10 Players Who Would Be Brilliant, and Viable, Additions to MLS in 2015

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIDecember 12, 2014

10 Players Who Would Be Brilliant, and Viable, Additions to MLS in 2015

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    Keane's time with the LA Galaxy has burnished his already impressive career credentials.
    Keane's time with the LA Galaxy has burnished his already impressive career credentials.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Identifying an exciting addition to Major League Soccer is a complicated exercise. The player needs to be very good, preferably with name recognition.

    But he can't be too good, or the thought of having him leave his current situation to play in MLS would be absurd.

    In so many ways, Landon Donovan was the perfect MLS star. He was a transforming talent for the Galaxy and had great moments for the United States men's national team. But while he played in Europe, he never established himself as a star there such that returning to MLS would be too much of a drop in level to make sense.

    Now Donovan is gone. Some of the players listed in this piece could go a long way toward filling the star void Donovan left in MLS. Some would just be intriguing additions to the league.

    Judge for yourself whether these players would consider making the move to MLS now, and whether they would have an impact if they did.

Steven Gerrard

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    Gerrard may be nearing the end at Liverpool.
    Gerrard may be nearing the end at Liverpool.Jon Super/Associated Press

    Steven Gerrard must be watching what Frank Lampard is doing with Manchester City and be thinking, "hey, I could do that."

    Lampard, of course, is already signed to a Major League Soccer club. But until City do not need Lampard any more, New York City FC may have to wait.

    As for Gerrard, he remains valuable to Liverpool, but the narrative around Gerrard for years now is that he may be holding Liverpool back by staying with them. He still has his moments, though.

    Gerrard's contract at Liverpool ends this summer. If he shows a willingness to make the jump to MLS, it is hard to imagine the interest in Gerrard being anything but intense.

Wesley Sneijder

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    Sneijder could be a dominant player in MLS.
    Sneijder could be a dominant player in MLS.Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

    Major League Soccer followers wish Wesley Sneijder would hurry up and decline so he will finally come to North America.

    "Sneijder, 30, has been linked with a move to MLS for years and years now—the LA Galaxy had been Sneijder’s most-rumored MLS destination for the last 18-24 months, but a lack of available Designated Player roster slots always seemed to put an end to that speculation," wrote Andy Edwards recently for NBC Sports.

    Edwards suggests that Toronto FC might be willing to spend what it would take to pry Sneijder away from a club like Galatasaray, where Sneijder is toiling now.

Diego Forlan

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    Forlan would bring the sort of star quality that MLS desperately needs.
    Forlan would bring the sort of star quality that MLS desperately needs.Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Diego Forlan can do better than playing out the string for Cerezo Osaka in Japan. Can't he?

    Though it is hard to argue with the money Forlan is being paid on his current one-year deal. Per an ESPNFC report last February, "Osaka declined to reveal the financial terms of the deal but Japanese media reported it was $5.8 million for the 2014 season, a record for the J-League."

    Forlan is not going to make that kind of cash in Major League Soccer, but that same ESPNFC report indicated that Forlan knows MLS could be a future destination for him.

Erick Torres

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    MLS really cannot afford to let Torres get away.
    MLS really cannot afford to let Torres get away.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Save your commenting energy: I know Torres is already a Major League Soccer player. The problem is, he may not remain one, and the league needs to make keeping Torres a priority.

    In typical MLS fashion, though, Torres' future is both unclear and taking far too long to sort out.

    "By virtue of the league’s decision to shutter Chivas USA and spin the franchise rights on to a group who won’t start play until 2017, Torres is a player without a team. Well, at least one in MLS," wrote Jason Davis for US Soccer Players in early November.

    As of writing, the question of whether Torres will leave MLS is still undecided "with the latest report suggesting that Torres would prefer not to return to Chivas Guadalajara, instead favoring a move to either the LA Galaxy or the Seattle Sounders," reports John Sutcliffe of ESPN Deportes (h/t James Keep for MLS Soccer).

Xavi Hernandez

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    Xavi's time with Barcelona may be coming to a halt.
    Xavi's time with Barcelona may be coming to a halt.Sandra Montanez/Getty Images

    This past July, Xavi Hernandez tamped down rumors that he might be headed to New York City FC.

    "News out of Spain is that the veteran midfielder will be showing up for Barcelona training on Thursday and plans to stay at the club at least until the winter transfer window in January 2015, or even until next summer," wrote Simon Borg for MLS Soccer at the time.

    In a lot of ways, though, Xavi's situation at Barcelona compares to Steven Gerrard's predicament at Liverpool. Xavi is a club legend at Barcelona, but the show is going on without him more and more.

    Like Gerrard, Xavi would have many suitors in MLS if he chose to take that path.

Andrea Pirlo

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    Pirlo even sort of looks like an MLS player, right?
    Pirlo even sort of looks like an MLS player, right?Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

    In some ways, Andrea Pirlo fits the prototype of the Major League Soccer player. He is 35 now, and his role at Juventus is not what it once was.

    But Pirlo has been so good for so long that it sort of does not feel like he would ever belong hacking it around in MLS. Not that MLS thinks it's such a terrible idea, mind you.

    "Although he is under contract at Juventus through 2016 with an annual salary of 3.5 million euros, Pirlo could replace the retiring Landon Donovan as a designated player in time for the 2015 MLS season, should a deal go through," wrote Frank Dell'Apa for ESPNFC in September.

    With apologies to Grantland's Bill Simmons, Donovan to Pirlo is not just an upgrade, it's an UPGRADE.

Jozy Altidore

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    Sometimes you need to know when to walk away.
    Sometimes you need to know when to walk away.Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Jozy Altidore has apparently finally realized what so many have known for so long: It is just not working for Altidore at Sunderland, and it probably never will.

    "With Altidore struggling for goals—and now playing time—at Sunderland, there has been no shortage of introductory calls from MLS clubs to the agent's office since the summer," wrote Greg Seltzer for MLS Soccer recently.

    Seltzer quoted Altidore's agent, Lyle Yorks, as saying that "There's been a lot of interest for Jozy in Major League Soccer, but there have not been any really serious conversations."

    If Altidore keeps floundering in the Premier League much longer, that could change.

Mix Diskerud

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    Diskerud has many admirers in the United States thanks to his USMNT exploits.
    Diskerud has many admirers in the United States thanks to his USMNT exploits.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Mix Diskerud is an interesting case as far as Major League Soccer goes. As a United States international, Diskerud is plenty happy to play in the United States for the men's national team. 

    However, he has been reticent to seriously consider playing in MLS.

    "Diskerud has previously held discussions for a move to Major League Soccer with the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew," noted Greg Seltzer recently for MLS Soccer. 

    But the same report indicated that Diskerud is more likely to re-sign with Rosenborg in Norway in the near term.

Didier Drogba

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    I don't know how Drogba is still productive in the Premier League, either.
    I don't know how Drogba is still productive in the Premier League, either.Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Stories linking Didier Drogba to Major League Soccer have become the soccer equivalent of gossip rags speculating about Jennifer Aniston having a baby.

    Drogba's recent resurgence with Chelsea probably makes the likelihood of his landing in MLS next season exceedingly doubtful. But Chelsea's season will end in the spring, and there is no guarantee that the Premier League club will still need Drogba by then.

    As soon as Chelsea release Drogba again, watch for plenty of stories like this one from Joe Prince-Wright of NBC Sports. "Rumors are rife that (Drogba) could be on his way to Major League Soccer," wrote Prince-Wright this past February.

    Believe it when you see it.

Javier Hernandez

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    Stranger things have happened.
    Stranger things have happened.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    The idea that Javier Hernandez could end up on a Major League Soccer team some day is not crazy at all. In the current day? Yes, it is a little bit crazy, but hear me out anyway.

    Hernandez is a man without a club these days. He is on loan from Manchester United, a club that no longer wants him, to Real Madrid, a club that really does not need him.

    Alex Harris of the Daily Star reported recently that "Hernandez is an end of season transfer target for Arsenal and Liverpool."

    Maybe so, but are either of those situations all that attractive? Hernandez would struggle to find significant playing time at either of those clubs, and neither is assured of a Champions League place next season.

    Hernandez could do a lot for his profile by coming to MLS for a year or two and putting up significant goal totals, which he is more than capable of.

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