They came and went within a year, but there's a crop of South American forwards who have found themselves right at home in their continent of origin after a mixed experience during their stints in MLS during the 2011 season.
The likes of Milton Caraglio (New England's first-ever Designated Player), Cristian Nazarit and Diego Chaves may not have set MLS alight during their year-long stay here (less in the case of Caraglio, who arrived in August but was gone by December), but having returned to South America, these young players have found more success.
Two of the players — Caraglio and Chaves — opted to head to Chile instead of their native countries, and have been richly rewarded for doing so. Caraglio tallied for newly promoted Rangers over the weekend to take his total for the season to four and help them continue a run that sees them in playoff contention. Chaves — perhaps the most successful of the group in MLS with six goals in 2011 — has a pair of goals to his name with Palestino over nine matches.
Cristian Nazarit opted to return to his home country, Colombia, after playing just 624 minutes and scoring two goals for Chicago in 2012. Two months into the Colombian season, the 21-year-old — a teammate of former Philadelphia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón — has four goals to his name for Deportivo Cali, including a late winner over the weekend that gave los Verdiblancos a third straight league win.
Chaves' former Chicago teammate, Gastón Puerari, has found less luck back home, however. He has played a handful of minutes for Defensor Sporting and is yet to net a goal in either the domestic league of Copa Libertadores.
So, what is it that has set these players apart in South America? Is MLS now a more difficult league to play in? Is the style of play in South America more conducive to their respective games? Or maybe it just wasn't cost-effective (always a factor in MLS) to keep them? Take your pick.
With the Twitter world working overtime during the MLS season, every Friday we'll post five of the most inventive and interesting tweets from the North American soccer community from the previous week.
The best snippets of entertainment, knowledge and intrigue from inside the world of North American soccer will be displayed here, so be sure to keep up to date on what the players, coaches and journalists are tweeting about.
In our first week, we see how SI.com's Grant Wahl is having pet issues, USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann addresses his squad and an MLS star enjoys early morning word puzzles.
So here they are: our five favorites from soccer's Twitterati:
Well done to @clint_dempsey for scoring his 13th Premier League goal of season, extending his own American record. #USMNT.
— Jurgen Klinsmann (@J_Klinsmann) March 31, 2012
This man @BigAfrika88 wakes up at 6:40AM guess what's the 1st thing he did? No not brush his teeth, "Starts playing Scramble wit friends SMH
— Kei Kamara (@keikamara) April 2, 2012
Big last-second win for Dallas vs NE. In other news, my 5-pound poodle Coco tried to take on a 130-pound Bernese mountain dog.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) April 5, 2012
Nagbe is ballin, @MLS is on the rise! #MLS
— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) April 3, 2012
There's nothing quite like a feud between Marc Burch and Daniel Woolard to get the neutrals pumped for the weekend.
— Kyle McCarthy (@kylejmccarthy) April 6, 2012
Not many MLS players are the focus of a documentary, let alone lend their first name to the film's title.
Kei Kamara is one of the few (only?) to have that honor. Copper Pot Pictures chronicled his return to Sierra Leone for a Africa Cup of Nations qualifier and life in general for a short documentary called KEI.
In the filmmaker's own words:
KEI is a short documentary about Kei Kamara, a forward for Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City. Set against Kei's return to his native Sierra Leone for a critical match with his national team, the film relives Kei's epic journey from refugee to soccer star.
Check out the trailer below, and visit the official website for more information and additional clips.
How does a 5-foot-9 goalkeeper last for 13 seasons in MLS and remain one of the best in the league? Footwork and athleticism are among the many reasons for Nick Rimando's continued success, and both are on full display in this little clip I shot Wednesday night at Rio Tinto.
In super slow motion, he almost looks like a volleyball player (or better yet, one of his beloved Lakers) soaring through the air for a spike or a dunk.
In recent weeks, MLS has been putting it's money where it's mouth is, so to speak. The MLS Disciplinary Committee has been dishing out punishments after the fact for violent tackles and simulation.
It's come down hard on embelishment, too.
In my book, there are different forms of embellishment. There is embellishment that is used -- and, really, necessary -- to alert the referee that you have been fouled. This is the type of thing you see when, say, a faster player gets around a slower defender and is impeded. It might not be enough contact to bring a player down, but it is enough to stymie the attacker.
WATCH: Cruz and Benitez battle for possession
Unfortunately, refs are reluctant to blow the whistle in this scenario, thereby actually punishing the attacker. In many of these instances, the attacker will embellish the effect of the contact, making sure the referee recognizes that there was a foul. I'm okay with this kind of embelishment.
I'm not okay with embellishment that is meant to con the referee into thinking a foul has taken place when it hasn't or a foul is worse than it really is. For examples, check out Danny Cruz's shameful writhing after being elbowed by Jair Benitez in D.C.'s win over Dallas last weekend. Or Alvaro Fernandez's histrionics a few weeks ago against Houston. It's sophomoric stuff, and both players were rightly fined for it.
It's also nice to see that at least one of the players involved isn't throwing a hissy fit about being sanctioned for his actions.
"There are different perspectives on soccer in the world," Fernandez told The Seattle Times this week. "So where I'm from, down in South America, we work on getting an advantage out of every situation that we can -- no matter what that is. It's not looked upon badly. Here it is looked upon badly. It's not a bad thing, it is what it is, and I just have to adapt to the league."
With NBC Sports continuing their great coverage of MLS for the first time in their history, check out the awesome "All Rise" promo video below.
Make sure you tune into their next nationally televised game between Philadelphia and Columbus at 3:30pm on Saturday April 14.
Hands up if your enjoying the coverage so far…..oh I see David Beckham is a fan of the production on NBC Sports!
This ex-soccer player could perhaps rival the star of the cult Dos Equis commercials as the "most interesting man in the world."
German goalkeeper Lutz Pfannenstiel is now an international scout for Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, yet his playing career, which included a stint with current MLS outfit the Vancouver Whitecaps, wasn’t quite as conventional.
He was declared dead while on the pitch when playing for Bradford Park Avenue and was also locked up in a Singapore jail. He has spent five days in an igloo in a German ski resort, during which his antics were streamed live over the internet. He was also, believe it or not, a member of the "crazy gang" at Wimbledon and was stripped naked by Vinnie Jones and his teammates during a jog through London on a cold November morning in his first few days with the club.
Pfannenstiel spent time playing in North America with Vancouver in 2007, making four appearances, while also turning out for the Calgary Mustangs in 2004.
His title as an international scout for Hoffenheim means that current US national team players Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson and U-23 player Joe Gyau are all know to the eccentric German.
If those three have careers half as interesting as Pfannenstiel's, then we are all in for a real treat.
Stay thirsty my friends.
Luke Rodgers may not be a Red Bull, but he hasn't lost his scoring touch.
Just days after New York terminated the English striker's contract by mutual consent, the result of a rejected visa appeal, Rodgers popped up on the scoresheet for his new team, Norwegian side Lillestrom.
Rodgers came on as a substitute and headed home a loose ball in front of net to put his new club up 2-1 in the 78th minute. Rosenborg scored an equalizer in the 90th minute, but it was still a shining start for the former Red Bulls talisman. And who knows, Rodgers may end up back in New York sooner than anyone thinks.
This past winter, rumor had it that former D.C. United captain Ryan Nelsen might return to the nation's capital. The 34-year-old centerback had played out his contract for Premier League side Blackburn Rovers, and was looking to finish his career with the club that developed him from a good college player into a world-class professional.
But then Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp offered him a six-month contract to move to White Hart Lane and provide depth and experience to a club that is this season challenging for cups and pushing for a UEFA Champions League spot. He couldn't say no.
He also has proven his worth to the gaffer. On Wednesday, Nelsen scored in Spurs' 3-1 win over Bolton in the FA Cup quarterfinals, and after the match, Redknapp clearly stated his intentions regarding the longtime New Zealand international.
"I had been chasing him for years and he's only on a six-month contract," Redknapp was quoted as saying in Thursday's New Zealand Herald, "so we'll have to give him a new one at the end of the season."
Kansas City est le seul club à compter neuf points après trois semaines de compétition. Il est aussi le seul à avoir en ses rangs un joueur impliqué dans un but (en marquant ou en donnant la dernière passe) lors de ses trois rencontres : Graham Zusi.
Auteur de la passe décisive à Aurélien Collin qui a permis à son club d’égaliser contre Dallas ce week-end (vidéo ci-dessous), il avait marqué contre New England la semaine précédente et offert le seul but du match à CJ Sapong à DC United.
Sa spécialité ? Les phases arrêtées, particulièrement les coups francs. Il a une prédilection pour délivrer la passe décisive depuis le côté droit, et surtout pour envoyer le ballon plein centre (plutôt qu’au premier ou au second poteau) sur la tête d’un de ses partenaires.
Zusi est aussi capable de marquer et sait se trouver au bon endroit pour conclure victorieusement une première tentative de son équipe repoussée par l’adversaire (à l'image de son premier but de la saison).
Une combinaison de qualités qui ont valu à ce joueur de 25 ans ses deux premières sélections - et son premier but - en équipe nationale américaine au début de cette année.