Monday Postgame: Cold winter, but offseason heating up
Apparently, someone loosened the spigot that directs the flow of MLS offseason news, because early last week it jumped from a steady trickle to a full-on flood.
There was some blockbuster export news involving two Designated Players—one of whom is the face of US Soccer. There were some interesting imports, too, including a US international and the son of one of the overlooked gems in MLS history.
In addition to that shuffling, the 2011 champs hauled six players out of Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft, the Generation adidas team wrapped up their tour of the Netherlands and the league’s arrivals and departures board continued to light up.
Let’s cup our hands and catch all we can.
“Once a Toffee, always a Toffee”
Those six words appeared on Landon Donovan’s Twitter feed Thursday morning, causing many of his 588,475 followers to scratch their chins in wonderment.
Was Lando trying to tell us something?
Indeed he was, as his agent, Richard Motzkin, confirmed about six hours later: Donovan is officially headed back to Everton for another winter loan spell.
The four-time MLS Cup champ had a memorable stint with the Merseyside club two years ago, bagging two goals and three assists in 13 appearances and being named Player of the Month for January 2010.
He could appear in as many as 11 games for the Toffees this time around, including the Jan. 11 matchup against Tottenham and former US international goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who recently said Donovan “took the easy road” by playing the bulk of his career in MLS.
Donovan could also suit up against Manchester City on Feb. 1, Chelsea on Feb. 11 and Everton’s archrivals, Liverpool, on Feb. 25.
He will return to the Galaxy at the end of February, in time for LA’s CONCACAF Champions League action and the start of the MLS regular season next spring.
Also headed out of the league, but on a longer-lasting basis, are former Kansas City Designated Player Omar Bravo and ex-Seattle midfielder Erik Friberg.
Bravo accepted an offer from Mexican giants Cruz Azul (but didn’t rule out an eventual return to MLS and KC), while Friberg returned to his native Sweden, signing with first-division Malmö. Friberg cited the impending birth of his first child and a desire to be near extended family as he and his wife start a family as reasons for his transfer.
While news of Donovan’s loan deal with Everton dominated the headlines on Thursday, there were two other major developments that day that were somewhat overshadowed.
The first was the news that the Vancouver Whitecaps had won the weighted lottery for Lee Nguyen, a 25-year-old attacking midfielder who has three caps for the US national team. Nguyen (pronounced “win”) signed an MLS contract on Dec. 6, after spending the past three seasons playing in the top flight in Vietnam.
Before his stint in Southeast Asia, Nguyen spent four years in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven, the club that signed him in 2005 following a successful freshman year at Indiana University. He also spent time with Danish side Randers before becoming a pop culture hero in Vietnam.
Thursday’s other head-turning announcement came from Portland, as the Timbers acquired 19-year-old Colombian striker José Adolfo Valencia as a young Designated Player, the first such signing since the league modified the DP rule this past season.
Valencia is the son of former Bayern Munich and MetroStars striker Adolfo “El Tren” Valencia. The senior Valencia had a brief but very productive stint in New York, scoring a then club-record 16 goals in 2000, and adding five goals and four assists after injuries limited him to just 14 starts in 2001.
“El Trencito,” as the younger Valencia is known, has four seasons of professional experience under his belt and was a standout performer for Colombia’s U-20 national team, which reached the quarterfinals of the 2011 U-20 World Cup.
The wave of news kept rolling, too. There was a shakeup in Dallas, as winger Marvin Chávez was traded to San Jose for allocation money and technical director Barry Gorman was dismissed.
In Seattle, Mauro Rosales, the 2011 team leader in assists, re-signed with the Sounders. Meanwhile in Austria, former LA Galaxy midfielder Andreas Herzog said that he was headed back to California to become an assistant coach on Jurgen Klinsmann’s US national team staff.
While the high tide of news crashed on the league’s domestic shores, the team of young MLSers known as Generation adidas kept trying to make waves abroad. They wrapped up their tour of the Netherlands with games on Tuesday and Wednesday, against second-division sides FC Volendam and Almere City FC, respectively.
Led by goalscorers Dilly Duka, Will Bruin and Omar Salgado, the young American team downed Volendam 3-2 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, despite a 27-6 advantage in shots, the GA side fell to Almere City 2-0.
They finished the 10-day tour with one win and two defeats.
Not Resting on Their Laurels
Perhaps we should have known this was going to be an active week when the LA Galaxy, fresh from lifting the 2011 MLS Cup, were the busiest team during Monday’s Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft.
LA selected goalkeeper Jon Conway, defenders Andrew Boyens and Chris Leitch and attacker Pat Noonan. The Galaxy also secured the rights to negotiate with defenders Dasan Robinson and Frankie Hejduk, two players who went undrafted in the Re-Entry process after LA declined their options following the 2011 season.
New England addressed some of their rebuilding needs, selecting former Seattle striker Nate Jaqua and former D.C. midfielder Clyde Simms, while Colorado added depth with ex-Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic and former Houston defender Hunter Freeman.
There were two other selections in Monday’s event, as Seattle traded with Vancouver for the first pick, using it to take former D.C. United defender Marc Burch, and Chicago grabbed 28-year-old Zimbabwean striker Kheli Dube, formerly of New England.
The day after the Re-Entry Draft the Galaxy announced the signing of Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas, a 30-year-old midfielder who played for Costa Rican side LD Alajuelense the past two seasons.
Bon Voyage Becks?
Ironically absent from the deluge of news this week was the biggest headline-maker in the league, Galaxy midfielder David Beckham.
Despite numerous reports that he was about to sign with Paris-St. Germain, confirmation of the rumored move had yet to emerge as of Monday morning.
Indeed, Beckham was reportedly slated to attend PSG’s Sunday match against Lille, but the Galaxy midfielder was not spotted at the Parc des Princes.
In other words, the deal is not quite a fait accompli — stay tuned.