The New York Red Bulls on Monday announced the signing of former Brazilian national team midfielder Juninho Pernambucano.
The famed free-kick wizard will turn 38 next month, but fatigue did not appear to be a factor for him last season in the Brazilian first division. He played 29 matches – fourth on the team – for Vasco da Gama and recorded seven goals and eight assists.
“Aside from being a top dead ball specialist and a tremendous talent, Juninho is a fantastic professional both on and off the field. He is in great physical shape and we think he can make a positive impact for us in 2013,” Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said in a statement.
Juninho helped Lyon win seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles in France while scoring 100 goals in 344 matches in all competitions. He played for Red Bulls global sporting director Gerard Houllier from 2005 through 2007. He has seven goals in 47 caps for the national team.
Many have questioned the wisdom of signing a player of his age, but those concerns were eased somewhat when the team confirmed he was not signed as a designated player. The club still has one opening for a high-salary player following the departure of defensive midfielder Rafa Márquez last week.
Speaking of Márquez, the 33-year-old Mexican national team player did not hide his feelings about Major League Soccer following his arrival at Club León. Univision.com reported that Márquez described MLS as “very amateur.”
The comment drew immediate backlash from MLS supporters who had been highly critical of his play since joining the Red Bulls in 2010. Márquez also revealed on Twitter that the management of Atlas, the team where he started his career, was not interested in signing him.
Sporting KC Ready to Announce New DP; Espinoza Cleared to Leave for EPL
Sporting Kansas City revealed that a new designated player will be announced at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The announcement will be made on the team’s official YouTube channel.
Numerous reports have claimed that the signing will be 28-year-old Ecuadorian Claudio Bieler. The Argentine-born forward has played for LDU Quito and scored 57 goals in 109 matches.
He was called up for the Argentine national team in 2010 but reportedly did not play due to injury. He later began a naturalization process in Ecuador but has not been capped by any national team.
The announcement came as Wigan Athletic confirmed that an FA Panel granted a UK work permit for Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza. As expected, the 26-year-old midfielder will join Wigan at the end of December when his MLS contract expires.
Whitecaps Reportedly Talking to Chiumiento About Return
The Vancouver Whitecaps could be close to signing a player very familiar to fans. Attacking Davide Chiumiento met with head coach Martin Rennie on Sunday, and The Province reported that the club and player have plans for more talks and could be reunited.
The 27-year-old Swiss-Italian playmaker left under odd circumstances last year. He was sold to FC Zurich in Switzerland with Vancouver officials saying he left for family reasons. However, Chiumiento gave interviews suggesting that he was conflicted and wanted to stay but never received an offer.
He had five assists but no goals in 16 matches for the Whitecaps. Negotiations could be complex though with Zurich potentially wanting a transfer fee and his salary demands to consider.
Diskerud Not Heading to Portland
Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson sent this vague tweet Monday morning:
“Always disappointing when deals that were done fall apart. Crazy biz but that’s the biz we are in. Next option may make more sense anyway.”
Although there was no confirmation from the club, many people took the message to mean that 22-year-old U.S. national team player Mix Diskerud will not be joining the Timbers as had been reported. The Timbers had traded up in the allocation order used when signing returning MLS players and U.S. internationals. Diskerud’s father and agent admitted interest, and Soccer By Ives reported that Diskerud was the Timbers’ target.
The Norwegian-born midfielder is out of contract with Rosenborg BK where has been since August.
Crew Re-Sign O’Rourke, Prepared to Lose Another Defender
The Columbus Crew announced 29-year-old defender Danny O’Rourke has re-signed with the club. However, it seems that 32-year-old Chilean right back Sebastián Miranda is unlikely to return after being offered a deal for less money.
Hernandez Reportedly Fired as Assistant Coach After Just Three Weeks
Former FC Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez retired and was named an assistant coach just three weeks ago, but the club has confirmed he is no longer with the team.
The 3rd Degree blog reported that Hernandez was fired but said the reason was unknown.