Silly season is in full swing, with MLS teams all in the offseason now and working on bringing in reinforcements for the 2020 season. While the rumors will continue to fly, here are the biggest moves so far this offseason around MLS.
Drew Moor (Free Agent signing, Nov. 27)/Auston Trusty (Trade, Nov. 20)/ Lalas Abubakar (Trade, Nov. 19)
Abubakar in action with the Rapids in 2019. | USA Today Images
Let's begin by stretching the definitions here a bit with a three-for-one. The Colorado Rapids have aimed to remake their defense, and they've picked up two promising young center backs, with Abubakar on a half-season loan there last season (where his quality shined through), Trusty made available after falling out of favor in Philadelphia, and the experienced Moor, who's coming back to the side he used to captain after a successful sojourn at Toronto FC. The combination of experience and promise among the trio, all three already well acquainted with MLS attacks, means expectations will be substantially higher in Colorado if the defense lives up to the billing in 2020.
Fafa Picault (Traded to FC Dallas on Nov. 26)
Another Union departure this offseason, Picault is a 28-year-old "tweener" attacker, capable of both setting up and scoring goals, something FC Dallas needed in 2019. To use a basketball analogy, Picault is the player who knows he has a few key sweet spots on the field and can wreak havoc from there, even if defenders know what's coming. Can he leverage that into another double-digit goals season, now in the heart of Texas?
Maikel Chang (signed on a free to Real Salt Lake, Nov. 21)
Chang is the latest in a rich talent vein to come to MLS, Cuban exiles who put in their dues at USL level, often via the Charleston Battery. Chang was a star in Charleston, and he took a chance in coming to RSL's USL Championship side, Real Monarchs, the last two seasons. Fresh off the organization's first USL Championship league title, the 28-year-old will look to be the latest lower-division star to show there it plenty of talent kicking around the USL and offer a spark in attack for RSL.
Darlington Nagbe (traded to Columbus Crew SC on Nov. 13)
It's not often that a player is involved in two blockbuster trades in his career and also the team he's departing is truly sad to see him go each time. But Nagbe has broken hearts in Portland and now, Atlanta, after helping both teams win an MLS Cup title. Now, it's on to his home state of Ohio, to see if the composed midfielder can bring some title-winning magic to Columbus, too.
Darwin Quintero (traded to Houston Dynamo on Nov. 13)
Quintero is unveiled in Houston. | Courtesy of Houston Dynamo
Quintero was a revelation in his first season at Minnesota United in 2018, probably not getting his full due that campaign, before a "down" year in 2019 in which he still scored 10G/5A in league play while the Loons had their best season yet in their MLS era. The discord between the Colombian and head coach Adrian Heath was no secret, however, and it will be fascinating to see if Quintero can get back to his best at a rebuilding Dynamo team that is rolling out the red carpet for his arrival.
Dax McCarty (traded to Nashville SC on Nov. 12)
Nashville SC will be McCarty's sixth MLS team he's played for, believe it or not, but the 32-year-old isn't the typical MLS journeyman. A likely candidate to be captain for the 2020 expansion side, McCarty's got the kind of game in midfield that should not decline precipitously as he ages, and he'll have plenty of motivation to push Nashville as far as they can in year one.
Alexander Buttner (signed on a free at New England Revolution, Nov. 1)
Buttner is best remembered as being one of the last signings by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, although he never quite became a regular there. The Dutch defender has loads of experience throughout Europe and the Revolution hope he'll bring an upgrade to the backline and elevate their defense to contender status in 2020.
Alvaro Medran (signed on a free to Chicago Fire, Oct. 10)
The Real Madrid-produced midfielder has bounced around quite a bit in his native Spain, but at just 25 he will aim to follow in the footsteps of compatriots Victor Vazquez, Alejandro Pozuelo and Ilie Sanchez to find a nice landing spot in MLS and become a dominant midfielder. With the Fire aiming to transform in all aspects in 2020, Medran will be counted on to play a big role in a Chicago revival.
Hany Mukhtar (transfer to Nashville SC on Aug. 27)
Mukhtar (second from left) posing with Nashville SC executives. | Courtesy of Nashville SC
The German youth international may not be a household name in North America, but the playmaker will be expected to be a cut above at Nashville SC. Mukhtar is just 24 and still has potential to really break out, making him both an intriguing Designated Player and a possible future transfer asset if he really takes off.
Matias Pellegrini (transfer to Inter Miami on July 26)
Pellegrini being unveiled as one of Inter Miami's first signings. | Courtesy of Inter Miami
Like Mukhtar, Pellegrini was signed before the "offseason," but Inter Miami and Nashville SC were in perpetual offseason ahead of their debut seasons in MLS so we're extending the definition a bit. You could make a case for any of Inter Miami's three young South American signings so far – Argentine forward Julian Carranza and Venezuelan midfielder Christian Makoun, who had a loan stint with Juventus – but we'll highlight Pellegrini, signed on a substantial transfer fee from Argentina's Estudiantes. Pellegrini is a good attacker who will likely showcase some versatility, and Inter Miami hope he'll be MLS's next Miguel Almiron, for his quality and future sell-on potential.