Three For Thursday: Former Ajax players in MLS
The news that Colombian playmaker Daniel Cruz is trialing with the Houston Dynamo had a familiar orange tinge.
No, not Dynamo orange — Dutch orange. Or maybe “Oranje.”
Cruz, you see, was once a member of the Netherlands’ most famous and successful club, Ajax Amsterdam. He played 11 times for Ajax, scoring twice before moving on to a long and fruitful career next door in Belgium.
If Cruz does, in fact, sign with the league, he’ll join three other ex-Ajax men who have joined MLS clubs this year.
1. Javier Martina
The 24-year-old former member of the Dutch U-20 team is still in the midst of adjusting to MLS play. The Toronto FC attacker has had some scintillating moments, including the Goal of the Week way back in Week 2.
He’s scored but once since then, notching two goals in 19 appearances. Despite that he looks like he could be one of the building blocks of Aron Winter’s 4-3-3 up in Toronto, as he works tirelessly on the flanks and can fill in at center forward.
His time with Ajax was mostly spent with the Jong Ajax reserve team, moving up to the full first team for a pair of appearances in 2008 and notching an assist in his brief run with the club.
2. Teemu Tainio
The Red Bulls defensive midfielder has a career spanning a decade-and-a-half across Europe’s top leagues. His best years were with AJ Auxerre from 1997 through 2005, and then spent the second half of last decade in the English Premiership with Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland and Birmingham City.
The former Finnish national, who turns 32 later this year, moved to Ajax for the 2010-11 season, but like Martina, only made two appearances with the Dutch giants. He eventually joined RBNY this offseason, initially as a right back before winning a permanent spot in the central midfield.
Tainio started off 2011 hot, but an April injury has hampered him over the past two months. With the acquisition of Dax McCarty, he’s been asked to cover less ground defensively which should limit the impact of his minutes.
3. Mauro Rosales
Rosales somehow snuck under the radar and landed right in the laps of Sigi Schmid and the Seattle Sounders. It’s not often someone with an Olympic gold medal and 10 caps with the Argentine national team comes to MLS for anything less than a DP salary. But that’s just what happened in Rosales’ case.
Since his arrival, the playmaker has made a strong push for consideration as the league’s newcomer of the year while resurrecting Seattle’s season in the wake of the Steve Zakuani injury. He’s been deployed as a withdrawn striker, and as both a right midfielder and central midfielder, producing one goal and four assists in 15 games.
Rosales’ time at Ajax was brief —the 30-year-old was there from 2004-06 — but productive, as he featured 63 times and scored six goals before moving on to River Plate.