Saturday marked the end of the Major League Soccer season when Sporting Kansas City was crowned MLS Cup champions. On Monday, the whirlwind off-season kicked off with the announcement of the players eligible for the 2013 MLS Re-Entry Process.
There are 68 players eligible for the Stage One draft on Thursday, including five players from Sounders FC. Seattle will pick 13th in the draft, but only six players have been selected in Stage One in three previous drafts.
In Stage One, clubs must exercise the option for all players selected or extend a Bona fide Offer to any player out of contract. Should the player decline the Bona Fide Offer, the drafting club will hold the MLS rights for that player.
Among Sounders FC’s players eligible for the Re-Entry Process are goalkeeper Josh Ford, defender Marc Burch and midfielders Blair Gavin, Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani. The club declined options on Ford, Burch, Gavin and Rosales, while Zakuani’s contract had expired.
There are many stars available in the Re-Entry Process.
The 2009 MLS MVP David Ferreira and 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario both had their options declined by FC Dallas and DC United, respectively. There are also defenders with U.S. National Team experience in Heath Pearce and Sean Franklin, goal-scoring forwards Kenny Cooper, Chris Rolfe and Fabian Espindola, and versatile midfielders Bobby Convey, Logan Pause and Joel Lindpere.
There are also a few players with local ties like former Sounders FC defender James Riley, University of Washington defender Mike Chabala and Seattle University and USL Sounders forward Cam Weaver, a Kent native.
Last year, the lone selection in Stage One was Maicon Santos going from DC United to the Chicago Fire. He scored two goals in an April match against the New York Red Bulls, but didn’t score again, seeing time off the bench in 14 matches and starting one other.
Previously, Joseph Ngwenya went from the Houston Dynamo to DC United in 2010 and Carlos Mendes went from New York to Columbus, however neither player met the standards of their previous seasons. Other picks Arturo Alvarez, Aaron Hohlbein and Danleigh Borman never appeared at their new clubs.
The draft will take place over conference calls on Thursday at noon PT, with Stage Two coming Wednesday, December 18 a noon PT.
Chicago Fire: Corben Bone, Shaun Francis, Joel Lindpere, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause, Chris Rolfe, Maicon Santos, Wells Thompson and Michael Videira.
Chivas USA: Ante Jazic, Steve Purdy and Josue Soto.
Columbus Crew: Danny O’Rourke and Konrad Warzycha.
Colorado Rapids: Steward Ceus, Brian Mullan and Jamie Smith.
DC United: Dwayne De Rosario, James Riley, Carlos Ruiz, Marcelo Saragosa, John Thorrington and Daniel Woolard.
FC Dallas: Kenny Cooper, David Ferreira and Ugo Ihemelu.
Houston Dynamo: Bobby Boswell, Calen Carr, Michael Chabala, Alex Dixon and Cam Weaver.
LA Galaxy: Colin Clark, Laurent Courtois, Sean Franklin and Pablo Mastroeni.
Montreal Impact: Sinisa Ubiparipovic.
New England Revolution: Kevin Alston, Chad Barrett, Ryan Guy, Clyde Simms and Juan Toja. New York Red Bulls: Andre Akpan, Brandon Barklange, Fabian Espindola, Kevin Hartman and Heath Pearce.
Philadelphia Union: Chris Albright.
Portland Timbers: David Horst and Ryan Miller. Real Salt Lake: Yordany Alvarez, Brandon McDonald, Josh Saunders and Khari Stephenson.
Seattle Sounders FC: Marc Burch, Josh Ford, Blair Gavin, Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani.
San Jose Earthquakes: Nana Attakora, Mehdi Ballouchy, Dan Gargan and Evan Newton.
Toronto FC: Justin Braun and Bobby Convey.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Joe Cannon, Tommy Heinemann, Corey Hertzog and Brad Knighton.
MASTROENI AND NIELSEN RETIRE
Former U.S. National Team midfielder and nine-time MLS All-Star Pablo Mastroeni and 2012 U.S. Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup champion goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen both announced their retirements this week.
Mastroeni played for the Rapids from 2002-2013, captaining Colorado to the MLS Cup title in 2010. He was an All-Star for seven seasons with the Rapids and two with the Miami Fusion, where he played from 1998 until the team was disbanded in 2002, earning MLS Best XI recognition in his final season in Miami while helping the Fusion win the Supporters’ Shield. He finished his career with the LA Galaxy after a midseason trade from the Rapids.
In addition to his remarkable MLS career, he also made his mark on the international level, appearing in 65 matches for the U.S. National Team over the course of nine years. He played in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in two of his four appearances in the regional tournament.
Nielsen, meanwhile, came to MLS in 2010 and was an instant fan-favorite with Sporting Kansas City. He earned MLS All-Star nods in 2010 and 2012 and was MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and MLS Best XI in 2012. He retires as the league’s all-time leader in goals against average for players with over 1,000 minutes at 0.99.
TORONTO ACQUIRES JACKSON, KEEPS BENDIK
Sandwiching the club’s trade of goalkeeper Stefan Frei to Sounders FC on Tuesday in exchange for a conditional 2015 first round SuperDraft pick, Toronto FC traded for FC Dallas midfielder Jackson and re-signed goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
Jackson, 25, signed with FC Dallas in 2010 and had 11 goals and 13 assists in 91 career appearances, highlighted by a stellar year in 2012 that saw him register four goals and seven assists in just 21 matches. Toronto sent a conditional second round SuperDraft pick in 2015 and allocation money to Dallas in the swap.
Meanwhile, Toronto will also keep Bendik aboard after he started 33 matches in 2013. Bendik played one season with the Portland Timbers before a trade landed him in Toronto, where he went 6-16-11 in 2013 with four shutouts.
DC NABS ARNAUD
In another Tuesday trade, DC United landed former Montreal Impact captain Davy Arnaud in exchange for an international roster spot for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The 12-year MLS veteran played his first 10 seasons in Kansas City before coming to Montreal through the Expansion Draft prior to the 2012 season. He has 297 career MLS appearances with 48 goals and 43 assists to his credit.
ODURO STAYS WITH CREW
Dominic Oduro has played with five MLS teams in his eight seasons, but assured on Monday that he won’t be changing addresses before the 2014 season, re-signing with the Columbus Crew. The 28-year-old forward scored a career-high 13 goals in his first season with the Crew in 2013, giving him 46 goals and 21 assists in 217 career matches.