Jermaine Jones is the big story this week in Major League Soccer, but he’s not the only one. So without further ado, here is your MLS Big – 5.
1) Crew’s Gonzalez Moves to Palermo
CONCACAF minnows Costa Rica were one of this summer’s biggest stories with their run to the World Cup quarterfinals, and one of the Ticos best performers in Brazil was center back Giancarlo Gonzalez.
Gonzalez impressed enough to receive consideration for the World Cup Top 11. Several teams were in for Gonzalez, but Palermo won out with what Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter called, the highest transfer fee ever paid for an MLS defender.
Although Columbus will miss Gonzalez on the field, on the ledger sheet this move is a good bit of business for the Crew. Gonzalez only came to Major League Soccer prior to this season from Valerenga in Norway, for what Berhalter described as a small fee.
2) Mexico Call Up Torres from Chivas USA
22 players from eight countries, if we include NYCFC signee David Villa with Spain, represented MLS at the World in Brazil. The majority came from CONCACAF nations the U.S., Costa Rica, and Honduras.
Mexico, the region’s fourth World Cup side, conspicuously ignored MLS when selecting its team. So, it is significant then that El Tri has called up Erick “Cubo” Torres for their first post-Brazil games.
The 21 year old is on loan to Chivas USA from the former parent club in Guadalajara, and his 14 goals are good for third in MLS, as well as that national team invite.
Torres seems to be a perfect illustration of what Chivas Guadalajara had in mind when they got involved in MLS. Struggling for playing time in Mexico, the 21 year old has flourished in L.A. Ironically though, Torres and his success come just after MLS bought the franchise back from Chivas Guadalajara.
3) Bradley Wright Phillips Sets Club Record-Chases League Mark
While legendary goal scorer Thierry Henry has turned setup man for the New York Red Bulls this season, tied with Robbie Keane with a league high 11 assists, former English journeyman Bradley Wright-Phillips has become a record setting striker. Wright-Phillips scored twice in Saturday’s 4-2 home win to equal, and then surpass Juan Pablo Angel for the Red Bull record of 19, set by the Colombian in 2007.
Henry set up number 19, Peggy Luyindula number 20, leaving the Englishman with 10 games remaining to chase the league standard of 27, held jointly by Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter.
Whether Wright-Phillips catches Wondo and Lassiter or not, this season has put the Englishman in line for a nice payday, if not from the Red Bulls, then a club back in England, where he is reportedly garnering serious interest.
4) Reo-Coker to Chivas USA for Morales
Speaking of hyphenated English players, the Vancouver Whitecaps have sent Nigel Reo-Coker to Chivas USA in exchange for set up man Mauro Rosales.
With the Caps trying to hang on to the fifth playoff spot in the Western Conference, this is a win now trade for Vancouver. 33 year old Morales is among the top assist men in MLS, although he doesn’t provide an awful lot else. In contrast, with just one goal since joining Vancouver in 2013, Reo-Coker doesn’t exactly fill up the scoresheet. What the 30 year old will bring to Chivas is his box to box game, complete with plenty of hard tackling.
5) DC Go From Worst to First
It is not often in sports that the worst to first becomes a reality in a single season, but that’s what is happening with DC United in the MLS Eastern Conference.
And not only did DC taken over first place this weekend, they did it in style, hammering defending MLS Champion Sporting KC 3-0 at home to move one point ahead of KC in the standings.
Last year Ben Olsen’s crew only managed to earn 16 points all season. Olsen unexpectedly survived to coach another day, and now United look down on SKC and the rest of the conference with 43 points, with 10 games still to play.
The playoffs are assured and DC are just getting started on CCL play, by virtue of having won the 2013 US Open Cup. DC may not hold on to the top spot, but for now at least, DC has gone from worst to first.