Grading the summer international transfer window activity
The summer international transfer window has come and gone.
From Designated Players to loaners, from a Dutchman to a Gambian, from playmaker to goalkeeper, the moves were plenty as MLS clubs brought in reinforcements.
Some clubs were able to impact their squads more than others. Keeping in mind that each of these players still needs time to integrate themselves, here are the early grades for the movers and shakers of the summer silly season:
A – SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED: LA Galaxy, Toronto FC
The Galaxy’s deadline deal to sign Tottenham Hotspur’s Robbie Keane is a massive upgrade of the forward corps for a team that already leads the league in points. He is four years younger than Juan Pablo Ángel and has the work rate and speed to match the likes of Chad Barrett and Miguel López. The question is whether LA can feed him the ball in good spots.
Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans have already made an impact on TFC. Frings’ experience and composure on the ball has been highlighted by several teammates, while Koevermans has brought a punch to the attack, always finding himself in the middle of scoring opportunities. A hamstring injury has limited the impact of defender Eddy Viator.
B – THAT HIT THE SPOT: Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City
Philadelphia have had trouble scoring goals and have also faced opposition that is increasingly content to form blockades that have further frustrated the Union. What better way to unlock these opponents than with the skill and creativity of Freddy Adu, who will also prove to be a marketable figure for a team that should continue on their successful run.
Goalkeeper misgivings were costing the Red Bulls points and in the long run Frank Rost’s experience and organization should help the team, especially when it comes to the pressure cooker that is the playoffs.
Despite a lull in results for Houston, the Dynamo showed their playoff intentions by acquiring an experienced international forward in Honduran Carlo Costly, just two days after influential rookie Will Bruin went in for left knee surgery. Brazilian Luiz Camargo is an unknown quantity as of yet.
Sporting Kansas City assured themselves of an embarrassment of talented and technical midfielders with the acquisition of Brazilian Jéferson, who has seemingly fit right in. Although Sporting’s acquisition of Trinidadian defender Daneil Cyrus will not pay dividends given his unfortunate injury, Jéferson has shown glimpses that he can be a difference-maker.
With Steven Lenhart missing for an undetermined length of time and having traded Ryan Johnson, the Quakes were in dire need of a partner for Chris Wondolowski. In comes Ecuadorean target man Edmundo Zura, who will be a presence in the box for the Quakes and is sure to open up spaces for Wondo.
C – WORKING THEIR WAY IN: Chicago Fire, New England Revolution, Vancouver Whitecaps
Vancouver and New England sought out scoring help but Gambian Mustapha Jarju (Whitecaps) and Argentine Milton Caraglio (Revolution), while carrying Designated Player tags, are not magic bullets that can right the ship overnight for two teams experiencing tough seasons.
The Chicago Fire, in last place in the East, added two starters in the form of Sebastián Grazzini and Pável Pardo. Both have already contributed goals but will need more time to gain fitness.
D – WAIT AND SEE: Chivas USA, FC Dallas
On the surface, the foreign imports of Chivas USA and FC Dallas do not arise out of any great necessity but help with depth.
Laurent Courtois can split time with Chivas USA teammate Jorge Flores, who has enjoyed a good season on the left flank. It’s difficult to see Brazilian defender David Júnior Lopes unseating the center-back pairing of Heath Pearce and Michael Umaña for the time being.
Meanwhile, FC Dallas have added another experienced and technical midfielder in the form of Daniel Cruz who, together with Ricardo Villar and Bruno Guarda, provide more than enough cover in the absence of David Ferreira.
N/A - QUIET TIMES: Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Based on their results thus far, most of these teams didn’t need much tweaking to warrant overseas acquisitions, although some still have holes. The Crew are at the top of the East while Colorado, Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders are well-positioned for a playoff push in the West.
D.C. United made their big addition on the domestic front by landing Dwayne De Rosario and he's helped them make a climb up the standings.
For the expansion Timbers, the priority is consolidating their current group and adding players with MLS experience rather than taking chances on foreign help.