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McCarthy's Musings: Zambrano Forges MLS Path

By Kyle McCarthy

MLS teams are known for plundering Brazil, Argentina and England for talent. Odds are no one expected Hungary to join that list this offseason.

Three players formerly or currently based with a small Hungarian club – Ryan Caugherty (Seattle), Juan Perez (New York) and Ferenc Beres (Kansas City) – are now on trial with MLS teams.

As one might expect, there is a connection between the small club, the three players and MLS. His name is Octavio Zambrano.

For the past few years, former Los Angeles and New York head coach Zambrano has wandered through Eastern Europe. A stop with CS Tiligul-Teras Tiraspol kept Zambrano in Moldova for two years. After leaving Moldova, Zambrano joined FC Tatabanya, a small club in northwestern Hungary, and spent part of 2008 there as manager.

It doesn't take too much of a leap to conjecture that FC Tatabanya employed Caugherty, Perez and Beres during Zambrano's tenure in charge there.

Nor does it take much of a leap to figure out how “Kichi” Perez may have made his way to New York. During his Metrostars days, Zambrano hired a local fitness coach who, according to one article, carried loads of fitness books around with him on road trips. That fitness coach stuck around for a couple of years before departing for Manchester City. That former assistant is Juan Carlos Osorio and he now coaches the Red Bulls. It would be somewhat surprising to this pundit if the diminutive Mexican midfielder/forward Perez made his way to Red Bulls camp without a helpful phone call from Zambrano.

The particular links for Beres or Caugherty and their MLS trials aren't as clear. Nor is it known for sure whether Zambrano – who was spotted in Florida during the MLS Combine – lent his former players a helping hand in their quest to play in the American top flight, even if it appears likely.

American midfielder Caugherty might have popped up on Seattle's radar without Zambrano's aid. Caugherty was drafted by the Wizards in 2005 out of Wake Forest, but opted to try his luck in Europe instead. He later spent a couple of stints in the USL and played in Denmark. Caugherty last played in the Romanian second division before trying his luck with Sounders FC.

Beres leads Tatabanya with five goals this season, according to the club's Web site. The Hungarian striker carried over that form by tallying twice for the Wizards in a scrimmage against the U.S. under-17 national team on Saturday. Even with those exploits, it seems somewhat unlikely that the Wizards were thoroughly scouring the Hungarian second division for reinforcements without some help.

Then again, if the players are affordable and can succeed in MLS, other clubs may just make Hungary a regular destination in the future.

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 MLSnet.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at kylemccarthy@gmail.com.