MLS Roundtable: Which Foreign Talent Would You Like to See in MLS?

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MLS Roundtable: Which Foreign Talent Would You Like to See in MLS?

Welcome to the second edition of the MLS Roundtable. The first Roundtable was an absolute success, and you can read it right here.

Joining the discussion with me this time is my MLS co-community leader Thomas Leemon, Manchester United co-community leaders Jeff Harbert and Salaar Shamsi, and rising MLS writer Eric Gomez.

The topic? MLS has been home to many talented foreign stars, from Carlos Valderrama and David Beckham, to a bunch that you probably didn't know about such as Hugo Sanchez. Which foreign players would you like to see make the move to MLS next?

Thomas Leemon

I've fantasized many times about star players coming to MLS. Here's a few I could see come to MLS in reality.
1. Ronaldo
No, not Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Brazilian Ronaldo. Despite being a little past his prime, he would have a lot going for him if he made it to MLS. Think Ronaldo, Blanco, and McBride on the same team.
2. Andriy Shevchenko
He's had a rough few seasons and is hoping to make it big once again in Milan. If that doesn't work though, I can think of a few MLS clubs that could use him. He's still got a great striking foot and is in my opinion still able to score goals. Think Moreno, Fred, and Shevchenko at DC United. Also a bonus for him, his wife Kristen Pazik is from Minnesota, USA; and he's already been to DC.
3. Djibril Cisse
I would absolutely love to see this guy come to MLS. He's a great player that has the capability to become huge in America. If his stint at Sunderland doesn't work out, he could always move to MLS. Think Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and Cisse.

Eric Gomez
I've always debated myself and with others about the type of player that should emigrate to MLS. There's your Juan Pablo Angel-type who, while he isn't a household name of sorts, is one of those players who is a certain guarantee to produce and raise the overall quality of the league, by making others around him better and by making the league more exciting to the hardcore fan—while making a pretty penny for himself in the process.
Your other type of player is the David Beckham-type, who, while being the household name that Don Garber and Co. so desperately seek, usually ends up being a mixed bag: huge in the tabloids, not so much on the pitch; the guy who's going to sell out every game but probably won't make soccer a big deal in America.
1. Eidur Gudjohnsen
My "Angel" choice. He's been wasting away on the bench for Barcelona since the end of the last World Cup and with guys like Messi, Henry, Eto'o, and Bojan in front of him, it doesn't seem like he will get his chance anytime soon. Moreso than shoving a few million dollars in his face, the promise of unlimited playing time in the States is what will probably seduce him.
2. Ronaldo
My "Beckham" choice. Not only is he unattached (AC Milan ditched him after his injury last season), at 31 he still has a few good years of playing ahead of him. A long history of injuries and being Brazilian (read: partying, playing when he wants to) will be red flags for some, but come on—he was in an episode of The Simpsons. What more could Don Garber want?

Salaar Shamsi
1. Fredrik Ljungberg
Ljungberg is past his peak for European Football but he has the ability and the experience to settle in the MLS. The MLS would benefit largely from the ex-Arsenal midfielders presence because it could attract a larger audience and could add more quality to American Soccer.
2. Mark Viduka
Viduka, the big Australian frontman is constantly being hit by injuries and appears to have lost out on his ability for the English Premier League. His performances for Newcastle have been inconsistent but he has the ability and is a proven goal scorer so he should have a huge impact on the MLS.

Jeff Harbert

More and more foreign players are making the move to the MLS and so far it has only been a good thing for the league. Of all the foreign players to make the move to the US in the past, Juan Toja has been my favorite. The Colombian may have left for Steaua Bucharest, but his impact in the MLS was fantastic. Toja made 45 appearances for FC Dallas and scored eight goals in the process, but his impact for his team cannot be questioned.

1. Thierry Henry

I'd like to see Thierry Henry make the move to the US someday. It may be a long shot but his impact in the league would be just as beneficial as David Beckham's. Not to mention he is still a fantastic player.

2. Juan Sebastian Veron

I also hope to see Juan Veron join the MLS someday. It's another long shot, but the Argentinian was once linked with a move to DC United. The former Manchester United and Chelsea midfielder may be past his prime, but he would still bring a lot to the MLS.

3. Giuseppe Rossi

Finally, it would be a dream to see Giuseppe Rossi play in the MLS. The Italian international was born in New Jersey but has spent his career in Italy, England and Spain. But I harbor hopes that the current Villarreal striker will return to his country of birth.

Joe Guarr

1. Ronaldo

The Brazilian may have fallen out of shape and out of favor at Real Madrid and AC Milan, but he can still bring a lot to a team. The all-time leading goalscorer in World Cup history will be 32 by the time the 2009 MLS season starts, not too old to contribute by a long shot. He's been injured frequently of late and is currently without a club, but he could conceivably either finish his career in MLS or use the league as a springboard back to Europe by proving that he can stay healthy.

Don't forget, it wasn't too many years ago that he was rumoured to be in talks with New York.

2. Raul

Raul's current contract with Real Madrid runs until 2011, when he'll turn 34. He has only ever suited up for Madrid, so it may be tough to imagine him ever leaving the Bernabeu but it isn't impossible. Real has plenty of options at striker, and will only upgrade at the position as their current players get older. Who's to say that he couldn't end up at Real Salt Lake towards the end of his career? They've got a partnership with Madrid, and acquiring Raul would help boost the club's profile.

3. Thierry Henry

Despite struggles at Barcelona, Henry is still an extremely dangerous goalscorer. He was linked briefly with a move to Seattle, with Microsoft bigwig Paul Allen reportedly ready to throw $250,000 per week at the French international. That's some serious cash and the football-mad Pacific Northwest would definitely embrace him. This is something to keep an eye on in the coming seasons as Henry gets older and Seattle gets more ambitious.

I'd like to thank all of the participants for their input. Now we want to hear your thoughts. Who have we left out? Who is an unlikely inclusion on our lists?

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