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notes from MLS

What Changes Can MLS Fans Expect in 2013?

In the debut of his column focusing on Major League Soccer, Matt Thacker looks ahead to a big few weeks in the domestic league. Will the New York Red Bulls be losing a star striker?

BY Matt Thacker Posted
January 02, 2013
10:07 AM
With the transfer window opening this month and the SuperDraft only a couple weeks away, the next few weeks will be crucial for Major League Soccer teams looking to upgrade their personnel.

One high-profile move could not even wait for the new year. The LA Galaxy signed 39-year-old goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini on a free transfer, the club announced Monday. The Italian played for Chelsea from 1999 until 2009 before transferring to Tottenham Hotspur. Despite earning the ITV Premiership Goalkeeper of the Season award in 2002-03, most of his time in England was spent as a back up to Petr Cech and later Brad Friedel.

While details of Cudicini’s contract were not released, the Galaxy confirmed he will not take up a Designated Player spot. That leaves room for the Galaxy to potentially sign 34-year-old Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who reportedly is "deep in talks" with LA. Chelsea may not allow the English international to leave before his contract ends in June, but he could still sign a pre-contract for a move to MLS in the summer.

The signing of Cudicini may get the attention of other MLS teams looking for a starting goalkeeper. Josh Saunders, 31, has been with the Galaxy since 2008 but is out of contract. Will Hesmer, 31, was taken by the Galaxy in last month’s Re-Entry Draft but has not signed. Hesmer had been with the Columbus Crew since 2007 but missed the entire 2012 season with a hip injury. Either one could be a potentially risky but enticing option. The Galaxy also have former U.S. youth national team goalkeeper Brian Perk, 23, and Brian Rowe, 24, on the roster.

Timbers, Rapids Could Have an Active January
Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson has been teasing fans on Twitter. On Sunday, he asked how many press conferences the teams would be holding in early January and how many Designated Players the team would have. U.S. national team midfielder Mix Diskerud’s father and agent Paal Diskerud confirmed last month that his 22-year-old son has been in talks with the Timbers. That came after the Timbers traded for a better spot in the allocation order used to determine which team has first choice of U.S. national team members. Shortly after that report was published, Paulson tweeted his disappointment when “deals that were done fall apart.” He added that the next option may make more sense. Only he knows the significance of the messages.

Another major question is the fate of 28-year-old striker Kenny Cooper. After finishing second in the league last year with 18 goals for the New York Red Bulls, Cooper was believed to be back on the trading block with numerous teams interested. So far, no deal has materialized.

After trading striker Omar Cummings, 30, to the Houston Dynamo for midfielder Nathan Sturgis, 25, and allocation money, the Colorado Rapids may be looking to South America to bolster their back line. Reports have 22-year-old Chilean midfielder Kevin Harbottle and 26-year-old Ecuadorian defender Diego Calderon close to signing.

One trend that should continue is the growing number of Hondurans playing in MLS. Some players in Honduras’ first division are reportedly threatening to strike, claiming non-payment of wages. A couple of Honduran teams are already banking on the transfer of players to MLS to ease their financial troubles. CD Vida reported on Twitter that 23-year-old midfielder Arnold Peralta is headed to Toronto FC, while the club president for Victoria has said 23-year-old defender Wilmer Crisanto will join the Seattle Sounders. Neither move has been confirmed by MLS.

Matt Thacker (@MattTalksSoccer) is ASN's MLS Correspondent. He runs SoccerPerspectives.com.

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