By IVES GALARCEP
Signing big-ticket superstars is one way to improve your team in Major League Soccer, but another, more efficient, way is to uncover hidden gems and reclamation projects on other teams in the league.
All across MLS you can find players who are thriving after having been cut loose or dealt away by somebody else, and you also have some teams that have seen more than their share of former players thriving on other teams.
I recently put together a piece for Goal.com on the Top 10 best players to have been unloaded by other MLS teams in the past three years, and it reads like a who’s who of the league’s most in-form players. From New England playmaker Lee Nguyen, to Real Salt Lake speedster Joao Plata, there are plenty of current MLS standouts who were cut loose by other teams not too long ago.
While I did name 10 players, the league is filled with plenty of others who can be considered uncovered gems. Here is a rundown of some other players enjoying good 2014 seasons after being let go by other MLS teams in recent years:
Should have been on my initial Top 10, an oversight on my part. Hard to argue against his impact on the Sounders defense. An MLS Defender of the Year candidate.
Not quite a reclamation project so much as a big acquisition by the Red Bulls, he’s still on this list because he has managed to continue playing at a very high level even after being let go by Real Salt Lake for salary cap reasons after the 2012 season.
Let’s face it. Chad Barrett has been around the block, and has been let go by a total of four MLS teams before he joined Seattle this season. After a two-goal season with New England in 2013, Barrett has enjoyed a renaissance, netting seven goals for the Sounders this season in mainly a substitute’s role.
Nobody pulls off more successful reclamation projects than Bruce Arena, and his latest one is Gargan, a journeyman fullback who has played for five other MLS teams over the course of nine seasons before joining the Los Angeles Galaxy. All he has done is given the Galaxy a rock-solid right back, starting 22 matches and recording five assists in the process.
The player Gargan replaced in LA has found a new home with D.C. United and has been, arguably, the best right back in MLS this season.
Keeping with the right back theme, Beitashour was inexplicably let go by San Jose, and landed in a comfortable spot with the Whitecaps, starting 20 matches and also playing in the World Cup for Iran.
Lasted only six matches with Chivas USA before being dumped earlier this year. He has found a home with Toronto FC, and has produced five goals and four assists in the 19 games he has played in. Both numbers would be good for second-most on Chivas USA.
What player are you most disappointed to have seen leave your team? Which reclamation project do you consider the most impressive pick-up? Anyone not on this list (or in my Goal.com story) that you feel deserved mentioning?
Share your thoughts below.