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.
If you're still surprised that Clint Dempsey is attracting interest from some of England's biggest clubs, you probably aren't paying attention.
With a year left on his contract after the end of this season – a record-breaking campaign for Duece and Americans abroad in general – the suitors are apparently lining up to give the 29-year-old veteran a chance to play in the Champions League should he decide to leave Fulham, the only club he's known outside of Major League Soccer.
After scoring two more goals against Bolton this weekend, a performance that gave Dempsey 21 strikes on the season in all competitions, reports in England are tossing around names such as Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United as potential summer destinations for the American midfielder.
Fulham manager Martin Jol is realistic about the fate of his star, admitting he could be facing life without Dempsey should the right offer come along. That shouldn't come as a shock considering Dempsey is third in the Premier League this season in goals scored in all competitions behind Robin van Persie (37) and Wayne Rooney (31). Even more impressive, Duece is behind only van Persie (44) and Rooney (32) in EPL goals since the start of the 2010-11 season, scoring 27 times for the Lily Whites, mostly from the midfield.
He has a chance to add to that total Monday when Fulham host Chelsea in a West London derby – a fixture that has treated Dempsey well in the past.
WATCH: Chris Coleman on Dempsey's next club
This video about the Toronto FC traveling supporter contingent for the 401 Derby match against Montreal is worth the watch for the one fan who yells: "If you ain't red, you're better off dead!"
He makes one final appearance toward the tail end of this segment. You'll get a second chuckle.
Ce samedi a été haut en couleurs, avec la confirmation de la forme de Kansas City, Salt Lake et San José, la suite du retour en force de New York et la première victoire de Montréal.
Kansas City a remporté sa cinquième victoire consécutive, grâce à la polyvalence de ses joueurs qui ont semé la confusion dans les esprits d’un LA Galaxy incapable d’aligner cinq passes.
Le leader est aussi le dernier club invaincu, suite à la défaite de Vancouver à San José. L’équipe qui n’avait pas encaissé depuis le début de saison s’est effondrée en 10 minutes sous les coups de boutoir du duo Corrales – Wondolowski. Un mauvais samedi pour les clubs du Nord-Ouest : Portland n’est plus souverain à domicile et Seattle n’a plus marqué depuis 243 minutes.
Après sa victoire sans lustre contre Montréal, Salt Lake a battu Colorado avec la manière et se détache en haut de tableau en compagnie de Kansas City et San José. New York, où Thierry Henry multiplie à la fois les buts et les passes décisives et où Kenny Cooper a rapidement pris la place de Luke Rodgers, continue pour sa part sa belle remontée.
En bas de classement, Montréal s’est donné un peu d’air en remportant sa première victoire en MLS, grâce à des reconversions offensives bien menées, face à un Toronto FC toujours calé à 0 point et où Aron Winter a promis du changement.
Dallas - New England
Montréal - Toronto
Columbus - New York
Kansas City - LA Galaxy
San José - Vancouver
DC United - Seattle
Salt Lake - Colorado
Portland - Chivas USA
Cliquez sur un résultat pour voir le résumé vidéo
Behold: The jerseys for Euro 2012 have been released. And there are many sashes.
The US men's national team made waves before the 2010 World Cup by reintroducing a sash to their jerseys in homage to the 1950 team that famously beat England. And while it's not exactly unique – teams like Trinidad and Tobago and Peru have been rocking the sash for years – it's not exactly standard fare.
So from whence come the sashes? This is undoubtedly jingoistic, biased, and self-aggrandizing, but I tend to think that the US brought the design back into vogue.
Which would also mark the first time that Europeans have ever taken fashion advice from Americans. Give yourselves a pat on the back, readers.
I, for one, feel pretty good about it. I like the sash on the US jerseys. I think they'll look good at Euro 2012. Undoubtedly, you feel differently. And... discuss!
Récupération du ballon, reconversion offensive rapide, but : telle était la tendance, lourde, des buts inscrits la semaine dernière. Parmi eux, les deux inscrits par Montréal à New York et celui encaissé par Toronto à Columbus.
Rien de surprenant dès lors que cette recette ait été celle du premier succès des Québécois en MLS contre leur grand rival canadien.
Sur le premier but, Neagle vole un ballon à Dunfield et six secondes plus tard, Kocic peut aller chercher le ballon envoyé par Ubiparipovic au fond de ses filets. En milieu de deuxième mi-temps, Nyassi prend le ballon au nez et à la barbe d’Harden avant qu’Emory ne commette une faute qui lui vaudra un carton rouge.
Et sur le 2-0, Toronto est à 20 mètres du but de l’Impact quand un tir de Johnson est contré par Ferrari en direction de Mapp qui, de son camp, lance Wenger qui pliera le match.
Autre morale de ce résultat : les statistiques pures et dures peuvent être trompeuses. En effet, l’Impact a eu le ballon la plupart du temps durant ce match, mais c’est bien grâce à des moments où il ne le contrôlait pas, où il ne faisait pas le jeu, qu’il a forgé sa victoire…
You may have noticed that this Saturday's match between the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls has shifted from Galavision to Univision Deportes.
The reason for that is that the Univision Deportes Network, the new all-sports network from Univision, is set to kick off on Saturday on DishLATINO and DISH’s America’s Top 200. The new network launches at 3 pm ET on Saturday with a live broadcast of New York's visit to Crew Stadium and will also air the Red Bulls match against Chivas USA on May 23. Viewers can also watch the Crew and Red Bulls' meeting on MLS LIVE outside the Columbus and New York areas.
“We have created a programming lineup that will connect and inform sports fans all day long on the teams and leagues they follow so passionately,” said Eric Conrad, vice president of Programming, Univision Deportes. “Univision has been bringing many of the most-watched matches to Hispanic viewers for 50 years and created Univision Deportes Network to bring expanded access to the content we know our viewers can’t get enough of. And through our partnership with Televisa, we are now able to offer U.S. audiences access to even more sports content.”
Univision Deportes Network’s launch day schedule for Saturday includes:
3 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET Major League Soccer: Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls
5 p.m. – 7 p.m. ET Solo Boxeo Tecate: Special Edition
7 p.m. – 8 p.m. ET “Futbol Central”
8 p.m. – 10 p.m. ET Liga Mexicana: Santos vs. Estudiantes Tecos
1 p.m. – 12 a.m. ET Liga Mexicana: Monterrey vs. Tigres de la UANL
12 a.m. – 1 a.m. ET “Univision Deportes Extra”
New England Revoltion derrotó como visitante al flamante campeón de la MLS, LA Galaxy. San José hizo lo mismo en Seattle. Vancouver Whitecaps sigue invicto y no ha recibido un gol en contra hasta ahora… esta temporada ha sido simplemente impredecible.
Aun así, vamos a tratar.
A partir de la esta Jornada 5, el grupo de Tiro Libre: Kristel Valencia, el Gringo Simon Borg, nuestro productor (e incansable fan del Arsenal FC) Carlos Rodriguez, y yo ofreceremos nuestras predicciones de los partidos a jugarse cada fecha.
Tendremos aciertos y tendremos fallas, pero los invitamos a que nos acompañen en esta travesía y nos den sus predicciones cada semana por este medio o por Twitter en @FutbolMLS.
¿Quién será el Walter Mercado del fútbol?
El Gringo Simon
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
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
With the exception of Shaquille O'Neal – known to some as the Big Aristotle – pro athletes are not necessarily known for their smarts. Leave it to the Swedish to shatter our worldview.
A new study by Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet on the cognitive function of top-tier soccer players in Sweden reveals that they are way smarter than we are. As a matter of fact, the 29 players tested combined for an average score in the top five percent of all participants.
My immediate reaction is that these results are skewed: I assume everyone who lives in Sweden is smart, attractive and interesting. But apparently even by that lofty standard, these soccer players are at the top of the heap, because they also scored better than guys in the lower divisions.
So now the people who are in much better shape than us are also better at using their brains. Ladies and gentlemen, we are truly, desperately in trouble.