Designated players

Portland Timbers
Photo by Foto Olimpik/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Timbers announced new DP striker from Legia Warsaw

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The Portland Timbers added another intriguing piece to their attack on Thursday with the unveiling of Polish striker Jaroslaw “Jarek” Niezgoda.

Niezgoda will be a Designated Player.

The 24-year-old striker joins recently-reupped Diego Valeri and new signing Yimmi Chara as key pieces of a Portland attack which also includes USMNT hopeful Jeremy Ebobisse and Peruvian international Andy Polo.

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Niezgoda comes from Legia Warsaw, where he’s scored 29 times in 60 matches with the club. That includes 14 goals in 18 matches this season.

The numbers aren’t far off from one of the Polish league’s best exports: Nemanja Nikolic, who went on to a successful few seasons as a Designated Player for the Chicago Fire. Given the age and experience, this is close to an ideal MLS transfer aside from the big-name marketing appeal.

Timbers coach Giovani Savarese details a striker prepared to score plenty of goals in Major League Soccer, filling a dire need after the unfortunate exit of Brian Fernandez.

“He’s quick,” Savarese said, beginning his scouting report. “He’s a player that can sense inside the box where the ball is going to end up, and has a good knack [of finding] the ball and [scoring] goals … He’s elusive at finding space. He’s good with the head, reads the game very well.”

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Colorado Rapids sign two-time reigning Swiss Golden Boot winner to DP deal

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The Colorado Rapids scooped up a Designated Player on Deadline Day, as MLS buzzed with activity almost as much as any top flight in Europe.

The name is Shkëlzen Gashi, and he’s the twice-reigning leading scorer in the Swiss League, where he spent the last two seasons with Basel. The 27-year-old Albanian has one goal in 10 caps for his country, scoring against Armenia in 2016 Euro qualifying.

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The Rapids have seen plenty of roster tumult and transfer gossip action this offseason, with Clint Irwin and Drew Moor finding new homes and names like Ale Bedoya and Tim Howard linked with Colorado.

From ColoradoRapids.com:

“Shkëlzen was our top attacking target this offseason,” said Paul Bravo, Technical Director and VP of Soccer Operations. “He has proven to be a prolific goalscorer in his club’s domestic and European success. In addition he has been instrumental in his national team’s qualification campaign for Euro 2016. We are delighted to sign him on a permanent transfer and look forward to seeing him in burgundy.”

Gashi joins forward Kevin Doyle in the ranks of DPs in Colorado. He was the Footballer of the Year in Switzerland for 2014.

The move is extremely interesting in making a comparison between the status of the Swiss Super League and Major League Soccer. In form, Gashi is a nice litmus test for those of us interested in a status report.

And judging by the picture, Colorado’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man.

Designated Player slot open in Vancouver as Miller, ‘Caps part ways

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Carl Robinson’s lukewarm endorsement of Designated Player Kenny Miller now seems a bit of foreshadowing as the Vancouver Whitecaps terminated the Scottish forward’s contract on Sunday after the two sides failed to agree to an extension.

Miller said he wanted to get off the market “early doors” after scoring in Vancouver’s opener, and now he’s on the market earlier than expected since his contract ran through June.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“We are thankful for the contributions Kenny made both on and off the pitch during his time in Vancouver,” said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. “He has been a great role model, a constant professional, and someone who I consider a very good friend. We wish him and his family all the best.”

Miller, 34, joined the Whitecaps in June 2012 and during his time with the club the native of Edinburgh, Scotland, made 45 appearances in all competitions, registering 13 goals and adding three assists.

Miller’s three goals are tied with Kekuta Manneh and Pedro Morales for the club lead, but he’s one of four Vancouver forwards to have scored multiple goals this year (Darren Mattocks and Sebastian Fernandez have also scored twice). His departure leaves midfielders Matias Laba and Morales as the ‘Caps only DPs.

Kaka is not what MLS needs

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A certain Brazilian scored a wondergoal on Tuesday, kickstarting “Kaka-to-MLS” rumors once again. Although the 30 year old denies anything it happening, you never know.

I hope it doesn’t.

Not because getting Kaka wouldn’t be good for the league. It would be. But it’s an unnecessary waste of limited resources, and not the message MLS should be sending. At Fox Soccer, Leander Schaerlaeckens argues that MLS should focus on younger players, and I completely agree. The league should target rising young stars — the best players in Central America, the Caribbean, and, where they can, South America — rather than relying on aging superstars. Yes, Kaka is “only” 30, but so is Landon Donovan. And Kaka is no longer the Kaka of 2010.

Nor is Kaka David Beckham. The Brazilian is a celebrity because he’s a footballer, but Beckham was a celebrity because he was a brand. Two different things. Sure, Kaka would sell some Galaxy jerseys — plenty, probably — but I’m not sure how much he’d do to improve the league’s visibility abroad. The world already knows that MLS exists; the goal now is to prove to the rest of the planet how the quality is improving (and rapidly so). Bringing Kaka to these shores doesn’t accomplish that end. All it does is give Europeans et al another reason to look down on MLS.

And then there’s the money. The Galaxy have deep pockets — SD heard they would spend up to $9 million to secure the services of Didier Drogba — but lavishing fat contracts on men like Drogba and Kaka isn’t the answer. Just because you have the money doesn’t mean you should spend it unwisely.

But I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong? Am I missing the influence he and his 13 million Twitter followers would have off the field?