LOS ANGELES – Many of the league's big names spoke publicly for the first time this year during MLS Media Day in Universal City, where they met with the press on the eve of the start of MLS preseason.
Here are some of the highlights from the roundtable interviews:
Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders)
The Seattle playmaker believes that his countryman Luis Suarez, starring for Barcelona, will one day arrive in MLS.
“I'm always talking to him to see if he will come,” Lodeiro said. “It's hard, but I think at some point, he will come to MLS. All the time he's asking me about the league. And of course I tell him all the great things and try to motivate him to come.”
Giovani Dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
The LA Galaxy captain is excited about the changes the club has made during the offseason and about the opportunity to create for a vibrant goalscorer like Ola Kamara.
“It's difficult to talk about what happened last year ...,” dos Santos said. “End of the day, it's in the past, what happened last year. We know the responsibilities we have because we are the biggest club in MLS.
"We look to make good things. Kamara is a great striker. I watched him last year, and he's a goalscorer, and his movements are always dangerous. I think we're going to have good chemistry on the pitch.”
Bradley Wright-Phillips (NY Red Bulls)
“These things happen,” he said. “We have a job to do, and I feel like winning MLS Cup has been on our list since Jesse coming, or even before that. It's not getting done, so something has to change. Who knows if it's right or wrong, but something has to change. ... Once you start playing football, you know you're not going to be at that place forever. I learned that quick at Man City. I thought that was my club forever, and, bam, I'm a New York Red Bulls player.”
Wright-Phillips is also a big Tyler Adams fan. “I expect to see more of what he did toward the end of last season,” the Englishman said. “He's a player with a lot of energy, has a good head on his shoulders. He knows the game better than me, and I've been playing for years. He's a great player to have in any team. He's a future captain.”
Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United)
The Atlanta United phenom has heard all the rumors of European interest and he said he wouldn't be surprised to see a move come sooner than later.
“I don't obsess over transfers. I just have to keep working hard, and [it's OK] if it happens now or happens at midseason.”
Midseason? Is it possible he heads across the Atlantic this summer?
“I think a player always expects a transfer. I've worked for that. As I've said now, as I've said before, my goal is to go to Europe one day.”
Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
MLS's reigning MVP hasn't heard a pip from Argentina's national team, but he remains hopeful ahead of the World Cup.
“It's a dream to be in the national team,” he said. “It's a possibility maybe? Why not? I know it's not easy. Argentina has a lot of talent, players all around the world playing in different leagues. The base of players has been playing together a long time. It's good for the team [but] it's not easy [to make the team].”
Federico Higuain (Columbus Crew SC)
The uncertainty of Columbus Crew SC's future was a topic that came up when the club's long-time midfielder held court with the media.
“It's very difficult. I don't know how I can explain to you my feelings, but it's happened before in the league [when the San Jose Earthquakes moved to Houston after the 2005 season]. It's happened in other sports, like the NBA and baseball. It's in the culture of this country.”
Higuain feels for the fans, and says the situation is tough “even for me. I've been here six years. It's not easy. ... It's hard to talk about this, because I like the city, I love the club. Because I'm proud to be a part of this club. I like the fans. The relationship is reciprocal. It's very hard, but it's not my job [to make those decisions].”
Luciano Acosta (D.C. United)
The D.C. United linchpin was asked what the club, which finished ahead of only the LA Galaxy, was missing last year.
“What did we lack?” he responded. “Maybe believing in ourselves more. We lacked taking responsibility, But we are starting a new chapter. We're leaving the past behind. Now it's up to us to learn from our mistakes and try to make the best of this year.”
Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)
The Atlanta United striker's thoughts are never far from his family and friends in Venezuela and the crisis engulfing the nation.
“It's not easy, because I have my friends and my family there, and everything that happens there of course affects me ...,” he said. “You cannot get food, you cannot get medicine. Fortunately, everyone is OK.
“For me, work is work, my country is my country, and my family is my family. Everything has its own space. I just have to do my job, help whoever I have to help, and pray so everything gets better and Venezuela goes back to being what it was, Venezuela being Venezuela.”