The transfer window has closed for MLS teams. This being MLS, it has closed on a few fingers and there’s plenty of messiness to figure out. Unlike the hard stops and coherent rules of the other American sports, soccer can’t really tell its teams to wrap it up.
Pretty much every team can still pick up free transfers (unsigned players). They can still lose athletes to other countries’ deadlines. With the caveat that anyone could still go anywhere, these are the teams we’ve got until the MLS Cup.
What’s most surprising in the parity-driven league is how many teams were willing to start over. Chicago has picked up some interesting pieces — David Arshakyan seems to be the sort of tall and crafty striker that is rare to come by in the US. On the other hand, the Fire are still planning for a future that its fans have been waiting for years to catch a glimpse of. And Arshakyan is the source of the sort of debate no GM wants to see its target the center of — a Wikipedia feud over whether he’s notable enough to warrant his own page.
It’s a bit of a bummer weekend for the teams who packed it in this week. None of Real Salt Lake, Montreal, or New England made moves despite being on the fringes of the playoff race. San Jose’s pickup of Darwin Ceren isn’t going to pave the way towards them scoring any goals.
And Houston, poor Houston. Giving up Giles Barnes was probably smart, since he’s too old to be integral to the next decent Dynamo squad. But it kind of hurts to lose the one dude who shows up in a Google Image Search for “Houston Dynamo.”
They are all joining Chicago in hoping for a better future. Who knows? Some of them might actually see it.
Most of the rest of the league made do with the players available. There weren’t many defenders available within the league or from abroad, and it seemed like the few who were available all went to Portland. Gbenka Arokoyo was picked up from a Turkish side that apparently hadn’t been paying him, which seems like a failed Moneyball tactic that MLS is all the better for avoiding.
Conspiracy theorists believe that MLS wants to make defending as difficult as possible. Thin back lines who can’t communicate with each other make for higher-scoring matches, after all. There might be something to this, as a few of the teams went all-in to try and outscore opponents for the remainder of the season.
That means you have exciting incoming attackers, like Seattle’s new toy Nicolas Lodeiro. Nostalgic but fun-as-hell attackers like Sam Davies, going to a Philadelphia team that needs him. And then desperate stabs at attackers, like Orlando getting left-footed Himanshu lookalike Matias Perez Garcia as they try to make a run before selling off Cyle Larin.
None of these teams are likely to win a championship with their loaded new offenses. But they’ll at least play desperate soccer for the next few months, which is arguably more entertaining – especially as several teams all do it at once.
A special note should be taken here for the Philadelphia Union. They made the big headlines for bringing Alejandro Bedoya back stateside. And they’re probably the team that needed someone like him the most. Bedoya’s an all-everything midfielder that can make even a team as dysfunctional as the US Men’s National Team look like it’s humming. His calming presence will be a ton of help to the young Union defense and its still-gelling offense. Getting his old Boston College bud Charlie Davies can only help. Davies won’t unseat CJ Sapong, who has become quite the gutty target forward, but Davies will become The Sub The Opponent Hates To See in every game going forward. The East is still wide open, and Philadelphia put themselves in great position to take it.
And while we’re on special notes, Colorado is in the bizarre situation of being both new money and old as heck. There’s no reason that last year’s bad team + Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard should’ve been this remarkable – and the bottom could still fall out any moment – but props for bringing Sebastien Le Toux over. He wasn’t needed in Philadelphia, and he could be the sort of clever playmaker that can create tons of space and opportunities for his teammates — Le Toux never had anyone like Shkelzen Gashi or Jones in Philadelphia. They could make a resurgent run. Or they could just be completely gassed by the end of August, but like Tim Howard explained in the above clip, the MLS champion isn’t necessarily the best team each season and why not Colorado, y’know?
Dallas finally, thankfully, solved the Fabian Castillo situation. They’ll miss him in the short run, of course. But MLS most cash-averse team will love what they can do with $4 million.
Philadelphia gets to test out it’s new look early, heading down I-95 on Saturday to RFK where DC United is always tough. Colorado hosts Vancouver later that night.
The MLS is back from an All-Star Break and a transfer deadline carousel. We’ll get to see which teams are regretting and which were planning starting this weekend.
This post was composed by freelance writer and swell guy, Asher Kohn. Reach out to him and discuss all the soccer happenings from around the world on Twitter at:@AJKhn. Catch up with all of the latest MLS happenings on SiriusXM FC.
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