Before you know it, the Secondary Transfer Window (July 7 to Aug. 7) will be open for business, and MLS clubs are surely well into their summer homework by now.
As usual for around this time of year, we're here to help with a little scouting for targets that can provide value. It's not an empty exercise; this is the 11th edition of this article, and each previous iteration has featured at least one player who came to MLS during the corresponding transfer window.
While we haven't always been inclined to reach for the stars — pun intended — this year's target list includes some big (and, yes, pricey) names. As always, those who have previously played for or been linked to MLS teams are wearing an asterisk.
Though not precisely the same type of player, the soon-to-be Borussia Moenchengladbach free agent brings a good bit of the Raul Ruidiaz effect. The 26-year-old Drmic distracts defenders to no end with physicality, quickness and smarts, and yet still manages to get open in the box. The Swiss forward, who rang up 31 goals in 107 Bundesliga matches, has the ability to produce from anywhere on the front line.
Diego Godin | Action Images
Full disclosure: This guy has been one of my very favorite defenders from way back in his Villarreal days. Godin is so fundamentally sound that he makes everything look easy. Yes, even at 33. It seemed for a while that he was headed toward Inter Milan, but that talk has died down. He's definitely leaving Atletico Madrid, so anyone who wants to shell out for a world-class shutdown artist, here's your target.
Okay, so sue us. The obvious pick is still a good pick, and now would be the best time remaining for a positive homecoming. The 30-year-old American defender is out of contract at Atlas, where he just kept coming back strong no matter how many times the Liga MX side tried to bench him. Gonzalez will no longer cost a Designated Player contract, though the tricky part is navigating the allocation order to snag him.
It's true that Hull City just took up the 2019-20 season option on their skipper, but that's just delaying the inevitable with a transfer tag of, say, about $1 million and change. The Norwegian midfielder is worth it to any MLS team with the requisite roster spot, hopes of enhancing contender status and the need for Jan Gregus-type impact on their game. Actually, Henriksen is younger, but with more top-level experience and is better in the transition game.
Chicharito has a year left on his West Ham United deal, but the feeling in east London seems to be that he'll move on. It's probably too bad both the LA sides would need to do a substantial amount of maneuvering to make roster space for what would be a built-in local marketing gem, but others could make good use of his attributes. The 30-year-old Mexico sniper can still play and has his poaching instincts. He'll be pricey, but surely worth it.
Mesut Ozil | Reuters Action Images
While the Arsenal star has two years left on his contract and he says he's staying, manager Unai Emery is reportedly eager to accept offers. There's no way an MLS club can match Ozil's astronomical salary, but they can offer something else he's wanted for a while: the chance to play in America. The 30-year-old is still clever as ever around the box and coldly efficient with the ball for a No. 10.
They aren't all going to be stars, of course. The 21-year-old right back from Riverside, Calif., has drawn positive press for his right-back play in the Portuguese second flight, and even had a nice game that ended badly with a harsh own goal in Varzim’s cup loss to mighty Porto. Payne can run, sticks to his man and could become quite troublesome going forward.
I bet you didn't see this one coming. The long-ago US under-20 international came roaring back to life with Saint-Etienne this season after a few injury-filled campaigns ended his once-glorious Borussia Dortmund time. Subotic was his old self, marshaling an improved back line that helped Les Verts return to Europe. They had the fourth-stingiest defense in Ligue 1, which helped them finish fourth in the table. The 30-year-old is available for free and might enjoy coming back to the States.
Andrew Wooten | Courtesy of SV Sandhausen
This summer freebie hasn't ruled out returning to Portuguese top flighters Vitoria de Guimaraes and the Europa League qualifying berth he helped them earn. Any club looking for a dynamic No. 10 should try to persuade him elsewhere. Toze is not a lock-pick set-up man, but he can gain separation when needed, plays expertly up the flanks and will finish on late-arriving chances.
The fringe US forward played the best soccer of his career this past season, practically saving Sandhausen's 2. Bundesliga bacon single-handedly. Wooten bagged 17 goals (including nine in their last 10 to spark a relegation-thwarting unbeaten streak) to equal Bobby Wood's record for goals by an American in a single German second-flight season. The free agent has interest from the likes of Hamburg, but perhaps could be convinced to bring his darting runs and cool finishes to MLS for the first time.