[NEW IN MLS: Central Midfielders]Toronto FC and Philadelphia have served notice to their Eastern Conference rivals that they will be in for a dogfight in 2014. Their signing of Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu, respectively, changes the picture dramatically. For a look at the top new central midfielders, including a pair of Frenchmen still in their prime. ...
DAVY ARNAUD (D.C. United).The former Montreal captain was one of seven new players in United's starting lineup on Saturday for its game against Chicago. He played in a triangle in central midfield with Perry Kitchen and Jared Jeffrey, behind Eddie Johnson, the lone striker.
MICHAEL BRADLEY (Toronto FC).Bradley won't be the only new face in the Toronto starting lineup -- there could be seven or eight -- but he is clearly the most important.He instantly becomes the best two-way midfielder in MLS, capable of defending and attacking. Don't underestimate his ability to score.
MAURICE EDU/VINCENT NOGUEIRA (Philadelphia).The Union has upgraded its midfield in a big way with the signing of Edu, on loan from Stoke City, and Frenchman Nogueira, from Sochaux. They should line up in front of veteran Brian Carroll in a three-man central midfield.
NICOLAS MEZQUIDA (Vancouver). Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson admitted to not having seen Mezquida and fellow Uruguayan Sebastian Fernandez in person before their acquisition. Mezquida gives the 'Caps a natural playmaker they have been lacking, while Fernandez can play as a forward, second forward or out wide.In Sunday's loss to Seattle, Mezquida set up Carlyle Mitchell for Vancouver's only goal.
JEAN-BAPTISTE PIERAZZI (San Jose). The Frenchman said it was his dream since a child live in the United States, and he got it, signing with the Quakes from relegation-bound Ajaccio, the Corsican club he captained.Unlike most of the other Frenchmen who have come to MLS, the 28-year-old Pierazzi is still in his prime. He should lend some order to the often frenetic Quakes' attack.
MLS Central Midfielders, Incumbents:
Chicago: Jeff Larentowicz (32), Alex (47).
Chivas USA:Oswaldo Minda (38), Carlos Alvarez (29), Carlo Chueca (5).
Colorado:Dillon Powers (30), *Nick LaBrocca (85), Nate Sturgis (25).
Columbus:Wil Trapp (16), Tony Tchani (44).
FC Dallas:Andrew Jacobson (85), Michel (31), Mauro Diaz (10).
D.C. United: Perry Kitchen (94), Jared Jeffrey (10).
Houston: *Ricardo Clark (168), Warren Creavalle (38).
LA Galaxy:Juninho (119), Marcelo Sarvas (60).
Montreal:Felipe (62), Patrice Bernier (58).
New England:Scott Caldwell (29), Kelyn Rowe (63), Lee Nguyen (63).
New York: Dax McCarty (79), Peguy Luyindula (22).
Philadelphia:Brian Carroll (96), Michael Lahoud (31).
Portland:Diego Chara (87), Will Johnson (28), Diego Valeri (31).
Real Salt Lake: Kyle Beckerman (177), Javier Morales (155).
San Jose:Sam Cronin (109), Walter Martinez (15).
Seattle: Osvaldo Alonso (139), Clint Dempsey (9).
Sporting KC:Uri Rosell (36), Paulo Nagamura (44), Benny Feilhaber (27).
Toronto FC: Jeremy Hall (54), Jonathan Osorio (18).
Vancouver:Nigel Reo-Coker (32), Gershon Koffie (84).
In parentheses are games played with current team.
*Two separate stints at club.