Cue Art Vandelay: While the fate of Major League Soccer’s biggest out-of-contract player, David Beckham, is still undecided (though PSG seems to have the inside track), the 2011-2012 trading season has begun in earnest.
This week the league dealt two 2011 foreign signings back to Mexico and Sweden, respectively, while bringing in a new Brazilian midfielder and generating the usual supply of rumors about other players headed stateside. Let’s take a look:
Bravo, But No Encore
Sporting Kansas City announced yesterday that Designated Player Omar Bravo will return to the Mexican Primera Division after just one season with the MLS club.
The 31-year-old attacker, who tied for the SKC lead in goals with nine, has signed with Cruz Azul, but he’s apparently leaving on good terms. Kansas City coach Peter Vermes called the Cruz Azul offer “very beneficial for him and us. I understand from the business perspective why the decision was made.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, per league policy, but Vermes also told the league website: “I think you are smart enough to figure out that obviously there were benefits on both sides that eventually got the deal done. That’s really it.”
For his part Bravo, left the door open, saying in his departing statement, “I do not want to rule out a return to Sporting KC and MLS.”
Bravo is an excellent player and he did well for Kansas City in 2011, but the club is still in good shape without him. Since the 2011 season ended, they’ve acquired left-sided player Bobby Convey—a former US international who’s still only 28, and as Vermes said, “has a lot to prove.” He could conceivably take Bravo’s place in the KC attack alongside Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, and 2011 Rookie of the Year CJ Sapong.
Kansas City also added central midfielder Paulo Nagamura of Brazil, and Bravo’s departure will free up the cash to shop for another marquee player.
If I Leave Here Tomorrow
He’s travelin’ on back to his native Sweden, but Seattle fans will still remember Eric Friberg.
The 25-year-old was a solid signing for the Pacific Northwest club, producing one goal and two assists, and providing depth and versatility to the Sounders’ midfield—he played in a central attacking role as well as on both flanks during the 2011 season.
Friberg is returning to Sweden for personal reasons: He and his wife are expecting their first child, and they want to be close to home and extended family.
On the import side of the ledger, the LA Galaxy announced yesterday that they’ve signed 30-year-old Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, a native of Sao Paulo who played for Costa Rican side Alajuelense in 2011.
The Galaxy faced Sarvas twice in the CONCACAF Champions League this past season, so they know what they’re getting. He could partner with his countryman Juninho next season if Juninho, who was on loan to LA from Sao Paulo FC, accepts the Galaxy’s contract offer.
Los Angeles could field three Brazilians next season if Juninho returns and defender Leonardo recovers from his knee injury (and extends his loan from Sao Paulo).
Still in the speculative stages are potential moves by the Red Bulls, who are shopping for both a central defender and an attacking midfielder, along with a possible return to the league by rugged Colombian centerback Wilman Conde, who reportedly wants out of Mexican side Atlas.
New York GM Erik Soler says the team is shopping for a third Designated Player from “one of the bigger leagues” in Europe. “We want someone with high quality on the ball who likes to move the ball around but has the ability to score on their own,” he told the league website.
Someone kind of like Dwayne De Rosario…? (Let’s just move on.)
Soler said that the first priority is to add a central defender, and he also said that German goalkeeper Frank Rost could be back after all, though not as a DP.
Real Salt Lake brass are also in the hunt for new talent. Head coach Jason Kreis traveled to South America and Europe in the past few weeks, and GM Garth Lagerwey is currently in Asia looking at players.