Major League Soccer's second transfer window opens Wednesday, so big-name players -- some from Euro 2012 -- could soon be enthralling North American audiences.
Well, at least in theory. Some big names have been bandied about as potential acquisitions, and there have been reports that Italian stars Alessandro Del Piero (to the Galaxy) and Alessandro Nesta (to New York) have signed deals, but most of the rumors are nothing more, and to date only five players definitely are arriving in MLS.
The big names are both Designated Players: Italian striker Marco Di Vaio, who figures to debut for Montreal in Wednesday night's clash with Toronto FC, and Honduran winger Oscar Boniek Garcia, who is joining Houston.
Philadelphia claimed through allocation former Chicago star Bakary Soumare, who has been playing in Europe, and Chicago (Brazilian midfielder Alex de Lima) and Columbus (Costa Rican forward Jairo Arrieta) also have made additions.
Chivas USA also figures to bolster its roster, with the return of forward Tristan Bowen from a Belgian loan deal, although head coach Robin Fraser this week said it's merely “among the consideration of things we have to do. ... I don't feel like we're under a real time constraint, so certainly we'll make the decision when we feel the decision is right.”
Nesta says he's not coming -- he wants to play in MLS but received no offers -- and talk that Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko might join D.C. were quickly tossed aside. New York wants a DP; Irish midfielder Stephen Ireland's name has been most prominent.
Then there's Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra, the U.S. national team captain whose tenure at Rangers FC might be ending as the club deals with financial troubles that are going to drop it to the bottom division in Scotland. Vancouver got allocation money, among other things, in the deal that enabled Philly to sign Soumare, and speculation has Bocanegra headed to B.C. Any chance Fontana's Maurice Edu, also at Rangers, could return to MLS, too?
The window is open for a month.
Here are this week's power rankings:
1. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (10-3-3, 33 points), Last Week: 3
Week 16: Chris Wondolowski converts a late penalty kick to beat Colorado, 2-1, and scores at the end for a 2-1 win at Real Salt Lake; late flurry can't solve Seattle in 1-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal defeat.
Latest: Game vs. Galaxy at Stanford is a sellout -- 50,000 tickets sold.
Top scorer: Wondolowski leads MLS with 13 goals in 14 games.
Next: Saturday vs. Galaxy at Stanford Stadium, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Tuesday at Portland, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-4-3, 27 points), LW: 5
Week 16: Former Chivas USA center back Heath Pearce gives Red Bulls a 1-1 draw at Vancouver; former D.C. backup Brandon Barklage scores two brilliant goals to lead New York past United, 3-2.
Latest: Bulls give up fastest goal in D.C. United history, then play the best 45 minutes “probably since I arrived,” Hans Backe says.
Top scorer: Kenny Cooper has scored 11, two more than Thierry Henry, who has played just 10 games.
Next: Saturday at Toronto FC, 4 p.m. (Galavision).
3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-4-2, 29 points), LW: 2
Week 16: Jacob Peterson's eighth-minute goal is worth a point in a 1-1 draw at Seattle; late goals magnify 4-0 loss at Philadelphia; C.J. Sapong scores twice in 3-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory over Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro).
Latest: Thousand Oaks-bred right back Chance Myers' minutes streak ends at 2,250, all competitions, when he's not in the lineup for the Open Cup quarterfinals. He last missed action last Sept. 17.
Top scorer: Lawndale's Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong each have five.
Next: Friday vs. Chicago, 5 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Wednesday, July 4, vs. Montreal, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
4. REAL SALT LAKE (10-5-2, 32 points), LW: 1
Week 16: Quick two-goal lead disappears in 3-2 loss to Galaxy; Javier Morales' equalizer doesn't last in 2-1 loss to San Jose.
Latest: RSL hits a low point in successive home losses. Jason Kreis' response: “Discouraged and mad at the world.”
Top scorer: Alvaro Saborio has seven, one more than Fabian Espindola.
Next: Saturday at Columbus, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, July 4, vs. Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
5. D.C. UNITED (9-4-3, 30 points), LW: 4
Week 16: Yorba Linda's Chris Pontius scores twice, the first after just 30 seconds, in 3-2 loss at New York.
Latest: A “blessing and a curse”: Ben Olsen is appointed MLS All-Star coach after Philly dumps Peter Nowak.
Top scorer: Pontius has netted eight.
Next: Saturday vs. Montreal, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
6. GALAXY (6-8-2, 20 points), LW: 12
Week 16: Landon Donovan is MLS Player of the Week after scoring twice and assisting the third as L.A. rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 3-2 victory at Real Salt Lake, then played a role in three first-half goals in 3-0 rout of Vancouver.
Latest: L.A. appears to have awakened from slumber, regained its swagger. The rest of the league should be very afraid.
Top scorer: Donovan's hot stretch takes him to five.
Next: Saturday vs. San Jose at Stanford Stadium, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Wednesday, July 4, vs. Philadelphia at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).
7. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (7-4-5, 26 points), LW: 6
Week 16: Martin Bonjour scores the opener in 1-1 draw with New York; 'Caps stronger in the second half of 3-0 loss at Galaxy.
Latest: Omar Salgado's broken foot could keep him out until October.
Top scorer: Sebastien Le Toux is tops with just four.
Next: Wednesday, July 4, at Colorado, 6:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
8. CHICAGO FIRE (7-5-3, 24 points), LW: 9
Week 16: Marco Pappa and Dominic Oduro get the goals, Fire withstands first-half red card to Gonzalo Segares to beat Columbus, 2-1.
Latest: Reports from Guatemala have three European and South American teams trolling for Pappa, including Wigan Athletic. Sebastian Grazzini could be leaving, too.
Top scorer: Oduro has netted five.
Next: Friday at Sporting Kansas City, 5 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Tuesday at Houston, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
9. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (7-5-4, 25 points), LW: 7
Week 16: Patrick Ianni answers early goal for 1-1 draw with Sporting KC; Eddie Johnson's sizzling goal comes too late in 2-1 Cascadia Cup loss at Portland; Cordell Cato's first-half strike stands up in 1-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory at San Jose.
Latest: What punishment awaits Eddie Johnson for slugging San Jose's Jed Zayner after the Open Cup final whistle? Zayner says he confronted the striker about “taunting us in front of our bench,” and “he hit me in my face.”
Top scorer: Johnson and David Estrada both have five.
Next: Saturday at New England, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, July 4, at Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
10. MONTREAL IMPACT (5-8-3, 18 points), LW: 13
Week 16: Jesse Marsch's return to HDC ruined by Juan Pablo Angel's late finish in a 3-2 loss at Chivas USA; Impact takes three leads, the last for good, in 4-2 triumph over Houston.
Latest: Italian strike Marco Di Vaio set to debut in Canadian derby. “Everyone wants me to score tomorrow. So do I.”
Top scorer: Bernardo Corradi has four.
Next: Wednesday vs. Toronto FC, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at D.C. United, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, July 4, at Sporting Kansas City, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
11. CHIVAS USA (5-7-4, 19 points), LW: 14
Week 16: Juan Pablo Angel's late goal delivers 2-1 win over Montreal; Goats gut out scoreless draw at FC Dallas; Jose Erik Correa returns from injury with two goals, including a stoppage-time winner, in a 2-1 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory over Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro).
Latest: Peter Vagenas tweaks ribcage injury, departs Open Cup win at halftime.
Top scorer: Angel leads with just three.
Next: Saturday, July 7, vs. Vancouver at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).
12. HOUSTON DYNAMO (5-5-5, 20 points), LW: 8
Week 16: Will Bruin scores twice as Dynamo rallies from two-goal deficit for 3-3 tie with Toronto FC, tallies again in 4-2 loss at Montreal.
Latest: Oscar Boniek Garcia heads to Texas as transfer window opens.
Top scorer: Bruin is up to nine.
Next: Saturday vs. Philadelphia, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday vs. Chicago, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
13. COLUMBUS CREW (5-5-4, 19 points), LW: 10
Week 16: Man advantatage, Tony Tchani goal not enough in 2-1 loss at Chicago.
Latest: Crew needs more production from Chilean Milovan Mirosevic and Costa Rican Olman Vargas. Defenders Shaun Francis, Aubrey Perry and Korey Veeder are waived.
Top scorer: Eddie Gaven and Justin Meram both have three.
Next: Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
14. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-7-3, 18 points), LW: 15
Week 16: Chris Tierney's stoppage-time header completes two-goal fightback in 2-2 draw at Toronto FC.
Latest: Revs miss ailing Shalrie Joseph, still come back for a point in Canada.
Top scorer: Saër Sene has scored seven.
Next: Saturday vs. Seattle, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
15. COLORADO RAPIDS (6-8-1, 19 points), LW: 11
Week 16: Brian Mullan provides an early lead, but own goal, PK add up to 2-1 loss to San Jose.
Latest: Record-setting, triple-digit heat forces Rapids to make adjustments in training. “We can’t stop working,” Oscar Pareja says. “Especially the first two days of the week, you have to work hard. And there’s no excuses.”
Top scorer: Newcomer Jaime Castrillon leads the Rapids with four.
Next: Saturday vs. Portland, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, July 4, vs. Vancouver, 6:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
16. PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-6-4, 13 points), LW: 16
Week 16: Kris Boyd, David Horst score early and Timbers hold on for 2-1 Cascadia Cup victory over Seattle.
Latest: John Spencer saves his job with Cascadia Cup triumph.
Top scorer: Boyd has netted five.
Next: Saturday at Colorado, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday vs. San Jose, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
17. PHILADELPHIA UNION (3-8-2, 11 points), LW: 18
Week 16: John Hackworth's first win is a big one: 4-0 over Sporting Kansas City as Jack McInerney strikes twice in the first half; early goals, two PKs make the difference in 5-2 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory over Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro).
Latest: Union trade next year's first-round draft pick to Vancouver to grab big Malian international Bakary Soumare off the allocation wire, strengthening the backline with the former Chicago Fire star, who has played in France and Germany the past 2½ years.
Top scorer: Lionard Pajoy and Gabriel Gomez have scored four apiece.
Next: Saturday at Houston, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, July 4, vs. Galaxy at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).
18. FC DALLAS (3-9-5, 14 points), LW: 17
Week 16: Hoops' winless streak reaches 11, all competitions, with 0-0 tie against Chivas USA.
Latest: Hoops ink North Texas nutritional supplements company AdvoCare as jersey sponsor.
Top scorer: Blas Perez has scored five.
Next: Wednesday, July 4, vs. Toronto FC, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
19. TORONTO FC (1-10-2, 5 points), LW: 19
Week 16: Danny Koevermans scores three goals as the Reds surrender late two-goal leads, conceding in the 90th to finish 3-3 at Houston and in stoppage of a 2-2 draw against New England.
Latest: L.A.'s Luis Silva apologizes for his actions in Houston -- turns out his father had just died.
Top scorer: Koevermans has six.
Next: Wednesday at Montreal, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. New York, 4 p.m. (Galavision); Wednesday, July 4, at FC Dallas, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)..
All times Pacific