During the 2009 season, more MLS stars will be playing for a transfer abroad than ever before. As the league's profile has risen, players have been snapped up by bigger teams. Last year saw the departure of three of MLS' brightest stars as Maurice Edu, Brad Guzan and Jozy Altidore all left for the greener pastures of European football.
Which MLS talents could be on their way out the door this season?
For years, Donovan has been the face of American soccer. He's the leading goalscorer in US National Team history and is a five-time winner of the Honda Player of the Year award. Donovan even spent time on loan with Bayern Munich earlier in 2009, but has since returned to MLS.
Donovan is a player who has made no secret of his desire to return to Europe to test his skills. He has accomplished everything in MLS and has nothing left to prove on this side of the pond.
There is the unfortunate matter of two previous unproductive stints in Europe. His first, with Bayer Leverkusen, ended in failure due to inconsistent playing time and a definite lack of mental toughness. Donovan wasn't yet prepared for the physical and mental rigors of European football.
The second stint, with Bayern Munich, was unproductive because Donovan found it so difficult to break into that lineup. How do you make room for another offensive talent on the pitch when you already have Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose and Lucas Podolski on the books? You don't, and that's why Donovan is back in the States.
Donovan's contract is up at the end of this season, which bodes well for him. For the first time in years he'll have plenty of control over where he ends up. Rather than aiming for a spot with an elite European club, Donovan may be lured in by the promise of regular minutes with a mid-table club.
It's also worth keeping in mind that Donovan is only 27 and has never really suffered from any serious injury problems. If he plays up to his full potential, he could be a steal for any club.
Probability of leaving: Highly likely
The face of the New England Revolution, Twellman's window of opportunity probably slammed shut when MLS rejected a $2.5 million bid by Preston North End in 2008. Also hurting his case is the long-term deal he signed with the league. He still has multiple years left on his contract and both New England and MLS will be very reluctant to give him up.
Of course, there's the distinct possibility that the club won't even have to deny a single suitor. There aren't many European teams out there willing to take a flier on an injury-prone 29-year old American whose asking price is probably unrealistically high.
Probability of leaving: Not gonna happen
Kljestan is an interesting player whose stock has been on the rise since the Beijing Olympics. After turning in a great performance in Beijing, he netted a hat trick against Sweden in January to put himself firmly in the transfer rumours.
Aside from Donovan, Kljestan is the MLS player that probably came closest to a pre-season move away from the league. He trained with Scottish champions Celtic in January, and they actually made MLS an offer. The two sides couldn't come to an agreement on the financial terms of the deal, but Celtic's interest was legitimate.
With a good season for Chivas USA in 2009, Kljestan could draw a sizable offer from Celtic or another European club.
Probability of leaving: Likely
With the way FC Dallas has played so far in 2009, Cooper is probably wishing that he had left last season. Last July, Cardiff City made a £2 million offer for Cooper, and Rosenborg offered a salary of $1.2 million. Dallas turned the offers down, but they have kept coming.
In January, Cooper was linked to Hibernian F.C., and Eintracht Frankfurt have also supposedly shown interest.
Cooper will continue to be an intriguing prospect for European clubs. He's a big, powerful forward with a good footballing pedigree. He trained in the Manchester United youth system and is the son of a former NASL goalkeeper.
Probability of leaving: Likely
When you're lightning quick and just 22 years old, it's enough to make some European clubs take notice. He's another player that started showing flashes of his true potential during the Olympics and has been attracting interest from some smaller clubs.
Rumour has it that FC Groningen and Torino have expressed interest in Wynne's services.
But, Toronto is trying to build a winner and Wynne could be a big part of that, along with new signing Dwayne De Rosario. If TFC makes a push into the playoffs, they will likely try and keep the core of the club together.
Probability of leaving: Could depend on the results of TFC's season
It certainly seems like Convey has been around forever, hasn't it? That's why it might surprise you to learn that the midfielder is only 25 years old, two years younger than Landon Donovan.
Convey spent five seasons with Reading over in England, spending time in both the Coca-Cola Championship and the Premier League. He was an effective player when he managed to stay healthy enough to string together a few consecutive appearances, but that was a rarity at the end of his tenure.
In February, Convey was released and returned to MLS in an effort to revive both his club and international career.
What makes him intriguing is his track record of success and his youth. While Convey would never catch on with a big team like Manchester United or Real Madrid, there's no denying that he could play an important role for a club similar to Reading once again. His youth means that barring serious injury, he still has many years of quality football left to offer, as well.
But, it's hard to see him leaving San Jose so soon after his return. He's got to re-establish himself, to ease fears about his penchant for getting injured.
Probability of leaving: Unlikely
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