By Ridge Mahoney
The multitude of player-acquisition methods available to MLS teams sometimes shrouds the fact that many are strengthened not by importing players but by grabbing them off opposing rosters.
Trades, waivers, and the Re-Entry Draft allow teams to get players from within the league. While not all the players mentioned here are starters, they have contributed significantly with their new teams.
Since going to Columbus from Chicago, Dominic Oduro is the Crew’s leading scorer, and Will Johnson is the Timbers' top scorer since arriving from Real Salt Lake. Two of Johnson’s former teammates at RSL, Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola, are fueling the Red Bulls’ recent push.
Using recycled players adds league experience to the roster and often proves to be economically viable.
A season about one-third complete is a small database yet a few offseason moves are already proving to be valuable. He are the top performers acquired from other MLS teams.
Joe Bendik Toronto FC (Portland).
TFC’s defensive woes continue, which shows up in his stats -- 1-6-4 record, 1.45 goals-allowed average -- yet he’s seldom to blame when things go bad in the back. He’s done more than his share while often under siege.
Michael Harrington Portland (Sporting Kansas City).
The Timbers are staying in games and grinding out ties by solid play in the back, and Harrington’s work on the left side is helping quell opponents. He’s played all but 11 minutes this season.
Jamison Olave New York (Real Salt Lake).
A strong game by Olave against the Galaxy last weekend bodes well for the Red Bulls, who could be serious title contenders with Olave anchoring a back line in support of an attack that includes his former RSL teammate Fabian Espindola.
Ike Opara Sporting Kansas City (San Jose).
A broken foot in his rookie season (2010) set him back and he never re-established himself in the Quakes lineup; he’s started and finished five games for SKC and figures to see regular time when Matt Besler joins the USA squad.
Will Johnson Portland (Real Salt Lake). He’s the captain, he anchors the midfield, he takes set pieces, he sprays the ball around the field, and he really ticks off the opposition. So far he’s the key ingredient in the Timbers’ transformation under Caleb Porter.
Jeff Larentowicz Chicago (Colorado).
The Fire’s makeover isn’t going so well but at least the presence of Larentowicz gives head coach Frank Klopas a reliable pillar in midfield. Other elements are needed to maximize Larentowicz’s organizational and leadership abilities.
Eric Alexander New York (Portland).
The only Red Bull to play every game this season, he and ex-RSL man Johnny Steele have toughened up the midfield while not restricting the offensive flow of stylists like Juninho. For Alexander, the third MLS club (he started with Dallas) might be the charm.
Dominic Oduro Columbus (Chicago).
He’s played right mid as well as up top; more importantly, he’s the Crew’s top scorer with five goals. His speed complements the guile of Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta very well.
Kenny Cooper FC Dallas (New York).
With hefty teammates Blas Perez and Eric Hassli playing the big-forward role, Cooper has scored three goals while prowling the fringes of the penalty area and timing his runs. Being back home seems to work for him.
Sebastien Le Toux Philadelphia (New York).
He hasn’t lit it up since returning to Philly, where he played in its 2010 expansion season, yet he leads the team with four assists and like many of his teammates is figuring out the system decreed by Coach John Hackworth.
Edson Buddle, Colorado (Los Angeles).
Two goals in five games is encouragement enough that the slowly healing Rapids have found a focal point for their myriad attackers.