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Who's hot, who's not
by Paul Kennedy, May 1st, 2012 12:48AM

TAGS:  mls


[MLS IMPORTS WATCH] MLS clubs rely heavily on importing players when they make offseason moves.

So far, 51 foreigners with no previous experience in U.S. leagues or the college ranks have been used by MLS clubs in 2012.

Several have been key contributors in the success of their respective clubs -- South Korean Young-Pyo Lee and Argentine Martin Bonjour at 4-2-2 Vancouver, Austria keeper Michael Gspurning at 4-1-1 Seattle and Panamanian Blas Perez (three goals and three assists for FC Dallas) come to mind -- but many have had little impact.

Lee, Gspurning and Perez are among eight imports who have played every minute. Besides Lee and Gspurning, the only one of them who plays on a team with a winning record is the much-maligned Swede Markus Holgersson at 4-3-1 New York.

One team that has hit the mark with its offseason signings: Colorado, where Colombians Luis Zapata and Jaime Castrillon and Argentine Martin Rivero have all been starting regularly and contributing.

Probably the biggest bust is Albanian Hamdi Salihi. He's has been no factor in D.C. United's success despite his Designated Player salary.

San Jose is this season's other surprise, but it has not been starting any of its three imports recently. Honduran Victor Bernandez was very good before being injured, while Colombian veteran Tressor Moreno has only been used sparingly.

The two clubs who have imported the most players are New England and Philadelphia. Of the Revs' six imports, only Frenchman Saer Sene has been starting. Panamanian Gabriel Gomez and Colombian Lionard Pajoy have combined for four of the Union's five goals, but Costa Ricans Porfirio Lopez and Josue Martinez have been disappointments.

bold=players who have played every minute.

Chicago Fire
270 Paolo Tornaghi, Italy
246 Arne Friedrich, Germany
84 Federico Puppo, Uruguay
76 Rafael Robayo, Colombia

Chivas USA
685 Oswaldo Minda, Ecuador, 1 goal
292 Miller Bolanos, Ecuador, 1 assist
0 John Alexander Valencia, Colombia

Colorado Rapids
720 Luis Zapata, Colombia

677 Jaime Castrillon, Colombia, 1 goal, 1 assist
337 Martin Rivero, Argentina, 1 assist
0 Kohei Yamada, Japan

Columbus Crew
630 Milovan Mirosevic, Chile, 1 goal

543 Olman Vargas, Colombia, 1 goal
190 Nemanja Vukovic, Montenegro, 1 assist

FC Dallas
720 Blas Perez, Panama, 3 goals, 3 assists

519 Hernan Pertuz, Colombia
544 Carlos Rodriguez, Panama
15 *Luis Perea, Colombia

D.C. United
450 Emiliano Dudar, Argentina
379 Hamdi Salihi Albania

Houston Dynamo

Los Angeles Galaxy
141 Marcelo Sarvas, Brazil, 1 goal

Montreal Impact
810 Felipe Martins, Brazil, 1 assist

810 Matteo Ferrari, Italy
458 Bernardo Corradi, Italy, 3 goals, 1 assist
0 Gienir Garcia, Mexico
0 Nelson Rivas, Colombia

New England Revolution
442 Saer Sene, France, 2 goals, 1 assist
165 Jose Moreno, Colombia, 1 goal
138 Fernando Cardenas, Colombia
135 Florian Lechner, Germany
90 John Lozano, Colombia
26 Bjorn Runstrom, Sweden

New York Red Bulls
720 Markus Holgersson, Sweden

214 Victor Palsson, Iceland

Philadelphia Union
614 Lionard Pajoy, Colombia, 1 goal
592 Gabriel Gomez, Panama, 3 goals
315 Porfirio Lopez, Costa Rica
123 Josue Martinez, Costa Rica
63 Kai Herdling, Germany

Portland Timbers
701 Kris Boyd, Scotland, 3 goals
384 Hanyer Mosquera, Colombia
271 Franck Songo'o, Cameroon
90 Steven Smith, Scotland
0 Jose Adolfo Valencia, Colombia

Real Salt Lake
90 Terukazu Tanaka, Japan
22 Emiliano Bonfigli, Argentina

San Jose Earthquakes
495 Victor Bernardez, Honduras
287 Tressor Moreno, Colombia, 2 assists
10 Sercan Guvenisik, Germany

Seattle Sounders
540 Michael Gspurning, Austria

180 Adam Johansson, Sweden
88  Christian Sivebaek, Denmark
0 Cordell Cato

Sporting Kansas City

Toronto FC
377 Reggie Lambe, Bermuda, 2 goals, 1 assist
326 Miguel Aceval, Chile, 2 assists

Vancouver Whitecaps
720 Young-Pyo Lee, 1 goal, 1 assist

717 Martin Bonjour, 1 goal

  1. John Burns
    commented on: May 1, 2012 at 9:52 a.m.
    San Jose's Victor Bernardez has already proven himself to be one of the top central defenders in the league. Surprised you appear to have overlooked Marvin Chavez of the Quakes. I believe he is from Honduras but for some reason did not meet the criteria you set up in the second paragraph. He has been extremely significant in the revitalized life we are witnessing on this team.

  1. William Marx
    commented on: May 1, 2012 at 11:11 a.m.
    Mr. Kennedy Dear Sir: Embarrassingly, you have exposed yourself as a poser of real soccer knowledge and information. By innuendo, you have identified the 4 Colorado Rapids international as noncontributory. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your assumptions must be based on easily acquired data not actually viewing of the players. Here is reality: Zapata – is a regular 1st choice player and a substantial upgrade at LFB. Even at 31 y/o he maintains good speed and often leads the attack down the L flank. Castrillon – is a regular 1st choice player in a holding midfield role, as such, his goal scoring statistics are not and will not be high. Thus far, his performance has been up & down but, generally, he is a positive contributor who likely will become more influential as the season ages. Rivero – As you may recall, Rivero was the victim of his Argentine club and the Argentine soccer federation intrigue which was finally resolved by FIFA. Consequently, he was not available for early matches, is still becoming match fit and has suffered an injury. However, his play has been bright and influential. He is the trigger in Pareja’s offensive philosophy. He is a 22 y/o player with a big MLS upside, only his loan status and his Argentine connection could prevent him from MLS stardom. Yamada – is a rookie, supplemental draft pick what do you expect? In summary, if you are not going to do your job honestly don’t profess to be an expert spouting evaluations based on trivia!!!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: May 1, 2012 at 1:55 p.m.
    The only thing/s I will say concerning this piece by Senor Kennedy is that it goes to show one and all just how far MLS teams will go to bring in supposed talented players in order for the teams to spout their mantra of: "See take a look at our rosters and you'll see us bringing in Latino players!" This IS ludicrous as they are IMPORTING at least temporarily Latin American players as OPPOSED to beating the bushes of this wide and expansive United States for domestic Latino/Hispanic PLAYERS and incorporating them into the league. The cost factor - BTW, Mr. Kennedy, why don't you do one of your studies on just how much the MLS teams are spending to bring - OOOPS! I mean IMPORT - the players to include travel, compensation DP or not, housing, immigration papers, agent fees, etc. I bet it does make some dent on the MLS team's payroll/budget! Do I mean that some local Latino/Hispanic players already here would cost less? Very likely, but since those books aren't readily available to Joe public (only and until the annual reporting time) we can only speculate. Bottom line is that most of the players Kennedy listed above 67% are from Latin America and the remainder from a smattering of other nations, and the author does illustrate that for all intents and purposes the league's teams are in effect wasting their resources on supposed talent by noting their playing time and he further hits the nail on the head that of the listed bunch, 51 have not had any experience "in the US leagues or the college ranks." The final point is that surely there MUST be a way to have the teams look in their own back yards, much like Chivas USA and the Galaxy have been wont to do, and I am sure several other teams may be trying to do! Lastly, muchas gracias por el articulo, Senor Pablo Kennedy!

  1. Scott Fenwick
    commented on: May 1, 2012 at 6:32 p.m.
    Greetings from Chicago. Newsflash: Arne Friedrich - Not hot. Without his marginal services thus far, the Fire would be even with New York.

  1. Antonio Guzman
    commented on: May 3, 2012 at 4:33 p.m.
    Mr. Kennedy - I was shocked to read some of the things you wrote. Then I click on your name and see that you are the "Editor in Chief and General Manager" of Soccer America. One of the major reasons our country doesn't advance as fast as it could is because we have people in the press that type articles like this. Every single league in the WORLD has professional players, even the EPL and La Liga. Some players work out and some don't but that is a totally different matter. Are you saying that we are better off putting in a college kid that doesn't even know what it means to be a professional let alone think like one? From personal experience I can tell you that being a professional is more than just playing the game, it is a lifestyle and the hope is that the players that get drafted (and by the way, I can't believe there is even a draft in soccer) can learn what it takes - there is a steep learning curve and you either survive or you fall off and that's that. I have watched every single Earthquakes game and I agree John Burns, Victor Bernardez is definitely one of the best center backs in the league. Unfortunately for him he suffered an injury that will keep him out at least another two weeks. And what about Marvin Chavez (also from Honduras)? Marvin brings a combination of speed and technique to a dangerous Earthquakes team that can possess the ball very well. Marin also looks to take players on, serves the ball and just yesterday beat a player to the inside and ripped a shot with his left foot that ended up in a goal when Lenhart tapped it in. Oh and by the way, Marvin is right footed and he riffled the shot with his left! I am not even an Earthquakes fan but I watch the games because they play well and intend to play the game right. Now, let's look at Tressor Moreno. He had everything to do with the first two goals San Jose had yesterday and he won't appear in a stat sheet for that. It is clear that Frank Yallop has a coach's best problem and that is figuring out who to play and in what position because of the versatility of their players. I follow the Mexican soccer league as well and I have been watching Tressor play for years. There is no player in this league that can do what he does and once he gets his game fitness in you will see the things he can do. Again, I am not even a fan of the Earthquakes but I do watch their games for what they try to do each game. Next time you make an assessement on 51 players I suggest you watch every single one of them play and not just look at a stats sheet. Thank you for continuing to slow our country down as we try and progress in this beautiful game.

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