Midfielder/forward Youri Djorkaeff was arguably the most consistent player for the MetroStars in 2005 and the French World Cup champion is set to return to the club in 2006, the team announced Monday.
"We are thrilled to have Youri back. He's been the ideal international signing," said MetroStars president and general manager Alexi Lalas. "He is an exciting player who can perform at the MLS level, an experienced professional willing to mentor our younger players and an ambassador for the league on and off the field."
Djorkaeff, 37, was reportedly interested in returning to the club should Mo Johnston retain his coaching duties after taking over from Bob Bradley late in the 2005 campaign. The removal of the word 'interim' before Johnston's title opened the door for the world renowned Djorkaeff to make his way back to Giants Stadium next spring.
"Getting Youri back is very positive for the club," said Johnston. "Certainly Youri was one of our best players last season and I expect him to perform at the same level, if not higher, this season. As a World Cup winner, he has something that no other player in the league has and his leadership is invaluable."
Djorkaeff's great 2005 season silenced many who criticized the club for extending an offer to a player that was often viewed as too old to be effective. The doubters seemed to have hit the nail on the head early in Djorkaeff's first MLS season as he struggled to overcome a hamstring injury. However, he regained full fitness to become one of the most entertaining players in MLS, eventually being named the team's captain in August, a responsibility that he maintained for the remainder of the season.
Djorkaeff was one of four players in the league to register five game-winning goals in 2005, a mark only topped by the Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan (seven) and the New England Revolution's Taylor Twellman (six). Djorkaeff was named the MLs Player of the Week for Week 19 following a two-goal performance at FC Dallas on Aug. 6. He also was the club's offensive leader in the MLS Cup Playoffs, registering a goal and an assist in the club's Conference Semifinal 4-3 aggregate loss to the Revolution.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.