MLS Notebook: Espinoza returns to SKC, Paladini charged with domestic violence, Ronaldo to MLS? more

IMAGE, SPORTINGKC.COM

by RYAN BRISTER
Staff Writer

With two months before the start of the Major League Soccer season, much of the focus has been in England, on Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. But the offseason doesn’t grind to a halt for these English stars.

The league’s clubs have been active, making moves that will have an impact in March.

  • Sporting Kansas City welcomed back Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza, who spent the last two seasons in England with Wigan Athletic. Espinoza, 28, played 113 games with SKC from 2008 to 2012. He was part of the Wigan Athletic team that won the FA Cup despite being relegated in 2013, but his playing time decreased, leading to his departure. Espinoza has been a regular with the Honduras national team, starting all three of their games at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
  • Columbus signed midfielder Federico Higuain to a designated player contract, the third in the club’s history. The 30-year-old Argentinian, Gonzalo’s older brother, has scored 27 goals in 71 league appearances for the Crew. His previous contract expired at the end of the 2014 season. While the league does not disclose the terms of its contracts, it said that Higuain’s DP contract is the largest in the Crew’s history.
  • Graphic details were made public today in the domestic violence case involving former Crew and Chicago Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini, who was formally charged today with three counts of assault and three counts of domestic violence. According to court documents, Paladini is accused of pouring bleach over his fiancee’s head and throwing her against the wall in one of a series violent incidents on Oct. 26th, 27th, and 28th.  High profile incidents involving NFL players in 2014 shined a spotlight on sports leagues’ responses to domestic violence. MLS suspended Paladini on Oct. 29th after learning that the police had been called to his house. Paladini played just four games in 2014, his first with the Crew. His contract option was not picked up.
  • After a bit of controversy, Real Salt Lake sold 21-year-old Mexican defender Carlos Salcedo to Chivas de Guadalajara. In a situation that echoed last winter’s Camilo transfer saga, Chivas was reportedly unwilling to give a transfer fee for Salcedo, who was still under contract with RSL after they exercised their option on his contract. While terms are undisclosed, RSL was reportedly seeking a fee of $1 million.
  • The goalkeeper glut was eased in Philadelphia, as the Union loaned Zac MacMath to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for a second-round pick in this month’s upcoming SuperDraft.
  • With Steven Gerrard on the way this summer, the Galaxy solidified their depth up front by re-signing 33-year-old striker Alan Gordon. After being traded by the Earthquakes last summer, Gordon scored five goals for LA.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent hinted that the Real Madrid striker could decide to finish his career in MLS after his current contract expires in 2018. This is not the first time that discussion about the Portuguese star has been directed stateside; Ronaldo himself suggested that he would be open to such a move in a 2012 interview.
  • There are 59 days until the MLS season is scheduled to begin. Tomorrow, the complete schedule will be unveiled. And yet, little has been said about the collective bargaining negotiations between the league and the players’ union.