Robbie Keane Aston Villa
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Around Major League Soccer: Beyond the SuperDraft, many moves over the past week

Much of the past week’s headlines in Major League Soccer were dominated by Thursday’s events in the American Midwest.

This year’s SuperDraft was considered quiet and straightforward from an historical point of view, with no trades taking places during the two-round player selection process in Kansas City, Missouri. While many scrutinized who won or lost with their picks, there was plenty of news throughout the league, as the new season begins to take shape.

There were more new signings, contract extensions, departures, and retirements in the past seven days, as MLS clubs now look ahead to Tuesday’s Supplemental Draft and the start of preseason training.

Let’s break it all down…

Loans and trades

After Thierry Henry completed an emotional return on loan to English Premier League (EPL) giants Arsenal FC, LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane continued the January trend by completing a similar EPL loan move to Aston Villa FC (pictured) for as many as eight matches. With this year’s UEFA European Championship coming up in the summer, Keane’s loan move is likely with an eye to maintaining his match fitness, as he looks to captain Republic of Ireland in Poland and Ukraine.

Two other players made similar moves from MLS to England this week. Former Columbus Crew winger Robbie Rogers joined English League Championship outfit Leeds United FC on two-and-a-half year deal, while FC Dallas centre back George John will spend the next two months on loan at Championship high-flyers West Ham United FC. The Hammers will have the option of making the deal permanent at the conclusion of the loan spell.

Beyond the events of Thursday’s SuperDraft, New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers fashioned a high-profile trade, with big striker Kenny Cooper leaving the Timbers for the Red Bulls in exchange for New York’s first pick in the 2013 SuperDraft and allocation money. Cooper is joined by defender Markus Holgersson at Red Bull Arena after the Swede completed a move to New York on Thursday.

Latest arrivals and new deals

The SuperDraft was not the only avenue that saw new faces join MLS, as several new signings were also made across the league last week. Real Salt Lake complemented the re-signing of veteran midfielder Ned Grabavoy with the addition of Homegrown goalkeeper Eduardo ‘Lalo’ Fernández. Columbus Crew, meanwhile, added another Homegrown talent of their own by signing former Crew Academy product Ben Speas.

Wednesday saw three new faces added to the league. Chicago Fire added another South American to their ranks with the addition of Uruguayan striker Federico Puppo. His arrival at Toyota Park sees one Uruguayan replace another, as Diego Chaves left Chicago for a reported new spell in Chile. On the west coast, Seattle Sounders FC boosted their midfield with the signing of Danish import Christian Sivebaek, while Chivas USA acquired young Ecuadorian attacking midfielder Miller Bolaños.

On the contract extension front, Toronto FC fans will have delighted in the news that diminutive Ecuadorian attacker Joao Plata signed a multi-year deal to remain at BMO Field. Meanwhile, a former TFC striker extended his stay in Northern California, as veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon penned a new deal with San Jose Earthquakes.

Hanging up their boots

Two players called it an MLS career last week. Long-time goalkeeper Jon Conway announced his retirement on Tuesday – thus ending a 12-year career that saw him play for five MLS clubs and win two MLS Cup titles. In Space City, Houston Dynamo defender Eddie Robinson called it a day after 11 seasons in the league.