MLS Midweek: Kljestan rumors, Chicharito staying in Europe, Arrieta moves on, more

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

Major League Soccer made a splash this offseason by signing Steven Gerrard, but the league continues to set its sights on domestic stars. Mix Diskerud officially joined NYCFC yesterday, Toronto is on the verge of adding Jozy Altidore, and at least one more American may be coming across the Atlantic.

  • Sacha Kljestan, who spent five seasons with Chivas USA, is reportedly looking at returning to MLS. The Galaxy, Red Bulls, and Union are all interested in the Anderlecht midfielder. LA came close to signing Kljestan in the summer transfer window, but the deal fell through. Bruce Arena was fined for his criticism of the league’s rules afterwards. Of those three clubs, Philadelphia currently holds the highest spot in the allocation order. Teams can trade their way up the order; Montreal has the top spot after NYCFC’s signing of Diskerud. Kljestan lacks the star power of Altidore or even Diskerud, and wasn’t part of the USMNT squad that went to last summer’s World Cup, but at Anderlecht he’s been one of the few Americans regularly playing in the Champions League. He has 21 goals in 156 appearances for the Belgian side since 2010.
  • MLS also made an effort to acquire Mexican forward Javier Hernandez, but Chicharito rebuffed the league. Hernandez is currently on loan from Manchester United at Real Madrid, but unable to see the field too often given the bevy of attacking talent. Chicharito is one of El Tri’s biggest stars, and would be a draw for whichever MLS team could land him, but for now the 26-year-old seems intent on staying in Europe.
  • Toronto FC is rumored to be chasing Juventus attacking midfielder Sebastian Giovinco. He has 40 goals in 190 career appearances in Serie A. But his playing time has dwindled this season for the Italian champions, and his contract expires at the end of the season. Getting a player of his caliber at the age of 27 would represent something of a coup for MLS. Giovinco presents a problem for TFC in that he would be their fourth designated player if their Jozy Altidore move also gets completed. The Reds would have until July to alleviate this problem (by getting rid of Gilberto), or they could hope that the new CBA allows allows for additional DPs.
  • In less-flashy, but actually confirmed news, DC United acquired Finnish international Markus Halsti from Champions League regulars Malmo FF in Sweden. Halsti, 30, is a defender who occasionally plays defensive midfield, and was named to the 2014 Allsvenkan Team of the Year. He has made 153 appearances in seven years with Malmo, including 20 in the Champions League.
  • Orlando City picked up Jairo Arrieta in the expansion draft, but the Costa Rican forward won’t be wearing purple in 2014. The Lions dealt him to DC United in exchange for an international slot. Orlando now only has half of the 10 players they selected in the expansion draft.
  • Orlando holds the first pick in tomorrow’s SuperDraft, and may put that international slot to use with Canadian forward Cyle Larin. The 19-year-old has spent the last two seasons playing college soccer for UConn, and already has three appearances for the Canadian national team.
  • MLS held its combine this past week in Ft. Lauderdale in advance of the draft. With more players going through MLS academies and others  staying in college, there is some thought that the SuperDraft has become weaker through the years.
  • Sporting Kansas City partnered with FC Kansas City, the defending champions of the National Women’s Soccer League. FCKC will play and train at SKC’s training complex, with playoff matches and select regular season games at Sporting Park. FCKC averaged just over 2,000 fans per game in 2014, eighth in the nine-team NWSL. Sporting becomes the third MLS team to partner with their local women’s side; the Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo share ownership with the Thorns and Dash, respectively.
  • Former Chicago, Seattle, and Houston defender Patrick Ianni announced his retirement after 9 years in MLS. Ianni scored just four goals in his career, but one was voted Goal of the Year in 2012. His most productive season came in 2010, when he started 24 games for the Sounders.
  • There are 52 days until the MLS season is scheduled to begin. The league and players’ union are expected to resume negotiations on a new CBA within the next two weeks, which is a good step towards ensuring that the season starts on time.