Around Major League Soccer: Last transactions of 2011

Loan deals and new signings to wrap up 2011

Thierry Henry New York Red Bulls

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The New Year has arrived, and before you know it, a new season of Major League Soccer will be as well.

There is less than three weeks before MLS clubs begin preseason for the 2012 campaign, and just over two months before ‘First Kick’ and the launch of the league’s 17th season. Before then, the league’s Player Combine and SuperDraft will take place over this week and next.

Before the Holiday season concluded, there were more player transactions that took place.

Here is a quick recap.

Gunners return

New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry will be looking to get a jump on his match fitness for the new season, as he looks set to make an emotional return back to English Premier League (EPL) giants Arsenal FC for a two-month loan spell. The Frenchman enjoyed many of his best years with The Gunners and it will be interesting to see if he can rekindle some of those performances during this upcoming loan spell.

Another high-profile MLS player to be linked with an EPL loan move is LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane. Reports in England have the Republic of Ireland captain linked with a loan move to Aston Villa FC. What is certain is that Keane will be back with the defending MLS Cup champions in 2012, as will Landon Donovan following his second short-term loan deal with Everton FC. They should expect to have Galaxy captain David Beckham returning to LA, with reports in France suggesting the former England captain is favouring a contract extension with the Galaxy over a move to Paris Saint Germain for family reasons.

There is less certainty, however, over the MLS future of former Real Salt Lake striker Arturo Alvarez. Despite having his rights taken by Chivas USA in last month’s Re-Entry Draft process, the El Salvador international is looking to land a contract with a club in Europe.

Last signings of 2011

The final week of December saw clubs make further moves ahead of the new campaign. Frank Yallop’s re-tooling of San Jose Earthquakes continued when he made Honduran international centre back Víctor Bernárdez the fourth new addition of the off-season.

Houston Dynamo made their first off-season acquisition last week, as they picked up midfielder/defender Nathan Sturgis from Toronto FC for a conditional pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. Sturgis is the ninth player to leave TFC since the end of last season.

Meanwhile, Seattle Sounders FC filled a void in their defensive backline by signing Swedish international Adam Johansson to a multi-year contract. With the departure of James Riley, who ended up with Chivas USA following his selection by Montreal Impact in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft, Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid was pleased to fill his right fullback spot with a player who is in consideration to make Sweden’s squad for this summer’s UEFA European Championship.