MLS: 2006 foreign contingent the worst ever?
We have less than a month until the start of the new MLS season, and there has been almost no movement by any team to sign international players. From the ongoing thread on bigsoccer, here's the list of "official foreign signings" so far:
The two Chilean players for Columbus should be pretty decent, and the same goes for Serioux/Canero of the Metros. But there's nobody here that I'm excited about. There are guys like Claudio Suarez in camp who will probably be signed any day, but I really hope that MLS can put together a few good moves in the next month to give us something to be excited about this season. At the very least, they need to replace the guys who left during the offseason (Borchers/Bradley/Califf/Elliot/Galvan Rey/Kovalenko)
At least a few good players came in during the summer transfer window last season: Dedi, Palencia, JP Garcia. It'll be exciting to see a full season of them. I also realize that the transfer window isn't open currently, but I just hope that a few moves are made because the league needs it. Last season, the quality of play was down because of expansion. That combined with increased rosters means that a lot of new positions were available in the league, especially good for rookies last year. So now, you would think that teams would be able to slowly make themselves better by replacing the guys who aren't good enough. Not really happening, even though teams like Colorado and RSL could use another good player.
I fully understand why this is the case, however. Ever since contraction, the owners/investors of the league made a conscious effort to save money and minimize losses. Given that the average MLS fan probably isn't affected too much by the quality of play on the field, it makes sense. Teams in Europe can afford to lose money because they've got history and incredible fan support behind him, neither of which exist in MLS. What they're doing is smart business, but it hurts the quality on the field.
The good news is that with the new stadiums, the financial situation of the league is only getting better, meaning that soon MLS will make money and can afford to raise the quality of play through foreign acquisitions. It is better to wait until you can fully commit to that rather than keep the salary cap low and buy a star once in while (Luis Hernandez, Khodad Azzizi). And I suppose that if you can't get good foreign talent, it's also probably better not to even worry about it. Last year may have taught us that. Just ask Chivas USA, Los Angeles, and Real Salt Lake.