The moves of Andy Najar, Brek Shea and Kei Kamara weakened a few MLS rosters and showed that American soccer may be a bit better than the Euro-focused fan may think. It was not the biggest year in terms of MLS selling players, that belongs to 2008, but it was nearly as numerous and shows a potential for more sales in the future.
"This might be the turning point in terms of the acceptance and recognition of American soccer," noted Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid on today's conference call with Seattle media. "Where there's been the isolated occurrence in the past, whether it was Clint Dempsey or Jozy Altidore or whoever, but with the number of players now with Kamara, Shea and Najar maybe it is a situation now where the recognition given to the football that we play has increased."
Those sales could mean more movement in the next window and the one after that. It could very well mean that MLS is becoming a feeder league. That would add cash to the coffers for many teams, but it would also place a greater emphasis on their ability to find and develop talents as replacements. In the end though, the players that moved have to perform with their new teams.
"The bad thing is that means they are going to look a little more if those guys are successful. I think it's really going to come down to how Najar does, how Brek Shea does and how Kei Kamara does," Sigi said. "If they are all successful it is going to help our league. If three out of three fall on their face it might set us back a little bit. If all three are successful it could be a tremendous boon"
Seattle has a few players that could look to make similar moves. Part of the quest in Fredy Montero's loan is his ambition to test himself in higher rated leagues. He is not alone in that quest amongst the Sounders. Nor should he be.
"Our guys are always looking for those opportunities as well. I think every player wants to play as high of a level as possible. Just like the guy playing basketball in Spain for Barcelona who wants to play in the NBA for the Knicks, or the Lakers, or maybe the SuperSonics. It is something that you always strive for as a player and we have guys that certainly strive for that."
If this all works out in Seattle and MLS' favor it will mean that Sounders fans will need to get used to the best players having shorter stays as Sounders, but also having better overall career arcs. Pickens, Arguez, Toja, Jaqua, Ngwenya, Eddie Johnson, Maurice Edu and Jozy Altidore were in that 2008 wave. Many of those came back humbled. Others took quite a while to develop. This round of transfers the hopes of fans, teams, the league offices and most of all their former teammates and rivals ride on new names to brand MLS and US soccer. It will take a while to find out if they do.