MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

The biggest contract, loan decisions to watch for this MLS offseason | Tom Bogert

Cristian Pavon - LA Galaxy - Close up

The offseason is well underway for eight MLS clubs (well, nine if you count 2021 expansion side Austin FC) and that number is going to slowly increase in the buildup to MLS Cup on December 12. 

Here are a number of contract and loan decisions to watch over the next four weeks. You can stay up-to-date with our roster decisions tracker, which follows every club's end-of-season roster update as they are released. 

Oh and by the way, there will be plenty of loan options to watch next summer. Some key decisions will involve FC Cincinnati forward Jurgen Locadia, Nashville SC forward Jhonder Cadiz and plenty more. 

Cristian Pavon's purchase option

There will be plenty to watch this offseason, but the future of Cristian Pavon may be the biggest storyline as far as players remaining in the league. 

Pavon, a 24-year-old Argentine international, joined the LA Galaxy on loan from Boca Juniors in the summer of 2019, but his loan expires at the end of this year. He reportedly has a $20 million purchase option as part of his loan agreement, something the Galaxy have expressed they won't pay.

GM Dennis te Kloese points to the fact that the agreement was reached in a pre-pandemic world and hopes to reach a new figure with Boca. The Galaxy want Pavon back and Pavon wants to be back with the Galaxy. 

If only it were that simple. 

Orlando City's loans + Dom Dwyer's contract

Let's just lump all of these in here together considering they all impact one another.

Orlando have three players on loan with purchase options up this offseason: defenders Antonio Carlos and Rodrigo Schlegel, as well as forward Alexander Alvarado.

Carlos has been a staple in the club's backline, starting 18 matches in 2020. He's on loan from Brazilian club Palmeiras. Schlegal is on loan from Racing Club and has been the key backup behind Carlos and Robin Jansson. Alvarado joined in October, able to play 25 minutes across two appearances before the regular season ended. 

Alvarado, in particular, may be impacted by the club's decision on Dom Dwyer. In 2018, the club signed Dwyer to a three-year contract with no mention of options. Dwyer has been hurt for much of 2020 and didn't live up to expectations in 2019. Will he depart Orlando this offseason or will Oscar Pareja want a chance to work with him? 

EDIT: Orlando has one more player on loan with an option to buy that was originally overlooked: Midfielder Andres Perea. The 20-year-old Colombian youth international, who was born in Florida, has appeared in all 23 Orlando matches this season. He's on loan from Atletico Nacional.  

Winston Reid's loan

A few weeks before this season began, Sporting Kansas City took a flier on veteran Premier League center back Winston Reid, adding him on loan from West Ham. It's only a flier because he went more than two calendar years between competitive appearances due to a few injuries, not down to any questions around talent. 

Reid, 32, fully showed the rust of missing two years of soccer during his first few appearances, but has shown encouraging form of late and started five of SKC's final eight matches.

Should both Reid and SKC believe there's a mutual fit, a source tells there could be a future. The New Zealand international surely will have more than a few options in England should he want to remain in London, where he spent all of last decade. 

Luis Amarilla's purchase option

When Minnesota United FC signed forward Luis Amarilla on a one-year loan with an option to buy, they surely expected to evaluate more than 425 MLS minutes, but he was derailed by injuries after a promising start. He scored in each of his first two starts before games were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then he played through nagging injuries before making his last appearance of 2020 on September 2.

The purchase option would've been agreed upon in the pre-pandemic financial landscape, too. Now what?

Amarilla, 25, is technically a Velez Sarsfield player, but spent 2019 on loan with Universidad Católica of Ecuador’s Liga PRO. Did the Loons see enough to make a permanent move? Will they find common ground with Velez or will it be another new striker for 2021?

One more run for Wondo?

This was supposed to be Chris Wondolowski's final ride, one final season of soft smiles off the pitch but vigorous gum-chewing, arm-waving and intense gesticulation on the pitch. There'd be goal celebrations, of course, from this league's goal king. 

Wondo told us himself it was to be his last season before retiring, but the 37-year-old hasn't slowed down a bit. He never did rely on electric pace, but his seemingly perpetual movement and IQ have kept him a productive goalscorer. And it turns out the Quakes still need him, desperately. He started every one of San Jose's final 10 matches as they turned their season around, scoring three goals in their final three games. 

No decision has been made yet by the player, with full focus trained sharply on the playoffs. We'll see how this one unfolds over the offseason. 

One more run for Beckerman?

Sticking with the "legends at the end of their career" theme, will Kyle Beckerman return to the pitch in 2021?

Beckerman, 38, holds the league record for most appearances by an outfield player (498) and isn't far behind catching former teammate Nick Rimando (514) for the outright record. Beckerman has been with Real Salt Lake since 2007, but in the pandemic-shortened season, played only 389 minutes across 10 appearances (five starts). For reference, he logged 2100+ minutes every year from 2011-19.

The Athletic's Chris Kamrani reported that Beckerman is yet to inform RSL of what he plans to do, but GM Elliott Fall said the club and player have had talks regarding his future. 

Fredy Montero's future

Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Fredy Montero is out of contract this offseason and it remains to be seen if the Colombian returns to the club in 2021. 

Whitecaps CEO and sporting director Axel Schuster told media last week that he and Montero's agent have had positive conversations. No decision has been made about the forward's future. Montero had five goals and five assists in 16 appearances, starting 11 of the club's final 13 games after being used sparingly early on. 

Montero, 33, is best remembered for his four seasons with the Seattle Sounders from 2009-12 where he had 47 goals and 34 assists in 119 appearances. He then returned to MLS in 2017 with the Whitecaps. 

Samuel Tetteh's loan at RBNY

It hasn't been a seamless transition for Samuel Tetteh to MLS, but 2020 didn't provide anything resembling ideal circumstances to find your way in a new country, league and club. 

Tetteh is on loan at the New York Red Bulls from RB Salzburg through the end of the season, and the deal includes a purchase option. He hasn't produced quite yet (no goals or assists in 328 minutes spread across 10 appearances), but the question is more complex with a new coaching staff arriving.

For Tetteh, like other Red Bull players, it's about whether or not they fit under new head coach Gerhard Struber. Struber will dial up the high pressing and Tetteh comes from RB Salzburg, though he only made two appearances with the club before heading out on loan. Struber began his coaching career in the Salzburg academy.