Los Angeles Soccer: Alex de Lima
Major League Soccer's second transfer window opens Wednesday, so big-name players -- some from Euro 2012 -- could soon be enthralling North American audiences.
Well, at least in theory. Some big names have been bandied about as potential acquisitions, and there have been reports that Italian stars Alessandro Del Piero (to the Galaxy) and Alessandro Nesta (to New York) have signed deals, but most of the rumors are nothing more, and to date only five players definitely are arriving in MLS.
The big names are both Designated Players: Italian striker Marco Di Vaio, who figures to debut for Montreal in Wednesday night's clash with Toronto FC, and Honduran winger Oscar Boniek Garcia, who is joining Houston.
Philadelphia claimed through allocation former Chicago star Bakary Soumare, who has been playing in Europe, and Chicago (Brazilian midfielder Alex de Lima) and Columbus (Costa Rican forward Jairo Arrieta) also have made additions.
Chivas USA also figures to bolster its roster, with the return of forward Tristan Bowen from a Belgian loan deal, although head coach Robin Fraser this week said it's merely “among the consideration of things we have to do. ... I don't feel like we're under a real time constraint, so certainly we'll make the decision when we feel the decision is right.”
Nesta says he's not coming -- he wants to play in MLS but received no offers -- and talk that Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko might join D.C. were quickly tossed aside. New York wants a DP; Irish midfielder Stephen Ireland's name has been most prominent.
Then there's Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra, the U.S. national team captain whose tenure at Rangers FC might be ending as the club deals with financial troubles that are going to drop it to the bottom division in Scotland. Vancouver got allocation money, among other things, in the deal that enabled Philly to sign Soumare, and speculation has Bocanegra headed to B.C. Any chance Fontana's Maurice Edu, also at Rangers, could return to MLS, too?
The window is open for a month.
Here are this week's power rankings:
1. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (10-3-3, 33 points), Last Week: 3
Week 16: Chris Wondolowski converts a late penalty kick to beat Colorado, 2-1, and scores at the end for a 2-1 win at Real Salt Lake; late flurry can't solve Seattle in 1-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal defeat.
Latest: Game vs. Galaxy at Stanford is a sellout -- 50,000 tickets sold.
Top scorer: Wondolowski leads MLS with 13 goals in 14 games.
Next: Saturday vs. Galaxy at Stanford Stadium, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Tuesday at Portland, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-4-3, 27 points), LW: 5
Week 16: Former Chivas USA center back Heath Pearce gives Red Bulls a 1-1 draw at Vancouver; former D.C. backup Brandon Barklage scores two brilliant goals to lead New York past United, 3-2.
Latest: Bulls give up fastest goal in D.C. United history, then play the best 45 minutes “probably since I arrived,” Hans Backe says.
Top scorer: Kenny Cooper has scored 11, two more than Thierry Henry, who has played just 10 games.
Next: Saturday at Toronto FC, 4 p.m. (Galavision).
3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-4-2, 29 points), LW: 2
Week 16: Jacob Peterson's eighth-minute goal is worth a point in a 1-1 draw at Seattle; late goals magnify 4-0 loss at Philadelphia; C.J. Sapong scores twice in 3-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory over Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro).
Latest: Thousand Oaks-bred right back Chance Myers' minutes streak ends at 2,250, all competitions, when he's not in the lineup for the Open Cup quarterfinals. He last missed action last Sept. 17.
Top scorer: Lawndale's Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong each have five.
Next: Friday vs. Chicago, 5 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Wednesday, July 4, vs. Montreal, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).