Ian Ennis – The summer heat can bog down anyone but it can have a really detrimental effect on soccer players accustomed to playing in cooler weather. After naming our Top 10 Best MLS Overseas Signings, we are following it up with the players that didn’t quite live up to expectations.
10) Mustapha Jarju
While Jarju isn’t the most famous player to hit Major League Soccer, his time in the league certainly broke records. The Gambian forward was signed from Belgian side R.A.E.C. Mons by the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011. The team gave him designated player status, making Jarju the first African to hold that title in MLS. His time at Vancouver, however, was not so exciting. In 10 appearances, he did not register a goal. After failing to make any impact at all on the team, he was released by the Whitecaps and became the only DP ever who failed to register a single point during his MLS career.
9) Kris Boyd
The former Glasgow Rangers star striker was signed by the Portland Timbers in the club’s first season in Major League Soccer and was expected to be the leading scoring threat for the club. Boyd did score a decent 7 goals in 26 appearances, but it was nowhere near what the team expected of him after shelling out over $1.5 million annually due to his designated player status. Boyd never played with the confidence or desire needed from a top striker and the Timbers ended his contract after only 1 season.
8) Steven Caldwell
When Caldwell signed for Toronto FC from Birmingham City back in 2013, fans were excited that they would finally have a world class center back that would lead them to an MLS Cup. Sadly, things have not turned out that way. While Caldwell has put in some solid performances, he has lost so much speed he might as well be running through molasses when chasing down strikers and his designated player status has meant that Toronto FC cannot attract the reinforcements they need to make a challenge at the title. He is well past his prime at the age of 34 and will continue to be a drain of resources for the Canadian club as long as they keep him around.
7) Luis Hernandez
Known for his crazy long blond hair, Luis Hernandez, aka El Matador, was picked up by LA Galaxy from Mexican side Tigres UANL in early 2000. LA Galaxy thought they had landed a coup by only having to pay the striker $4 million to play with the club as he was expected to tear up the league with his goal scoring prowess. Hernandez turned out to be a huge disappointment in his 2 seasons with the Galaxy, scoring 15 goals in 40 appearances, and the rise of attendance that was expected was nearly nonexistent. During his time in LA, he was ruled offside while trying to score more than any other player.
6) Julian de Guzman
De Guzman was more unfitting of an appearance on this list than others, but he makes it simply because his price tag was nowhere near his output to his team. The Canadian international signed with Toronto FC from Deportivo La Coruna and began to rake in roughly $2 a year. Unfortunately, all TFC got were inconsistent performances and plaguing injuries that kept his appearances limited to a paltry 65 over 4 seasons. In contrast, in 4 seasons at his former club, de Guzman appeared 97 times. He really wasn’t worth the money spent and after trying to restart his career at FC Dallas, he became a free agent because no team wanted him.
With 60 Brazil caps under his belt and experience in different leagues around the world, Denilson had everything he needed to be successful for FC Dallas after a move from Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr FC in 2007. Denilson, however, only made 8 appearances for the club, scoring 1 goal, and collecting almost $1 million in salary. To us, the math of $1 million per goal doesn’t seem like it’s in the best interest of the club. Soccer analysts around the country described Denilson as “never particularly interested in anything beyond collecting another paycheck.” Needless to say, FC Dallas decided not to take him on for another season due to the stress to the squad of accommodating him and his wage demands.
The Spanish striker from Deportivo La Coruna was another player that was bought by Toronto FC after the club raided their Spanish counterparts for new talent. Mista had hit a bad run of form since leaving Valencia and the skid continued in MLS. During his one season at the club, he played a paltry 544 minutes (9 appearances) and scored zero goals. His form was so bad that TFC waived his contract at the end of his debut season. To make matters worse, Mista collected a cool $1 million during his time in Canada. All he had to show for his time was a check and one assist.
3) Rafael Marquez
From the research we have been able to do here, it is pretty clear that Rafael Marquez is one of the most hated players to ever grace the field in MLS. The Mexican international moved from Barcelona to the New York Red Bulls and collected a staggering $15 million over 3 seasons. This wouldn’t have been that bad except he failed to lead them to a single playoff victory and was constantly in trouble for horrible tackles that got him sent off or lacking any sense of commitment. Marquez later described choosing to play in Major League Soccer as the worst decision of his career and we have to agree. I’m sure the Red Bulls would like that $15+ million back, Rafa.
2) Lothar Matthaus
Lothar Matthaus is arguably the best player out of all on our countdown, but what he did during his time in the MLS, landed him here. Matthaus won nearly everything in Europe, so the MetroStars were excited to sign him to a big contract from Bayern Munich in 2000. The only problem: Matthaus was under the impression that MLS was a retirement league for aging European stars to come and finish out their careers making tons of money and not having to work for it. Matthaus came to the US and told his new club that he needed rehab for a back injury back in Germany. Weeks later, photographs of the midfielder showing him relaxing on the beaches of Monaco while he was supposed to be rehabbing were shown to the club. He thought he could do what he wanted and pick up his pay check, but the MetroStars were a little less forgiving as he only made 16 appearances in his only season with the club, scoring no goals.
1) Adrian Lopez
Lopez has to be one of the most comically sad stories on this list. The Spanish defender was signed from Wigan Athletic by Montreal Impact in 2013 and since then has been an absolute disaster for the club. His former appearance records should make most people wonder why the Impact even wasted a cent on him: after 2 seasons at Wigan he had 11 appearances and after 3 seasons at Deportivo La Coruna he had only notched 26 appearances. In his debut for the club, Lopez led his team to a 1-0 loss and was sent off for an awful challenge on an opposing player. He also failed to appear in the league due to a torn ACL that he suffered during a training session and has still yet to make a registered MLS appearance for the club.
We hope you have enjoyed our countdown of the Top 10 Worst MLS Overseas Signings. If you haven’t already, check out our list of the Top 10 Best MLS Overseas Signings.
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