Saturday, February 9, 2008

While international players — mainly from South and Central America — continue to come to MLS, some U.S. players are going overseas.

For example, D.C. United has acquired five South American players in the offseason, but three of their U.S. players went overseas for more money.

Bryan Arguez, United’s top draft last year, left to play for Hertha Berlin in Germany, while Andrew Jacobson the team’s top draft pick this year, went to France rather than make $30,000 in MLS. Starting goalie Troy Perkins also left, transferring to a club in Norway recently.

MLS teams are now allowed to field eight foreign players without a green card or U.S. passport, up from seven last season. United has been one of the league’s biggest importers of foreign talent, and there’s a chance that it could start up to eight South American players this season.

There is a fear that MLS could turn into the English Premier League, where 65 percent of the starting players are from another country.

But with expansion on the horizon the league says it needs overseas talent.

“I think there’s more than enough room for young American kids to develop, and with expansion we need to have the right configuration of our rosters,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “We will be adding four to six new teams in the next 10 years, and the domestic pool will not accommodate that.”

Soccer America’s Ridge Mahoney mused that more foreign slots will mean “less money available for Americans,” who want to make it in the league.

On the other hand, Americans playing overseas does mean talent is beginning to flourish here.

MLS is becoming a feeder league for European teams and money is made from transfer fees, such as the $3 million it collected on Eddie Johnson’s move to Fulham.

The league missed out on making a possible $4 million for goalie Brad Guzan, who looked to be heading from Chivas USA to Aston Villa before he was denied a work permit.

Other notable players that have moved overseas recently: the Houston Dynamo’s Joseph Ngwenya and Nate Jaqua (to Austria) and the New England Revolution’s Pat Noonan and FC Dallas’ Clarence Goodson (to Norway).

Expect to see more talent coming in from South and Central America.

“Teams are looking at South America, Costa Rica or Honduras because you can get the players a little cheaper,” former Colorado Rapids captain Marcelo Balboa said.

Gomez joins Rapids — D.C. United officially traded midfielder Christian Gomez, 33, to the Colorado Rapids yesterday for a first-round draft pick in 2009 and future considerations.

The move had been in the works for weeks after contract talks between United and the Rapids broke down last month.

Hide the children — David Beckham has added a new tattoo to his left arm — a naked picture of his wife, Victoria, right next to a tattoo “Ut Amen Et Foveam” (so that I love and cherish).

Beckham now will have to wear a long-sleeve shirt when he visits his youth soccer academies.

The new tattoo joins the Latin “Perfectio In Spiritu” (spiritual perfection) on his right arm. There’s a winged cross on his neck and an angel with “In the Face of Adversity” on his right arm. On his lower back is Victoria’s misspelled name in Hindi script.

EPL for sale — The English Premier League is taking a page from the NFL and planning to play competitive league games on foreign soil because of increased world interest.

EPL games are available to 600 million homes in 202 countries. A game between Arsenal and Manchester United last November was estimated to be seen by 1 billion people.

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