Ten Best: Single-season Metros
November 30, 2013
If Fabian Espindola is indeed to depart, he will join the not-so-rare club: players who have spent a season or less with Metro. The illustrious list includes luminaries like Alexi Lalas, Marcelo Vega, Lothar Matthaus, Jaime Moreno, Edson Buddle, and Sebastien Le Toux... and also some players who did not do too badly in their lone year in New York.
10. Wilman Conde, 2012
Juan Carlos Osorio's long-lost son finally got his wish to play in New York, when his rights were acquired from Chicago. Mid-season arrest and supposed flare-up with "Clever" Hans Backe be damned, Conde acquitted himself pretty well. He even scored a memorable late scorcher to tie DC 2:2. Conde and the team mutually agreed to part ways after the season.
9. Andy Williams, 2002
Part of a massive six-player trade that also resulted in single-season Metros Ted Chronopoulos and Mamadouchebag Diallo, Williams tallied 13 assists in just 19 league matches (the league was a little more liberal in hanging out helpers at the time). But he wilted down the stretch, and his refusal to play defense led to new coach Bob Bradley releasing him after the season. Williams' rights were then traded to Chicago for what eventually became another single-season Metro, Edgar Bartolomeu.
8. Peter Vermes, 1996
"Esse! If I shoot, we win?" What more needs to be said. While Vermes' lone season was underwhelming, his playoff performance, barely being able to walk, but scoring in the shootout to earn Metro the win, was legendary. The first Metro captain was traded to Colorado for a draft pick named Kerry Zavagnin... you know, let's just move on.
7. Jean-Philippe Peguero, 2006
More like a quarter-season Metro. Peguero came in early in the year for Thiago Martins (a one-fifth-season Metro), quickly scored six goals, including a hat-trick vs Chivas USA. After just 12 games, he was sold to Denmark's Brondby. It was all downhill for Peguero (Jean-Philippe?) since.
6. Paul Dougherty, 1998
Sadly, few remember the brilliance of Dougherty. A career indoor player, the diminutive midfielder waltzed through opposing defenses, scoring three goals and nine assists in just 16 games. The return of Vega (ugh!) and Tab Ramos from the World Cup meant no space in Metro's midfield for the Englishman. He was shipped out to Tampa Bay for former Rookie of the Year Mike Duhaney.
5. Brad Davis, 2002
Davis was taken third overall in the draft, and great things were predicted early, as he tallied two game-winners in just his third and fourth matches. He ended the year with four goals and three assists, but when Bradley came on board, Davis' inability on defense (here it is again) signaled the end. He was traded for the fourth pick in the 2003 draft, which turned out to be Mike Magee, who... let's just move on.
4. Diego Sonora, 1998
A two-time All-Star in his two seasons with Dallas, Sonora repeated that in his lone season with Metro. Probably the team's most consistent player during the 1998 season, he played right back as well as right midfield, and finished the year with three goals and seven assists. In what was likely a salary cap move, Sonora was traded to DC after the year for two draft picks.
3. Ante Razov, 2005
Bradley wanted his favorite pupil, but Chicago refused to trade with their former coach. So Bradley had to wait for Razov to be traded to Columbus, pout, refuse to play, and lower his value to the point where John Wolyniec and an allocation were enough to pry one of the the best scorers in MLS history. Injuries got the best of Razov during his half a season with Metro, but he did score six goals and five assists, including a spectacular late free kick to tie Kansas City. With Bradley gone after the season, new boss Mo Johnston laughed off Razov's prowess, and dumped him to Chivas USA for Martins, which led to Peguero, see above.
2. Luke Rodgers, 2011
Few thought the career lower division Englishman could succeed in MLS, but this time, Backe proved the cleverest of them all. Rodgers tallied nine goals in league play, added the team's lone playoff score, and won fans every time he touched the ball. (Plus, who can forget the time he told Landon Donovan to shut up.) Of course, the team would have loved to have taken him back, but a long saga ended with no visa, and off to Norway (and then back to English lower divisions) he went.
1. Kenny Cooper, 2012
Only one player has scored more than Cooper's 18 league goals in one season -- Juan Pablo Angel in 2007. Only two players scored more than Cooper's 19 in all competitions -- Angel in 2007 and Adolfo Valencia in 2000. Of course, that 19 should have been 20, encroachment be damned! Supposedly a huge salary cap hit, Cooper, who was acquired from Portland before the season, was shipped off to Dallas afterwards. In his place, Metro got Espindola... and here we go again.