ExtraTime Radio Podcast
LISTEN: Who won a pleasantly busy transfer window? D.C. United, who splashed the cash? LAFC, who got a coach and a foundational star? How about Sporting KC, which stockpiled allocation money? Maybe Crew SC, who got the cash and a DP? Former Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis and D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper are featured guests! Subscribe now and "Like" our Facebook page so you never miss a show! Download this episode!
As of midnight ET on Thursday morning, the secondary transfer/trade window is officially closed in MLS. That means the vast majority of big moves have been made.
It does not, however, mean that all moves have been made. The transfer window in Europe is still open, so if an obscene offer comes in for the right MLS player, we could still potentially see some outgoing movement. And the transfer/trade window doesn't prohibit MLS teams from signing out-of-contract players, which we could see very soon in Harrison with the on-trial Dilly Duka. The roster freeze date is September 15, so anybody who's free right now can plausibly be added over the next month.
But for the most part, what you see now is what you'll get through the end of the season. And also...
But... they have a bit of roster flexibility, and they have only three true center backs, and one of them is hurt, and they're suddenly one injury away from a full-blown crisis.
That crisis may never come, and NYCFC may still win hardware this year, and maybe they'll be able to add a center back for free sometime in the coming weeks. However, if I was Patrick Vieira I'd be pretty steamed about going into the stretch run with zero central defensive depth on the roster. If Alex Callens slips in the shower on Friday morning, the Cityzens will line up on Saturday night with right back Ethan White in the middle of the backline. If Callens is out for any appreciable length of time, then it's back to the CB pairing that Toronto destroyed in last year's postseason.
I also find myself wondering if they're going to regret not trading Tommy McNamara now, when there's a market for him. If he continues as a deep reserve – and that seems to be his current trajectory – they'll end up with pennies on the dollar.
This team had a chance to get better and more flexible, and they didn't.
EDIT: This blurb originally said that NYCFC got cap relief after Miguel Camargo's season-ending injury. According to an NYCFC spokesman, that's in fact not the case. My bad!
So with their allocation cash and flexibility they brought in a back-up defender and a guy who's been either injured or, at best, a part-time starter in Norway and Poland.
The Red Bulls are still probably good enough to fight for a top four spot in the Eastern Conference, and can maybe make noise in the playoffs as well. But there was a chance to bring in a guy who could elevate them back into the ranks of the true contenders and I'd say their fans are right to be upset that guy didn't arrive.
Perhaps Muhamed Keita will defy expectations and do justice to that No. 10 shirt. It seems a long shot, though.
I wrote about the Dom Dwyer trade when it happened. Getting him this summer means OCSC can sell Cyle Larin in the winter and not have to worry about/scramble for a goal-scoring center forward. It's arguably worth what they paid for him, which was a freaking ton, and I'm sure there's hope in Central Florida that the old-fashioned Dwyer/Larin forward combo can somehow click and get this team to the playoffs for the first time in their history.
Their other two moves were, from where I sit, good ones. Both Yoshi Yotun and Dillon Powers are very good passers of the ball who can fit in multiple schemes, and who should help the Purple Lions get away from their reliance on useless long balls.
In the long run, however, this remains a team that needs some serious work on their roster. What they have now has been put together by too many people over the last three years, and the result is a collection of mis-matched parts that don't complement each other. There's been no clear vision.
The hard work in that regard should continue through the winter transfer window. This summer was an ok start, but not much more than that.
The Union entered the transfer window in desperate need of a No. 10. They exited the transfer window in desperate need of a No. 10.
Larrys Mabiala hasn't exactly been mistake-free in his four games, but the Timbers are 2-1-1 and points are all that really matter. Bill Tuiloma, meanwhile, may never play an MLS game but he's the type of talent worth bringing in to take a look at – and with the way Portland pick up injuries, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he'll be called upon once or twice.
This was a solid, to-the-point window for Gavin Wilkinson & Co.
RSL are now set up to be much better in 2018, but they still have to answer the Yura Movsisyan question. At various times over the past six weeks it seemed like they were on the verge of moving him, but now the window is closed and he's still on the roster taking up a DP slot that he hasn't really been worth since his return to Sandy.
They'll need to figure out how to move him this winter, and then identify and acquire a replacement. That will take up 50 percent of Craig Waibel's head space, and finding a replacement for Kyle Beckerman will be the other 50 percent.
More valuable than that might be the restraint they showed elsewhere. It looks like a cadre of their own youngsters – rookie draft pick Jackson Yueill, as well as Homegrown players Tommy Thompson and Nick Lima – are getting a real chance to play real minutes, and thus far they've all been worth it. Answering roster questions from within means more flexibility in terms of managing the budget, as well as tighter aim on the right kinds of imports.
This is something the previous regime had trouble with. Not so for the current group thus far.
Seattle are better and deeper than they were a month ago, and in Kelvin Leerdam they picked up an in-his-prime starter at a spot they'd had to scramble to fill for the first half of the year.
There is disappointment, of course, that #DerlisWatch died an unceremonious death. The Sounders nonetheless added, in Victor Rodriguez, an experienced attacking midfielder who can play all across the "3" line in the 4-2-3-1, and in Lamar Neagle a proven MLS commodity who can add value as a reserve winger. Calum Mallace in exchange for a fourth-round pick is an easy swap to make as well, even if Mallace never gets off the bench.
I get why Seattle fans are bummed this team didn't add a Lodeiro-esque signing, but it's hard for me to look at this roster and say "Yeah, they're not really built to compete." They are, and there's no team in the West who are clearly superior.
Artistic interpretation of Peter Vermes looking at all his allocation cash:
Teams all over the world sell veterans at a profit when they feel like youngsters are ready to soak up those minutes. That's what SKC did with the Dwyer trade, and because of the way the roster's been put together, they didn't have to scramble for replacements in the immediate aftermath. Diego Rubio's slid into the starting role, they've gotten contributions from young wingers like Latif Blessing and Daniel Salloi, and they'll have more flexibility than anybody in MLS this winter.
Cristian Lobato may never play an MLS minute and Dwyer may score 100 goals for Orlando City, but I still approve of the way SKC did business this summer. They're probably going to win the US Open Cup, they're definitely going to make the playoffs, and they have a lot of cash with which to improve next season.
Toronto FC: B-
Getting right wingback depth, which is what Nicolas Hasler provides, was the only real need for the Reds, and their recent history of integrating imported talent suggests he'll be worth the minimal cost.
All their work in the winter and spring meant that this was always going to be a quiet window in Toronto, but I am surprised that they didn't figure out a way to squeeze a bit of GAM or TAM out of somebody for, say, Armando Cooper or an international roster slot. TFC are usually among the league's shrewdest operators in those situations, so perhaps interest just wasn't there.
The 'Caps are like LA in that they have a well-regarded academy that they just don't get much mileage out of. So that saw a pair of Homegrowns head out loans amidst a series of moves on the fringes of the gameday roster.
The one move they made that could prove to more most significant is the acquisition of Egyptian international defensive midfielder/center back Aly Ghazal. I've never seen him play so it'd be ridiculous to weigh in, but I'm happy to give Vancouver some bonus points for looking and thinking outside the box when it comes to player recruitment. I'm really not sure if they're a better team than they were a month ago, but at the very least they're more interesting.