Si la saison est sur le point de commencer, la période des transferts est encore très chaude. Dernière preuve en date : l’annonce de la signature d’Arne Friedrich à Chicago. Le défenseur allemand débarquera en MLS avec un palmarès de deux demi-finales de Coupe du monde, un titre de vice-champion d’Europe et plus de 80 sélections en équipe nationale.
Tous les clubs de MLS ont été très actifs sur le marché au cours de l’hiver. Si vous voulez voir toutes les transactions en un coup d’œil, c’est très simple : MLSsoccer.com a pensé à vous et les a rassemblées sur cette page.
Maintenant, à vous de vous exprimer :
- Quel club a réalisé LE transfert de l’hiver (et, évidemment, qui est le joueur en question) ?
- Quelle équipe s’est renforcée là où elle en avait vraiment besoin ?
- Qui a raté son hiver et vivra une saison difficile à cause de ça ?
- Quelle est la meilleure acquisition et la plus grande perte de votre club favori ?
- Quel joueur venu de l’étranger est le renfort le plus important pour la MLS ?
- Quel départ vers l’étranger ou joueur parti à la retraite va le plus vous manquer ?
Former Colorado Rapids striker Caleb Folan left Dick's Sporting Goods Park at the start of February. Let's just say it didn't take him long to find a new club.
English Championship side Birmingham City announced Wednesday that free agent Folan has signed until the end of the season in an effort to make sure their stay in the the second-tier lasts just one season.
The 29-year-old Folan has been training with the Blues since his return to English soil and impressed manager Chris Hughton enough to be offered a short-term deal.
During his injury-hit time with the Rapids, the Republic of Ireland international and former Hull City striker played 26 times, scoring six in the process.
The languid target forward will help Birmingham in their quest to spring straight back to the EPL, as they currently occupy fifth place and a playoff spot, just seven points from the automatic promotion places.
Folan is following closely in the footsteps of former Rapids manager Gary Smith in swapping Colorado for the English lower divisions. Smith took over the reigns at Stevenage FC in January and his enjoyed relative success with the transition from MLS to England already.
His League One side held Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur to a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup Fifth round and they sit in the playoff spots in England’s third tier.
Sebastian Velasquez didn't take a typical route to MLS. It doesn't appear that it will matter in the end.
Velasquez tweeted on Monday that he had been offered a contract with Real Salt Lake after being taken 36th overall in January's SuperDraft.
Needless to say, he was a little excited.
I Feel So Blessed!! RSL Offered Me A Contract!! Should I Sign It?? JaJaJaJaJa DUHHHHHHH :)))))))))))
— Sebastian Velasquez (@TiaN_Futbol) February 20, 2012
If you guessed Eddie Johnson to the Seattle Sounders (in exchange for Mike Fucito & Lamar Neagle) I want to take you to Vegas AND to my local convenience store to buy lotto tickets. And guess what? A few frequenters of Seattle's Facebook page actually called it yesterday when they saw the above photo of EJ with Chris Henderson in a team training photo gallery.
Seriously Juan, Michael & Neil, call me. There is a casino out there that needs us to relieve it of its cash.
The Montreal Impact pulled the trigger and used their top spot in the allocation order to pick up one-time USMNT star Eddie Johnson. But don't bet on EJ taking up French lessons just yet as it seems Jesse Marsch is using him as trade bait.
— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) February 17, 2012
Any guesses on where he'll land?
Well, well, well. Look who's coming back to where it all started.
Eddie Johnson, the former Wizard and 2006 World Cup veteran (not to be confused with the oft-injured Timbers forward of the same name), has signed a new deal to return to MLS.
Now let's be honest: we've heard this before. But something tells me that there will be no backing out this time. Johnson's career has been in a bit of a rut since he scored 5 goals in 16 appearances for Greek side Aris F.C. Since then he's weathered a goal-less loan to Preston North End and suffered the ignominy of being let go by Puebla just days after signing with the club. If he's ever going to come back, if he's ever needed to prove himself, the time is now.
Currently, the Impact sit at the top of the allocation order and with the recent departure of Brian Ching they may actually be interested in Johnson. The question is which Johnson they --or another club-- will get: the confident speedster of his MLS glory days or the less sure, less motivated player he was in Europe & Mexico?
UPDATE: Montreal, not Colorado as originally stated in this post, sit atop the allocation order. Colorado is rumored to be one of the clubs interested in acquiring Johnson.
Update: Juninho has returned to LA on loan.
Just as Galaxy fans had come to terms to life without Juninho, reports in Brazil suggest the former LA defensive midfielder could already be on his way back.
Juninho signed a three-year deal with Sao Paulo after his loan stint with LA ended following the 2012 season. He even bid farewell to Galaxy fans via Twitter.
Now, though, a report in Gazeta Esportiva suggests that Juninho is not going to factor into Sao Paulo's plans after all, leaving him open to a return to MLS as long as the details can be worked out between the two clubs.
Chris Birchall wasn't a household name like some of the other internationals acquired by the LA Galaxy a few years ago. But he has been a stalwart of the Trinidad & Tobago national team since 2005, and he put in three more-than-serviceable years for Bruce Arena & Co.
From the looks of this tweet on Monday morning, his time at the HDC is done.
Disappointed to say that I will not be returning to LA Galaxy,I would like to thank everyone for a Superb 3years,fans exceptional!!Thankyou!
— Chris Birchall (@chrisbirchall7) February 6, 2012
A few weeks ago, Arena had this to say about Birchall: “There hasn’t been a decision made on him. Originally he wanted to go back to England, so we obviously agreed to that and didn’t renew his option. He was looking to explore opportunities in England. Perhaps he’ll want to come back.”
Not sure at this point if anything happened in England, but it seems like the manager's final question has been answered.
For the first time in league history, "Embarrassment of attacking riches" really is an appropriate phrase. There's never been a team as stacked as the 2012 LA Galaxy.
In Robbie Keane, they have a Designated Player striker who would be the odds-on favorite for the Golden Boot if he weren't going to miss at least a month for Euro 2012. In Landon Donovan, they have a former Golden Boot winner, MLS MVP and the all-time leading US goal scorer.
That David Beckham fella you've probably heard of, and lest you think he's merely a set-piece specialist, I suggest you re-watch the MLS Cup Playoffs and see how he constantly played the ball early and into stride, making it easier for the likes of Donovan and Keane to carry the ball at pace or pick passes themselves. And Mike Magee proved his worth several-fold over the second half of last season, showing a knack for one-touch passing in the final third and bagging timely goals when it mattered most.
Bringing back Edson Buddle – one of the league's all-time leading scorers – and adding him to that mix, then, is almost unfair.
So does it mean a repeat of this...
A solid chunk of those chances that Chad Barrett and Adam Cristman sent into the Angel City Brigade will land cozily in the net now that Buddle's back, which does eliminate one of the few weaknesses the Galaxy had. The big man never did get starter's minutes in Germany with Ingolstadt, but he did producing starter's goals, leading his team from the bench this year before the bizarre cancellation of his contract.
And, of course, we've seen what he can do in MLS.
For LA, though, the real issue is figuring out who's going to replace Juninho and Omar Gonzalez. Once Gonzalez got healthy last year, the Galaxy ran off a string of 24 league games with just one loss. During that stretch, they lost their starting 'keeper to injury, lost Donovan to the Gold Cup (and got him back injured), saw Beckham battle through a series of knocks including a fractured back, and had Leonardo and Gregg Berhalter go down for the year and for two months, respectively.
One loss in 24 despite that. Gonzalez got my MLS MVP vote – he was that important – and the Galaxy, for all their stars, were a team that was defined by their defense.
With Juninho, the appreciation was a little more subtle, and the (justifiable) worry among Galaxy fans is that his absence will become very, very tangible this season. The Brazilian was one of those "little things" midfielders, a guy who always managed to play the smart pass, always kept the central defensive pair shielded, always make sure his team kept its shape. And he came through with several big goals when the Galaxy needed it.
The difference between having him on the pitch and not was best illustrated in the playoffs. One game LA struggled to subdue a pretty mediocre New York Red Bulls side as Juninho served his suspension for the Rafa Márquez affair; the next, they tore through a very, very good Real Salt Lake team with relative ease, dominating the tempo for nearly the full 90 minutes.
Those were the two pressing issues for Bruce Arena and Co. heading into 2012, and landing Buddle doesn't answer either. Defense wins championships, and the Galaxy still have questions about theirs.
But ... man are they going to be fun to watch in attack. It could be 1998 all over again.