MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Deadline day: 4 teams to watch before the Primary Transfer Window closes


Deadline day is soon upon us.

The MLS Primary Transfer Window closes on April 24 and while the Secondary Transfer Window isn’t too far away (July 5 to Aug. 2), there should be some more movement between now and Monday night.

From 2022, here’s a sampling of moves that occurred in the final week leading up to this first deadline:

  • Jefferson Savarino (transfer, Real Salt Lake from Atlético Mineiro)
  • Andrés Cubas (transfer, Vancouver Whitecaps FC from Nîmes)
  • Andre Shinyashiki (trade, Charlotte FC from Colorado Rapids)
  • Chris Mueller (transfer, Chicago Fire FC from Hibernian FC)

Here are four teams I’m expecting to be busy.

This one is easy for two obvious reasons:

  1. The LA Galaxy face transfer restrictions in the summer, in which they cannot add players from abroad. So there’s urgency to act now from a logistical standpoint.
  2. The LA Galaxy have been intent to add a winger ASAP. Given the parameters at play, any international addition must come by Monday night. They’ll still be able to trade/move within MLS this summer.

The Galaxy have experienced a nightmarish start to 2023, winless in seven matches with a sputtering attack. Star attacking midfielder Riqui Puig has zero goal contributions after a stellar start to life in MLS last fall, while Chicharito only made his first start of 2023 in last weekend’s El Trafico loss after being injured.

Starting wingers Tyler Boyd and Memo Rodríguez haven’t been anything close to difference-makers, though Boyd did score his first Galaxy goal on Sunday. DP winger Douglas Costa has been ineffectual or injured for the majority of his time at the club thus far.

Boyd, Rodríguez, Costa and Efraín Álvarez have combined for 1g/1a in 1,085 minutes this season.

Another option at winger could help unlock the attack that looked so promising going into the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs. Rapid Vienna winger Marco Grüll, from the Austrian Bundesliga, is the latest name to be linked with a move to the club.

Head coach Wayne Rooney said D.C. United are hoping to get another signing over the line ahead of the deadline. The club remains in talks with multiple targets.

The Black-and-Red have dealt with a rash of injuries this season, all while Rooney already works to integrate a bunch of new offseason signings (as well as further acclimate last year’s key summer signings).

D.C. added 10 players this winter, the latest of which was English midfielder Lewis O’Brien on loan from Nottingham Forest. O’Brien scored his first goal last weekend, the game-winner in a 1-0 result at CF Montréal.

Saturday marked D.C.’s second win of the season and first since Matchday 1. The club finished bottom of MLS last season, but has undergone significant roster change since the summer. Rooney took over on a shorter guaranteed contract, and the likes of Christian Benteke, Mateusz Klich and many other starters have come in.

Perhaps one more will arrive this week.

But with all due respect to \[Gabriel\] Segal, who works hard, they still have a need up top at the 9. And two open U22 Initiative slots. And a week to go before the Primary Transfer Window closes. And a history of splurging with those U22s.

What I’m saying is to turn Twitter notifications on for _Tom Bogert’s feed_ this week if you’re an NYCFC fan.

That all tracks for me. NYCFC have been active on the U22 Initiative front since the mechanism was introduced in April 2021, at the vanguard of these dealings in the league.

Here’s what sporting director David Lee told me at the end of the 2021 season:

​​“That was clear for us, that was going to be the strategy,” Lee said. “There was never any consideration to add two [senior] DPs. We knew we wanted to add three players into this category. We firmly believed it would help long-term building a strong roster this year and years to come.”

NYCFC have two spots open with Thiago Andrade departing on loan to Brazilian top-flight side Athletico Paranaense through 2023 (with a purchase option). They have focused on the attack when utilizing these slots, like with U22 Initiative/Brazilian attacker Gabriel Pereira. They have a bevy of exciting wingers, but just one natural center forward.

I’d imagine they’re working on a U22 Initiative center forward. Whether a deal comes together over the next week (or at all) remains to be seen, of course. This club has been patient.

The Houston Dynamo are another club working in the U22 Initiative market.

Houston have flexibility with their U22 slots, with just Colombian winger Nelson Quiñónes occupying that designation. They could technically sign two U22  players, but I’d be shocked if two came in this week.

The Dynamo are certainly working to get one in before the deadline, though.

Houston are off to as encouraging a start for the club in recent memory under new head coach Ben Olsen. Competitiveness, structure and a strong midfield have been the foundation for picking up 10 points in their first seven games.

They’re hoping for the attack to come along after nine goals in seven matches. Four of those nine (!) have come from the penalty spot, via key new attacker Amine Bassi. Bassi, Corey Baird and Iván Franco have gotten the majority of the attacking minutes so far, with DP forward and 2022 leading scorer Sebastián Ferreira second choice under Olsen.