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L.A. the biggest winner during MLS transfer window

By Brian Westfall, Soccer Editor

MLS Features Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Red Bull New York dominated the headlines during the Major League Soccer transfer window that closed Saturday night, but the Los Angeles Galaxy are the biggest winners, without making any news.

In a transfer session featuring eight designated player signings and the first DP trade in league history, L.A. emerged with its team intact. Although not an option for most MLS teams, based on the way the Galaxy have played so far this season, it was the best result for coach Bruce Arena.

Galaxy and United States star Landon Donovan was rumored to be on his way back to England, with free-spending Manchester City among his reported suitors. But the window closed, and Donovan is still wearing his No. 10 L.A. jersey as a DP for the Galaxy.

Landon Donovan was rumored to be on his way back to England.
Donovan broke his European jinx in a loan stint with Everton, erasing the past and two failed stints in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. With a strong World Cup showing this summer, EPL teams coveted his services again.

But Donovan continued to showcase his skills as the top talent in MLS and once again teamed with MLS leading scorer Edson Buddle in a 1-0 victory on Saturday against New York and its three designated players - Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez.

"There's been a lot of talk about N.Y in the last few weeks," Donovan said on the MLS website. "We wanted to let people know who the best team in the league is."

L.A. is clearly the best squad in MLS with two-thirds of the season over. L.A. won for the seventh time on the road on Saturday, which is more than twice as many as any other team this season. Overall, the Galaxy are 13-3-4.

David Beckham returned to training last week for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon on loan with AC Milan, and whether he returns in time for the end of the season and the playoffs or not, L.A. remains the team to beat.

Here is a glimpse at the other winners and losers in the MLS transfer window:

WINNERS

Red Bull New York

New York already featured Angel, arguably the best striker in MLS. Then, coach Hans Backe was given former French ace Thierry Henry and Mexico captain Rafael Marquez in the transfer window. New York can't expect the trio to jell in just a few days, so the loss to L.A. is not the end of the world. But will New York find the right mix at all? That remains to be seen. Regardless, anytime a MLS team adds two players who were at Barcelona just months ago, it's a winner.

Seattle Sounders FC

Seattle added Uruguay's Alvaro Fernandez and Switzerland's Blaise Nkufo during the transfer window as designated players, but its top transaction was trading Freddie Ljungberg to the Chicago Fire. Ljungberg, a former Sweden captain, was a high-profile addition to the team before its expansion season last year, but in 15 matches this season the DP didn't score a goal. Since Ljungberg last put on a Sounders uniform, Seattle has four wins during a six-game unbeaten run.

LOSERS

D.C. United

D.C. United lost eight of its first nine games this season (Kansas City likely still can't believe it was the lone victim during that stretch), and boss Curt Onalfo amazingly lasted into early August. During that time, United signed its only current DP, Branko Boskovic. Never heard of him? Don't worry, you are not alone. Four matches is a small sample, but Boskovic has done little to show he is worth the money that comes with the minimum $335,000 DP salary.

Toronto FC

Toronto FC has two designated players, and although former Spain striker Mista was just signed and has only appeared in four matches, the duo has combined to score zero goals in 20 matches. Julian de Guzman was signed last season and he has just two assists in 16 matches. Mista was added this summer, but has made one only start in his four games. Toronto boss Preki will figure out the best way to use both, but neither has proved their worth at this stage.

TO BE DETERMINED

Chicago Fire

The adage "one man's trash is another man's treasure" fits here, as Chicago was willing to trade for Ljungberg. Although never a prolific goalscorer in England's Premier League with Arsenal or with Sweden, Ljungberg has produced just two goals and seven assists in 41 career MLS matches. Chicago hopes Ljungberg will fit well, and with Mexican Nery Castillo added as a designated player during the window, he has a partner that should finish, or allow Ljungberg to finish. Stay tuned.

Kansas City Wizards

K.C.'s first designated player signing, Claudio Lopez, did not work out. Lopez was a good player, but did not produce as expected. K.C. went back into the DP market this summer but has to wait until next year to discover if Mexican Omar Bravo will produce in MLS. Bravo was acquired from Guadalajara, then sent back to the Mexican club on loan. Bravo will rejoin Kansas City next year, when the Wizards will expect him to produce a lot of goals.



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Contact Brian Westfall at bwestfall@sportsnetwork.com.

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