Gringo Report: Possible MLS targets abound down south
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Coaches, analysts and the US soccer media have all packed their bags and scattered from Indianapolis as new MLS players are frantically arranging digs in their new homes. The SuperDraft is over.
Where now for clubs to find that talent to boost the squad, aside from next week's Supplemental Draft?
Teams could do much worse than look south, where there are a number of Americans players who potentially could be tempted back north.
The most obvious name is that of Tigres UANL left back Jonathan Bornstein. His career has never taken off in Mexico and a move back to MLS, where he was named to the All-Star team in three consecutive seasons, could come as welcome relief.
A Spanish-speaking former captain of Chivas USA with Mexican heritage, experience and a SoCal guy through and through, it’s hard not to put two and two together and come up with the Rebaño Sagrado, although the Portland Timbers may have something to say about that after acquiring his MLS rights in the 2010 Expansion Draft.
Goalkeeper Diego Restrepo (at right) has left Venezuela’s Deportivo Táchira after winning the no. 1 spot late last season and is pondering his next move.
The 24-year-old tweeted on Tuesday that he is headed back to the United States and has since started trainining with D.C. United, having been named to the club's travel roster for its first preseason trip. If it doesn’t work out in Washington, other MLS clubs could be on hand to swoop.
Staying in South America, Miami native and now Bolivian international Alejandro Meleán has enjoyed a model career since moving south.
Although lack of options in MLS – he wasn’t even offered a trial - was the main reason he headed to Bolivia, there would more than a couple of teams that could benefit from a now tried and tested talent.
The versatile defender/midfielder has grown from minnows La Paz FC onto establishing himself at Oriente Petrolero, one of Bolivia’s bigger clubs, and then into the national team's green shirt.
Another name that could be worth investigating for MLS clubs is Argentine-American Michael Hoyos. Still only 21 years old, the Orange County, Calif.-born forward Hoyos hasn’t broken through at Estudiantes de la Plata, playing mainly in the reserve team last season.
He burst onto the Argentine scene with a solo goal in a preseason friendly against Boca Juniors in January 2010, but a serious car crash in April 2011 seems to have held back the progress of a player widely lauded as a special talent.
With first-team opportunities only a distant possibility for the former Irvine Strikers player next season, a loan or permanent move to MLS could be appealing. There has also been more than one report in the Argentine press in the last 12 months suggesting he could leave the Pincharratas.
In Mexico’s second division at Lobos BUAP, 26-year-old Texan midfielder Marco Vidal has developed a solid career between Mexico’s top two divisions.
Now a fully weathered pro after spells at Indios de Ciudad Juárez, Pachuca and León, Vidal has experience to make the step into MLS in a similar way to the Seattle Sounders’ Sammy Ochoa.
At Tigres, the futures of Victor Garza and Juan Pablo Ocegueda are at best confused. There has been no word from club or player that the US duo – who have not featured for the club's U-20 team – have officially left the Apertura 2011 champions, but reports coming out of Monterrey suggest it has already happened.
So what about their future? MLS is a decent option for both and the fact Dennis te Kloese, who brought the promising pair to Monterrey, is now sporting director at Chivas USA provides a natural link.
Then there is forward Moises Orozco, who left Tigres in the summer and is still without a club.
Widening the net out a little, former US youth striker Adrian Ruelas is on loan at Veracruz and not getting the playing time he would like. A loan at Celtic back in 2010 is proof the raw talent is there, but the 21-year-old needs minutes, which he may be able to find in MLS.