[MLS 2014 COUNTDOWN] There was lots of MLS activity Thursday with Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Process, plus moves before and after the draft. The biggest moves resulted in Portland dealing with Chivas USA to obtain Seattle's Steve Zakuani, who is reunited with his former Akron coach,Caleb Porter, and D.C. United's pickup of 2008 Rookie of the YearSean Franklinfrom the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo captain Bobby Boswell, who returns to United, where he earned 2006 MLS Defender of the Year honors.
A day after it acquired Mauro Rosales from Seattle for the No. 2 pick in the allocation order for returning national team players, Chivas USA picked up central defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who made 26 starts in his second season in MLS, from the Timbers in a deal that involved Portland getting defender Jorge Villafana, plus the No. 2 pick in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft -- which it used to select Zakuani. Chivas USA also received Portland’s No. 17 pick in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft, which it did not use.
Zakuani was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by the Sounders for whom he played all five seasons. He was a finalist for 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year and had 10 goals and six assists in 2010 but never returned to his top form after suffering a broken leg early in the 2011 MLS season and sitting out 14 months.
Zakuani, whose departure leaves only five original MLS Sounders in Seattle, had 19 goals in 80 games in five seasons. He was the 2008 Soccer America Player of the Year at Akron and joins former Zip teammate Darlington Nagbe on the Timbers.
AT LEAST IT'S A START.With the acquisition of Franklin, Boswell and Davy Arnaud, acquired from Montreal, D.C. United has added this week three veterans who should give it some leadership lacking during its three-win 2013 season -- the worst in MLS history.
The three players don't come cheaply -- they made a combined $700,000 in 2013 -- but D.C. United did hit a rare allocation double. It earned allocation money for both failing to make the playoffs and qualifying for the Concacaf Champions League.
For now, Franklin, Boswell and Arnaud represent only a start. None would be considered game-changers who would elevate United in playoff contenders.
ROJIBLANCOS GET TWO-WAY HELP.Andrew-Baptiste gives Chivas USA a potentially dominating player to play asideCarlos Bocanegra in the middle of the Rojiblancos' backline. Both will also be very attractive targets for service from Morales on set pieces.
The acquisition of Andrew-Baptiste, who was born and raised to Haitian parents in the New York area, and the Argentine Morales is also significant in that neither is Mexican or of Mexican descent.
As part of its return to Mexican roots, Chivas USA brought in 18 Mexicans Mexican or players of Mexican descent and dumped 19 players without Mexican roots.
Another last-place finish in the Western Conference that featured a winless streak of 14 games in midseason and five straight losses to end the season demonstrated that such an approach doesn't work in the very pragmatic world of MLS.
Re-Entry Draft, Stage 1
D.C. United -- Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy)
Portland -- *Steve Zakuani (Seattle)
Philadelphia -- Corben Bone (Chicago)
Colorado -- Marc Burch (Seattle)
D.C. United -- Bobby Boswell (Houston)
*Acquired with No. 2 pick following trade with Chivas USA.
More Re-Entry: Eight players withdrew from the Re-Entry Process, while Rosales was no longer eligible after his trade to Chivas USA. The list included former U.S. internationals Kenny Cooper(FC Dallas) and Bobby Convey(Toronto FC). Their withdrawal means that they look to re-sign with their clubs or be traded. That's what happened to Andre Akpan (New York) and Josh Ford(Seattle), who signed new deals, and Daniel Paladini, whose rights were traded from Chicago to Columbus for a fourth-round 2014 SuperDraft pick.
SOUNDERS' MAKEOVER CONTINUES. The Sounders' makeover continued with the acquisition of Columbus defender Chad Marshall, who began his career under Sounders coach Sigi Schmid in Columbus and was a key member of the Crew's 2008 MLS championship team.
The Stanford product was the MLS Defender of the Year in 2008 and 2009. He has 11 caps for the national team and was on the 30-player shortlist for the 2010 World Cup team, but he hasn't been called up in the Jurgen Klinsmann era.
“Chad is a quality defender who brings experience to the Sounders,” said Schmid in a news release. “He is dominant in the air, has won an MLS Cup and been a league defender of the year. I look forward to working with Chad again and await his positive contribution to our team.”
The inability of the Sounders center backs to shut down opponents was one of the big reasons for their late-season downfall in 2013.
And more ...
CHICAGO.C.J. Brown, who had spent the last three years as part of Jason Kreis' coaching staff at Real Salt Lake, is returning to the the Chicago Fire, where he played 13 season. He joins the new coaching staff under Frank Yallop in Chicago.
Kreis Interview: Outgoing Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis sat down with Brian Dunseth for a two-part interview (Part 1 | Part 2) in which he talks about his nine years in Utah and how he built the club into one of the best in MLS -- the only team to have made the playoffs in each of his six full seasons in the league.
2014 PRESEASON. The Timbers will again host the Rose City Invitational at Jeld-Wen Field in 2014. Portland will be joined by the San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver Whitecaps, as well as Jamaican club Portmore United for the annual event Feb. 23-March 1. Young Jamaican star Alvas Powellis on loan to the Timbers from Portmore United.
Portland will begin preseason training with a 15-day trip to Tucson, Ariz., where it will play four games, three against MLS clubs and one against NASL expansion team Indy Eleven.