Every Major League Soccer season sees player acquisitions that initially fly under the radar before playing important roles in their club's success.
It's now the Targeted Allocation Money age, which should allow teams to unearth more of these sneaky high-impact signings. We've identified 10 players who should fit this bill in 2018.
No. 10: Anthony Blondell, Vancouver Whitecaps
A recent Venezuela debutant, Blondell should be an able goal deputy to Kei Kamara in Vancouver. The 23-year-old runs the wide channels of the box very well and is deadly while at full gallop. If the Whitecaps can get their transition game revved up, the striker should pay healthy dividends.
No. 9: Enzo Martinez, Colorado Rapids
Colorado may have hits the jackpot by signing midfield menace Martinez, who performed well against CONCACAF Champions League foe Toronto FC on his debut. He can raid the box for a goal, gets back on defense and should wreak havoc running the right with Marlon Hairston in the Rapids' new 3-5-2 set.
No. 8: Anton Nedyalkov, FC Dallas
Anton Nedyalkov with Bulgaria | Action Images/Reuters
The Bulgaria left back will take over starting duties, allowing the 34-year-old Maynor Figueroa to take up a utility role. Nedyalkov is a fine one-v-one defender and strong tackler. And while he probably won't pile up assists, the 24-year-old will surge forward to set up attacking possessions.
No. 7: Rolf Feltscher, LA Galaxy
One of three Venezuela internationals on this list, the new LA Galaxy right back adds a highly energetic presence to a retooled back line. Feltscher loves to get forward to support the attack and has the wheels to recover well. He can actually play anywhere in defense, having put in some terrific left back shifts at the Copa America Centenario.
No. 6: Junior Moreno, D.C. United
D.C. United had plenty of decent options in central midfield last season, but none was a genuine attack-squashing No. 6. Moreno, who made his Venezuela debut against the USMNT last June, is. He certainly annoyed the hell out of Leo Messi in a fall World Cup qualifying draw at Argentina. He also is smart on the ball and offers strong corner kick service.
No. 5: Damir Kreilach, Real Salt Lake
Don't be surprised if the newest Real Salt Lake midfielder becomes one of their most valuable players. The Croatian (who was among the clubhouse leaders at Union Berlin) offers a needed upgrade at the No. 8 position. He works the position like an auxiliary playmaker, and gives the Rio Tinto Stadium bunch another goal threat running up the gut.
No. 4: Milton Valenzuela, Columbus Crew SC
Milton Valenzuela | Newell's Old Boys
Columbus were persistent in pursuit of the Young Designated Player left back, and he demonstrated why during the preseason. Valenzuela is a stifling one-v-one defender and moves the ball out of the back incisively. While his crossing game remains a work in progress, the Argentina Under-20 regular is not shy about jumping into the final third and gives his possession-first side good balance.
No. 3: Anton Tinnerholm/Saad Abdul-Salaam, NYCFC
Right back was a revolving door for New York City FC last season, and even the best efforts there were of middling impact. Suddenly, Patrick Vieira has two strong options, who we've packaged for a cheat pick. Tinnerholm is a cutback king who forces opposing wingbacks onto their heels. Abdul-Salaam, who was near Best XI level two seasons ago, is a bit more defense-minded.
No. 2: Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Seattle Sounders
The Seattle Sounders catch is a veritable Swiss Army knife for the attack. Eikrem can play wide or in the middle. He can shoot from long range and complete a final ball. He can lead the break or unlock a set defense. His corners are tempting, his free kicks nasty. And with Jordan Morris now lost for the season, the Norwegian has become twice as valuable.
No. 1: Jo Inge Berget, NYCFC
The charismatic attacker (who makes it three Malmo transplants in a row) could be one of the keys to the season for NYCFC. They can now lighten the workload of David Villa on certain days, and give him a wily running mate on others. Berget (who'll miss the season opener with a knock) should provide plenty of supplementary scoring with his angled runs into the box and combo play.