In previous years the January transfer window didn’t mean a whole lot for MLS. The league for all intents and purposes retreated from the international transfer market after the 2000 season, a year when MLS was extremely aggressive in bring top international talent from European leagues to MLS, and in most cases the purchases failed to live up to the promise of the signing. MLS attendance continued to decline and the level of play on the pitch was quite honestly in 2000 worse than in 1998 or 1999.
After six years of a very disciplined almost insular player movement system, MLS is back in a big way on the market. Not only are teams in the league signing players based on an improving scouting network, but more and more MLS players are arousing interest from Europe.
- Troy Perkins has already moved to Norway. Now interest in Matt Pickens and of course Brad Guzan from British clubs are once again indicating that MLS and the US in general develops goal keepers in mass just about better than anyone on the planet.
- Taylor Twellman is a target for struggling Preston North End in the English Championship. Preston has had Americans before- Brian McBride and Eddie Lewis, so Twellman would fit in there.
- New England is potentially suffering from a mass exodus. Their most valuable commodity, Shalrie Joseph has resigned and will not be moving to Celtic or any of the other high profile clubs that have pursued him in the past. However, with Andy Dorman already having left for the SPL, Taylor Twellman arousing interest from Preston and now Avery John apparently on the radar for several Championship clubs as well as Fulham (where his former Revolution team mate Clint Dempsey leads the team in goals) it may be high time for Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner to just start rebuilding.
- Speaking of the English Championship, Steven Goff of the Washington Post is reporting that Jay Jay Okocha is leaving Hull City for Columbus if the Crew can close the deal. From my perspective this is a complete waste of time and money on the Crew’s part. Okocha will likely be added to the long list of MLS signing busts of the last several seasons.
- Goff is also reporting that Columbian defender Gonzalo Martinez is headed to DC United. I have also heard a report that Claudio Lopez, whose career with Argentina is over and he is now 33 could be headed to Kansas City to replace Eddie Johnson who is apparently heading somewhere outside MLS. Lopez is another aged signing that like Blanco and Schelotto could actually work out. Martinez I will admit I know little about, but DC United has the best track record in the league for signing foreign talent.
- The big one done deal is a good one in my mind. Duilio Davino is in my mind one of the better defenders in the Mexican League and of course has been capped close to 90 times for Mexico’s National Team. I am surprised FC Dallas was able to find the cash under the salary cap to sign a player who has been a critical part of Club America’s success over the past decade. In Davino, the Hoops don’t only get a quality defender but a guy who can sell tickets- common perception is that any Mexican can sell tickets, but I am of the belief a Mexican who played for Club America is always a better investment from a marketing standpoint than a player, even a superior player who spent the bulk of their career with any other Mexican club other than Chivas. I’ve seen polling data of Mexican League fans in the United States and the drop off in support between the top two clubs and third most popular club (Cruz Azul) is dramatic.