GEORGE MURPHY - Monday, February 4, 2008
Joy has moved back home
While few worldwide big names moved this January, this was one of the busiest winter windows in recent memory as far as Americans were concerned.
Though potential deals such as Frank Simek and Michael Bradley to Everton, Brad Guzan to Aston Villa, Benny Feilhaber to Israel or MLS, or the travesty that was Preston North End's $3 million chase of Taylor Twellman all fell through, there was plenty more to follow.
Players ended up making the switch from to and from MLS and frequent American destinations Germany, England and Norway. Throw in two Danish signings, and a few odd switches to Austria and Greece, it was a dizzying month.
[bullet]Bryan Arguez from DC United to Hertha Berlin (Bundesliga, Germany)
Someone please tell me how Bryan Arguez managed to go from not making a single appearance for DC United or the U-20 World Cup team, to being signed to a Bundesliga team after a two week trial and getting 30 minutes in the first game?
According to his handlers, agent Tom Bagley and National Sports Group's Rob Feigenson and who collaborated together on this Donald Trump-like masterclass move, Hertha had their eye on Arguez since his youth days.
However, if reports are true that Hertha shelled out a quarter-million dollars to sign him, I don't care if they were in the hospital at his birth, they are still taking a chance.
Hopefully Arguez can prove to be worth the investment and make an impact in the Bundesliga, meanwhile, DC gets some more funding for their South American spending spree after they signed Gallardo, Carvalho, and more.
Winner Arguez. Feigenson and Bagley for one of the best pieces of negotiating seen in a long while
Loser DC United for somehow not seeing enough talent to merit a single second of action
[bullet]Clarence Goodson free agent to IK Start (1 Division, Norway)
Another move to Norway that came out of nowhere. How does Goodson celebrate earning his first cap against Sweden? He moves to an IK Start team that was relegated to the Norwegian second division after finishing in thirteenth place last year.
He said that the opportunity to play in Europe was too good to turn up, but it seems as if he could've waited a bit longer to gain leverage with a better club.
Winner IK Start, they get a tall and versatile defender
Loser Goodson, if he stays in the second division for a long period of time. MLS for not being able to offer more money than a second division club in Norway
[bullet]Andrew Jacobson free agent to FC Lorient (Ligue 1, France)
Well, not much to say here considering he was at DC United for less time than even Arguez.
Look for this to be a continuing theme. It's very sad to see quality college players struggle to get picked up in the supplemental draft, just for them to turn around and see players who were actually drafted have to choose between struggling to get by in MLS, make few extra bucks at MISL or USL along with coaching jobs, or make the jump overseas.
If he had signed with DC United, he was looking at either an upper-developmental contract valued at around $17,700 or a minimum senior deal of $33,000. Another one bites the dust as DC United go loco in the South American transfer market.
Let's hope Jacobson makes in impression in France, Lorient is a Liege 1 team and I feel like France could be another great country (along with Germany, Portugal, and Scandinavian countries) to send quality players for European exposure and experience.
Winner Jacobson (and yes, his bank account...)
Loser MLS, whose salary structure continues to be a joke
[bullet]Clint Mathis free agent to Ergotelis FC (Super League Greece, Greece)
Mathis was impressive in his first match for LA, and it seemed as if he could be the person poised to solve the Galaxy's forward problem with the budget they have. But just when you thought the club was starting to have some stability, Mathis skips off to where? Greece.
This was along with shipping Joe Cannon and Chris Albright out of town. So Mathis heads to Greece to play for Ergotelis - who are in last place in the Greek top flight - and the Galaxy heads who know where? Maybe Alexi broke out his guitar for old times sake.
Winner Is there one? While playing in Europe is a great achievement, it's the last-placed team in Greece...
Loser Mathis, MLS, Los Angeles, and all of us for hoping he would fulfill his potential
[bullet]Troy Perkins from DC United to Valerenga (Eliteserien, Norway)
Troy completes a move that takes him from the current favorites to win the MLS Cup in 2008 to a Norwegian club that finished seventh in the standings last season. Though Perkins will not compete in any major European competitions this season, he is likely to be the starter.
Perkins nearly tripled his salary with the moves overseas, and seeing as he was working in a sporting goods store a few years ago as a second job while he battled for the backup role, moving to Norway for more money isn't that bad of a deal after all.
This will be a chance for Perkins to gain exposure in Europe and he will hope for a big team to notice him in the near future.
Winner Perkins' bank account
Loser MLS - getting only a reported $750,000 transfer fee
[bullet]Pat Noonan free agent to Aalesunds FK (Eliteserien, Norway)
This, for me, was the biggest disappointment of the January transfer window after Guzan's move to Aston Villa being blocked by the UK Home Office.
Noonan made 136 appearances for the Revs, netting 42 goals and establishing himself - despite a few injury bugs - as a very dependable and skilled player in the league. So what does all of his appearances and hard work amount to? A slap in the face from MLS. Hello, Norway.
Germany seemed to be a better fit for a player of Noonan's caliber, and hopefully he will become a standout on the club sooner rather than later, as it seems like he could have stayed in MLS one more year and entertained a few better offers.
Loser Noonan (if he's there for too long), MLS (see a trend developing?)
[bullet]Eddie Johnson from Kansas City Wizards to Fulham USA...err...FC (Premiership, England)
EJ finally gets a chance to prove how grown he really is, as he becomes the fifth American (sixth, if you count Brede Hangeland) at Fulham.
The problem? They're in a fight for their lives to avoid playing Championship soccer next season.
While there is plenty of room for Johnson to shine and prove his worth as a goal scorer outside of MLS, many questions will have to be asked. Will he get the distribution up front needed? Will he be partnering Clint Dempsey up front, and when McBride comes back will that push Dempsey back to outside midfield (hopefully, yes.)?
This is a wait and watch scenario, whether Eddie Johnson backs up all the smack he's talked in the past will remain to be seen.
Winner Fulham - if he the EJ from three years ago returns. MLS, if the reported $6.4 million price tag is true
Loser Fulham if he doesn't pan out, along with Eddie, Carlos, Brian, Clint and Kasey if they stay towards the bottom of the standings
[bullet]Ian Joy from St. Pauli (2. Bundesliga, Germany) to Salt Lake
Joy has been a frustrating player to follow over the past few years. When he has been available, he has mixed in excellent performances with some questionable play.
Known as a hardman of sorts, the multi-tattooed Joy has proved to be a valuable fill-in and spot starter in Hamburg. The Pirates semifinal cup run a few seasons ago was the American's finest hour, helping hold Werder Bremen and Miroslav Klose, Ivan Klasnic, Torsten Frings and Johann Micoud among others to one goal in the quarterfinals.
Salt Lake, who have needs everywhere, will get a quality defender who takes no crap on the field and quite possibly the nicest and friendliest teammate off.
Winner Joy, Salt Lake
Loser No one
[bullet]Lee Nguyen from PSV Eindhoven (Eredivisie, Holland) to Randers FC (Superliga, Denmark)
[bullet]Will John free agent to Randers FC (Superliga, Denmark)
Let's face it. Nguyen was never going to get a chance in Eindhoven, despite the rabid foaming of the mouth of certain other American journalists of anything Dutch. Nguyen is an interesting player. His speed and panache with the ball is rivalled by few Americans.
That said, his size, mixed with playing under two head coaches after Guus Hiddink left for Russia, the abundance of attack talent at PSV and a lengthy injury in 2007 was going to be a near impossible task to complete no matter how well he played in the reserves.
Still, I have to question this move, as maybe MLS would have been a better fit - especially when the deal runs until June 2009.
John, who I thought was another in the long line of MLS "developmental" casualties - getting less than three games worth of minutes in three years in the league - is another crafty player who should be able to take advantage of the slower-paced Danish league, which is also not known for its flair.
Winner John. PSV, getting back some money for a player they had no interest in. Randers for getting two technical players on the cheap
Loser Nguyen - Randers makes little sense to me, despite likely playing time. MLS...yet another American has no interest in playing at home