We all know what July 1 means around these parts. The European transfer window flies open, and things escalate quickly. Money talks, BS walks, chain reactions start popping off and the dominos (and international transfer certificates) keep tumbling until deadline day.
There is much, much more to come. Tom Bogert has the lowdown on the transfer here and now for MLS. What does your team need during the summer window? Yes, Tommy Scoops has all 27 clubs covered. Which MLSers could be headed across the Atlantic? It’s Daryl Dike, Gianluca Busio and plenty more. Keep in mind that the Secondary Transfer Window runs from July 7 through August 5.
As for this column, it’s time to look back on the Primary Transfer Window and pick out the three biggest hits and identify many more that are still in the TBD category. We’ll start with the latter.
Not every expansion Designated Player duo can start life as Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez or Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. It takes time for stars to settle, and it takes time for the team, almost always incomplete to start, to gel around them.
Dominguez and Pochettino are still settling – three goals and no assists in 1,679 minutes – and the same goes for Austin FC, with Josh Wolff's team still missing a big piece or two. They just started their life at Q2 Stadium, and home form is the lifeblood of any expansion season. On one hand, two scoreless draws isn’t ideal. Los Verdes want goals. On the other, two shutouts are exactly what could help them rise above the playoff line as the year progresses.
The good news for Dominguez and Pochettino is that there’s already a new No. 9 in Moussa Djitte, and there’s a spend-what-you-want DP spot and some roster flexibility to add more pieces around them. This part of Austin’s season was always likely to be TBD, and they’re a win away from being on the playoff line. It’s what they do from here on out that will decide their Year 1 fate.
Between injuries and Copa America, it’s hard to say much about the Venezuelan winger and former Santos standout. Chris Armas hasn’t gotten his three DPs on the field together at the same time this year, and that looks unlikely to happen anytime soon with Alejandro Pozuelo nursing a hamstring issue and Jozy Altidore banished. What does that mean for Soteldo at Toronto FC? We will see.
FC Cincinnati spent big in the offseason to avoid another Wooden Spoon and make a serious run at a playoff spot. The hope was Brenner and Acosta would be an eight-figure solution to chance creation and finishing. They haven’t been … yet … but there are signs that the tides could be changing.
Acosta looked like his old Lucharoo self last week against Toronto FC, and Brenner isn’t ever going to be Wayne Rooney. But the former Sao Paulo striker is just 21 and FC Cincinnati are committed to giving him opportunities to adapt and, eventually, thrive. This could work! For now, though, the best way to grade the duo is INCOMPLETE.
Everything about Atlanta United feels like a TBD right now…
Will Ezequiel Barco ever live up to his transfer fee? TBD. Can Josef Martinez carry this team all by himself when he returns from Copa America? TBD. How long will it take Gabriel Heinze to get the Five Stripes back in the playoffs? TBD. Will George Bello be sold soon? TBD. Is Marcelino Moreno a true attacking difference-maker in MLS? TBD.
Sosa has been impressive so far. He seems like a good signing who is only going to get better with better pieces and more cohesion around him. We’re not even 300 minutes into Franco’s time in MLS. He could be a good signing, and the big test is coming as Miles Robinson is Gold Cup-bound. Atlanta will need both to be more than TBD to return to the postseason in 2021.
David Gass said on Extratime early in the season that he was withholding all judgment of NYCFC until they went out and got the reinforcements the front office promised and Ronny Deila demanded this preseason. Well, they did that, and 20-year-old Thiago Andrade already won them a game with his legs and his eye for a finish. If you haven’t seen the full-field winner he scored against D.C. United in stoppage time via a Sean Johnson assist, correct that mistake right now.
As for the 19-year-old Talles Magno, he only has 84 minutes under his belt. Moments of magic are surely coming for him, too. At least, you’d assume so given the transfer fee. Can he give NYCFC a moment or two of magic or even break into the starting lineup in his first season? TBD.
Early returns are good – four goals and two assists in four games – and the results have followed (two draws, two wins). Minnesota United needed a boost, and their late-window DP and TAM signings are delivering on the field. They’re back above the playoff line and the panic of April feels like old news.
When MLS teams go outside the league for goalkeepers, I usually roll my eyes a little. Only Vito Mannone in 2019 (no offense, he wasn’t even in my top three for best goalkeepers in MLS that year) and Jimmy Nielsen (absolutely deserved in 2012) have transferred in and won Goalkeeper of the Year. It’s a cap management thing, too. Why use an international spot and spend more on an international ‘keeper who won’t be better than his domestic counterparts?
Bond, who’s from England, holds a US passport and is a rare exception to the rule. He’s third in the league in G-xG – basically goals given up compared to goals the American Soccer Analysis model would expect him to allow – and is currently living in the shadow of the Chicharito news cycle. Watch the Galaxy and you’ll see he’s keeping them in and helping them win games.
Guess who is tied for second in assists in MLS? Unless you’ve been to the stats page recently or are a Red Bulls supporter, I guarantee you didn’t answer Fabio. The goals haven’t come quite as easily – he bagged a banger against Nashville – but it’s clear the Red Bulls got their scouting right. He fits with Gerhard Struber’s pressing, direct style and his loan has already been extended.
Honorable mention here to Patryk Kilmala, who hasn’t wasted time proving he’s up to the level despite a disappointing stint at Celtic.
I’m not sure the Union even knew what they were getting as Flach departed St. Pauli. Doesn’t matter now because they acquired one of the best midfielders in the league at reading play to intercept the ball, applying pressure to opponents and either tackling and winning the ball or allowing a teammate to step in to do the job. He's an elite disruptor, and that has huge value as the Union look to hit teams in transition.