There are, perhaps, too many names below. But 28 teams are a lot of teams. And all of those teams made a lot of moves this offseason.
At about the one-third mark of the 2022 MLS season, here are the most impactful additions so far.
Quite the instant impact in the nation’s capital for Taxi Fountas, with five goals and two assists in five appearances. In his four starts, D.C. have two wins, a draw and seven goals scored. Fountas has scored or assisted all seven goals.
The Greek international was originally signed on a pre-contract agreement for the summer when his Rapid Vienna deal expired, but D.C. paid a reported $400,000 fee to get him here in April rather than for free on July 7. That has quickly proved to be a very, very good decision.
A lot has been written and explained about Julian Carranza’s situation and why he’s excelling in Philly, but here's the short version: Carranza was miscast as a winger in Miami and fits perfectly as a defensively elite, pressing center forward in the Union’s 4-4-2 tight diamond.
Carranza arrived in a loan/trade from Miami with a purchase option, being made a Young Designated Player in Philly. The Union have consistently found undervalued talent – Kai Wagner, Jose Martinez and Leon Flach for nominal fees, Kacper Przybylko for free – but sources at the club thought Carranza might be the best value of them all if he was as good as they thought he was.
So far, so good. He has four goals and three assists (both career bests in MLS already!), plus is fifth in MLS in successful pressures in the final third and top 15 in total pressures.
LAFC went all-in on intra-league additions this offseason to refresh the squad under new head coach Steve Cherundolo, and it’s been wildly successful so far, atop the Supporters’ Shield standings about a third into the season (7W-2L-2D).
Acosta has fit well in Cherundolo’s 4-3-3, mostly as a No. 8 with Ilie behind him as a No. 6, who has been the club’s metronome. There were questions of whether Ilie’s legs were gone this offseason when Sporting KC let him leave. They are not gone yet.
A handful of teams really wanted Edwards, but he opted for a reunion with Greg Vanney and it’s worked out great. Edwards is tied for third in MLS in assists (5) and is one off from the team lead in chances created from open play. That's on a team with two DPs, an active Mexico international and more in attack. Edwards is second on the team in pressures and tackles as well.
Delgado, surprisingly, is tied for second in chances created from open play for the Galaxy. He’s also first in completed passes. He and Rayan Raveloson have quickly formed a strong midfield partnership.
Albert Rusnak arrived as the biggest free agent from this year’s class, signing as a DP and fitting a bit deeper in midfield with Seattle than with Real Salt Lake. He and Joao Paulo were a press-resistant duo. Jackson Ragen, meanwhile, was integral as a stand-in for Yeimar Andrade, making three CCL starts between the quarterfinals and semifinals. His rights had to be acquired from Chicago, so it counts as an addition.
High-end talent and quality depth. That’s the formula.
Arriaga’s standout quality so far is progressive passing, but he’s been an all-action midfielder in the preferred double-pivot next to Wil Trapp and behind Emanuel Reynoso. At 6-foot-3, he’s a threat in the air, too, ranking in the 99% percentile of headers won per 90 minutes at his position over the last year in MLS.
Yedlin, a veteran US international, brought quality and experience to a squad with a number of young players in key roles. The club spoke both of his on- and off-field value when he was acquired.
Campana, a one-time Ecuador wonderkid and signing by Premier League side Wolverhampton, is on loan as a U22 Initiative signing by Miami. He has six goals and two assists, providing a hand in eight of the club’s 11 goals.
He has looked like a completely different player than the one who debuted as Gonzalo Higuain's backup.
Backup plans at center forward for Toronto FC – not unlike most other teams in a salary-capped MLS – have been difficult. When Jozy Altidore was hurt in the past, the attack struggled until Ayo Akinola stepped up… and promptly began battling injuries of his own.
Akinola was supposed to be the guy up top this year with Altidore gone, but the club also added little-known Spanish forward Jesus Jimenez, who had been playing in the Spanish third tier before sitting midtable in the Polish top flight with Gornik Zabrze.
With Akinola limited in minutes this year due to injury, Jimenez has taken the opportunity with both hands and is tied for second place in the Golden Boot presented by Audi lead with seven goals in 12 matches.
The defender, perfect to play as a right center back in Vanni Sartini’s back three, has excelled in 1v1 defending and ball progression from defense. Blackmon already signed a contract extension with Vancouver as well.
He’s out for the next four weeks or so with a knee injury, though.
Though Karol Swiderski’s scoring touch has gone cold for a couple of weeks, the Poland international center forward has four goals in 11 appearances thus far. With compatriot Kamil Jozwiak breaking into the team and the idea that the team will be more cohesive and stronger over time (like all expansion sides), it’s a good start.
There are a ton of other players to pick from as solid additions. Kristijan Kahlina is probably the best choice. They built a team from scratch, after all, but domestic additions of Brandt Bronico and Jaylin Lindsey have been integral starters as Charlotte stay competitive early on. Bronico, who seemed likely to be more of a depth piece, has surpassed expectations.
FC Dallas’ attacking remodeling, both by way of tactics under Nico Estevez and personnel with Ricardo Pepi off to Germany, started with making Jesus Ferreira a traditional No. 9 and bringing in two high-quality wingers. It’s resulted in Ferriera leading the Golden Boot presented by Audi race with nine goals.
The trio fit quite well together, with Paul Arriola on the right and Alan Velasco on the left. Arriola, acquired for a league-record trade from D.C. United, is sixth in chances created from open play and eighth in expected assists. There are only two players who are ahead of him in both categories: Lucho Acosta and Carles Gil. That’s elite company.
Velasco, meanwhile, is the new club-record signing from Argentina. Conventional wisdom suggests a 19-year-old attacker from another country might take a bit to adjust and start making an impact, but Velasco has fit in quickly with 2g/3a in 604 minutes.
His dynamism has helped give the side another edge too. In his small sample size, he’s in the 90th percentile in MLS for progressive carries and 82nd percentile in dribbles.
Orlando City’s new-look attack led by Facundo Torres hasn’t quite hit full form just yet, but has provided encouraging moments as two new DPs settle in. Torres, with 2g/4a, is off to a decent start with more to come.
Cesar Araujo was more of an under-the-radar signing and has earned a starting role in one of the deeper and more established central midfield groups already, an impressive feat in and of itself, starting all 12 games.
The 21-year-old Uruguay youth international has been a two-way presence in front of the backline. He’s had a really strong start to life in MLS.
How about some love for the defenders?! This choice would have looked much better a month ago when Gaga Slonina was talking about the defense setting a new clean sheets record than it does now after four straight losses and 11 goals conceded, but still.
Czichos was given the captain’s armband by new head coach Ezra Hendrickson. Despite the poor turn in form, Chicago remain top three in goals conceded and are in the top half in expected goals against. Last year they were sixth-worst in xGA and tied for fifth-worst in goals conceded.
Defending is a team concept and effort, meaning Czichos is not the sole reason for the improvement. But he’s a big part.
Almost easy to be overlooked because of his position, skillset and entirely unsurprising snug fit in Nashville, Sean Davis is doing everything expected of him after arriving as a highly sought-after free agent.
It hasn’t quite turned into boxscore dominance in MLS just yet, but Luquinhas is off to a decent start with the Red Bulls and is trending in the right direction.
Over his last six matches in all competitions (including two Open Cup games), he has 3g/3a as RBNY have four wins and two draws. Luquinhas (and/or Patryk Klimala) are crucial to the Red Bulls making the leap from regular-season success to playoff contender.
It took a little bit for the Houston Dynamo’s club-record signing to get off the bus, but the Paraguay international has a respectable 4g/1a in just over 700 minutes. Throw in his Open Cup goal on Wednesday and he’s got five goals in his last six games across all competitions.
Houston’s No. 9 will stand to benefit further from time for the new coaching staff and group to keep gelling, plus Hector Herrera’s arrival in July. His scoring or lack thereof will keep the Dynamo in or out of the playoff picture until then.