Goal.com's Kyle McCarthy pinpoints a few preferred destinations as MLS clubs attempt to bolster their squads during the close season.
More often than not, those expansive travels ultimately yield signings from a few tried and trusted countries. It is, after all, easier to mine for talent in a league that reliably produces it and understands the peculiarities of the MLS system.
The Friday Five sorted through the silly season buzz and trained its gaze on five destinations worthy of scrutiny during this particular close season:
1. Colombia: No country – with the possible exception of Argentina – has provided a more reliable pipeline to MLS over the past few years. Portland has generated the most buzz with its potential moves for Edwin Movil and José Adolfo Valencia (son of ex-Metrostars striker Adolfo Valencia), but other sides will also dabble in the market and try to snag a few bargains. The connections between the two markets are strong enough to allow two oddities to surface: (1) a rumor linking former Portsmouth and Southampton man Jhon Viáfara, 33, with a move north at this advanced stage of his career and (2) a series of entreaties by America de Cali to bring old star David Ferreira back to the club from FC Dallas.
2. Costa Rica: The decline in the economic fortunes of the top clubs has made this market a bit more affordable in recent seasons. Philadelphia's recent transfer move for Deportivo Saprissa striker Josué Martinez underscore the improved buying power enjoyed by MLS sides. The Union may have struck first, but several other sides are expected to investigate potential transfers. Portland and Seattle have expressed interest in national team fullback Heiner Mora, while Los Angeles could lean on its CONCACAF Champions League knowledge to import Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas from group stage opponents LD Alajuelense.
3. Honduras: Real Salt Lake and Seattle are just two of the sides to send scouts down here in search of reinforcements. Sounders FC has taken a particular interest in several players from CONCACAF Champions League participants Real Espana, according to reports out of Honduras. Regular internationals Victor Bermudez and Julio Cesar de Leon have also had their names linked with moves by various outlets.
4. Mexico: Honduran international Carlo Costly kicked off the usual shuttling between the two countries by returning to Atlas at the conclusion of his loan deal with the Dynamo. Former Real Salt Lake midfielder Arturo Alvarez could follow him as he seeks potential employment outside of MLS, according to recent comments made by Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser. Former Mexico international Miguel Sabah has discussed a potential move in the other direction at the conclusion of his current deal with Monarcas Morelia.
5. England: Chelsea continues to serve as the breeding ground for most of the scuttlebutt as a trio of names have popped up frequently in the papers. Nicolas Anelka flirted with Montréal, but he looks more likely to land in China or some other lucrative destination after his wage demands scuppered the deal. Didier Drogba all but ruled out a move Stateside when his agent declared that his client would sign for the club that offered the highest wages. Frank Lampard will likely see himself linked to Los Angeles until he either finds his way back into the starting XI or moves elsewhere.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.