Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Argentine World Cup striker ups ante in KC
by Ridge Mahoney, March 11th, 2008 6:45AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS] When Kansas City hired Curt Onalfo as head coach a year and a half ago, he promised to implement at least two elements not always present in past Wizards' teams: a commitment to attack and score goals, and Latin flair. Kansas City scored 45 goals last year, fifth-best in MLS, and unveiled Argentine playmaker Carlos Marinelli and Colombian winger Eloy Colombano. Long before the move of Eddie Johnson to English Premier League club Fulham became official in January, Onalfo and technical director Peter Vermes had begun work on landing replacements. They officially announced the signing of Colombian striker Ivan Trujillo last week but for months had been chasing a much bigger prize.

In luring former Argentine international Claudio Lopez, they delivered as promised, and so has club management. The team's operator-investor, OnGoal LLC, which bought the team in the summer of 2006 from Hunt Sports Group, assured Onalfo it would supply the resources - i.e., money - to land a Designated Player if the right opportunity came along.

No figures have been obtained. A source said Lopez had been shopped at between $1 million and $1.2 million, depending on the number of guaranteed years. He will count $415,000 against the Wizards' salary cap, which is believed to be about $2.2 million this season.

"Basically, in one week our team has changed tremendously, with obviously Claudio arriving and the same thing with Ivan Trujillio," says Onalfo. "We want to have competition in that spot and it's going to make us a team that is deep and is able to win games consistently. That's what you have to have.

"What Claudio brings is not only is he a proven goalscorer, but with the experience and savvy he brings, he's going to create opportunities for his teammates as well."

Like more than a few of the international stars who have come to MLS, Lopez is on the wrong side of 30 - he turns 34 in July - and has been nagged by injuries in the past. Yet in six of his professional seasons he's scored in double-digits during a career that has taken him from his native Argentina, where he played for Estudiantes and Racing Club, to Spain (Valencia), Italy (Lazio) and Mexico (Club America).

"He's an exceptional athlete and has kept himself extremely fit," says Onalfo. "He's extremely fast and a guy that will be able to get in behind defenses, but on top of that he's got 16 years' professional experience, having played in two World Cups [1998 and 2002] and some of the best games in the world. His age is absolutely not a concern; hopefully he can play for us for many years."

His drawing power at home matches won't be an issue this season or next, since Kansas City is playing in the CommunityAmerica Ballpark, a minor-league baseball facility which seats about 10,000, while its new stadium at Bannister Mall is built. Where he will help is up front and with the Hispanic audience.

"It shows that since we've moved into a temporary stadium for the next two years, how much of a commitment that OnGoal has made to the Kansas City Wizards," says Vermes. "The six owners feel that it's extremely important for us to have success on and off the field. Obviously Claudio is a great player on the field and we're also hoping the marketing aspects of it will help us as well.

"But you also have to put it the context if we were at Arrowhead, we could sell a lot more tickets. And whether they have 10,000 or 50,000 seats available, they're going to put the best team they can on the field. Committing to this player, to getting a Designated Player, before we move into a new stadium, I think speaks volumes.

"He's going to be extremely famous in our league and we're, for sure, knowing that when we travel, we're going to have to do some different things."



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS Today: Hunt for points intensifies    
Big rivalry matches will be played each day over the weekend -- Houston-FC Dallas, NYCFC-Red Bulls ...
MLS Closeup: By dominating at home Dynamo defies critics    
So far in this MLS season, several teams are posting remarkable records that are mirror images: ...
What They're Saying: Francisco Rios    
"The first thing I did this year when the schedule came out was to check to ...
USMNT: Our 23 picks for the Gold Cup    
U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena will announce his 23-player roster for the Gold Cup on ...
MLS: DP Qazaishvili gives Quakes new look up front    
Valeri "Vako" Qazaishvili scored 21 goals in 2014-15 and 2015-16 with Dutch club Vitesse and is ...
What They're Saying: Dax McCarty    
"You can take the ginger out of NY, but NY will still be red. Good luck ...
Texan McKinze Gaines moves to Darmstadt     
McKinze Gaines, the 19-year-old South Texas product who last season helped VfL Wolfsburg reach the U-19 ...
Confederations Cup: Sanchez sets Chile record in 1-1 tie    
Alexis Sanchez became Chile's all-time leading scorer with his 38th international goal, but the South American ...
Video Pick: Cabrera quest for creativity works for Dynamo     
Wilmer Cabrera, who played on the great Colombia team of the 1990s, has since taking the ...
Saief's switch to represent USA is approved by FIFA    
Israeli-American Kenny Saief, who plays for Belgium's Gent, has been approved by FIFA for a change ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives