Less than 24 hours after Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez finished dancing naked in celebration of the Galaxy’s 2012 MLS Cup triumph, reports of impending blockbuster MLS trades started filtering in. Not long after that, the first big transactions were confirmed, as Real Salt Lake, Portland, and New York completed significant deals ahead of the 2013 season.
More on those shortly, but first, here’s a list of foreign-based players who could be, are rumored to be, should be, or some guy’s cousin’s sister’s bartender said would be, coming to our bustling shores in 2013 (along with their age, position, nationality, current or most recent club, and level).
Buckle up, and take ’em all with a grain of salt:
Yossi Benayoun, 32, attacking midfielder Israel, Chelsea—on loan to West Ham, Premier League
Dexter Blackstock, 26, striker, Antigua and Barbuda, Nottingham Forest, Football League Championship (English second flight)
Fernando Cavenaghi, 29, striker, Argentina, Villareal, La Liga
Christian Eichner, left back, Germany, FC Cologne, Bundesliga2
Rio Ferdinand, 34, center back, England, Manchester United, Premier League
Maynor Figueroa, 29, defender, Honduras, Wigan Athletic, Premier League
Robbie Findley, 27, striker, United States, Nottingham Forest, Football League Championship
Brad Friedel, 41, goalkeeper, United States, Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League
Manuel Freidrich, 33 , center back, Germany, Bayer Leverkusen, Bundesliga
Clarence Goodson, 30, defender, United States, Brøndby, Superligaen (Danish top flight)
Atiba Hutchinson, 29, midfielder/defender, Canada, PSV Eindhoven, Eredivisie (Dutch top flight)
Jared Jeffrey, 22, midfielder, United States, Mainz 05, Bundesliga
Kaka, 30, midfielder, Brazil, Real Madrid, La Liga
Kevin McKenna, 32, center back, Canada, FC Cologne, Bundesliga
David Mendes da Silva, 30, defender, Netherlands, Red Bull Salzburg, Austrian Bundesliga
Rubin Okotie, 25, striker, Austria, Sturm Graz, Austrian Bundesliga
Martin Petrov, 33, winger, Bulgaria, Bolton, Football League Championship
Claudio Pizarro, 34, striker, Peru, Bayern Munich, Bundesliga
Frank Simek, 28, defender, United States, Carlisle, Football League One (English third flight)
Whew! And look for that list to grow in the coming weeks.
As for the deals that have already gone down, Real Salt Lake offloaded center back Jamison Olave, striker Fabian Espindola, and midfielder Will Johnson in a bold sweep to free up allocation money that they’ll likely use to lure a marquee forward for 2013.
Olave and Espindola went to New York and Johnson to Portland. All three were dealt in exchange for cash. Why New York would swoop for the declining Olave is a topic for another post, but for now, suffice to say that the 2010 MLS Defender of the Year will be 32 early next season, and has seen his minutes decline due to injury from 2,413 in 2010 to 2,128 in ’11 and 1,734 last year. Good luck with that, NY.
RSL also sent striker Justin Braun to Toronto FC for defender Aaron Maund, and Portland—which has installed new coach Caleb Porter from Akron—traded defender Kosuke Kimura to the Red Bulls for allocation money and the rights to homegrown player (and Akron Zip) Bryan Gallego.
The Timbers also traded lanky center back Eric Brunner to Houston for allocation money, and sent cash to Sporting Kansas City in exchange for outside back Michael Harrington.
All of these moves took place on Monday, a day the Colorado Rapids capped by trading an international roster spot to Vancouver for striker Atiba Harris.
On Thursday, the Red Bulls traded attacker Sebastien Le Toux to Philadelphia—where he enjoyed a breakout season in 2010, producing 14 goals and 11 asssists—in exchange for allocation money and 22-year-old Costa Rican striker Josue Martinez.
Stay tuned, hot-stove season is only one week old.