JULY 12 – DESIGNATED PLAYER WATCH

JULY 12 – DESIGNATED PLAYER WATCH

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER TRANSFER WINDOW OPENS ON THURSDAY

The MLS transfer window opens this Thursday July 15, and in addition to a certain high profile signing being announced in New York, Seattle’s Blaise Nkufo, DC United’s Branko Boskovic, Chivas USA’s Giancarlo Maldonado and Toronto FC’s Mista will also become official members of their respective teams.

Here is the lowdown on who is coming, who is rumored to follow and (tear) who is just not an option.

RED BULLS SET TO NAME THIERRY HENRY ON THURSDAY

The New York Red Bulls have lined up a press conference to announce their second designated player on Thursday.

Though no names have been mentioned the signing will come as a surprise to no one and is widely considered the worst kept secret in the game.

The move, will be an absolute coup for New York and Major League Soccer. The world renown striker has done it all at every level and will be a benefit to MLS, Soccer United Marketing and every MLS club, and that is just his off-the-field impact.

Henry should be able to step right in and contribute at Red Bull Arena as a partner to Red Bull’s 1st DP Juan Pablo Angel, who is arguably the most successful designated player in league history.

“It’s exciting,” Red Bull general manager Erik Soler told the media before Saturday’s match against DC United. “Getting top-quality experienced players, it’s obviously going to help us continuing what looks like as decent year for the club. We’re all very excited about the fact that we’re going to get a good player in. then we’ll have to take it from there and see. I think he’ll lift the whole team, make everybody sharper and better. I think it’s going to be a great experience for us.”

“I think the first player that we get in will get a lot of attention. It’s a huge name and people will come to watch him play. The team will play the kind of soccer that will get people back in the stadium.”

Henry’s first appearance for the club will likely be the first match of the inaugural New York Football Challenge against Tottenham Hotspur on July 22.

RED BULL THIRD DP LOOMING?

Even with this Thursday’s announcement of Thierry Henry as the club’s second Designated Player still in the offing, the New York Red Bulls have admitted that they are actively pursuing a third DP, and that signing may be much closer than originally thought..

Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler has confirmed that a the third DP is on the horizon.

“There is one player coming first, but I said before the World Cup that I think there’s gonna be two.” Soler told reporters before Saturday’s match with DC United. “We hope that the first player will be attacking, I’m quite sure about that, and the second one, I wouldn’t rule it out. The second one is a player for the midfield. He can play in various positions.”

The Red Bulls organization still have not used Thierry Henry’s name, so don’t expect anyone to begin dropping hints at the name of DP #3, but the versatile midfield hint may indicate that Mexican international and Barcelona standout Rafael Marquez may be there man.

There are certainly enough links between the player and Red Bulls. Henry and Marquez played at Barcelona together the past two seasons, and Backe managed Marquez while serving as Sven-Goran Ericksson’s assistant during his tenure with Mexico.

“I think that it’s more than 50-50,” Soler gave the odds of signing a third DP. “We are far in the negotiations so we’re more or less ready to sign, but nothing is signed. He’s not out of contract, but we aren’t in the position to pay for players, so the player will negotiate the transfer clause to get out of contract.”

CHIVAS USA WRAP UP VENEZUELA STRIKER MALDONADO

Chivas USA have signed Venezuela’s all-time leading goal scorer Giancarlo Maldonado on loan from Mexican side Atlante.

The 28-year-old striker will be asked to find some of the missing goals for a Chivas side that has struggled putting the ball in the net this season.

“Giancarlo is an experienced striker with international experience and the ability to score goals,” said Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez. “He’s going to make us a better team as we head into the second part of this season.”

Maldonado will join a front line featuring the red-hot Justin Braun and replace Maicon Santos who was released by the club last week.

“I’m very happy to start this new phase in my career, and I’m very grateful to the Chivas USA organization for their trust and for giving me the opportunity,” said Maldonado. “I’m very excited to start playing.”

Maldonado burst onto the scene in 2006, when he scored 21 goals for Chilean side O’Higgins and then featured for Venezuela at the 2007 Copa America. He then moved on to win a Mexican Championship for Atlante, scoring the winning goal in the final against UNAM Pumas. He was awarded the Golden Boot of the Americas, which is given to the best South American player on 2007. The San Cristobal native was a pivotal player in Atlante’s 2009 CONCACAF Champions League title.

MISTA OFFICIALLY SIGNS FOR TORONTO FC

Toronto Fc have signed their second designated player in the form of Spanish striker Mista.

The 31-year-old was signed as a half season DP and thus will only take up $167,500 of TFC’s cap room. A full DP signing would take a $335,000 hit on the salary cap.

If Mista can score goals for the Reds, it will be a great move for the club who can then re-evaluate the players future in the off-season.

RONALDINHO TO LA GALAXY STILL A POSSIBILITY

The Los Angeles Galaxy have yet to give up on world renown Brazilian playmaker Ronaldinho as a possible designated player signing.

The 30-year-old still has a year left on his contract at italian superclub AC Milan but rumors were rampant around the start of the World Cup that he was entertaining offers from Major League soccer to play between David Beckham and Landon Donovan in the Galaxy midfield.

Rumors have cooled in recent days with offers from Brazilian clubs like Flamengo and Palmeiras and a big money offer tabled from Greek side Olympiakos.

Helping slow the rumor mill surrounding the two-time World Player of the Year were the comments from Rossoneri director Ariedo Braida that the midfield wizard is not for sale..

“Ronaldinho will stay at Milan.” Braida told Lancenet. “He wants to stay and we want him to remain. Milan do not intend to sell any of their players, especially not Ronaldinho.

“The player will be with us until June 30, 2011 – the date his contract expires. All the rest is just rumor and speculation.”

Galaxy were rumored to have put forth a bid of $12million for three years to make Ronaldinho LA’s third designated player.

GUDJOHNSEN NOT LIKELY TO BE A WIZARD ANYTIME SOON

It is looking more and more unlikely that current Monaco striker Eidur Gudjohnsen will join MLS club Kansas City Wizards.

The Major League Soccer club tabled a bid for the 31-year-old, but the Icelandic international seems to be in high demand for teams positioning themselves for European competitions.

Gudjohnson is still on the books at Ligue 1 side Monaco though he spent the end of last season on loan to Tottenham Hotspur, who are trying to lock the striker down permanently, but the Wizards came prepared for a battle for the players services.

“We’ve made a formal offer to Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnsen,” KC president Robb Heineman told Big Soccer. “He’s recently been at Tottenham, and I’m relatively certain they will make an offer as well.

“This is the type of guy we want to go after: A world-class player who knows how to win championships. I’m hopeful we get this done, but it’s going to be a bit of a waiting game.”

Monaco boss Guy Lacombe was cryptic when he told Nice-Matin. “Gud is interested in England, and England is interested in Gud, so we should find a way out for him,”

RAUL SLIPPING AWAY FROM MLS?

Major League Soccer seems to be further away from talismanic Real Madrid striker Raul, who is likely to sign with Bundesliga side Schalke 04.

The 33-year-old, who had spent his entire career with Real Madrid found himself surplus to demands at the Bernabau, and with one year left on his contract at the club, he hasd been granted a free transfer if he desires it.

MLS may be in over their heads with the pursuit for Raul who is being courted by Champions League contenders who will need deeper squads to compete across a myriad of competitions.

Schalke boss Felix Magath has made it clear that the Bundesliga side are interested in Raúl.

“We are interested in him and are negotiating with his agent,” Magath told Bild newspaper. “The player has not decided yet and wants time until the end of July to make up his mind.

“It would be a huge signing for Schalke and the whole Bundesliga.”

Some reports out of Germany state that Schalke have already inked the player to a two-year deal but are just waiting for Raul to announce his decision publicly before making an official statement while others state that Raul has already positioned teams for his sons to play for in germany.

IDEAL DP, DECO LIKELY TO CHOOSE BRAZIL

Chelsea midfielder Deco will head back to Brazil if he can get out of his contract at Stamford Bridge.

The 32-year-old has been a role player for the Premier League Champions and will jump to Brazilian side Fluminenese, if Chelsea will secure a release for him.

Deco is set to ink an 18-month deal and will be unveiled on July 15.

“If Chelsea let me go, I have given Fluminense my word – although I have not signed any pre-contract.” The Portugal international told the Daily Star. “If I finish my time in London, then I will go to play in Brazil.”

WHITECAPS WON’T RUSH INTO A DP SIGNING

Vancouver Whitecaps director of soccer operations Tommy Soehn is still a while away from making any crucial designated player choices, but he and the staff at Major League Soccer’s next Canadian franchise are beginning the process of weeding out potential candidates.

The ‘Caps don’t come into the league until next season, but Soehn already has some notions of what to do, and more especially, what NOT to do when it comes to DP signings.

“When you have a DP, there’s a lot of responsibility put on that person and having the right person to handle that pressure, in the locker-room, on and off the field, it’s not something to be taken lightly,” Soehn told the Province. “We’re setting criteria of what that person needs to be and it’s a high standard. I think immediately it’s going to eliminate some guys.”

“You can go around the world and find a lot of guys making a lot of money who can’t handle that pressure. We’ll be very strategic in how we go about it.”

Soehn, during his time as head coach for DC United had the opportunity to handle two, very different DP cases; a successful case, in the form of Brazilian forward Luciano Emilio, and a bust in Argentine playmaker Marcello Gallardo.

Emilio became the league MVP in 2007 and Gallardo suffered a sports hernia and was largely ineffective at a cost of $2 million.

DC is not the only team to have been burned by the DP signings. FC Dallas provide possibly the best example when they signed Brazilian superstar Denilson in 2007.

Aware that a DP can provide success off the field in ways such as ticket sales, merchandise sales and a higher club profile, Soehn also realizes that very few DP’s have translated into on-field success. No team with a DP has won a conference let alone an MLS Cup.

“Early on you saw that DPs didn’t work,” Soehn said, “But now there’s been more success. I really believe that it falls on the DP. What does he come here for? Does he mirror the mentality of the organization?”

New MLS rules allow for two and even three potential DP’s, but Vancouver is unlikely to be dropping such big cash, instead looking to add a DP to their player mix, rather than complete a big-name signing, just for the sake of having a name.

“We’ve talked about every scenario,” Soehn said. “But you don’t build around a DP; you build a team and then add a DP that puts you over the top. We’re going to build a team first and then complement that with a DP, in the event we do get a DP.”

“There’s several types of DPs you’re going to look at, some are marquee names, some are young talents. But, ultimately, we want to make sure we’re bringing someone in who makes us a better soccer team.”

DESIGNATED RUMORS

  • DC United are looking at 25-year-old Honduran defender Quiarol Arzu, according to La Prensa.
  • Universitario Mexican 29-year-old midfielder Rodolfo Espinoza told Mexican radio that he was very close to signing with an MLS club.
  • Kansas City Wizards are linked with 30-year-old Argentine defender Facundo Imboden from Chilean side Universidad Catolica according to Terra. Imboden is on loan at Gimnasia La Plata

READ… JUNE 27- DESIGNATED PLAYER WATCH

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