Best of MLS: The Top 10 Acquisitions of 2017

Victor Vazquez - Toronto FC - Best Of

Every transfer window teams go out and try and find the player that can turn their fortunes around, make their team a contender or improve an already great team into a special one. Below you can find the top ten acquisitions, in alphabetical order, from this season with a few notable exceptions.

You will not find any players from Atlanta United or Minnesota United FC on the list below as every player on their rosters can be considered a 2017 acquisition. Picking just a couple of players from those lists would be a tall task.                                                                                                   

Chicago Fire Triumvirate (Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic, Bastian Schweinsteiger)

Sure, it’s a cop out to choose all three of the Fire’s important acquisitions but putting all three separately on here would not allow us to highlight some other important acquisitions. These three players were essential in turning the Fire from a last-place team into a team that were in first in the Supporters’ Shield standings for part of the season and ended the season in third place.

Nikolic took home the Golden Boot, scoring 24 goals, while McCarty and Schweinsteiger shored up a midfield that had lacked any cohesion in previous years. All three ended up in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game played at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Blerim Dzemaili (Montreal Impact)

Dzemaili wasn’t supposed to show up in Montreal until the summer, but with Bologna securing their spot in Serie A for the 2017-18 season, he was allowed to leave for the Impact before the close of the primary transfer window. After arriving it was clear that the Swiss international was clearly one of the best players in MLS. Though he was unable to lift Montreal into the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, the 31-year-old had seven goals and 10 assists in under 2,000 minutes.

Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo)

There’s something to be said for Elis’ teammate, Adolfo Machado, who has helped shore up a backline that’s been in flux for much of the season, but La Panterita has been the most exciting of the Dynamo’s attacking corps this season. In truth head coach Wilmer Cabrera would probably have liked to have the Honduran international on the field more this season, but with injuries and international duty Elis was only able to play 1,645 minutes. Despite that, he was extremely productive as he scored 10 goals and added four assists.

Ilie (Sporting Kansas City)

Best of MLS: The Top 10 Acquisitions of 2017 -

The Barcelona product didn’t cause much of a stir when he was signed before the season – defensive midfielders rarely do – but Ilie was finally the answer for Peter Vermes in the spot after searching for the right player ever since Oriol Rosell departed. The Spaniard led the team in usage rate and was a calm presence in midfield, shielding Sporting KC’s backline as the team posted the defensive numbers in MLS.

Kelvin Leerdam (Seattle Sounders)

The Dutch right back is the only player to play fewer than 1,500 minutes on this list, but that’s for good reason. The right back position was a revolving door for head coach Brian Schmetzer and the Sounders, but with Leerdam’s addition in July, they added a player who became one of the top players at his position in MLS. The Sounders have conceded just eight goals in the 16 games Leerdam has started this year.

Chris Mavinga (Toronto FC)

Toronto conceded just 39 goals in 2016, the fewest of any Eastern Conference team. Despite that, the TFC front office made a left-sided center back one of their two big signings. Mavinga joined the team specifically to play that position in their 3-5-2 formation and has not disappointed. The 26-year-old has been one of the best 1-v-1 defenders in MLS this season and his play on the ball has helped trigger Toronto’s ability to go forward in devastating fashion.  

Alexander Ring (New York City FC)

NYCFC were torn apart in the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs by Toronto in large part due to their inability to have any control over the midfield. In response to that, they went out and acquired Ring, Yangel Herrera and Maxi Moralez. Despite some impressive showings from Herrera in limited minutes and Moralez’ flashes of elite attacking ability, Ring was clearly the best acquisition of the three. The Finnish international was probably the second-best defensive midfielder in MLS this season behind only Michael Bradley and his ability to cover ground in the midfield freed up everyone else to be successful on MLS’s second-best team.

Albert Rusnak (Real Salt Lake)

He only placed at No. 15 on this year’s 24 Under 24 Rankings, but the Slovakian international was the straw that stirred the drink for an RSL team that almost surged all the way above the playoff line after a dreadful start to the season. Rusnak's 13 first assists were the most of any player in MLS this season, along with his 67 chances created from open play which also led the league.

Tony Tchani (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)

Best of MLS: The Top 10 Acquisitions of 2017 -

Tchani has been a known quantity in MLS for quite awhile, having been a key cog in Columbus’ run to MLS Cup in 2015. But after a down year in 2016 and some new blood at his position with Crew SC, he was shipped to Vancouver on March 30 in a deal that sent Kekuta Manneh to Ohio. Tchani immediately became a mainstay in the Whitecaps’ starting XI, making 26 starts and scoring four goals. He led Vancouver with 174 recoveries and was second on the team with 734 completed passes.

Victor Vazquez (Toronto FC)

One of Toronto’s bigger conclusions coming out of last year’s MLS Cup loss to Seattle was that they needed to acquire a player who can pull the strings and provide some creativity. This would enable Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore more space and freedom, as opposing defenses could no longer singularly focus on the forward duo. Enter Vazquez, a star player for Club Brugge in Belgium but one who flopped with Cruz Azul in Liga MX. The 30-year-old has been one of the best midfielders in MLS with Toronto, finishing with the second-most assists in MLS this season.