[THE SIXER] Six MLS Eastern Conference teams who didn't make the 2010 playoffs have imported center backs who could see a lot of action during the 2011
RODRIGO BRASESCO (D.C. United). Top draft pick Perry Kitchen should get plenty of time in the middle of the D.C. backline, but his U-20 commitments mean that Brasesco will also see action alongside Dejan Jakovic in the middle of its four-player backline. Brasesco, 25, is one of four Uruguayans who have moved to MLS in the offseason. He started for the last two seasons at Racing Club de Montevideo, from which he is playing on loan. In 2009, Racing (not to be confused with the Argentine club of the same name) qualified for the Libertadores Cup for the first time.
JULIO CESAR (Sporting Kansas City). KC is the Brazilian's 14th team in 11 different countries -- all outside Brazil -- in a career that began 15 years ago with Honduran club Marathon. (Read Ridge Mahoney's story here.)
FRANCO CORIA (New England Revolution). Like Brasesco, the 22-year-old Coria was acquired by the Revs in a loan deal, struck with Argentine club Chacarita Juniors, for which he played eight games last season in the First Division. The Revs had the worst defense in MLS last season (50 goals in 30 games) and could start the season with a completely revamped back four. A.J. Soares, a rookie out of Cal, has been playing in the middle. Frenchman Didier Domi has been playing on the right side, while second-year player Zak Boggs has been moved to left back.
JOSIP MIKULIC (Chicago Fire). The Fire will go with three newcomers in the back. Mikulic should work in the middle alongside Cory Gibbs on the right side and Jalil Anibaba, a rookie out of the University of North Carolina, on the left. The 6-foot-2 Mikulic, 24, played the last five seasons at Croatian club NK Zagreb, the same club fellow Croatian Marko Maric, signed to play in midfield for Chicago, began his career at.
JERMAINE TAYLOR (Houston Dynamo). A teammate of Dynamo midfielder Lovel Palmer on the Jamaican national team and a cousin of former MetroStar Fabian Taylor, who played 21 MLS games in 2004, Jermaine Taylor looks to have nailed down one of the starting spots alongside Eddie Robinson or Andrew Hainault on the Dynamo back four during its successful preseason campaign (7-1-3 record). Four other Jamaicans were brought into camp, and midfielder Richard Edwards, nicknamed "Shortman," might also stick.
CARLOS VALDES (Philadelphia Union). Colombian central defenders are the rage in MLS, where Wilman Conde (Chicago) and Jamison Olave (RSL) have won Best XI honors in recent years, and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Seattle) could challenge for all-league honors if healthy. The Philadelphia coaching staff says the 25-year-old Valdes could make the Union a playoff contender. He won Colombian championships with Independiente Santa Fe and America de Cali.