Ten Best: Summer acquisitions
July 1, 2010
The history of Metro summer signings is spotty... at best. Branco, Mohammad Khakpour, Gilmar, Andrzej Juskowiak, Markus Schopp, Juan Pietravallo, Gabriel Cichero, Leo Krupnik... one terrible player after another. But let's look at the positive side: the ten BEST summer acquisitions -- not just signings, for we have to include trades as well, or this list will be impossible to compile...
10) Sasa Curcic, 1999
We always had a soft sport for the wacky Curcic, who arrived during the terrible 1999 season, together with Khakpour and Henry Zambrano. The Serb tallied two goals and two assists in nine games, gave a bizarre interview to the New York Times, asked for a wave runner to get across the Hudson faster, was shelved by an injury, and left after the season. Yep, if this is how it begins, this list is not exactly gonna be filled with gold...
9) Kevin Goldthwaite, 2007
Acquired from Toronto (more on that later), Goldthwaite was terrible in his first year with Metro, but became a very serviceable defender a year later, tallying two goals and helping the team to the MLS Cup final. 2009 was not kind to him (and the rest of the team), and he's due to miss the entire current season to injury... Yet he makes this list because of longevity. Yes, the pickings are slim.
8) Manny Lagos, 1996
For a couple of weeks in the league's inaugural season, MLS allowed teams to sign minor league players, and Manny was plucked from the USISL's Minnesota Thunder. He immediately became a starter and a key player in midfield, only to tear his ACL, leading to him missing the first half of 1997 as well. See more in Obscure Metro Files.
7) Bouna Coundoul, 2009
Acquired from Colorado for an allocation, he might not be the most fundamentally sound goalkeeper, but he is an excellent shotstopper, and has proven to be an above average MLS goalie. For an acquisition during the Osorio-Agoos era, you can't ask for more.
6) Todd Dunivant, 2006
Oh, the trials of MLS. Dunivant was acquired for a pittance from Alexi Lalas and the Galaxy and immediately made the left back spot his own, even scoring goals in back-to-back games. Incoming coach Bruce Arena wasn't exactly a fan, calling Dunivant "one of the twelve best left backs in MLS" (there were twelve teams at the time). A year later, he dumped the defender to Toronto... for Goldthwaite, a lesser player with a lesser salary. Now Dunivant is back in LA, starring for Arena. Go figure.
5) Ante Razov, 2005
Ugh. Everything looked to be coming up roses when Bob Bradley acquired his prodigal son, Ante Razov, from Columbus (he wanted to acquire him previously; Chicago, afraid of Bradley, wouldn't deal with Metro, instead dumping Razov on the Crew). Razov scored immediately, tallied six goals and five assists, but an injury curtailed his season. Then, with Bradley gone, Lalas dumped Ante to Chivas USA for scraps. Idiocy.
4) Mark Semioli, 1997
Acquired from LA for a low draft pick, the fan favorite became a fixture in Metro defense for the next four years. He even contributed on offense, scoring two goals in 1997 and adding two in 1999.
3) Dema Kovalenko, 2006
Arena's first acquisition in charge of Metro was Kovalenko, who had to be acquired from DC even though he was playing in Ukraine at the time. The once-hated midfielder immediately became a fan favorite for his hard tackles and dedication. Juan Carlos Osorio would have none of that, paying Salt Lake to take Dema off his hands... And now Kovalenko is reunited with Bruce and the Galaxy. Stop this already.
2) Jonny Walker, 2003
With Tim Howard being sold to Manchester United, Metro needed a goalie. And they got a great one in Walker, who spent honed his skills in Chile. Jonny's 2003 was suberb on every level, earning the team points they would not have had otherwise. (Well, they would if Timmy was still there. We still miss you, Timmy! Anyway...)
1) Antony De Avila, 1996
But the first major summer acquisition still stands as the team's best. "Pitufo", the 5'3" attacker, one of the highest scorers in the history of Colombia for America de Cali, a terror on the AstroTurf, scorer of the goal that clinched Metro's first playoff spot: eight goals in 11 games in 1996, nine goals a year later, and a setting a bar that has not been reached yet.