Around Major League Soccer: Clubs complete business before Festive season begins

More new faces in the league before Festive cheer

Patrice Bernier

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

As Major League Soccer entered into the Holiday season this past weekend, some clubs used the past week to add more new faces and extend the contracts of key players.

With the next week likely to be a quiet one across the league, the past seven days was about wrapping up business for the year before things get rolling again in 2012.

Let’s take a closer look.

Pre-Festive season arrivals

Two MLS Eastern Conference clubs led the way with adding new faces for next season. Expansion club Montreal Impact took to their roster number up to 23 players after signing Canadian international Patrice Bernier (pictured) and young Brazilian midfielder Felipe Martins. Philadelphia Union matched Montreal’s signing activity by bolstering their central midfield options with the addition of Panamanian international Gabriel “Gavilán” Gómez, while Costa Rican left fullback Porfirio Lopez also committed to Peter Nowak’s side.

In Southern California, Chivas USA welcomed Ecuadorian international midfielder Oswaldo Minda to their ranks for next season, while arch-rivals LA Galaxy went into their academy to sign 18-year-old United States youth international midfielder Jose Villarreal as a Homegrown player.

Some stay, some go

The Galaxy also concluded some important business with existing players by re-signing right fullback Sean Franklin and midfielder Bryan Jordan, as well as exercising the option on striker Adam Cristman’s contract. Re-Entry Draft selection Pat Noonan and goalkeeper Nick Noble were also signed by LA for next season. In Ohio, Columbus Crew secured the services of captain Chad Marshall through to the 2015 season.

While some stayed, one player chose the past week to move on. Despite being selected by Colorado Rapids in this month’s Re-Entry Draft process, former Chicago Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic opted to join Swedish second division club Hammarby IF and their new coach in former Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter. There was also another retirement announcement in the American capital, as D.C. United bid farewell to one of their longest-tenured and most versatile players in defender Devon McTavish on Thursday. He joins former United midfielder Santino Quaranta in hanging up his boots in D.C. this month.

Stocking stuffers

Among the other confirmed items around the league for the Festive season kicked in were the Portland Timbers’ announcement of a four-club preseason tournament for The City of Roses in late February and early March. MLS rivals Chivas USA and San Jose Earthquakes will join Swedish club AIK in taking part in the event at Portland’s JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers preseason tournament is one of four that will take place in the build-up to the new MLS campaign. Vancouver Whitecaps FC will be in Orlando, Florida, at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, while four MLS clubs will play in the second annual FC Tuscon Desert Cup in Arizona. The 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup will involve Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, and D.C. United in Charleston, South Carolina.

On the MLS stadium front, the era of ‘Pizza Hut Park’ came to an end after Pizza Hut concluded their partnership with FC Dallas. For the time being, the Hoops’ home will be called ‘FC Dallas Stadium’ until a new sponsor is found.