A look at the winter MLS player exodus

By IVES GALARCEP

It was a bittersweet January transfer window for followers of Major League Soccer, with more talent leaving the league than in any previous January, and more players departing to top leagues than ever before.

The multi-million dollar transfers of Brek Shea and Andy Najar headlined what wound up being a far busier January than anyone could have imagined. Those were the only two actual sales, but the plethora of loan deals pulled off this winter has led to an even bigger wave of departures of top talent.

There will be some trepidation about seeing two top young talents like Shea and Najar leave MLS, but their sales only serve to cement Major League Soccer’s standing as an improving league and one that top foreign leagues are increasingly interested in finding talent in.

There will also be some cause for concern over the departure of Colombian players back to Colombia, with Fredy Montero and Carlos Valdes heading over on loans. The economic situation in Colombia is improving, and the fact that the Colombian national team is doing so well right now in World Cup qualifying has Colombian soccer riding high. The departures of Montero and Valdes have as much to do with that as it does with anything MLS is doing.

Not all of the departures are ones MLS fans will feel sadly about. The Red Bulls succeeded in ridding themselves of Rafa Marquez, who has already managed to get injured and see his new team eliminated from Copa Libertadores.

And the players who didn’t make moves? Juan Agudelo’s asking price was too high for a player with only one year remaining on his MLS contract (expect him to leave on a free transfer a year from now) while Graham Zusi didn’t garner an offer from West Ham after a trial (he too seems a better bet to leave in a year if he can put together another strong season). Omar Gonzalez is also heading into the final year of his MLS deal and, like Agudelo, will almost surely test the transfer market next January.

Here is a rundown of the top MLS departures of the winter:

MLS PLAYER DEPARTURES

David Beckham to Paris St. Germain

Brek Shea to Stoke City

Andy Najar to Anderlecht

Roger Espinoza to Wigan Athletic

Juan Pablo Angel to Atletico Nacional

Rafa Marquez to Club Leon

Barry Robson to Sheffield United

Dane Richards to Burnley

Julian DeGuzman to SSV Jahn Regensburg

Branko Boskovic to Rapid Vienna

Milovan Mirosevic to Universidad Catolica

Sebastian Miranda to Everton (Chile)

Kei Kamara to Norwich City (LOAN)

Simon Dawkins to Aston Villa (LOAN)

Fredy Montero to Millonarios (LOAN)

Carlos Valdes to Santa Fe (LOAN)

Alvaro Fernandez to Al Rayyan (LOAN)

———–

What do you think of these moves? Who are you sad to see go? Who are you happy to see leave MLS (that isn’t named Rafa Marquez)?

Share your thoughts below.

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121 Responses to A look at the winter MLS player exodus

  1. TGA says:

    it is excellent…MLS is Minor League Soccer….and the Klinsmann rule, rules…

    • Timber Danny says:

      TGA is excellent… he make good points… very clever, clever

    • Vic says:

      You can say that about the Dutch, Brazilian and Argentinian league. Not bad company.

      • OPMG says:

        The Brazilian league is quickly becoming a destination league, several high profile players went to Brazil recently for big money

        • Jerrod says:

          brazillians though, right? that’s a little different when people are going home.

          • GL6 says:

            Nothing wrong with being a feeder league.

          • JCC says:

            Well, when you produce as many players as Brazil does, importing isn’t as high on the priority list as in other leagues. But there are a good number of Argentines and Uruguayans in the Brazilian Serie A as well.

            • Judging Amy says:

              Good Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Colombian players have gone and hope to go there too as well as Argentina. MLS is clearly not in the same category as the Brazilian, Dutch, and Argentinian leagues. That comparison is woefully inexact.

              However, MLS is improving, is already a good league especially considering how relatively young it is. I think MLS is doing just fine and is in fact ahead of schedule.

    • Darwin says:

      Not sure what Klinsmann has to do with anyone other than Shea.

    • steve says:

      klinsman has a strange way of ruling insulting his best player on the USMNT. so far his results are barely above average. and MLS will always be a minor league until tv money comes in but it has surely made great strides. the list of those that left includes many who MLS no longer wanted or needed.

      • Judging Amy says:

        Klinsmann last year: highest winning percentage for a US Nats coach. Just saying. I think Klins has his faults. Few coaches are perfect or even near perfect. But results-wise, he is significantly better than “barely above average.”

    • JoeW says:

      Silly. Almost every league in the worlds sometimes sells players to another league. MLS ain’t the Premiership or La Liga–that’s true. But being in the company of say….the Netherlands…or Argentina is nothing to sneeze about.

      A critical factor for MLS is the health of the clubs. If each MLS club could make $3-10 million a year by selling players, that would be a huge incentive to improve academies, scouting, and reserve sides. You’d also see MLS spending a lot less money buying aging foreign talent and more on growing youth talent. Take DCU’s signing of Raphael. Part of the assumption driving that deal is: if he becomes a better player, he’ll still be young enough for DCU to find a lot of foreign teams interested in sighing him. MLS having a lot of young talent that other leagues want to sign is a good thing.

  2. El says:

    It’s what happens in every soccer league players come and players go. It also shows that teams in other leagues have respect for MLS as they are acquiring players from the league, there is nothing minor in that.

    • FC Denver says:

      +1

    • steve says:

      very true. the MLS and German Bundesliga are on firm financial footing serie a and la liga are teetering on the brink of disaster as is the SPL. MLS is being run very well and poised for growth kudos to don garber and company

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      My concern would be that we were a port in an economic storm and whether retention will stay up as aspects of the global economy improve.

      Some of the moves are more concerning than others. Angel, Beckham, Marquez, Robson, they’re practically retired (although Bex should have done us the service of retiring here). They are moving to the old folks home.

      Then you have some moves like Montero where it’s arguably a player wanting to fight for NT time in his home country. Slightly worrisome if MLS alone is insufficient, but not too bad.

      I’m more worried about Shea or Najar, the ability to retain a Donovan-type player has been a virtue of the league, even as it exported Dempsey. There needs to be a core of identifiable loyal players, everyone can’t leave. MLS needs to be an end in itself, not a pure feeder. You can toss other potential exits like Gonzo in there too.

      After all, you look at a team like PSG, the rap on Ligue 1 is if you want to succeed you move up. Lloris, for instance. So they want players like Beckham, prove the league can be something by itself, not just an EPL/Serie A/La Liga proving ground.

      • Judging Amy says:

        But IV, wouldn’t you consider it a massive success if our league had the kind of talent and quality of Ligue Un?

        I mean, aren’t there many successful countries where most if not all national team players ply their trade abroad? Doesn’t seem to be a problem for them as long as they continue to pump out young talent.

      • stpauljosh says:

        matt besler.

  3. Don Pelayo says:

    I see no issues for the league with these departures. Shea needed to move since his career has hit a snag, and the time is right if he’s going to make the next step in his career. With both transfers, the league receives a significant amount of money and, as Ives mentioned, it shows the increased respect the top leagues have for the young stars in MLS. I’m very disappointed that Gonzalez wasn’t able to move this window; he his ready to become the best American CB in the pool.

  4. fan of football says:

    It may be asking too much, but I would be interested to see an Ex-MLSers Abroad section, similar to the Americans Abroad. It would be fun to track the progress and contributions of these guys now that they have graduated from MLS.

  5. Jake says:

    Barry Robson. Miss him already. And Sebastien Miranda. Maybe I don’t follow MLS closely enough, but are those big losses? Even DeGuzman… he came in pretty hyped but rarely did much to warrant his salary
    SO GLAD to see Marquez go!
    We lost a few players that will be tough for teams to replace, but this seems about right for MLS over a winter window. I’m sure by the end of our transfer window the league will have picked up players to replace most of these guys even if its not immediately apparent. We’ve been doing that for a few years now.

  6. G.Bean says:

    The wind really helped paint an unflattering picture of Shea there. He looks like he’s way too many PBR’s during the off season. :O

  7. G.Bean says:

    Rafa Marquez is not a loss, and he will struggle quite a bit in Liga MX. He needs to move on to the next phase already. I hate seeing formerly great athletes stick around too long in the game.

  8. ConradB says:

    I didn’t know Gummo plays for Stoke.

  9. reiter says:

    This is good for the league. MLS will never have the money to compete with European leagues, but if players know they can make the switch from MLS to bigger money European teams, they’ll be more likely to sign with the league and will work hard to develop. MLS has the chance to be a quality feeder league, and that’s a better business case for the league and ultimately better for soccer in the U.S.

    • OPMG says:

      Disagree. MLS is growing slowly but all it takes to compete with bigger league’s is owners with deeper pockets. MLS is just beginning to show that owning a club can be profitable. A few more years of that and you’ll see higher profile owners jumping in. Those kind of guys don’t own NFL teams necessarily because they’ve always had an undying love for american football, it’s because they make $$$ and lots of it. When that opportunity shows itself in MLS the wealthy owners will follow.

      • Joe+G says:

        The money to be made in the NFL is really with selling the team. But lots of billionaires will stick with it for a long time if it’s a breakeven enterprise (with plenty of perks).

        • OPMG says:

          Could be true, but how many NFL teams have been sold lately? Seems like a hard group to just buy your way into because nobody is really selling. That tells me that it’s because owners like the value it brings.

          Contrast that with the NBA, several teams have been sold recently (including the New Orleans franchise that couldn’t find a buyer for months) and relocation is not entirely uncommon. That’s because outside of the biggest markets the owners aren’t making any money so why stick with it?

          • Joe+G says:

            Undoubtedly, there is huge value to running a profitable high profile operation that can easily be made into “unprofitable” for tax purposes. A lot of the decision to sell depends upon investors (and probably family) wanting to cash out and diversify.

            The Browns were sold in 2012 for $1 billion. The Jaguars were sold for $760 million in 2011. Our buddy Stan Kroenke bought the St. Louis Rams for $750 million in 2010 (and may be looking to sell himself). From the list I saw, it looks like about one franchise changes hands per year.

          • DCLee says:

            The NFL is a 9 billion dollar industry. The owners are making money way before they sell. MLS is finding its way and hopefully one day be turning crazy profits too!

      • edmondo says:

        I completely disagree. Why would a billionaire spend millions to pay multiple players to if they have little hope of getting back anything close to what they spent? In order to make money your revenue must outweigh the costs (and your projected revenue streams are used to calculate the value of your business entity).

        MLS teams do not generate that much revenue.What are the possible sources of revenue: (1) television contracts, (2) advertising (jersey, grounds, other commercial), (3) tickets sales, (4) tournament winnings. In the US, none of these areas (currently or in the near future) presents revenue streams high enough to justify spending millions on players. It is nowhere close to the levels of even Liga MX or Futebol Brasileiro/Campeonato Brasileiro.

        However, selling SOME players you develop provides additional sources of revenue, thus making the clubs and league more valuable. The other effect is that the league will attract better players/talented athletes because they know it would facilitate a move to top European league. Additionally, better players increase the quality of play in the league and coaching. The trick is to keep improving is not to sell everyone, but still sell enough that most players view MLS as a viable stepping stone.

        • chris says:

          No one owns a sports team to make money. It is a hobby.

          • edmondo says:

            I would beg to differ with your absolute statement. There are some who view it as toys/hobbies and there some who view it as investments. It depends who you are dealing with. VERY few who view it as something where they could spend 30 million (that is modest) on player salaries and 2 or 3 times as much on staff and facilities etc. Granted I do not work in the sports arena, but I do have 3 friends who work sports law and marketing (one with the Yankees, one with law firm, and one at sports agency who deals with a lot of football/soccer players) . This actually came up in a conversation a little while ago. However, it could just be a difference in opinion….

    • PhillySoB says:

      I agree. I believe within 5-7 years with the improved developmental leagues in the US, bringing young players from South America and an increase in the number of young European players sent over here on loan, we can overtake the Dutch league as the top feeder for the big leagues in Europe…And I am perfectly fine with that. People just have to get used to the fact that good talent will only be here for players between 18 and 23 before they are snatched up.

      • Charles Fix says:

        Hopefully we won’t have to get used to it.

        There really isn’t that much money in soccer, I can see MLS getting to a point where only the rich teams are stealing players I want to see…..and fairly quickly.

      • downintexas says:

        These owners are not building MLS to be a feeder league. The leagues goal is to be the top league in the world. Will it happen over night? No. In 15-20 year? No. In my life time? Yes. Oh I’m 34

        • Rory says:

          I want to agree but we have to have some trophy worth winning… something that competes with the Champions League. Look how hard it is to convince anyone in South America outside of Brazil that the World Club Cup is a major prize. Nobody takes the Concacaf CL very seriously… heck, most Europeans don’t take the Copa Libertadores seriously. When people value winning here then the league will take off.

      • ld says:

        MLS wont overtake the Dutch league because young Dutch players are not going to come to MLS to develop….and when will Americans start calling the MLS champion the WORLD CHAMPION like they do in other sports…never because it never will be the worlds top league, the world will probably end before that happens..and before the world ends the worlds best players wont want to come to play in the USA because they would rather live somewhere else

        • Rory says:

          Actually the world’s best do want to come live here (at least a large percentage), they just don’t really want to play here.

          • Joe+G says:

            They would be more than happy to play here if the money and quality were commensurate with other opportunities.

  10. Brain Guy says:

    Is it a sign of progress, or just an anomaly, that unlike the past few years, none of the departures were to a Scandinavian club?

  11. Eric K says:

    Most of these either aren’t a big deal or unexpected. Beckham’s story was played out (in a good way). Shea, Najar, and Montero were always destined for bigger stages (where Montero’s is, that’s still TBA). We should look at Espinoza and Kamara (and Zusi and Omar in a year) as success stories – that you can go from college to developing your skills in MLS and move up to a higher level. As for Marquez, de Guzman, Robson, and Boskovic – what are we losing? These were big money guys that for various reasons didn’t work out. We’re SAVING lots of money by them leaving, and opening up spots to get someone better. Let’s see what the new youngsters coming up into MLS this season can do in all of these players’ former places.

  12. Scott says:

    i think it’s great for the league, MLS is gaining in talent and people are taking notice by harvesting that talent.

    • Joel says:

      I agree. The best way to attract promising young talent is to show them that MLS is a stepping-stone for achieving their ambitions. Successful college athletics programs operate on the same basic principle. Some of those players will decide to stay, and the league will benefit.

  13. biff says:

    IMO, time for MLS to change the transfer model to bring it more in line with Europe. Instead of generally forcing players like Omar Gonzalez and Juan Agudelo to play out their contracts in order to go on a free transfer (as Roger Espinoza just did), it would make more sense to sell players in January with a year left on their contacts or even in August with a few months go.

    I do not see the biz sense of allowing players to go free when MLS could be collecting millions. It would also, I think, improve morale in the MLS. Gonzalez said in an interview just a few weeks ago the difficulty he will have to go through by risking possibly a career-ending injury by running down his contract, and he mentioned guys like Stu Holden who had to do the same. (Serious Question: Does anyone know whether players doing this can take out an insurance policy in case they do get seriously injured while running down a contract?)

    Another possiblity would be for players to start demanding automatic release clauses in MLS contracts. Figure out a fair transfer fee for both sides when the contract is signed. A lot of players do this in Europe, such as Moussa Dembele, which allowed him to easily jump ship at Fulham while Clint had to fight to escape the claws of Fulham that are now firmly holding Brede Hangeland whose move to QPR was denied.

    • Strider257 says:

      Bif, this is really harder than it seems. I agree with your premise, but how do you know ahead of time how well a specific player will develop? MLS tends to be overly optimistic and thus asks for more than other teams are willing to pay. I’m sure they would want to structure any release amount in a similar fashion and don’t see how that would end up helping matters.

    • GW says:

      biff,

      “IMO, time for MLS to change the transfer model to bring it more in line with Europe. Instead of generally forcing players like Omar Gonzalez and Juan Agudelo to play out their contracts in order to go on a free transfer (as Roger Espinoza just did), it would make more sense to sell players in January with a year left on their contacts or even in August with a few months go.”

      What is ownership’s incentive to do this?

      “I do not see the biz sense of allowing players to go free when MLS could be collecting millions.”

      Some players are not worth millions. Odds are most of them will not be. Odds are many of them will be worth less than what they signed for.

      “It would also, I think, improve morale in the MLS. “

      Whose morale, the players or management?

      “Gonzalez said in an interview just a few weeks ago the difficulty he will have to go through by risking possibly a career-ending injury by running down his contract, and he mentioned guys like Stu Holden who had to do the same. (Serious Question: Does anyone know whether players doing this can take out an insurance policy in case they do get seriously injured while running down a contract?)”

      Beckham is insured for 70 million against career ending injury.

      “Another possibility would be for players to start demanding automatic release clauses in MLS contracts. Figure out a fair transfer fee for both sides when the contract is signed. A lot of players do this in Europe, such as Moussa Dembele, which allowed him to easily jump ship at Fulham while Clint had to fight to escape the claws of Fulham that are now firmly holding Brede Hangeland whose move to QPR was denied.”

      Again, what incentive would management have to give the players what they “demand”? How do you propose to “figure out a fair transfer fee for both sides when the contract is signed”? Can you predict in advance how much a player will be worth by the time the team wants to transfer him?

      • DCLee says:

        Well said GW. Risk is part of life. You didn’t see the galaxy complaining when Omar tore his Achilles on a training stint the Galaxy let him go on.

        Anyone see that west brom player that drove up to QPR thinking he was transferred only to be told the deal didn’t happen. Pretty funny!

  14. el paso texas says:

    The future dilemma with MLS selling young players to the EPL or any other league, is that MLS is helping Canada, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica and other countries developed their players and soccer mentality, which at the end USA will suffer when trying to qualify or win a tournament, like the World Cup, Gold Cup, Concacaf Champions league. For example, if the EPL had a good number of Canadians, US and Mexican players, then England would have the same conflict within their own national team, and I think they do by having and helping other countries with their soccer. Therefore if MLS keeps developing non Americans with good soccer talent, like a player from Canada, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, eventually MLS will suffer from that and the American national team as well. Another example, why does Argentina dominate England at the national level, due to the high amount of Argentine talent in the EPL. That is why at the end of the day, MLS needs to do something in order to not suffer in the future and that is to concentrate in American talent which is difficult due to dual nationality.

    • mateus says:

      Name 10 quality Argentines in the PL. Dozens more are in Spain and Italy and those folks are noy complaining

    • Joe+G says:

      Dual nations will always be an issue for MLS because they have choices. But local talent without an extra passport or good connections has to be a bit lucky (see Josh Gatt) to start overseas. Labor laws will always favor those with citizenship, so you will continue to see a high percentage of American kids go through MLS rather than start off overseas. As long as they continue to invest in their academies and develop players, MLS will continue to feed good players to the USMNT.

    • timothy says:

      Disagree. Bringing in foreigners helps the American player and the national team by increasing the competiveness of the league where most Americans play. There are only a few dozen usmnt players, yet there are over 100 of our best players in mls.

    • scott47a says:

      I think this idea that the MLS is somehow responsible for the USMNT is only in the heads of a small segment of people – albeit a lot of them are SBI readers.
      I think most of us think the MLS needs to just put the best product on the field that it can afford to put on the field.

      • downintexas says:

        MLS is definitly not responsible, however there is a great coralation between the league and USMNT. More Americans playing high level of soccer = better MNT players. But over all bring up the quality of play and it helps the entire region.

    • Jonesy says:

      Might need to remind you that Canada now has 3 teams in the MLS with the majority of players being American. These Americans do not count as international spots on the Canadian team rosters either (Canadians playing in the US don’t have that perk). If the Canadian teams thought with the same logic as you they should not employ any US players as it weakens the development of the CanMNT. I really wish that people would see the MLS as a North American league and not just an American one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two more Canadian teams within 5 yrs.

    • GW says:

      El paso texas

      MLS cannot worry about the national team this way, it’s impractical, unsustainable and self defeating .

      It’s also not their job.

      If they ban all non USMNT eligible players that lowers the quality of the product and hampers the effectiveness of MLS in terms of developing Americans many of whom become better players by playing with the forgeiners and learning from them.

      This sort of xenophobia never works. England’s team sucks for too many reasons to discuss here but having too many foreigners on their clubs teams, on merit, isn’t one of them.

      Look at the Netherlands, tons of foreigners in their league and they are perennial World Cup contenders. Same with the French and the Germans.

  15. Iggy says:

    I don’t mind players leaving, but we heard of very few impact players coming in, so that’s disappointing.

    Time for the next round of players to step up.

    Provided he does well, Simon Dawkins move could be a real positive. Got his career back on track and grew as a player here. Bodes well for other young players to come here and not be scared they will fall off the map.

    • OPMG says:

      Rarely has MLS ever brought in impact players that make any headlines. All the players that left (that actually mattered) were young guns who proved themselves in MLS. This will happen again as we see the young guys in the league breakout and really start playing well. For now MLS will be a league of young stars with potential, and eventually they’ll start sticking around longer and longer as the financial incentives increase.

      The league won’t be built by bringing in the Beckham’s and Henry’s of the world. Although that provides a nice little boost, it isn’t sustainable because there’s no way we can compete consistently for those high-priced stars.

      • Iggy says:

        agree with you. I wasnt really referring to not seeing more Beckhams and Henry’s coming in this Jan. more that we havent seen others like Montero, or some other Concacaf internationals etc.

  16. Stracho says:

    Any guesses as to how much money to the league this represents?

    • Nick says:

      As per league stipulations the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

      • Stracho says:

        No doubt. Wondering about guesses. Does anyone think this represent an infusion similar in scope to one of our current tv contracts? As a revenue stream it certainly has room to grow.

        Also in thinking about outgoing talent it reminds me of an analysis I read from a couple years ago that compared the 5-15% average wage growth per year of MLS players compared to the roughly 5% per year increase in salary cap. Just looking at those numbers makes you think that harvesting some MLS talent every year is financially healthy.

  17. Chris says:

    One that got overlooked a little;
    Angel to Atlético Nacional.
    I know he somewhat faded away, but he was a very prominent player just a few years ago. I know I will miss him.

  18. DDT5583 says:

    Hey Brek, when’s the baby due? Geez, and I thought vertical stripes were supposed to be slimming.

    • ed - houston says:

      i know, not a flattering pic, looks like he has a belly. maybe its due to the off season and him being hurt

      • To be fair, I think the photographer took the shot from the most unflattering position… about crotch high. Taking a photo from that level pretty much is a dead lock that the belly is going to look large… it’s like the same deal as how girls put a camera up high then lean forward in photo’s to make sure their breasts look bigger.

  19. mateus says:

    MLS just might become the best league in the Western Hemisphere in 20years

    but anyone wager a guess when the first $20million transfer will occur in MLS?

    • OPMG says:

      Maybe if the league still had Jozy? It’ll be interesting to see what AZ gets for him when he leaves.

      • po says:

        $11 when they sell him to either a Bundesliga or Serie A to eat

      • Rory says:

        $20 Million, which is like 12 million pounds, right? I’d say it would take a wonderkid, early teens with a lot of promise. Probably a goalscorer… I’d say it’s going to be a while.

  20. Raymon says:

    Did someone tell Miranda he was going to Chile not BPL Everton?

  21. john.q says:

    Brek… you really got to drop the “old angry lesbian” look

  22. Logic says:

    Ives,
    Though outflows were much more significant-at least as I see them, any chance on a primer for talent IMPORTED? Realize this might be superfluous if “season previews” are coming out soon.

  23. mateus says:

    This summer

    Zusi to a Ligue 1 team
    Agudelo to Feyernoord
    Rimando to a Polish team
    Wondolowski to Copenhagen FC

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I’m going to be interested to see who moves over the next year and a half because there are risks involved. Clark moved in roughly this period, got hurt, never recovered, stunk in the Ghana game. A marginal roster player has to consider whether they might be pushing themselves off a cliff. If you don’t get PT for your money move, then you just cashed in your roster spot for a few bills more.

      After all, none of the guys you are naming are assured of the 23.

      • Beto says:

        +1. Making a move right now, 1.5 years before the cup is a lot riskier than during the season before. If Omar and Zusi want to maxumize their values I would play in MLS until after the cup and then bolt.

  24. The Imperative Voice says:

    Also Andre Hainault to Ross County (SPL).

  25. beachbum says:

    just a general comment, but the MLS offseason coverage here at SBI has been awesome. Just can’t wait to read all this stuff every day.

    on the league, a lot of talent left no doubt. I think it reflects the league’s growing stature which is cool, and Yes, I’d like to see the league grow to the point it can pay to keep these players, always improing its ability to support the beautiful game in the States,

    but as a fan, I’ve never followed the league more closely and with as much enthusiasm, it just keeps building every year. I can’t wait for the season to start.

    An an American soccer fan that is really cool to experience. These stadiums and games in America at this level, that was not available to us not too long ago, certainly not when I was growing up.

  26. The Imperative Voice says:

    I expect to see some moves as Brazil approaches, teams are eliminated, and players on eliminated teams feel freer to move where they want. But we’re only so far down that road yet.

    I also expect for some big name people to move in the summer, I don’t think a lot of players are going to want the turmoil associated with a winter pre-signing. Becks did it but then he’s a special case. Players may not want to sour their present situation, or at least may wait until a point when their teams’ fates are secured.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Donovan turmoil as well as the NYRB coaching turmoil impacted the signings. That’s 2-3 spots that could have been filled. But would you want to play for NY in this state, or particularly in the state around New Year’s? And LA has to assume Landon’s coming back to hold his spot.

    But I also think you might be having a boomlet ease down. You had expansion teams. You had an economic crisis where our stable cap limited league might have been a safe haven. You had Beckham. I do expect foreign imports to rise as the World Cup approaches and passes.

    My worry is that we do need to retain some marquee faces who stay put a long time a la Donovan. If you let the league become an EPL test track then casual and/or supersnob fans will naturally take that as an invitation to transfer some more interest to EPL. MLS needs to be, for at least some players, a home.

  27. Dan M says:

    Freddy Adu is 32! for other examples, see this article…

    link to cnn.com

  28. 2pac shakur says:

    For me i dont mind seeing a bit of an exodus. Opens the door for a mls youth movement

    • Rory says:

      Thank you, Exactly! We’ve been waiting for Shea to move for three years and meanwhile he clogs up another spot on that team where a younger guy could be playing. I wish Real Salt Lake would lose enough players to let Gil become a full-time starter. We’re kind of babying the ones with potential, as a result Gil will probably be 24 before he gets his move to Europe.

      • soccerhorn says:

        you do know that Brek Shea is 22, right? What did you have in mind, fielding an entire team of 19 year olds?

  29. Brian says:

    I don’t mind the older talent moving on because we can replace them with lightly younger veterans. I also think it’s a good sign that MLS clubs are letting some of the younger talent move because it’s a sign that there clubs feel they have even younger talent capable of filling the holes.

    I think it is a great long term strategy for MLS to gain solid footing as a respected feeder league before trying to push into the top tier.

  30. Mike in Missouri says:

    Now that we’re having so many “alumns” go overseas and have success, I think MLS is in a position to start asking for more on the transfers. For instance, if Shea was English, he’d been worth more. I think it’s almost time for American players to garner similar transfer fees to what European counterparts get.

    • Ben says:

      Fortunately for us fans, it’s difficult for a player to be signed in England unless he’s played a lot for a national team.

  31. Charles Fix says:

    I guess Simon Dawkins was caught completely off guard by the switch. I gotta think he is bummed out.
    Playing for something and playing in Champions League at SJ to Aston Villa….I guess he will be playing to finish 21st next year. The NIT of the English leagues.

  32. If players are going to leave on a free, then MLS should start selling them sooner to get their money back on them.

    Klinsmann has nothing to do with what is happening on transfers. If you are still upset about his calling US Soccer players a bunch of snowflakes, he’s right. (Snowflakes are a term used at Fark.com abut over protective parents) We have a whole generation of players that have grown up on gold medals and snacks for just participating.

    Until MLS can start matching the salaries players can get overseas, we need to quit whining about players going abroad. The economics are not there yet in this country to pay the higher salaries.

    (That’s not Klinsmann’s fault either)

    • Joe+G says:

      It’s always a trade off. The league wants to keep value relatively high and understands that it’s better to let a good player play out his contract (to which there is a value to the team) than to have a fire sale and set a lower price for future deals. But, there is a negative value to a player who is upset over not getting moved along to a higher league when the suitors come calling.

  33. Cairo says:

    This is 100% a positive development. I don’t really care much what the Euro fans think of MLS. I do care that European scouts are starting to recognize the quality of some of the players in the league. To me, the only way that MLS grows to be one of the top 8 or so leagues in the world is when American soccer fans start watching MLS games as much or more than they watch EPL games. How do we convince them that this league is worth watching? Only by having MLS players go to Europe and perform well in the EPL and other leagues that American soccer fans are watching. Say what you will about Donovan, but having one of MLS’ marquee players go to the EPL and make a strong impression was a strong statement for American soccer fans. If MLS broadcasts can poach even a 40% share of the EPL watching crowd, then TV revenues go up, salaries go up, and the league starts to be able to pay competitive wages to top Euro and South American talent.
    As someone hoping that MLS eventually becomes a mainstream league in the US, I think what Shea, Espinoza, Holden, Kamara, and Najar do in Europe is as important to the league’s growth more than anything actually happening in MLS itself in the coming year.

    • beachbum says:

      some good points in there Cairo. I’m always a fanboy of our ‘product’–American, MLS, CONCACAF– representing over there

  34. Good Jeremy says:

    Maybe Shea can spend his part of the transfer fee on a haircut?
    Honestly, I think it’s awesome that he gets his first official press photo for the new club knowing that he looks like that.

  35. A wise man once says:

    Yeah, it took me a good ten seconds to recognize Brek in that picture.

  36. Beto says:

    Good stuff. Espinoza, Shea, Richards and Kamara have gone to prove the point that if you excel in MLS and your national team at the same time you can get an EPL/UEFA. From Cameron to Findley its good to see that UEFA scouts are interested and active in this contenent.

    Im pretty confident that mls clubs are developing quality players more quickly than they are selling them.