The intra-league market was on fire this offseason, both in terms of quantity and quality. There were numerous trades that would have counted as league-record fees all within the same winter.
The eligibility criteria for free agency was also lowered, which led to more players being available with fewer restrictions, leading to some big-name (and younger) free agents on the market.
Via trades, free agency or other mechanisms, here are your familiar faces in new places. (Obviously, this isn't a comprehensive list but just some highlights, in no particular order.)
Rusnak simply wouldn’t have been available in previous years, given the changes to free agency eligibility. A DP of his stature and age (just 27!) is not readily available from one MLS team to another. He had 41 goals and 39 assists with Real Salt Lake in 140 appearances, including 11 of each while starting all 34 games last year. RSL wanted him back, and teams abroad had interest too, but the Sounders got it done.
Your new league record for most expensive trade is the deal that sent Paul Arriola to FC Dallas from D.C. United in a trade worth $2 million in General Allocation Money, plus incentives.
Arriola began his promising career in Mexico with Club Tijuana before making his way to the US capital city, where he had 20 goals and 16 assists in 89 appearances. Club America made numerous transfer offers to try to land the 27-year-old, and expansion newcomers Charlotte FC also had a league-record trade proposal on the table, but those efforts came up short.
It all leaves Arriola reuniting with former US men's national team assistant Nico Estevez in Dallas for 2022.
Acosta, 26, made 79 appearances with the Rapids and helped lead them atop the Western Conference last year. He was also the club's first significant acquisition in a noticeable theoretical shift toward acquiring and developing young domestic talent under Rapids GM Padraig Smith.
Acosta's contract includes club options for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, meaning he could become a free agent in January 2024 if a new agreement with LAFC isn't reached.
The New England Revolution came very close to acquiring the USMNT midfielder in December, per sources, but the Rapids held out for a bigger offer that eventually came from LAFC.
New England were busy in the intra-league market, adding Sebastian Lletget from the LA Galaxy in a trade worth $500,000 in General Allocation Money upfront with another $800,000 in incentives. Sources say the incentives are very, very ambitious.
Lletget made 158 appearances with the Galaxy after arriving from England's West Ham United in 2015. The USMNT midfielder was originally signed by Revs head coach Bruce Arena to the Galaxy.
The deal for Lletget would have been in addition to Acosta if the Revs landed that, too.
Nashville SC signed midfielder Sean Davis in free agency after he spent his entire previous career with the New York Red Bulls, beginning in their academy and eventually ascending to the first-team captaincy.
Davis played every single minute in MLS last year, an enormously impressive accomplishment considering his central midfield role, RBNY's high-energy/high pressing style, and the condensed schedule.
For a while this offseason, the Red Bulls' deal to sign Lewis Morgan for $1.2 million in General Allocation Money from Inter Miami CF marked the league record for most GAM changing hands in an MLS trade.
Morgan played every single game during Miami’s first two seasons and was named their club MVP in 2020. The 25-year-old had five goals and 12 assists in 57 appearances. He should fit nicely into the Red Bulls’ system.
LAFC paid Vancouver Whitecaps FC $1 million in General Allocation Money plus a 2025 MLS SuperDraft pick and incentives for Crepeau, who wanted out of the club for personal reasons late in the offseason. The figure is the highest for a goalkeeper in MLS history.
The 27-year-old is regarded as one of the top shot-stoppers in MLS and should be an immediate upgrade.
Jozy Altidore is one of the most decorated players in USMNT history, and he has a new home in 2022.
After seven memorable seasons, Toronto FC bought out Altidore, who then signed a three-year deal with New England under former USMNT boss Bruce Arena. The 32-year-old has struggled with injuries over the last few years, limiting his impact for TFC, but he departs the Canadian club as their second-highest scorer in club history.
Monteiro, 28, was previously the Union’s club-record transfer. The Cape Verde international had nine goals and 21 assists in 75 regular-season appearances for Philly over three seasons. He nearly left in the summer, but the right offer never materialized.
He’ll remain a DP in San Jose.
As part of Chicago Fire FC's transformation effort, Kacper Przybylko arrives from Philly in a trade worth $1.15 million in General Allocation Money. Przybylko is under contract through the 2023 season, but sources tell MLSsoccer.com that the two parties are already discussing a long-term deal that would not count as a DP signing.
Przybylko had 35 goals and 14 assists in 83 appearances with the Union, coming out of nowhere to win the starting center forward job and lead the lines for three seasons as Philadelphia won the Supporters' Shield and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final during his time at the club.
The traditional striker should get plenty of service from new Fire DPs Xherdan Shaqiri and Jairo Torres as he looks to challenge his personal-best 15 goals in a season mark.
Walkes spent 2020-21 with Atlanta United after originally spending a half-season on loan in 2017, accruing 70 MLS appearances along the way. The versatile and mobile defender can play numerous positions and systems, including center back and right back in a back four or right center back in a back three. He started 32 games for Atlanta last year.
Hollingshead, 30, is still in his prime and is regarded as one of the league's premier attacking fullbacks. The left back has 18 goals and 15 assists in 193 career MLS appearances, including 3g/5a last year for Dallas. He could cause plenty of havoc on the left flank with Brian Rodriguez.
Sanchez made 144 appearances for SKC in five seasons as a constant at the base of their midfield and a perfect fit for their possession-based ethos. That skill set should make him a strong fit in Los Angeles, even as the 31-year-old reaches the end of his prime.
Alistair Johnston rose from a 2020 MLS SuperDraft selection to a Canadian international with Nashville, and now, the subject of a trade worth $1 million in General Allocation Money to CF Montréal, who also signed him to a new contract.
Johnston will likely play his preferred right center back position in Wilfried Nancy’s 3-4-2-1 formation, though he can also play as a right wingback.
Blackmon made 64 appearances with LAFC. He is expected to play right center back in Vancouver’s back three under Vanni Sartini.