be on the way.
The LA Galaxy's quest to have the biggest roster in the league continued on Tuesday when manager Bruce Arena confirmed that the club had signed defender Andrew Boyens. Chivas USA declined to pick up his options after the 2011 season and the defending champions selected Boyens in the second stage of the MLS Re-Entry Draft. Boyens spent just one season with Chivas, appearing 13 times and scoring one goal, after three years with New York and one with Toronto.
In addition to league play and the U.S. Open Cup, Los Angeles has the knockout stages of the 2011-2012 CONCACAF Champions League looming in the spring and the group stages of the 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League in the late summer and fall. With so many matches on the slate for the year, LA has made veteran depth a priority so they have the roster to compete on so many fronts. They selected Pat Noonan and Jon Conway in the Re-Entry Draft in addition to re-signing Frankie Hejduk and Dasan Robinson. Now another selection, Boyens, is under contract as Operation Depth continues in LA.
The Chicago Fire became the latest MLS team to sign a player out of Colombia, inking midfielder Rafael Robayo, who most recently was playing for Millonarios in his country's first division. Robayo was a regular with Millonarios, making 187 appearances and scoring 20 goals since joining them in 2005. In the last two year, Robayo has shown an improved scoring touch, scoring 12 times in 56 league matches.
"Rafael Robayo has an excellent work rate, good defensive energy and will provide support on both sides of the ball," Fire head coach Frank Klopas said in a team release. "Rafael is a sizable player who can get in and create around the box. He will join our core group in preseason camp as we continue to build toward the 2012 campaign."
Robayo is considered more of a box-to-box midfielder and will likely play in the center of the park for the Fire, who are still waiting to see if they will have Marco Pappa or Sebastian Grazzini this year.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Fire blog Hot Time In Old Town.
The restoration project that is the New England Revolution continued today with the announcement of two new signings. Central defender John Lozano and midfielder/forward Fernando Cárdenas will join the Revs from Colombia's América de Cali. As always, contract details will not be released because Dabney Coleman runs MLS...someone out there might get that reference.
The duo will occupy international roster spots and will officially join the team upon the completion of their formal paper work. There will be a slight delay as the league's international transfer window doesn't open until Jan. 24th, so everyone will have to be patient.
Michael Burns, the Revolution's General Manager had this to say about the signings on the team's official website:
"Both John and Fernando have experience playing in Colombia's top division, both with and against some of CONCACAF's top club teams,"
"Lozano is a strong central defender who reads the game well, and Cárdenas is a creative player who we believe has the tools to help us in the attacking half of the field. We expect that both players will have significant roles on our team this season."
Lozano is 27-years old and began his career with Deportivo Pereira in 2003, joining América de Cali in 2010, making 37 appearances with two goals. Cárdenas is 23 and also began his career with Deportivo Pereira and has bounced around to several clubs on various loan spells.
For more on these signings and all things Revolution, visit Revs blog The Bent Musket.
Just a few days after making their first big offseason move, the Columbus Crew were at it again. This time, they've signed former Herediano forward Olman Vargas to a multi-year deal. Combined with the signing of Milovan Mirosevic, the Crew have now added some serious scoring power to an offense that ranked 10th in the league and scored fewer goals than all but one playoff team.
"Olman is a tall, physical forward who promises to be a great addition to our club," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said in a team release. "He has good speed, a good touch and he works extremely hard."
Vargas stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 170 pounds, both attributes that should serve him well in MLS. He'll likely replace departed Designated Player Andres Mendoza, who despite scoring 13 goals last season proved to be a divisive figure.
In the past two seasons at Herediano, Vargas scored 17 goals. He helped lead Herediano into the most recent CONCACAF Champions League where they were in a group with the Seattle Sounders and Monterrey.
For more on Vargas, be sure to check out Crew blog Massive Report.
Brian Ching tells the Houston Chronicle that he will report to Montreal Impact training camp rather than retire as he threatened to do.
Oscar Pareja will take over the Rapids after spending most of his MLS career as a FC Dallas player and coach.
The Columbus Crew may have quietly made one of the more significant signings of the MLS offseason, inking Chile international Milovan Mirosevic to a multi-year contract. Mirosevic is a veteran of Chile's first division, having scored 46 goals in 108 games over the past three seasons with Universidad Catolica. He is also a regular on Chile's national team, most recently making substitution appearances during World Cup qualifiers in November.
"Milo brings a lot of quality and experience," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said in a team release. "He has represented his country, captained his club, been a top scorer in the Chilean league and played in important matches. He is a good passer, very technical, has good speed and can shoot from distance. We are very happy to be able to incorporate him into our attack."
Mirosevic could slot in at any one of several positions, but has mostly played as an attack-minded midfielder. He was also the captain for his Chilean club team. His team won four titles during his tenure as captain.
For more on Mirosevic's signing, be sure to check out Crew blog Massive Report.
FC Dallas' offseason suddenly got much more interesting with the signing of Panamanian forward Blas Perez.
David Beckham reportedly agrees to a contract that will allow him to play for the LA Galaxy as long as he wants to play there.
It looks like the Seattle Sounders have filled the hole created when they lost James Riley in the 2011 MLS Expansion draft. On Thursday, the team officially announced that they had signed Adam Johansson, a sometimes Swedish international who had most recently been playing for IFK Goteburg.
"The Sounders are one of the biggest teams in the United States," Johansson said in a team release. "They want to be one of the top clubs in North and South America and have big crowds. I'm joining a club with a very good reputation."
At one point, the 28-year-old Johansson seemed well on his way to being Sweden's starting right full back. He made his international debut in 2009 and subsequently appeared in three World Cup qualifiers. But he apparently suffered a knee injury later that year and has not regained his regular spot in Sweden's lineup. His more recent caps have come while playing with Sweden's "B" team against such friendly opponents as Cyprus, against whom he most recently played in February.
Johansson's signing would seem to fill out the Sounders' starting XI. Since losing nine players in a variety of offseason moves, they have signed goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, re-signed Mauro Rosales, acquired defender Marc Burch in the Re-Entry Draft and have even been linked to 23-year-old Dane Christian Sivebaek.
For more insight and analysis of Johansson's signing, be sure to check out Sounders blog Sounder at Heart.
Nathan Sturgis is once again on the move. The 24-year-old midfielder will join his fifth team since being the No. 12 overall pick in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, as he was traded to the Houston Dynamo from Toronto FC in exchange for a conditional draft pick on Wednesday.
The move ends a rather disappointing stint in Toronto, who originally traded the No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft in order to earn his services. The Vancouver Whitecaps had previously acquired Sturgis' rights when they picked him off the Seattle Sounders in the 2011 Expansion Draft.
Sturgis will clearly be hoping to repeat the success he enjoyed with the Sounders when he made 20 appearances and 16 starts during the 2010 season. Sturgis played the bulk of his minutes that year while the Sounders were going on a torrid late-season run and seemed to finally be reaching the potential many saw in him when he debuted with the United States U-20 team as a 17-year-old. Sturgis would eventually make 27 appearances with the U-20 team and putting together a standout college career at Clemson.
But after making 15 appearances as a rookie, he fell to just 9 appearances in 2007. Sturgis was eventually traded to Real Salt Lake, where he played sparingly, before being picked by the Sounders in the 2008 Expansion Draft.
At his best, Sturgis has been a solid MLS midfielder. He's definitely never showed the dynamism he showcased as a youngster, but at 24 there's no reason he can't be a serviceable role player on a team with championship aspirations.
The San Jose Earthquakes have taken a big step in shoring up their back line by signing Honduran international Victor Bernardez. The Honduran international has played in Honduras, Belgium and Mexico, playing last season for Indios on loan from Anderlecht. A standout for Honduras with 52 caps to his name, the 29-year-old appears to be a fine signing for the Quakes.
"We’ve scouted Victor for several years," Earthquakes General Manager John Doyle said. "We saw him play at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and were very impressed with his game. He’s a great addition to the off season moves we’ve made so far and we look forward to having him in San Jose."
A physical centerback who likes to play on the left, Bernardez is a major boost to a Quakes team that allowed the third-most goals in the Western Conference. They lost Bobby Burling to the Montreal Impact in the expansion draft, leaving them with a big hole in the center of their defense, a hole that Bernardez is more than capable of filling. Bernardez is also very good on the ball, giving San Jose another player who can help them keep the ball and play from the back, something they struggled with mightily last year with a weak midfield. As far as quality and fit go, Bernardez is a tremendous signing for San Jose as they look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
19-year-old Jason Banton has represented England at the youth levels and will now, apparently be part of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
With Kwanzaa just getting ready to start, what better time for a holiday wish list for MLS?
Charlie Davies spent last season with D.C. United, scoring 11 goals.
The LA Galaxy continued their flurry of signings on Friday, signing five players to new deals. The most significant of those signings was undoubtedly Sean Franklin, probably the best right back in Major League Soccer.
Franklin, who won the MLS Rookie of the Year award in 2008, was coming off his best season to date. He made 27 starts, including all four of the Galaxy's playoff games, and showed a newfound offensive ability. Franklin scored four goals and had three assists, all of which came during a seven-game span over the summer. For his efforts, he was named a MLS All-Star.
The other four signees are more likely to be role players. Adam Cristman and Bryan Jordan were both retained from last year's team, while Pat Noonan was acquired in the Re-Entry Draft and goalkeeper Nick Noble comes to MLS after spending the last two seasons in the Swedish second division with Ljungskile SK, where he made 59 appearances. Noble was originally drafted by the Galaxy in 2007.
For more on these signings, be sure to check out Galaxy blog LAG Confidential.
It appears to call of his homeland was too much for Juninho to resist. The LA Galaxy midfielder announced via Twitter on Thursday that he was going to re-sign with Brazilian club Sao Paulo, the team who had loaned him to MLS in the first place.
I will always have a place for you in my heart.I want to let you know that I have decided to re-sign with Sao Paulo fc.— Juninho (@Juninho19LA) December 22, 2011
The Galaxy had been holding out possibility that he could return to the team on another loan. But Juninho's Tweet seems to have closed that window. In order to keep Juninho, the Galaxy would have almost certainly needed to pay a significant fee and likely would have been forced to make the 22-year-old a Designated Player.
The move leaves a rather significant hole in the Galaxy midfield. During his two seasons in MLS, Juninho was one of the league's top box-to-box central midfielders. In 2011, he scored four goals and had two assists, while starting 30 games during the regular season and 3 of 4 playoff games in helping lead the Galaxy to their first MLS Cup since 2005.
The Galaxy have already made a couple moves with Juninho's absence seemingly in mind. Last week, they signed Marcelo Sarvas, a 30-year-old midfielder. On Thursday, they signed 18-year-old Jose Villareal as a Home Grown Player.
For more on what Juninho's departure could mean, be sure to check out Galaxy blog LAG Confidential.
David Beckham, Juninho and Omar Gonzalez have all been linked to foreign clubs, leaving a potentially enormous hole for the LA Galaxy to fill.
The Montreal Impact have just announced a major new signing with the acquisition of central midfielder Patrice Bernier from Danish outfit Lyngby Boldklub. Bernier, 32, appeared in 73 matches with the Impact's previous incarnation from 2000-2002 before heading off to Norway to ply his trade in Europe's second and third-tier leagues. Of course, that's not what head coach Jesse Marsch has to say:
We have been in talks with Patrice for quite some time and we are extremely pleased that he will be joining the Impact for the 2012 season. His years of experience in top leagues in Europe will provide the team with savvy and intelligence. As a player, he is very sharp on the ball and his tactical awareness will be a great value in the midfield. As a person, he is a good man and a strong leader. Patrice is very excited and ready for the challenge of helping our club reach the next level.
Those top leagues? Norway, the Bundesliga.2 (where he lasted a year) and then the Danish Superliga. The closest Bernier's ever gotten to the big time is when he rejected a move to Turkey, and even then... well, that's not a top European league. The Impact's press release is riddled with fanciful language. Check out what they have to say about Bernier's stint as Kaiserslautern (and we're not even going to talk about their gushing praise over his two appearances in UEFA Cup qualifying against 'legendary' Olympiacos):
Bernier then joined FC Kaiserslautern, then in the 2.Bundesliga, Germany’s second division, on May 28, 2007, scoring one goal in 15 games. He went on to play in two national DFB-Pokal championship games with the club.
Bernier, in fact, played in the first and second round of the DFB-Pokal with Kaiserslautern, losing the second match 2-1 against a Regionalliga Nord (III) team. Portraying that and their previous match against another third division side as 'national championship' games is a wee bit of a stretch, and it smells like the Impact are grossly exaggerating Bernier's career for the sake of PR.
The silly thing is that they don't need to. Bernier is a good enough player to help significantly in MLS and has 46 caps for his country. He'll be a good player for the Impact for at least a couple more seasons before he hangs up his boots, and with his status as one of Quebec's favourite sons, there's no reason whatsoever to need to justify his signing with nonsense about his European career.
It's unclear what the terms of the contract are. Bernier's not a designated player, and there's talk that he has an opt-out clause with Lyngby that means he can join up with his new team immediately and without a transfer fee. As long as the Impact aren't paying huge money for him, he sounds like a pretty excellent acquisition.
The San Jose Earthquakes picked up some midfield help on Friday, picking up Marvin Chavez in a trade with FC Dallas in exchange for allocation money. Chavez spent the last two and a half years with Dallas after signing there from Marathon. The 28-year-old Honduran international has 23 caps since debuting for his country in 2006 and is coming off of the best season of his career. He started 30 matches for Dallas in 2011, scoring six times and adding four assists.
"Marvin is a player who has shown well in our league," said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. "He has a lot of pace, is a great dribbler of the ball and is a very versatile player. He should fit in nicely with our team."
As is always the case with MLS allocation shenanigans, it's unclear how much allocation money went to Dallas for Chavez. That said, this appears to be a good move for the Quakes, who could sorely use help, especially in the midfield where they need go get more of an attacking threat to support Chris Wondolowski up front.
Portland announced that they'd be revealing a young designated player, and here he is: 19-year-old Colombian forward Jose Valencia.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have landed Lee Nguyen in a weighted lottery.
Mauro Rosales has re-signed with the Seattle Sounders, the team announced on Tuesday. Although terms were not released, a Sounders official confirmed that it's possible Rosales could become a Designated Player and that he signed a contract that was for at least two years. Rosales' classification will depend on how the Sounders choose to use allocation dollars, but the delay does keep open the possibility that they could sign a third DP. Fredy Montero and Alvaro Fernandez currently occupy two of their DP slots.
"We were always very confident of reaching an agreement," General Manager Adrian Hanauer said in a team release. "There was a great deal of trust between ourselves and Mauro and Dario Sala. They put their faith in us and we wanted to take care of Mauro. He has earned this contract through his outstanding play, his dedication to his craft and his commitment to this club, his fellow players and our coaches."
Rosales came to the Sounders late in the 2011 offseason after his situation with Mexican side Querétaro failed to work out. He came to the Sounders on a trial, but had broken into the starting lineup by the third game of the season. He notched an assist in that first game and never really looked back. In games he started, the Sounders went 13-3-6 and he was considered a legitimate MVP candidate prior to suffering a knee injury with five games left in the season. Rosales missed the Sounders' next three games, but played just 36 minutes before re-injuring his knee. He ultimately was unable to play in either of the Sounders' playoff games.
Fresh off adding four new faces from the Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft, the LA Galaxy announced the signing of 30-year-old Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas. The midfielder most recently played for Alajuelense, signing with the Costa Rican power in 2010 and appearing in 29 league matches over two seasons. The Galaxy got a good look at Sarvas during CONCACAF Champions League, as he appeared in both of Alajuelense's games against them.
Sarvas is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, spending time at all three attack-oriented midfield positions. He scored just three goals at Alajuelense, but did score 23 times over 48 appearances for lower-division Swedish side Kristianstads from 2005-06.
After joining Alajuelense in 2010, he helped lead them to the 2011 Verano title and to the 2011 Invierno championship game. Sarvas appeared in 21 of the team's 30 matches.
For more on Sarvas' signing, be sure to check out LA Galaxy blog LAG Confidential.
The Seattle Sounders continued what has been a rather significant slate of offseason moves on Monday, transferring midfielder Erik Friberg to Swedish side Malmo. The move came on the same day that the Sounders officially parted ways with Pat Noonan and Nate Jaqua and acquired Marc Burch, all of which happened during the Re-Entry Draft. The Sounders have not parted ways with nine players, while adding two during the 2011 offseason.
The move came as a bit of a shock even to those of us who cover the team closely, but in light of the news that Friberg is apparently getting ready to start a family, it did make sense. Friberg, who is Swedish, played one season with the Sounders. Although he only scored one goal and contributed two assists, he did appear in 26 matches and was thought to be one of the pieces the Sounders hoped to keep around for the foreseeable future.
For more insight and analysis of the move, be sure to check out Sounders blog Sounder at Heart.
Omar Bravo's departure means Sporting KC has now parted ways with both of their Designated Players from last season.
The Seattle Sounders got Stage 2 of the 2011 MLS Re-Entry Draft off to an interesting start, as they acquired the No. 1 pick from the Vancouver Whitecaps and then promptly picked DC United's Marc Burch. The 27-year-old left back reportedly made $97,500 in total compensation last year, a figure the Sounders will undoubtedly looking to cut. The Sounders gave up their third round pick in the 2014 SuperDraft in order to acquire the pick.
The Sounders, like all drafting teams, will have to make a "genuine" offer within seven days. After seven days, the player is free to sign with any team, but the drafting team would retain the right of first refusal.
While that may have been the single biggest move of the draft, the LA Galaxy were easily the most active. They selected six players, including two of their own. In addition to retaining Frankie Hejduk and Dasan Robinson, they also picked Andrew Boyens (Chivas USA), Chris Leitch (San Jose Earthquakes), Pat Noonan (Sounders) and Jon Conway (Chicago Fire).
The only other team to be particularly active in the draft was the New England Revolution. They picked former Sounders forward Nate Jaqua with the second overall pick and then snapped up former United midfielder Clyde Simms in the second round. The Colorado Rapids picked up Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic and Dynamo fullback Hunter Freeman.
Complete draft results:
Fire: Kheli Dube
Galaxy: Hejduk, Robinson
Major League Soccer will conduct a weighted lottery to determine where former United States international Lee Nguyen will play, a league spokesman said. Nguyen's signing was announced on Dec. 6, with the league saying that he was on a "multi-year" deal.
It was not immediately clear why Nguyen would be allocated via weighted lottery, as opposed to going through the allocation order. Generally speaking, current and former U.S. internationals go through allocation. In the lottery, interested teams are assigned a percentage chance of winning Nguyen's services based on their most recent 30 matches with worse teams being given a better chance. The winner is then selected by blind draw based on those chances.
The weighted lottery is almost always reserved for young players who are signing their first MLS contract. David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Cody Arnoux (Real Salt Lake), Chris Agorsor (Philadelphia Union), Korey Veeder (Columbus Crew) and Sonny Saad (Sporting Kansas City) all went through the lottery in 2011. Bingham was the highest paid of those players, and he made $99,500 in total compensation. Bingham was also a late-signing Generation Adidas player.
Using those players as a benchmark, that would suggest that Nguyen could be available for less than $100,000. Although Nguyen has never played in MLS, he was born in Dallas and played collegiately at Indiana, where he scored five goals and had 12 assists during his freshman season. That caught the interest of PSV Eindhoven, who lured him there with his first professional contract. After spending three seasons, and rarely playing, with the Dutch power, he eventually found his way to Vietnam. There he became the highest paid professional athlete in the country.
Along the way, Nguyen managed to make three appearances with the U.S. national team. His two most recent appearances came during the 2007 Copa America, in which then coach Bob Bradley was roundly criticized for bringing a team that was considerably less than the top choice.
Nguyen is essentially an offensive-minded wide midfielder. There's reason to believe he could compete for a starting spot with most teams, but he would hardly be a sure thing.
The Sounders have landed their replacement for Kasey Keller, officially announcing the signing of Austrian goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
The long-rumored signing of Saprissa's Josue Martinez by the Philadelphia Union is now official. The 21-year-old forward has an impressive resume for a player his age, having scored 19 goals in 44 league matches over the past three seasons and scoring five times in 11 Costa Rican national team appearances.
When rumors of his signing first surfaced, Union blog Brotherly Game speculated that Martinez could become the first player signed under the league's new Youth Designated Player Rule, which would allow him to count just $200,000 against the salary cap. Although no such designation was announced, it would stand to reason that a player of his pedigree would require a somewhat substantial transfer fee. Brotherly Game put the potential transfer fee at $500,000.
Even if the Union paid such a large transfer, it's possible they could pay down his cap hit below the DP threshold with allocation dollars, some of which was obtained from last season's transfer of Carlos Ruiz.
The Colorado Rapids continued their quick descent into chaos, announcing the departure of Managing Director Jeff Plush on Tuesday. Plush was mainly involved on the business side of things for the Rapids, but was heavily involved in the construction of Dick's Sporting Goods Park and was one of the people conducting the search for their new head coach.
The Rapids also parted ways with coach Gary Smith at the end of the season. Just one year ago, Plush and Smith helped engineer a MLS Cup victory for the Rapids. Smith had publicly clashed with Plush and technical director Paul Bravo prior to his leaving. Now, only Bravo remains.
Although the Rapids are putting a nice face on this move, saying that Plush will still be an advisor with the team, an ESPN report suggests there is more to it. Whether or not Plush and the Rapids parted ways amicably, this does leave the team in a less than desirable situation.
No clear candidate has emerged to replace Smith and the team has already interviewed four coaches. The Rapids had hoped to have a coach in place in time for Christmas, but that now seems unlikely. If a coach is not in place by the Jan. 12 SuperDraft, he will have missed out on a significant portion of this offseason as the team has already gone through the Expansion Draft, the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft and has already made a decision about many of the players currently on the roster.
For more on this situation, be sure to check out Rapids blog Burgundy Wave.
One of the worst-kept secrets this MLS offseason is now official: Lee Young-Pyo has signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps. The third-most capped player in South Korea's history has played in some of the top leagues in the world, but was playing for Saudi Arabian giants Al-Hilal the last two seasons. A Whitecaps officially said Lee will not count as a Designated Player.
Lee is probably best known for his contributions to three of South Korea's World Cup teams. Lee has earned 127 caps and scored five international goals, but has announced his retirement from the international game.
"I am very thankful for my experiences as a professional soccer player in Asia and Europe and now I look forward to this new opportunity in Vancouver," Lee said in a team release. "Soccer in North America is growing and Major League Soccer has become a highly-respected league in the world game. I am excited to begin this new chapter of my career with Whitecaps FC and to make Vancouver my new home."
At various times in his career, the 34-year-old has been known as one of the top fullbacks in his league. During his prime, he played for PSV Eindhoven (2003-05), Tottenham Hotspur (2005-08) and Borussia Dortmund (2008-09). Lee made nearly 225 appearances with those clubs.
This move is clearly about more than just soccer, though. There is a rather large Asian population in the Vancouver metro area and Lee is among the best known players in South Korean history. His signing will surely pique the interest of thousands otherwise disinterested soccer fans, at the very least.
For more on Lee's signing, be sure to check out Whitecaps blog 86 Forever.
Three players were picked in Stage 1 of the 2011 MLS Re-Entry Draft on Monday, one more than was taken in that phase of the draft last year. Danleigh Borman, Arturo Alvarez and Carlos Mendes were all picked, meaning their new teams will have honor their current contracts or offer them a 5 percent raise over what they made last year if they are currently out of contract. Stage 2 of the draft will take place next Monday and is expected to be more active, as teams can renegotiate the players' contracts.
Alvarez was probably the most surprising player to be picked, as he was likely due a raise on a contract that paid him more than $200,000 last year and Chivas USA is not exactly known for lavishing players with big money. With Real Salt Lake in 2011, Alvarez played in 16 games, but made just eight starts. He only registered a single assist in more than 724 minutes. Alvarez does have a decent MLS track record, having scored at least three goals in six straight seasons heading into 2011 and registering at least six points in four of those seasons.
Borman's selection was probably the most predictable. Last year, he made the league minimum ($42,000), and while he was likely due a raise, he is a decent MLS fullback. He has made at least 15 MLS appearances in each of his four seasons, albeit mostly for teams that weren't very good. There's a good chance he'll start for the New England Revolution, who made him the first pick of the draft.
The Columbus Crew finished off the active stage of the draft by selecting Mendes, a MLS veteran who made just about $100,000 last year. Mendes was the last Red Bulls player to have been with the team during their MetroStars days. He is coming off a season in which he made 16 starts and played 1,505 minutes.
To track all the MLS offseason moves, be sure to follow this StoryStream.
Jay Nolly has been traded to the Chicago Fire from the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for a first round pick in the 2013 Supplemental Draft. Nolly played in 14 games last year after becoming one of the first players the Whitecaps signed from their 2010 second-division team. The news came on the same day that the re-signing of goalkeeper Joe Cannon and midfielder John Thorrington were announced.
Nolly will almost certainly serve as Sean Johnson's primary backup in Chicago, a role he ended up playing for much of the 2011 season. After opening the season as a starter, he was benched after Tom Soehn appointed himself head coach following the firing of Teitur Thordarson.
The trade could just be one of many changes the Whitecaps undergo this offseason. With new coach Martin Rennie now taking over, it would stand to reason that he'd want to put his own stamp on a team that was among the worst in MLS last season.
For the latest news on the MLS offseason, be sure to follow this StoryStream.
United States international Lee Nguyen says he has signed a contract with Major League Soccer. The Dallas native has been playing in Vietnam for the last three years after starting his professional career by signing with Holland's PSV Eindhoven in 2006. The 25-year-old midfielder has earned three caps for the United States, most recently during the 2007 Copa America.
News that Nguyen was close to coming to MLS first surfaced in November. At that time an article on MLSSoccer.com said that Nguyen's team would be decided by weighted lottery, an allocation process by which interested MLS teams are assigned a percentage chance of acquiring the player based on their 30 previous games played, with teams with a worse performance given a better chance of acquiring that player. A lottery is then held to determine which team will acquire the player's services. It's not clear when the lottery will be held.
Nguyen has played primarily attacking positions and scored 14 goals in 29 V-League matches. He was the highest paid pro athlete in Vietnam, the country of his parents' birth, last year. He reportedly made about $180,000.
The somewhat mysterious removal of Santino Quaranta's name from the list of players available for the MLS Re-Entry Draft now has an answer: The 27-year-old midfielder has apparently retired, according to the Washington Post's Steven Goff. DC United had elected not to pick up Quaranta's option, which was not necessarily surprising, but had also declined to renegotiate with him.
When the final Re-Entry Draft list came out on Friday, Quaranta's name was one of the more curious absences. The other players that had been removed had either announced their retirement or been offered new, renegotiated contracts. Quaranta did not seem to fit into either category though.
While it's always surprising to hear that a relatively healthy 27-year-old has retired from anything, it's maybe not as surprising in Quaranta's case once you look at some of the extenuating circumstances. Quaranta is a native of the DC area, having been born in Baltimore, Md. and signing with United as a 16-year-old in 2001. He originally played with United until 2006 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Galaxy and then the New York Red Bulls before heading back to United in 2008.
The return to United seemed to reignite his once-promising career. After scoring just three goals from 2006-08 while battling injuries and, apparently, a drug addiction, Quaranta scored five goals with four assists in his first season back with United. From 2008-11, Quaranta scored 10 goals with 16 assists and once again made himself an attractive player, at least for the right price.
It's hard to imagine any team would have been interested in Quaranta at his current salary (last year he reportedly made $117,000), but lots of teams probably would have liked him at a more cap-friendly number. In recent days, Quaranta had expressed disappointment at United failing to renegotiate with him, implying he was still interested in playing.
For more on Quaranta, check out United blog Black and Red United.
There weren't many surprises, but as expected many of the biggest names were removed from the list of players eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft. The first stage of the draft will be held on Monday, with Stage 2 being held a week later.
Among the players to be removed from the list were Houston Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell, new Sporting Kansas City midfielder Bobby Convey and new San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jean Alexandre. Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly and Joe Cannon were also removed. All of these players either re-signed contracts with their old teams or were traded and signed contracts with their new teams. DC United midfielder Santino Quaranta's name was also removed from the list, but no announcement has been made about his signing a new contract.
There are still some interesting players on the list, including Chicago Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic, Dynamo defender Hunter Freeman, DC United defender Clyde Simms, Real Salt Lake midfielder Andy Williams and Seattle Sounders forward Nate Jaqua.
|2011 Club||Player Name||Position||Yrs of MLS Experience||Contract Status|
|Chicago Fire||Dufty, Alec||GK||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|Chicago Fire||Husidic, Baggio||M||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|Chivas USA||Boyens, Andrew||D||5||OPTION DECLINED|
|Chivas USA||Chijindu, Chukwudi||M/F||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|Chivas USA||Elliott, Simon||M||9||OUT OF CONTRACT|
|Chivas USA||Thornton, Zach||GK||16||OPTION DECLINED|
|Chivas USA||Trujillo, Mariano||M||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|Colorado Rapids||Holody, Mike||D||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|Columbus Crew||Burns, Kevin||M||4||OPTION DECLINED|
|Columbus Crew||Cunningham, Jeff||F||14||OPTION DECLINED|
|D.C. United||Barklage, Brandon||M||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|D.C. United||Burch, Marc||D||6||OPTION DECLINED|
|D.C. United||Cronin, Steve||GK||7||OPTION DECLINED|
|D.C. United||McTavish, Devon||D||6||OPTION DECLINED|
|D.C. United||Ngwenya, Joseph||F||6||OPTION DECLINED|
|D.C. United||Simms, Clyde||M||7||OPTION DECLINED|
|D.C. United||Zayner, Jed||D||6||OPTION DECLINED|
|FC Dallas||Galindo Maykel||D||5||OPTION DECLINED|
|FC Dallas||Santos, Maicon||M||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|Houston Dynamo||Freeman, Hunter||D||6||OPTION DECLINED|
|Houston Dynamo||Garey, Jason||F||6||OPTION DECLINED|
|Houston Dynamo||Robinson, Eddie||D||11||OPTION DECLINED|
|LA Galaxy||Hejduk, Frankie||D||9||OPTION DECLINED|
|LA Galaxy||Robinson, Dasan||D||5||OPTION DECLINED|
|Montreal Impact||Pore, Ryan||M||5||OPTION DECLINED|
|New England Revolution||Cochrane, Ryan||D||8||OPTION DECLINED|
|New England Revolution||Dube, Kheli||F||4||OPTION DECLINED|
|New England Revolution||Phelan, Pat||M||4||OPTION DECLINED|
|New York Red Bulls||Albright, Chris||D||13||OPTION DECLINED|
|New York Red Bulls||Coundoul, Bouna||GK||7||OPTION DECLINED|
|New York Red Bulls||Mendes, Carlos||D||7||OPTION DECLINED|
|Philadelphia Union||Harrison, Chase||GK||4||OPTION DECLINED|
|Philadelphia Union||Miglioranzi, Stefani||M||6||OPTION DECLINED|
|Portland Timbers||Brown, Adin||GK||6||OPTION DECLINED|
|Portland Timbers||Lopez, Rodrigo||M||4||OPTION DECLINED|
|Portland Timbers||Lowry, Peter||M||4||OPTION DECLINED|
|Real Salt Lake||Alvarez, Arturo||M/F||9||OUT OF CONTRACT|
|Real Salt Lake||Wagner, Blake||M||4||OPTION DECLINED|
|Real Salt Lake||Gonzalez, Nelson||M/F||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|Real Salt Lake||McKenzie, Rauwshan||D||4||OPTION DECLINED|
|Real Salt Lake||Williams, Andy||M||14||OUT OF CONTRACT|
|San Jose Earthquakes||Leitch, Chris||D||10||OPTION DECLINED|
|San Jose Earthquakes||Moreira, Andre Luiz||M||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|San Jose Earthquakes||Peterson, Jacob||M||6||OPTION DECLINED|
|San Jose Earthquakes||Sealy, Scott||F||7||OPTION DECLINED|
|San Jose Earthquakes||Weber, Andrew||GK||4||OPTION DECLINED|
|Seattle Sounders FC||Jaqua, Nate||F||9||OPTION DECLINED|
|Seattle Sounders FC||Noonan, Pat||F||9||OPTION DECLINED|
|Sporting Kansas City||Thomas, Shavar||D||9||OPTION DECLINED|
|Toronto FC||Borman, Danleigh||D||4||OUT OF CONTRACT|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Janicki, Greg||D||3||OPTION DECLINED|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Leathers, Jonathan||D||4||OUT OF CONTRACT|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Vagenas, Peter||M||12||OPTION DECLINED|
During the 2011 season, it looked like the Shalrie Joseph era in New England was going to come to an end. He tweeted out that he wouldn't be back with the Revolution after the year and with his contract up, there was nothing tying him to the club. Then on Saturday, seemingly out of nowhere, Revolution president Brian Bilello announced that Joseph had just signed a brand new contract with the club.
Joseph had been earning a Designated Player level salary, but he did not count as a Designated Player because he was grandfathered into the rule after signing his contract prior to the introduction of the Designated Player rule. His new contract will keep him at a Designated Player level salary and now he was also count as a Designated Player. This gives the Revolution two such players as Joseph joins Milton Caraglio in the Designated Player category.
Is the new contract unexpected? Yes, but it is most certainly good news for the club and MLS. Joseph has been the face of the Revolution for nearly a decade now, making MLS Best XI four times and starring for three of the Revs' MLS Cup finalist teams. With public opinion of owner Robert Kraft low among Revolution fans because of their inability to get a new stadium built, poor treatment of the clubs' supporters, a lack of recent success and perceived unwillingness to spend on players, things could have gotten ugly if Joseph wasn't resigned.
No MLS player seems to have fallen farther than Bobby Convey in the past year. After winning the Comeback Player of the Year in 2010 and leading the San Jose Earthquakes to within one game of the MLS Cup final, he once again found himself out of favor with coach Frank Yallop. Now, Convey will try to start over again as he's been traded to Sporting Kansas City in exchange for an international roster spot just days before Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft.
Sporting will, no doubt, hope that Convey is willing to renegotiate his contract that paid him more than $300,000 last year and was most likely due to give him a raise. If a new deal can not be worked out, he could once again find himself eligible for the Re-Entry Draft. It's also possible that some renegotiation was part of the terms of the trade.
For his part, Convey sounded optimistic about going to Kansas City.
"I am very excited to link up with my new club and teammates," Convey said in a team release on Friday. "The fans in Kansas City are extremely supportive of the team and create a great atmosphere in the new stadium. The team proved last year they are a good team that can win a bunch of games and I hope I can add to that success."
It's not entirely clear how Convey will be used in Kansas City. While in San Jose, he bounced between left back and left mid, much to his frustration. The inability for him to lock down a position, in fact, seems to have been at the heart of his problems. He has seemed to indicate that he prefers to play in the midfield, but perhaps playing on a team as attack-oriented as Sporting will give him reason to reconsider that position. He would still have to beat out Seth Sinovic, who Sporting only recently re-acquired from the Montreal Impact.
It's also possible that he could be used on the left side of the attacking band employed in Peter Vermes' 4-3-3. At times, Vermes' formation played more like a 4-5-1 and Convey would seem right at home in that formation. The only thing is that Vermes already has a host of attacking options and Convey would likely struggle to find playing time.
The San Jose Earthquakes have continued their rather significant offseason rebuilding, this time trading for Jean Alexandre from Real Salt Lake in exchange for a first round pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft. The 25-year-old Haitian midfielder has shown promise with RSL, but has been used primarily as a backup. During three seasons, he has 14 starts, scoring one goal and registering two assists.
"Jean is a very versatile attacking midfielder with a great upside and we look forward to having him here in San Jose," Earthquakes General Manager of Soccer Operations John Doyle said in a release.
The acquisition of Alexandre is just the latest in a series of offseason moves by the Earthquakes, designed to help them recover from a rather disappointed 2011. After advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2010, the Earthquakes slipped to seventh in the West and missed the playoffs for the third time in the four years since they rejoined the league. In the last few weeks, they have lost Bobby Burling in the expansion draft, declined the options on former building block Bobby Convey and picked up Shea Salinas in a trade.
For more on San Jose's offseason, be sure to check out Earthquakes blog Quake, Rattle and Goal.
Charlie Davies could still end up playing in MLS, but United has passed on the option to make his loan deal permanent.
Shea Salinas will be switching teams for the third time in three years and he'll be going back to where his MLS career started. The 25-year-old was traded to the San Jose Earthquakes from the Vancouver Whitecaps for allocation money.
Salinas was originally a second-round pick of the Earthquakes in the 2008 SuperDraft and played two years there before being picked by the Philadelphia Union in the 2009 Expansion Draft. He was again picked in the Expansion Draft last year, which is how he ended up in Vancouver.
The constant movement is indicative of two things: He has shown enough talent to be interesting to several teams, but not enough to be considered a keeper by anyone. That he's headed back to San Jose, where he enjoyed his most success, is a bit of a low-risk, some reward proposition for the Earthquakes.
Salinas is probably most valuable as a full back, but has been most productive as a midfielder. Most of his time in San Jose was as a midfielder, where he scored two goals and had five assists in about 1,800 minutes over two seasons.
For more on this move, be sure to check out Earthquakes blog Quake, Rattle and Goal.
Players who are at least 23 years old with three years of experience and had options declined are eligible for the Re-Entry process.
Just a few months after acquiring him from the Portland Timbers, FC Dallas has traded Jeremy Hall to Toronto FC in exchange for a second round pick in the 2013 SuperDraft. Toronto FC will be Hall's fourth team in a little more than a calendar year. He was traded from the New York Red Bulls to the Portland Timbers on Nov. 22, 2010 and then sent from Portland to Dallas for Eric Alexander in August.
"We’re happy to add Jeremy Hall to our club. He is a solid defender with excellent MLS experience," TFC Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter said in a team release. "Defense is one of the areas that we want to address this offseason and acquiring Jeremy is a positive step forward for our club."
Due at least in part to his near constant movement, Hall has been limited to 28 starts over the past two seasons after making 22 starts his rookie year. The former first-round draft pick has been moved from midfield to fullback during that time and, while TFC will likely use him there, he has not looked as comfortable playing out of the back.
Paulo Nagamura has been traded to Sporting Kansas City for a 2012 first-round Supplemental Draft Pick. In exchange for the midfielder, Sporting sent Chivas USA the pick they had originally received for Ryan Smith last week. In essence, Nagamura and Smith were traded for one another, although it took two separate transactions to make it happen. Sporting also netted a third-round Supplemental Draft Pick in the Smith trade.
"I am very excited to join Sporting Kansas City. I watched them the entire year during their run to the conference final and I’m happy to be part of the team, add depth to the midfield and fit right in," Nagamura said in a statement. "I will work 110 percent for the team to help reach our goal of winning championships."
In Nagamura, Kansas City basically gets a poor man's version of Davy Arnaud, who was traded to the Montreal Impact on Monday. Nagamura has never displayed Arnaud's scoring touch, but has established himself as a solid box-to-box midfielder during his seven MLS seasons. The 28-year-old enjoyed his most productive spell from 2007-09 when he scored eight goals and had seven assists for Chivas USA. That performance opened the door for him to go to Mexico's Tigres, for whom he played 14 games in 2010 before returning to Chivas USA.
Nagamura has been considerably less productive since returning to MLS. In 26 appearances over two seasons, he has just one goal and one assist. This appears to be just another piece of Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser's rebuilding project, as four players from last year's team have already been traded or lost in the Expansion Draft.
For the latest updates on MLS's offseason moves, be sure to follow this StoryStream. For more insight and analysis of this move, be sure to check out Sporting KC blog The Daily Wiz and Chivas USA blog The Goat Parade.
The Black-and-Red trade for a veteran defender, only giving up a supplemental draft pick.
The Montreal Impact just keep adding MLS veterans to their roster, with goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts becoming the latest. The Impact sent an undisclosed amount of allocation money to the Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for the veteran, who has been among the league's best shot stoppers when healthy since joining the league in 2009. The trade was the second of the Impact's second of the day on Monday and their fourth since last week's Expansion Draft.
In Ricketts, the Impact have found a legitimate MLS starter to go along with Bill Gaudette, who has spent the last four seasons establishing himself as the best second-division goalkeeper in North America. Gaudette has not officially signed yet, but that seems to be a mere formality and Ricketts' acquisition may be designed at least in part to put some pressure on the 30-year-old to put pen to paper. Gaudette played for the Impact in the NASL last year after spending three seasons with the Puerto Rico Islanders. He also made 17 appearances for the Columbus Crew in 2007.
When healthy, Ricketts has been among the elite MLS goalkeepers. He registered 27 shutouts in his 70 MLS appearances and stopped about 76 percent of the shots he faced went 35-15-18. The biggest knock against him was his health, something he especially struggled with this year. Ricketts made a career low 15 appearances in 2011 and appeared to have been supplanted by Josh Saunders as the Galaxy's No. 1 goalkeeper. Saunders was stellar last year, registering eight shutouts in 18 starts.
Ricketts becomes the 19th player the Impact have acquired since joining MLS and is the fifth to arrive via trade. The Impact have definitely splashed around the allocation dollars, as they have included allocation money in all four of their trades. It's also another indication that the Impact are willing to spend on proven MLS veterans, as Ricketts is the fourth player they've acquired who made at least $180,000 in guaranteed compensation during the 2011 season.
For more insight and analysis of this move, be sure to check out LA Galaxy blog LAG Confidential.
Impact continue their flurry of moves by acquiring veteran midfielder Davy Arnaud from Sporting KC.
Ryan Smith had an outstanding first season in MLS, but fell out of favor with Sporting KC and has now been traded to Chivas USA.
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