Money well spent? 10 offseason signing standouts in MLS Week 1

Following a flurry of activity, both within MLS and abroad in which clubs have splashed the cash on record signings, MLS is Back weekend provided the opportunity for players wearing a new kit to make a positive first impression.

A handful of players made memorable debuts, whether it's for a new MLS team or in their league debut. Of course, it just one game and several big offseason transfers – Alan Velasco of FC Dallas and Thiago Almada of Atlanta United – have yet to make their debuts, but the 2022 season's opening provided a first glance at players who will surely be under the microscope all year long.

The 10 standouts included below are listed in alphabetical order.

  • Fee: Reported $2 million transfer from Montevideo Wanderers FC

Araujo was signed from Uruguay's top-flight in early January as a U22 Initiative player. He then started for Orlando City SC Sunday alongside Andres Perea in Oscar Pareja’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. He was solid in his debut, completing 88% of his passes and winning 50 percent of his duels in a 2-0 win over visiting CF Montréal.

The 20-year-old will be competing for time alongside Sebas Mendez and Junior Urso, two deep-lying mainstays for the Lions.

  • Fee: Unreported from C.D. Marathón

Arriaga started at the No. 6 for the Loons in a season-opening 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union and had a strong 90-minute shift, completing a team-high 92% of his passes and winning over half of his 13 duels. The 24-year-old Honduran international is expected to pair alongside Hassani Dotson, with Wil Trapp presenting another option.

Arriaga was signed from C.D. Marathón in mid-February after Minnesota United FC acquired his discovery rights from Austin FC for $50,000 in General Allocation Money in 2022 and $50,000 GAM in 2023.

  • Fee: $2 million in General Allocation Money + $300k GAM performance-based incentives incentives

Arriola moved to FC Dallas from D.C. United in an MLS-record trade, amid interest from both Charlotte FC and Liga MX's Club America. Then he got the Toyota Stadium crowd on its feet early Saturday, with a back-post cross slammed home by Jáder Obrian to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute in a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC.

Before joining head coach Nico Estevez's team, the US international had 20 goals and 16 assists in 89 games with the Black-and-Red.

  • Fee: N/A (free agency)

Clark signed with Houston Dynamo FC as a free agent in late December, a few weeks removed from backstopping the Portland Timbers in MLS Cup 2021.

In his Dynamo debut Sunday, Clark made just two saves to earn the clean sheet in a 0-0 home draw against Real Salt Lake. But both were stellar stops, including a diving denial on Maikel Chang in the 72nd minute.

  • Fee: N/A (free agency)

Davis was one of the biggest free-agent signings of the offseason, making the move from the New York Red Bulls to Nashville SC. The former RBNY captain started in a midfield with Music City mainstays Anibal Godoy and Dax McCarty, winning 60% of his duels and helping provide defensive structure in the Coyotes’ 1-0 win at Seattle Sounders FC.

  • Fee: N/A (free agency)

Edwards went from one Los Angeles side to the other when he was signed as a free agent by the LA Galaxy after playing for LAFC in 2021, reuniting him with former Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney.

The veteran started at left back for the Galaxy in their Sunday showdown with defending MLS Cup champion NYCFC, setting up Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez for his late winner to secure all three points for the hosts.

  • Fee: Loan with reported $5 million purchase option

D.C. United signed the Ecuadoran international on loan from Liga MX's Toluca in early February, with an emphasis on bolstering the attack. Estrada delivered on his debut, scoring a first-half brace in a 3-0 win over expansion side Charlotte FC at Audi Field Saturday.

He opened his MLS account from the penalty spot in the 37th minute after drawing a foul in the box, then added his second late in first-half stoppage time, a deflected shot from 22 yards out following a failed clearance.

  • Fee: $500k in General Allocation Money, $800k GAM in performance-based incentives

The New England Revolution acquired Sebastian Lletget in a blockbuster trade with the LA Galaxy in mid-December, one of the first big ripples in the offseason.

The USMNT midfielder said he came to the defending Supporters’ Shield winners to add value, which he certainly did on his club debut, scoring the Revs’ second goal in a 2-2 draw at the Portland Timbers Saturday night.

  • Fee: N/A (free agency)

After anchoring Sporting Kansas City's midfield for the better part of five years, Sanchez was swooped up by LAFC as a free-agent signing. The 31-year-old put forth a sterling performance in a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids Saturday at Banc of California Stadium, drawing effusive praise from new boss Steve Cherundolo.

"Tactically didn't make a mistake, didn’t step wrong once, was able to control the tempo of the game for us," Cherundolo said. "He found very good spots offensively. He made good decisions, he made very few mistakes on the ball. An excellent performance, a consistent high level, which is what we expected. On top of that, he brings leadership skills and he's a wonderful human being in the locker room as well. So to use from another sport, it's a slam dunk for LAFC."

  • Fee: Reported as up to $2 million

The Columbus Crew signed Yaw Yeboah from Wisla Krakow of the Polish top-flight, hoping to add a dynamic element on the wing.

The Ghanaian international made a strong first impression, assisting Derrick Etienne Jr.’s strike that gave the hosts a two-goal lead after 25 minutes en route to a comfortable 4-0 home win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Yeboah also drew a second-half red card on defender Jake Nerwinski, letting the 2020 MLS Cup champions cruise to victory.